By Elijah Jatovsky
Embassy Port-au-Prince launched its inaugural employee mentoring program, April 25, welcoming more than 200 community members who connected across sections, agencies, nationalities, and languages. “Mentor Match Day” was created in response to a survey administered by post’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Council that found employees, especially locally employed (LE) staff, wanted more career development opportunities. The event also utilized the Council’s new strategy of culturally responsive engagement, designed by co-chairs Vice-Consul Maurice E. Jackson and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Program Specialist Marie Michelle Paris.
The program opened with remarks from DEIA Advisor and Chargé d’Affaires Nicole Theriot, who highlighted the importance of mentoring as part of career development. Participants then took part in three 10-minute discussions based on a series of prompts in rotating groups. The objective was to facilitate organic “matches” between potential mentors and mentees in the workplace. All participants then received mentoring resources, including information about the Department of State’s Foreign Service National eMentoring Program.
The Council designed the event to overcome barriers to inclusion for embassy personnel. Accessibility efforts ranged from ensuring all materials and remarks were provided in both English and Haitian Creole (rather than French, which is generally limited to Haiti’s upper class) to having Council members visit warehouse and annex staff to inform them of the event, since most do not have email access. On the day of the event, Council members enthusiastically greeted participants and served as language interpreters, when needed. This unique cultural adaptation paid dividends in both turnout and the quality of the discussions.
According to exit survey data, the kick-off event fostered more than 40 mentor-mentee pairings across a diverse range of groups—most were between supervisors and employees of different sections or agencies, as well as several U.S.-LE staff pairings.
The program now aims to become a sustainable platform by offering follow-up coaching to those who successfully “matched” and additional opportunities for those who did not match on the first try but still wish to do so.
Vice-Consul Elijah Jatovsky is the Chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Port-Au-Prince DEIA Council.