CEI History

CEI is a group of people who are passionately committed to creating a more just and equitable world, honoring human dignity, and finding solutions to the problems of poverty. We believe that democritizing power is a necessary groundwork to achieving these goals.

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CEI is a 501c(3) formed by Haitian and American colleagues with nearly three decades history of working together.

OUR PHILOSOPHY: CEI believes that sustainable development requires a systems approach that considers economic stability, environmental integrity, and social equity as being equally fundamental, regardless of the specific project objectives. We strive to address the relationships among these elements in all our work.

OUR MISSION: To develop human potential, transform communities, and restore the earth.

OUR STORY: CEI’s story starts in 1990, Rodolphe Eloi, Norly Germain, and Catherine Parrill first met in Jeannette, Haiti. Eloi was school principal, Norly was a young student there, and Cathy was a teacher from the United States who’d been invited to facilitate teacher workshops. During the next several years they continued to forge good friendships and strong working relationships. 1995 Eloi spent a five-week residency in Wisconsin, including at a school where Cathy taught. She lived in Haiti from 1996-98, teaching children and training teachers in various schools across the country.

Over time, the three concluded that although the NGO they’d worked with had provided good educations and improved health care to thousands, it was not a sustainable mode. What’s worse, a growing number of philanthropic endeavors in Haiti seemed actually to be contributing to dependency, corruption, and the perpetuation poverty. Their combined experience, longterm relationships, and mutual trust made them uniquely qualified to create a different model.

Eloi, Norly, and Cathy understand that the challenges of effecting positive change in Haiti are complex and cannot successfully be addressed in isolation from one another. By 2012 the three of them began to flesh out a vision for an alternative model of philanthropic investment. Out of that grew Creative Exchanges Initiative, which was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2014.

There is a saying that the difference between the privileged and the impoverished is that the privileged can afford a second chance. That’s why CEI was formed—to give those of us working in the field, and those people living in poverty who have been effected by our work, a second chance.

CREATING SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMIC CHANGE

CEI’s Haitian and American leaders have been working together for over 25 years.