Catherine Parrill

Founder and CEO, Creative Exchanges Initiative


“I believe that we can create a more just and equitable world, honor human dignity, and find solutions to the problems of poverty if we start by building relationships of equality, transparency and trust. At the heart of poverty is lack of freedom and choice. That’s why changing conditions in the world must start with changing ourselves, and how we relate together. We have to take the time and effort to truly listen to and honor each voice and find common ground before we undertake programs and projects. If leave this foundational aspect out of our work, we risk perpetuating the very problems we want to solve.”

Catherine Parrill is founder and CEO of Creative Exchanges Initiative, a nonprofit currently focusing on sustainable development efforts in Haiti. She has taught students from kindergarten through college, was a teacher-trainer in the United States and in Haiti, was Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Centers, has been a business owner, is an author and a musician. Her work in Haiti began as a volunteer in 1990. Over the next few years she became increasingly concerned that well-intentioned giving was not only failing to create sustainable improvements, but was also reinforcing power systems that left out the average person.  The resulting injustices, dependencies, and, sometimes, corruption caused her to leave her Haiti work for a decade. During this period, Haitians in the field had come to similar conclusions about the role of NGOs in Haiti. Catherine and her longtime colleague Rodolphe Eloi decided to bring their combined experience together to create a nonprofit model using dialogical organizational development, to support sustainable development in Haiti.

Catherine’s Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Music Education degrees are from Southern Illinois University. Her master’s work in Creative Writing was done at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Converse College. Her doctoral studies in choral conducting were done at the University of Kansas.


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