About Us

Organizations across the globe are increasingly mistaking dependency for “development”

Truly long-term, sustainable development comes when a community has the opportunity to acquire the organizational skills and financial resources needed to manage its own development. Only then will the community begin developing and achieving the level of strength and independence it both needs and deserves.

Click here to read OUR VISION

Our Vision is for a world in which the very communities living in poverty are the ones leading the fight against it; a world in which impoverished communities decide their own future and manage their own development.

Click here to read OUR MISSION

Roots of Development’s mission is to support and promote a community-driven approach to development—an approach that is based on strengthening local capacity in order to improve the quality of life in marginalized communities.

A major part of Roots of Development’s mission is to help communities come together and better organize themselves so that they can fully utilize the skills, knowledge, and resources they possess to complete life-changing projects. The communities we work with are then able to choose, build, manage, and maintain their own projects. In other words, they decide their own future. In the end our partner communities don’t just end up with a new building, they end up with a stronger voice, greater influence, and a whole lot more independence. There is no better example of this than with our partners in Haiti, APDAG (The Professional Association for the Development and Advancement of Gran Sous (La Gonave)).



Chad W. Bissonnette, Co-founder and Executive Director
Chad holds a bachelors degree in International Relations from American University in Washington, DC. Before graduating from American however, Chad spent a year at Emerson College in Boston, MA, studying PR/Marketing, and two years in Spain teaching for the Spanish Government and acquiring a diploma in Hispanic Language and Culture Studies from the University of Salamanca. Chad began traveling to Haiti in 2005 and co-founded Roots of Development in 2007. He currently serves as its Executive Director, and is responsible for the creation and implementation of the organization’s unique approach to development. When in Haiti, Chad spends most of his time on the island of La Gonave, where his organization works with a set of communities determined to manage their own development. With the motto “Development without Dependency”, Chad speaks regularly about empowerment and community-driven development and his work in Haiti, at high schools and universities along the East Coast. He has also written several articles on those subjects in the Huffington Post. Chad grew up in Connecticut, and has traveled and lived a substantial amount of time overseas (Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Haiti, etc.). He speaks English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. Chad currently resides in Washington, DC.


Lineda Paul, Field Director
Lineda is Roots of Development’s Field Director and is based in Haiti. She plays a crucial role in the implementation of Roots’ projects. Lineda facilitates all of Roots’ relationships with its community-based partners (community-based organizations) and technical partners. Based primarily at Roots’ office on La Gonave, Lineda has played a major role in helping Roots solidify its presence on the island. She is responsible for all activities on-the-ground and for the monitoring and evaluation of past and current projects. Lineda works closely with our local community partners, helping them continuously evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and strengthen their capacity. Lineda studied Development​ ​Science at Paodes University in Port-au-Prince and previously worked as a Program Director with Techo Haiti. Since joining Roots of Development, Lineda has contributed significantly to Roots’ growth and success. She has helped Roots develop more partnerships, take on bigger projects, and manage a new office and training space on La Gonave. Lineda was born into a family of 6 in Cayes, in the south of Haiti, and speaks Haitian Creole, French, Spanish, and is learning English.


Hubert Normil, Program Consultant

Hubert is a local and community development specialist. He earned a master’s degree in Community Development in France, and has over 20 years of work experience. Over these past 20 years, Hubert has had the opportunity to work with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), Oxfam, World Vision, CRWRC, and several other international organizations and agencies. He is a founding member of CDECH (Centre de Développement et de Croissance Humaine), an organization supporting community development efforts in Haiti. And while Hubert is Haitian, he splits his time between Haiti and Canada, where his wife and two sons live. Hubert’s passion is to work alongside people and communities, to help them bring about sustainable change.




Jessica Desvarieux is a multimedia journalist who serves as the Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network. Most recently, Ms. Desvarieux worked as a producer for the ABC Sunday morning program, This Week with Christianne Amanpour. Before moving to Washington DC, Ms. Desvarieux served as the Haiti correspondent for TIME Magazine and TIME.com. Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 – September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work appeared in various media outlets like the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the International Herald Tribune – Daily News Egypt. She graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a Master of Science degree in journalism, and she has a bachelor’s degree in English and History from Wellesley College. Ms. Desvarieux currently resides in Washington, DC.


James O. Martin is a retired astronomer. He has been interested in Haiti since the 1970s and was introduced to Roots of Development in 2007. Mr. Martin has served as the Director of the Naval Observatory in Perrine, FL, the Project Manager for the Radio Astronomy Supercomputer, and has sat on church boards involved in local and world issues. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1987, and helped expand the McClendon Center, a program to provide therapeutic day treatment to persons with mental illness, from a church mission serving forty people to an independent non-profit serving over 600 people at two locations. Mr. Martin has an A.B. from Cornell University and a M.A. from Indiana University.


Jacopo Namari


Bethany Natoli [President]


Magalie Pradel, a psychologist by training, was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She moved to the Washington Metropolitan Area in October 1994, and joined the World Bank, where she developed her passion for sustainable development. Ms. Pradel is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Association of the World Bank and IMF Staff (CAWI).


Ernest Voyard


Chris Wells




Part-Time Financial Analyst
Position Details: We are recruiting an outstanding undergraduate/graduate student/or retiree with bookkeeping experience. We would also be open to a quick learner who knows or is willing to learn the program Quickbooks. We are in search for a volunteer with knowledge of basic bookkeeping and who would be willing to work with our Executive Director to produce quarterly reports. 5-10 hours per quarter would be the time commitment. This is an outstanding leadership opportunity in an innovative nonprofit organization, which works on projects in Haiti. Schedule flexible. Opportunity to work remotely.


Board Notetaker
Position Details: We are interested in a self-motivated, attentive volunteer to help with note taking during Board meetings. The time commitment would be only 5-6 hours four times a year. We are recruiting someone who has strong listening skills and can capture the essence of discussions and turnover minutes in a timely manner. Strong typing skills a must. This would be an excellent opportunity for someone looking to get more involved in the organization.


For more information and to apply to either position, contact Jessica Desvarieux at jessica.desvarieux@gmail.com


**Former Board
Clara Benice
Marian Bissonnette
Martin Bissonnette
Sara Chase
Linda Collyer*
Jessica Desvarieux
Tricia Desvarieux
Ariel Dominique
Montgomery Erwin**
Doris Gordon*
Sara Guderyahn**

Lynn Haney
James Heilman
Kaylee Hultgren
Christian Jabon
Geoffrey Kurgan*
Pat Leavens*
Michael Lowry**
Elodie Manuel*

Rahul Mitra
Laura Montas
Talia Pilorge
Sak Pollert**
Ana Maria Saiz
Kristy Stoesz**
Oz Tolon**


Nicole Anouk Leger, Program Director

Bethany Natoli, Director of Outreach & Partnerships
Brian Averill, Executive Assistant
Yee Chen, Engineer
Kate Hartman, Executive Assistant

Martin Lena
Rachel Rokes
Margaret Schaack
Ayomide Oluleye
Michelle Small

Yasmine Karam

Francisco Perez

Annabelle Nguyen

Eva Allison
Trey Snow
Grace Cerand
Molly Morley
Naomie Pierre-Louis
Weronika Dabrowski
Delaney Dorsey
Cole Hogan
Marie Nathalie Oberti
Jacqui Scibior
Kathryn Cassibry
John Favini
Sarah Finkel
Kristina Villavicencio
Priscilla Kasper
Julien Gustinelli
Jack Bressor
Ashley Holt
Amanda Pascal
Kyara Renelus
Farley Sawyer
Tess Waldrop
Nina Avis


Whole Foods Market

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Based in Austin, TX, Whole Foods Market is a grocery chain with stores across the country. They are a leader in their industry, selling organic and sustainable produce whenever possible. Working with organizations and communities, Whole Foods is committed to making a difference in the lives of others. Roots of Development’s relationship with Whole Foods began in the fall of 2011, and in 2012, Whole Foods stores across the Mid-Atlantic started selling reusable tote bags with the words “Empower Haiti” on them. Proceeds from each bag sold go to Roots of Development and our projects on the island of La Gonave.


“At Whole Foods Market, we are committed to supporting our communities and environment, and this mission extends to partnerships throughout the world, as well. In collaboration with Roots of Development, we are delighted to offer the new ‘Empower Haiti’ reusable shopping bag in stores across the Mid-Atlantic region. Through funds raised from sales of the bag, Whole Foods Market and our shoppers can help impoverished communities in Haiti acquire the financial resources and organizational skills they need to manage their own development.” – Angela Rakis, Whole Foods Market Mid-Atlantic Region Executive Coordinator. 

Location: Worcester, MA
Website: www.sevenhills.org/affiliates/global-outreach/
“In our international development work we rely on global partners who are efficient, effective in their activities, and above all inscrutable in all that they do. I have long admired Roots of Development for demonstrating a selfless approach to their humanitarian work while holding themselves, and others, to exceptionally high standards of ethical and performance outcomes. Roots of Development serves as an example of what all NGO’s who work to uplift the poorest of the poor should be.” – Dr. David A. Jordan, President, Seven Hills Global Outreach. Roots of Development is Seven Hills Global Outreach’s field partner in Haiti. Besides Haiti, they have partners in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Guatamala, Sierra Leone, and Kenya.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Website: www.iadb.org
The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. Roots of Development has built a strong relationship with the Bank, which has supported it through both in-kind and monetary donations. In fact, at the Bank’s 2011 Governor’s dinner (part of its annual meeting), President Moreno presented Roots with a sizable donation to support the work of GFDAG, the women’s group that is a member group of Roots’ main partner on La Gonave, APDAG.

Location: Washington, D.C. and Louisiana
Website: http://landrieu.senate.gov
“I am impressed by Roots of Development’s community-driven approach.” Senator Landrieu was at the heart of the US’s response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. She was the first to offer her support, and to do so she called on the citizens of Louisiana to mobilize and help in every they could. Senator Landrieu pushed to make sure that the U.S. government was supporting local Haitian businesses during the relief effort and that the input of Haitian-Americans in the rebuilding process was being taken seriously. She was in attendance at our 3rd Annual Washington, D.C. Fundraiser as a recipient of the Max Pulgar-Vidal Award.

Location: New York City, NY
Website: www.bradensummers.com
In February 2010, just three weeks after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Braden Summers traveled with Roots of Development to the island of La Gonave to capture images of the damage and the state of Roots’ colleagues and projects. Since his return, Braden has been donating 100% of the sales of his photographs of Haiti to Roots of Development. To see his award-winning photography from his trip to Gran Sous, La Gonave (Haiti), visit www.bradensummers.com/Haiti.html. If you are interested in purchasing prints, please email us at info@rootsofdevelopment.org or visit our online store at http://store.rootsofdevelopment.org/.

Location: Boulder, CO
Website: www.bouldershares.org

BoulderShares has a mission to help coordinate resources, including supplies and funding for schools, homes for abandoned children, and communities in Haiti and the greater West Indies territory. They collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations, schools, churches, and medical personnel to support and change the lives of thousands of women and children. BoulderShares has partnered with Roots of Development to sponsor our annual fundraising events and support our work on the ground.
“Roots’ has such a great energy to it and a unique local connection with the community. Chad [Roots Co-founder and Executive Director] has such a great relationship with the community, it is a real gift. [Roots] does not try to come in and “fix” things, but rather listens to the community, and lets them drive the conversation and the change. [Chad] planted the seed, and now the work and efforts of the community are enabling it to grow.”-Leslie Sosnowski, Founder and President of BoulderShares



ROOTS OF DEVELOPMENT wants to know more about you and answer any questions you may have about our work.

How you can reach us:
Office in the United States: 
Roots of Development
1366 C Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Email: info@rootsofdevelopment.org
Phone: 202-466-0805
Office in Haiti: 
Rasin Devlopman
#2, Rue Bas Bureau (Blvd Isaac)
Anse-a-Galets, La Gonave
Email: info@rasindevlopman.org
Phone: +509-3721-1741