MICHELE JESSICA FIEVRE (MJ)
A Fabulous Woman Who Dare: Michèle-Jessica Fièvre or MJ was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At the times, it was not always easy to let your parents know that you wanted to be a writer. MJ, however, dared to dream and decided she would do what she was born to do. She embarked into her own journey and used her God given talent to become a prolific and very successful writer. It all started when she self-published her first mystery novel “Le Feu de La Vengeance” at the age of 16. She signed her first book contract for a Young Adult Novel at the age of 19. She earned a Bachelor in Education from Barry University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She is a professor at Miami Dade College and the head of Florida Publishing Company Lominy Books. Please visit her most recent website: https://www.badassblackgirl.com/
Below are some titles by MJ:
- La Bête, novel (1999)
- L’Homme au pardessus jaune, stories (2000)
- Thalassophobie, novel (2001)
- La Statuette maléfique, youth literature (2001)
- Les Hommes en Rouge: l’éclipse, novel (2003)
- La Bête II: Métamorphose, novel (2005)
- Les Fantasmes de Sophie, novel (2007)
- Le Fantôme de Lisbeth, youth literature (2007)
- Sortilège haïtien, novel (2011)
- I am Riding, children’s literature (2013), in English, French and Creole
- A Sky the Color of Chaos, memoir (2015)
- Happy Ok (2019)
- Badass Girl (2020)
- Empowered Black Girl (2021)
- Raising Confident Black Kids (2021)
- Black, Brave, Beautiful (2021)
- Resilient Black Girl (2021)
A CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR MICHELE JESSICA FIEVRE (MJ)
Fabulous MJ: that’s a difficult question, because storytelling has always been part of my life. I grew up in Haiti, where there’s a rich tradition of oral storytelling, so from the time I could talk, I was listening to and telling stories. I wrote my first novel, La Feu de la Vengeance, when I was sixteen, but before that I was telling stories, and writing goes hand in hand with that. I can’t really remember a time when stories weren’t part of my life.
FabulousP3: What are some of the challenges you had to overcome to get acceptance and recognition, first at home growing up, and later when you decided to make it a career?
Fabulous MJ: Probably the biggest challenge I faced was believing in myself. In Haiti, I was lucky to have people in my family who were very supportive of my writing, and one aunt in particular who helped me get my first novel in shape. And when it was released, it got a lot of attention. I was on television and radio. But, even after that, the idea of supporting myself as a writer was crazy! In Haitian families, artistic careers are discouraged. My family wanted me to go into law or medicine. I even spent two years in med school before I decided that it wasn’t for me, and even then, I didn’t go back to school to study writing. I studied education and became a teacher. It was only after I earned my teaching degree that I decided to go back to school to study creative writing, and the idea of being a full-time writer was still sort of a fantasy. It wasn’t really until I got my memoir, A Sky the Color of Chaos, published that I started to think maybe writing full time was something I could do. Or at least make a career out of writing as the centerpiece. It took a lot of self-talk to convince myself that writing was the right career for me.
FabulousP3: What advice would you give a young woman who is unsure as to whether or not being a writer is a fulfilling career?
Fabulous MJ: Try it and see if it works for you. Find a community of writers you can belong to and share your work with. If you’re young, you’ve got your whole life to explore what’s right for you, and you may as well try writing if it appeals to you. I can’t say whether everyone will find it to be a fulfilling career or not. It’s an individual thing. For me, writing is the most fulfilling work I’ve done. I will say that it’s possible to be a successful writer and that I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.
FabulousP3: Other than teaching and writing, what are you passionate about?
Fabulous MJ: Social justice is important to me. I’m thinking specifically about the problems caused by systemic racism. I get sick every time I hear about another case where a young Black man or woman has died at the hands of police needlessly. For no good reason. I’m also passionate about children and seeing them grow up in a world that’s better than what they are being offered right now. When I was growing up, there was a lack of representation of people of color in the books and articles I read. I want to change that for today’s youth. I want them to grow up with resources and role models that will influence them positively; it’s why I wrote Badass Black Girl and the other books in that series.
FabulousP3: What advice would you give a woman who’s 50+ about rediscovering her talent, and possibly making big changes in her life (personal or professional)
Fabulous MJ: You’re still young, you have the rest of your life to explore and see what fits for you. Today is the day! Make the changes you are thinking about. It’s much better than being stuck in a life you don’t love.
FabulousP3: Tell us something unique/ interesting about MJ that most of us Fabulous ladies don’t know
Fabulous MJ: I’m a real geek. I’m crazy about comic books and the Marvel movies. I play video games in my spare time. I’m a real nerd, and I’m unapologetic about it.
MARIE ROSE R. MURPHY
A Fabulous Woman Who Dared: Marie Rose dares to be a woman who decided long ago that she would always have something to say, and she does it successfully through her writing and her speaking engagements. Marie Rose has also dared to dedicate her life to fighting injustice in tangible ways. Her focus is the creation of viable and sustainable pathways of development for low-income individuals, marginalized communities, and developing countries. Marie Rose was born and raised in Haiti from a long line of leaders and entrepreneurs. She completed her primary and secondary classes in Haiti then moved to Boston where she obtained her Bachelor degree in Journalism, followed by her graduate degrees (MBA and MS in economic development).
Marie Rose is currently the founder and President of a consulting firm RMC Consulting https://romainmurphy.com/about/, which works in an integrated hands-on manner with local, regional, national and international non-profit organizations on a variety of issues/projects including resource development, program planning, project management, organizational development, financial review and analysis, financial management, partnerships building and fundraising campaigns. Her client list includes: Imago Dei Fund/The Girl Child Project, African Parks Network (APN), Global Emergency Group (GEG), Cambridge Community Center, to name a few. She has facilitated workshops for diverse groups in the US, Haiti, Africa and Europe on fundraising, and other projects. Marie Rose has received numerous awards for her work. They include: Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s “Women to Watch” in human rights & humanitarian International List (2019-2020); Women Thought Leaders in Philanthropy List (compiled by COF’s Bokoff)- 2019; Community Foundations of Canada Fellowship-(2017); Ford Foundation Scholarship for the Global Summit on Community Philanthropy (2016); American Express’ Neighborhood Leadership Award (1997); Children Services of Roxbury’s Leadership Excellence Award (2006), to name a few.
A CONVERSATION WITH MARIE-ROSE
FabulousP3: What motivated you to focus on these issues? Did you have a mentor? What was your breakthrough?
Fabulous Marie-Rose: I was born with a critical mind. Growing up in Haiti, a male dominated country, I questioned our society’s proclivity to portraying women and girls as *less* very early. I questioned taboos, I questioned injustice. When I went to study in the U.S. and decided to stay after I met my husband, I experienced racism and sexism and started to discover how unjust and unequal the American society was ( and still is!) It got me mad. I channeled my anger into my work on social change.
FabulousP3: What would you tell to someone who is interested in the type of work do? How would you mentor young women planning to join this field.
Fabulous Marie Rose: This is not ‘easy work’. People involved in social change ( nonprofit, community development, humanitarian, international aid work) are not necessarily ‘better’. The status quo is very hard to change, and it tends to crush people who really want to change it in a structural manner. Be strong, trust yourself and build your support system and network.
I mentor young women who work in these fields. Many reach out to me for advice and support. When I expressed my surprise to one of them about how often young women and especially young Black women reached out to me, she said : “We’re trying to figure out how to survive.” These words still haunt me. It really disturbs me that younger women have to deal with the same challenges I had to face years ago ( that I still have to face). We should be further along as societies. We must do better.
FabulousP3: If someone is interested in participating as a volunteer or intern in any of your projects how do they express interest?
Fabulous Marie-Rose: They contact me/us via email/social media. We’re looking for an intern to work on our website and social media by the way. We’ll pay them.
FabulousP3: Can you explain how you can help an organization fundraise for any of their projects or any for your current projects?
Fabulous Marie-Rose: As a consultant, I have to assess the organization first and figure out their objectives and their capacity. I then develop with them a strategy that makes sense for them. I advise people and/or do it with them. In terms of anyone interested in helping us ( ESPWA and the Haiti Community Foundation) to fundraise for our projects, there are many ways they can do that. We have a crowd-funding campaign that they can support and encourage their friends to support. They can organize a fundraiser on Facebook for their birthday. In a post pandemic world, they can have a virtual happy hour to raise funds for the organization. There are many ways that they can help.
FabulousP3: As a Fabulous woman celebrating Women’s history month can you tell us about a few of the women who have influenced you the most?
Fabulous Marie-Rose: I like strong, smart, independent and fearless women in a world where we, women are taught to be afraid to be ourselves because we’re supposed to be ‘nice’, ‘pretty’ and please everyone. My mother was a successful entrepreneur who encouraged me and my sisters to be independent and educated. She also raised us with the idea that ‘people are people’. She used to say: “What you have you may lose overnight, what you represent may also change overnight. What really matters is who you are.” This is a principle that still guides me. She had a definite influence on me.
Women I like? Marie Curie, Sojourner Truth, Audre Lorde, the current leader of New Zealand who makes me want to move there. The truth is that in terms of leadership, I have admired men like Toussaint Louverture, Martin Luther Kind for strategy, Malcom X for his insights and truth telling, and Nelson Mandela for choosing peace over hate and division and bringing a fragmented and painfully divided country together. Haïti needs a Nelson Mandela by the way.
History has not been good at remembering women and especially women of color. There are many hidden figures that we are discovering.
This is a long answer to say that there are not many ‘famous women’ who helped to shape me. I found my inspiration in stories of my great grandmother who had the courage to make her own way, in my grandmother who loved so deeply, in my great aunt who built her business. I was a ‘rebel’ who questioned everything and didn’t fit anywhere even as she wanted to ‘belong’. In the end, I had to build my own life and my own community. It’s fine. I created my place in the world and built my ‘home’ with people I care about and love.
MARIE ELSIE A. DOWELL
A Fabulous Woman who Dared: Marie-Elsie Amedee Dowell dared to choose a profession that was and continues to be male dominated: engineering. Marie Elsie was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attended College St. Francois D’Assise and spent two years at the Faculte des Science before attending Florida International University where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. She is Vice President and senior technical manager for WSP. Marie-Elsie has served the Florida Engineering Society (FES) Miami Chapter in various roles, from treasurer to president-elect, president, and now past-president. She started her career as a traffic engineer in South Florida, moving to hold prominent regional and national roles as National Traffic Practice Lead and Technical Manager over her 28-year career with WSP. She has worked on several major iconic transportation projects in the South Florida area, including PortMiami, Miami Intermodal Center the SR 826/836 Interchange Reconstruction
, Over the past year, Marie-Elsie secured Board unanimous approval for moving forward three major transit projects, the North Corridor, the East-West, and Flagler Corridors.
A CONVERSATION WITH MARIE -ELSIE
FabulousP3: Why did you choose to become an engineer?
Fabulous Marie Elsie: Growing up, my favorite memory is doing puzzles with my father who is an engineer and an architect. I learned a lot about solving problems that way and that there is always a solution to everything, no matter how daunting it may look at first. Later on, he would take me on his job sites every Saturday and I was mesmerized seeing buildings go up from nothing. When I had to chose a career, I was naturally drawn to engineering to continue the family tradition as both my grandfathers and my Dad were engineers.
FabulousP3: What are some key challenges/ obstacles you had to overcome in your line of work?
Fabulous Marie-Elsie: Being measured by different standards as a black woman with a lovely accent 😌. Once I understood that, I approached my studies and career with the mind set that it is more about what I know and not who they perceive me to be. So I set out to project “Engineer” rather than black or woman, because in the professional world, that is all that matters.3) what would you tell to a young girl who wants to become an engineer today? Focus on what you know you are good at and do not listen to anyone who tells you that you cannot be an engineer. Work on seeing problems as opportunities for solutions and always know that there is a way to fix anything. Embrace math and science and explore the many facets of engineering from building roads, creating sewer systems, to developing medical equipment and even beauty products.
FabulousP3: What is the link between the work of an engineer and the future of the environment?
Fabulous Marie-Elsie: Engineers take an oath to put the public welfare above all else. Regarding the environment, engineers look at fixing current issues, evaluating trends, and developing solutions to prevent further deterioration. We continue to work on renewable and alternate sources of energy to produce electricity and petroleum; developing new design requirements for sea level rise; better engines to reduce carbon monoxide from vehicles; driverless cars to minimize accidents and injuries; better roads to accommodate all types of transportation to reduce reliance on cars and minimizing taking land to build cars.
FabulousP3: Tell us something interesting about you that will surprise us
Fabulous Marie Elsie: 🤣 I am a hopeless romantic which contradicts the logical, pragmatic engineer side🤷🏽♀️ At least twice a year, I need to watch Pride and Prejudice or The Count of Monte Christo😌
ALEXANDRA DE GROEN
A Fabulous Woman who Dared: About a decade ago, Alexandra de Groen decided to move from the back of a Zumba class to the front, as an instructor. Today, Alexandra continues to share the benefits of incorporating a dance routine that brings joy and happiness. Alexandra lives in Miami, FL and has been a Zumba Instructor since 2009. She is originally from Haiti and as a good Caribbean girl she just loves to dance!
A CONVERSATION WITH ALEXANDRA DE GROEN
FabulousP3: What is Zumba?
Fabulous Alexandra: It is a dance fitness workout. It is often called “the exercise in disguise”, because when those Latin and World rhythms start playing, they take you over and you don’t even feel that you are working out.
FabulousP3: How did you get into Zumba?
Fabulous Alexandra: It all started when I tried that new class that had just been added to the schedule at my gym. It was called Zumba and was described as a dance aerobics class. Little did I know that it would be way more than that!!! The class was PACKED, and the atmosphere was electric. I absolutely loved it. I felt like I was at a party, the kind we had in my teen age years, back in Haiti, when we would just get together and put on the latest songs and dance our hearts out, trying those “cool dance moves” we’d seen on tv or at the movies. I was hooked and went to all the classes I possibly could. I felt so happy after each class. After a while, it became clear to me that I needed to not only do this everyday but that I also needed to share that feeling of joy with others. I had to become an instructor. So I did!
FabulousP3: Who were your first students?
Fabulous Alexandra: I started teaching at my house for a group of friends, then moved on to a real studio space, and today I am still at it having moved on to teaching virtually.
FabulousP3: Was it a difficult journey and how many certifications do you have?
Fabulous Alexandra: After getting my Zumba certification, I obtained several fitness certifications: group fitness instructor through AFAA, mat Pilates instructor with PEAK Pilates, barre instructor with BARRE-SET-GO. I regularly participate in continuing education workshops through Zumba. The world is constantly evolving, and one never stops learning and improving.
FabulousP3: How do you keep going?
Fabulous Alexandra: My fitness motto: Once you experience the effects of the endorphins that are released through movement and exercise, you will understand that exercise is not a punishment but rather an integral part of your general well-being, physical as well as mental.
Thank you and see you soon!
A Fabulous Woman Who Dared to overcome physical pain from a terrible accident, avoid surgery by learning Yoga and became a successful Yoga certified instructor. Above all, she is a loving mother and a teacher at heart.
Mother to Marls | Certified Hatha Instructor | Published Writer
A Conversation with Maureen “Karama” Forbes
FabulousP3: Tell the world about you:
Fabulous Maureen: I’m Maureen “Karama” Forbes. I am a single mom to the world’s best daughter and I also have a full-time job.
I am a certified Hatha Yoga Instructor with close to 20 years of practice and yoga teaching experience. Each yoga session varies. Trust me, you won’t be bored!
FabulousP3: So when did you discover your interest in Yoga?
Fabulous Maureen: My love for health and fitness began at a young age. Then in 2001, I fell down a steep flight of stairs and landed in a split. Guys, it was the first split I had ever done in my life! It was one of life’s sudden, painful lessons that would impact me forever. In that fall, I injured my back, right hip, and tore the meniscus in my right knee. With a talented doctor’s help and therapy, I was able to avoid surgery. I became strong again and was able to walk without limping or using a cane. While I was recovering a dear cousin suggested that I try to improve my mobility through yoga. I was eager to try anything. In my first class, I was embarrassed that I could only do three poses but didn’t give up. And 20 years later I am an instructor, head over heels in love with yoga, and eager to help others become more empowered, able-bodied, and confident.
FabulousP3: What can you tell someone who is hesitant about joining Yoga or thinks that they are too old to do it?
Fabulous Maureen: I’ve worked with a diverse group of clients, and experience has taught me that every person is unique, every human body has its own strengths and challenges, and we each have our own goals and lifestyles. From experience, I know that if you are determined to improve your health you can do it. Setting your mind to the task, educating yourself, and practice are key. I can help you to improve your fitness in terms of mobility, breathing, posture, energy level, and an overall feeling of calm. You are in charge and do what your body dictates.
FabulousP3: What is the name of your Yoga Studio?
Fabulous Maureen: It is DYNAMIC YOGA JOURNEY. I am fortunate enough to be able to turn my passion into a thriving profession. I’ve been working as a certified Hatha Yoga Instructor, leading students from all fitness levels. Many of my classes at reputable Miami/Fort Lauderdale area gyms have had 50+ students. I’m always excited to help my clients work within their own constraints to maximize their results. Clients who are:
Seeking increased strength and flexibility
Require chair yoga
In recovery from injuries
FabulousP3: Would you care sharing a view into your life outside of Yoga?
Fabulous Maureen: When I’m not leading yoga sessions, I spend time teaching at a local university. I also spend much of my free time writing articles, working on my book, creating art, and loving on my dear friends, family, and my awesome daughter!
*Always check with your medical provider before starting a workout regimen.
Please follow Maureen at:
My website: https://www.dynamicyogajourney.com/
YouTube: (Dynamic Yoga Journey) Bit.ly/2J7ABmz