DOROTHY ALEXANDRE - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
JOURNALIST, PRODUCER, PUBLIC SPEAKER & COMMUNITY LEADER
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Passionate about life. Passionate about people. These few words describe the essence of Dorothy Alexandre, a young journalist, producer, radio host and keynote speaker from Montreal, Canada. This entrepreneur heads her own company, Inspiration Communication, and is working on her first major production projects.
In 2009, Dorothy Alexandre launched her career in journalism with Groupe TVA. Since then, she has evolved within the company, working both as a web reporter and researcher alongside the top reporters and anchors of this Quebec private network. She now is a researcher for Groupe TVA's financial specialty channel <<Argen ('Money')>>. During the summer of 2013, she worked as the arts & entertainment reporter for CBC News Montreal.
The radio universe is also one of her favourite playgrounds. She produces and hosts the magazine In Music and Words, broadcasted every Tuesday evenings on CKIN FM 106,3 Montreal. Recognized as an outstanding communicator, Dorothy Alexandre leads her listeners through an inspiring, informative and entertaining show that reflects the cultural diversity that enriches her hometown. A proud Haitian, she also strives to shed light on the leaders of her community through insightful interviews.
Propelled with a vision to change the image of diversity in the Quebec media, Dorothy Alexandre launched in fall 2013 her first web show, broadcasted on her YouTube channel. Sans mots - which offers an important window to diversity on the most talked-about social and political debates in Quebec – echoed in the United States and will be part of an educational French learning tool to be published later in 2014. She is currently working on different production projects and is a brand new blogger for the Huffington Post Quebec.
Her undeniable love for communications also leads her to be a youth motivational speaker: she once was a shy and unconfident girl who now shares her enriching and yet very challenging experience to children, teenagers, and young adults. She mostly insists to share her unconventional career path, having graduated from Concordia University in Exercise Science.
She also is a devoted volunteer, a rewarding role that has allowed her to live enriching experiences for more than 10 years. She is often invited as a host or guest speaker to different benefit activities and other events held by non-profit organizations. She advocates especially for blood donations among the Black community on behalf of the Quebec Sickle Cell Association and is a member of a committee that promotes Haitian culture through eye-opening conferences.
Respected by her peers, some of the recognition she received include being finalist in the ‘Young professional’ category in the annual gala held by the Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce in Montreal (2010), being one of the two spokespersons for the Creole Month of Montreal (2012) and a special mention an appearance in the yearly calendar for the Quebec Black History Month (2012).
Dorothy Alexandre is driven by a simple but effective motto: “ Your attitude determines your altitude “, a motto that inspires her to pursue her dreams with high standards of excellence and generosity.
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
People are always surprised when I tell them that I was not a born communicator. The shyest person in the world, always scared of being judged, deceiving others, making a mistake, that used to be me. I was always worrying about other people’s opinion about me. One of the best examples remains during my high school years. I was a handball player at Collège Regina Assumpta – an all-girl school – and almost every time, I would hesitate before shooting the ball, finally passing it to my teammates. This is one of the main reasons I share my personal story to the youth because I know where I come from. It hurts to lack confidence and stays in the shadow of others.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
I find inspiration in people and bringing the best out of them. My thirst to share other people’s story – their struggles, successes, opinions, accomplishments – drive me through the challenges of my career. I also read a lot about success stories and other empowering and insightful articles about writing & communication tips, business & people skills. Continuing education through workshops and seminars also gets me motivated to hone my craft. Also, I have been writing my dreams and goals – both short and long term – consistently for the past 10 years, reassessing them every two months. I love the “check-mark” feeling. If one wants to go from point A to point B, one must “plan his work and work his plan”. Finally, praying, reading my Bible and sharing my successes and disappointments with my loved ones and handful friends keeps me grounded and motivated to do better.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
After completing my degree in Exercise Science at Concordia University, in 2002, I already knew I didn’t want to work in the health sector but rather in the business industry. However, I did not have much experience and credentials. Therefore, until 2009, I worked as a disability claim specialist for a renowned insurance company in Montreal, a financial advisor for another renowned one and an executive assistant for a promoter. My great ability to communicate was the common factor throughout the so-many jobs I had before becoming a journalist - more than 10 if we count my student years. However, the milestone of my career was being a Mary Kay consultant, a direct-selling cosmetic company, from 2002 to 2006. My self-confidence and communications skills skyrocketed thanks to those women who believed in me and pushed me to become a better communicator, businesswoman, listener, and motivator.
In 2009, the opportunity of becoming a journalist knocked at my door, first as a pro bono reporter for a community website, bottinhaitien.com, and then with Groupe TVA. Despite the challenges, I worked twice as hard. The probation period at TVA is 300 working days for new journalists, so failing was not an option.
I would not be where I am without my social involvement in both my community and in Quebec at-large. Because I write my goals and accomplishments, I realized volunteering have opened the doors for me for all the major opportunities in my life. I now dedicate myself to my business, Inspiration Communication, so you can expect inspiring, thought-provoking, propelling projects to come forth in the near future.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for as a woman with integrity and authenticity. A woman who valued others by shining light on them and their personal stories. A woman whose positivity reflected in her bodywork. A woman who touched many lives. A woman who stood for her beliefs that include social justice. A woman who was passionate about life and people.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
This is a tough question. I have a very well balanced life. I have learned to say ‘no’ in order to focus on my life priorities: God, me, my family and friends and my career. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the socialite standards. I may know a lot of people, but my intimate circle is very small. I spend quality time with those I love through working on common projects – for example with my brother Rodney, a professional stunt actor, or going around the city to discover new artistic and social activities that relate to our interests. I haven’t been much in touch with some members of my family for the past months, especially because I was focused so much on my career. I will work on that. In my book, the best activity remains to have a great conversation with those loved ones.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
My favorite food is Avocado! I am a junkie (for avocado).
My favorite book : The Dream Catcher, a beautiful tale by Paulo Coelho. This is THE book that helped me understand the power of chasing my dreams with perseverance and determination. I still remember the emotions I was going through while reading this book as a young adult in search of who I was.
My all-time favorite movie, like so many of your readers, is Coming to America. It is the only movie I watch over and over and feel just like it was the first time.It is a light, feel-good movie, indeed, but it is more than that. It is a point of reference in my life that reminds me of precious family moments.
It is hard for me to choose a single favorite music. It has changed over the course of the years, depending on the different stages of my life. Throughout my challenging ones, l listened day and night to ‘I’m Here’, from American Idol winner Fantasia, and “I Believe In You”, by Canadian Icon Celine Dion and the group II Divo. I’m a proud Haitian, so ‘Lakay’, a creole song from Haiti’s best-known compas band Tabou Combo is THE song that connects me best to my roots : the sound, the rhythm, the words, the spirit. Everything. But gospel is what keeps me grounded.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
I have been blessed enough to live a beautiful social and career pathway in Quebec. I’ve had great opportunities that allowed me to grow as a woman and contribute positively to my society. However, I have faced challenges throughout my career, such as subtle discrimination. At first, it was hard for me to admit it. However, over the course of the past few years, I’ve realized by discussing with colleagues in the media business and friends working in other fields that our skin color still mattered to some extent. I always say that if we were to put a hidden microphone in some of our homes, many people would hear those private conversations between young professionals – lawyers, marketing executives, communications professionals and TV personalities - that share the pain of having a promotion ‘stolen’, for example, or describing that ‘gut feeling’ of subtle discrimination: it’s the interactions, the stereotyped conversations, the double standards of achievement. The reality is that we tend not to lift our voices in fear of being tagged as an ‘angry black man’ or an ‘angry black woman’ or of losing our job. Thankfully, this is not the norm, especially when Non-Blacks with more open minds acknowledge a situation and give us support. The solution to this challenge is to keep educating the leaders and the population in general. For many companies, diversity is a lot like these social-impact strategies that are put together without delivering real and tangible benefits to the communities they serve. It is about ‘following the trend’. On the other side, we must keep on striving for excellence in all we do because mediocrity by one, unfortunately, closes the door for someone behind. We must support each other and put forward open and progressive conversations along with empowering initiatives – such as the Black History Month – to bring about real change.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc.
I believe we have to create those opportunities despite the challenges. It starts by believing that we can achieve those groundbreaking accomplishments. Education, leadership, a strong network system, innovation, vision, high standards of excellence, determination, these are some of the key elements necessary for transforming an ordinary project into an extraordinary one. One thing we almost always forget is that success comes when we team-up with people that are BETTER than us because we are ‘only as strong as the weakest link’. It is lonely at the top so let’s move together and build our dreams based on our competencies and interests, propelled our strong commitment to make a difference and impact others.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
My main role models are my parents because of their tenacity and the education they give me. I also look up to Merlaine Brutus, a 70+ year-old social worker who heads the youth organization Kouzin Kouzin’ in Montreal. She devotes herself to school perseverance and social integration. My other role models are Katleen Félix, a microfinance expert who left a brilliant job on Wall Street to develop a sustainable economy in Haiti, particularly through the platform Zafèn. Nadine Francillon supports the education of more than 700 children in Haiti through her Foundation Voix Angélique (FOVA). I followed these two women in Haiti for almost three weeks in December, documenting their work. It confirmed the tireless dedication they have for their home country despite the challenges of working from Montreal. Finally, Wilson Sanon, the founder of Quebec’s Sickle Cell Association is a strong advocate of blood donation by the Black community in order to change the lives of those living with the disease. I have been working with him as a volunteer for the past two years. Giving without expecting nothing in return is what make these people real leaders.
Should & do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
I believe it is a must that Blacks support their peers. This is the only way a community can be economically strong. However, supporting black music, events and businesses does not mean supporting mediocrity. One should be open enough to receive constructive critics that will propel him to offer a better service or product.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black History in Canada reflects the stories of the Black leaders that have contributed to shaping our country. It is the history that is sometimes untold in our books and that needs to be shared through different platforms and artistic forms. Black history is also contemporary because each of us is building the nation and the world we live in.
Dorothy Alexandre’s words to an uninspired person:
Find inspiration in the simplest thing in life. If you have the ability to be moved like a child, you will open your mind and heart to experiences and relationships you could have never imagined. It is not enough to dream. You must visualize it. Move forward with conviction. Walk like a boss. Think like a boss. Talk like a boss. Act like a boss. Keep your head up even through adversity. American author once said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” So go out there and shine your light bright.