Youth Advocate, Community Leader and Maverick: A Sneak Peak into the Life of Shirley Plantin-Pierre
March 1, 2017 | 6h15PM ET
By Jaury Jean-Enard
Her student was shot at eighteen times. She was investigated in connection to the shooting. She stood by the hospital bed during multiple visits in and out of the operating room. She works from can't see in the morning to can't see at night. She does all of this because she wants to see a better world for youth who are '"at-risk."
Dr. Shirley Plantin-Pierre serves as the Director of Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board where she is tasked with providing suggestions and feedback to county commissioners. She is also the first Haitian-American to hold this post. But her work doesn't stop there and neither did the journey start there. She discovered her passion for at-risk youth when an old friend of sixteen years asked her to help run a gang prevention program for the Haitian community. She was introduced to a group of children that the community, the school board and sometimes even parents often overlook. However, they were also the most in need of attention. They were the ones who were barely passing classes, and at any time could flunk every single class for reasons not immediately noticeable.
"You have three types of kids," said Dr. Platin-Pierre. "You have the kids that excel and don't need much help; [you have] the lost kids… and there's a lot of help for them [because] they have all the risk factors," she continued. "But the kids that matter the most are the kids that are borderline. They are flying under the radar and if you don't catch them in time they can become the drug dealers," she ended.
Dr. Plantin-Pierre has developed a passion for these kinds of children after she realized the difference one person can make in the life of another. Especially in the Haitian community where she claims they do not know the system. This passion has led her to care for youth in juvenile, substance abusers, youths in gang and parent-child relationship. In her former position, she was the Director of Youth & Family Advocacy at Sant La, the Haitian Neighborhood Center where she facilitated various trainings and workshops for the community. She longs to see the next generation of Haitians rise to the challenge of becoming community leaders. This longing causes her to serve on multiple boards throughout Miami-Dade County including Miami-Dade County Domestic Violence Oversight Board, the Educational Excellence School Advisory Council and the Florida Gang Investigators Association.
In another success story, a mentee turned friend of hers told her that she just wanted to go to technical school and get by. Today this mentee (a young lady) is like a sister to Dr. Plantin.
"All people need is a little encouragement and someone to believe in them," says Dr. Plantin-Pierre in talking about students who have grown to unexpected levels.
In her current position as Director of the County Commission Relations Board, she implemented an approach to transform the board from being reactive to becoming more proactive. In light of the ongoing youth crime that has plagued Miami-Dade County, Dr. Plantin-Pierre's approach focuses on three points: youth violence, police & community relations and housing & economic issues.
Dr. Plantin-Pierre believes that the more proactive we can be is the less reactive we have to be in relation to issues facing the community. Her goal is to continue to be an advocate for at-risk youth and impact change. She is married to her husband of 6 years - Stanley Pierre - and they have a three year old son whose energy and zest for life was evident throughout the interview.
To learn more about Dr. Shirley Plantin-Pierre and her work advocating for at-risk youth please visit the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board website.
Dr. Plantin-Pierre is also being recognized by the Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board as 1 of 50 "Vessel: Woman of Substance" for 2017. She holds an Executive Juris Doctor from Concord School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree in History from Saint Thomas University.