Gerard Philippeaux grew up in Haiti, admiring the legacy of two fathers. His biological dad spoke three languages, had two advanced degrees and worked in political administration. After his father passed away from cancer when Philippeaux was nine, his mother remarried a man who worked for the Haitian Foreign Service. Philippeaux was eager to follow in both their footsteps and become a public servant. “Politics is a beautiful thing,” he says. “It’s a way to help people regulate themselves, control themselves, govern themselves—in a perfect world—freely.”
After emigrating to the U.S. to finish high school, Philippeaux quickly acquired the political and governmental experience he desired. He worked for the Haitian government at the United Nations, the Organizations of American States and the Consulate in Montreal. He then returned to Haiti with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and government affairs and worked for several public and international organizations. In 2000, he supported Parliament and the electoral process with USAID. But when dangerous protests swept the country after a contested election, Philippeaux fled the country for Miami. “It was either that, or I would not be here right now,” he says.
His unique background and ability to quickly grasp the local political environment, caught the eye of city officials. In 2002, he became director for public affairs for Commission Chair Barbara Carey-Shuler and, eventually, chief of staff for the Haitian American chair of the County commission.
Currently, Philippeaux is strategic initiatives manager at PortMiami, Miami-Dade’s second-largest economic engine. The Port supports more than 334,000 jobs, contributes $42 billion to the local economy annually and is known as the Cruise Capital of the World and Global Gateway for international cargo, from French wines to Latin American vegetables. Philippeaux’s ability to assist in the development of operational strategies across cultures has made him a valuable member of PortMiami’s team.
In 2015, Philippeaux became a U.S. citizen. After a lifetime working in politics, it’s no surprise that voting in his first presidential election was high on his priority list.
“I know the power that your single vote can make. It can change the course of a whole country and make history.”Gerard Philippeaux