Miami-Dade County

Sudden firing of Little Haiti Cultural Center director causes tension

Sandy Dorsainvil, manager of Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center, was abruptly fired Monday.
Sandy Dorsainvil, manager of Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center, was abruptly fired Monday.

The manager of Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center was abruptly fired Monday without explanation, causing an uproar among blind-sided supporters.

Sandy Dorsainvil said she was at the city facility at 212 NE 59th Terr. around 2 p.m. when two city employees showed up with a termination letter signed by City Manager Daniel Alfonso. She said the letter didn’t explain why she was being fired, and she was given a few minutes to clear out her possessions from her office and leave.

“I don’t even really know what happened,” she said in an interview.

In a statement, Alfonso said he couldn’t discuss Dorsainvil’s firing due to an “ongoing review.” He declined to elaborate when reached by phone.

News quickly spread about Dorsainvil, a prominent member of Miami’s Haitian community. She had managed the center for several years, overseeing a theater, fine art gallery, archive and recently renovated Caribbean marketplace. Under her tenure, the center hosted photo galleries and art exhibits, dance and performing arts programs, and regular community gatherings and celebrations.

Recently, the complex hosted famed Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and Haitian presidential candidate Jovenel Moïse.

Sandy Dorsainvil

Sandy Dorsainvil talks about the Haitian Community in South Florida. Sneak peek of her interview with James Pierre. Watch more here

Posted by JAMES PIERRE on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dorsainvil, an at-will employee without union representation, said she was never reprimanded and her firing came out of nowhere. She said she was working with the Miami Foundation to establish an endowment for the center.

“I just feel maybe I wasn’t moving the complex in the direction that the Department of Real Estate and Asset Management wanted,” she said. “There’s been lots of conversation about changing direction and making the cultural center change as Little Haiti is changing. Making it less a community-oriented venue and more of a rental facility that can generate revenue.”

Joann Milord, executive director of the Northeast Second Avenue Partnership, a community organization dedicated to revitalizing Little Haiti’s commercial corridors, said Dorsainvil brought focused programming back to the center and made it accessible to the community. She called a community meeting Wednesday evening to talk about Dorsainvil’s firing, and said a coalition of community members plans to call for answers and demand that she be reinstated.

“We as a community want answers as to why this was done,” she said. “She did a great job and her performance shows she shouldn’t be terminated.”

Alfonso said his administration will tap a property manager to run the center while they search for a permanent replacement. But he isn’t discussing why she was fired.

“We thank Ms. Dorsainvil for her years of service to the City of Miami and wish her well in her future endeavors,” Alfonso said in his statement. “We are currently looking for a new director for the Little Haiti Cultural Center.”