After a massive earthquake hit Haiti, one of the world's poorest nations, Ralph Delouis '06 put his skills and expertise to work on a long-term plan to stimulate the country's economy. A year later, he is being honored for his efforts.
Delouis, an associate at McCarter & English law firm, is a recipient of the National Law Journal's 2010 Pro Bono Awards. Delouis and firm partner, R. Andrew Richards, are developing a microfinance initiative that will help predominantly low-income Haitian farmers obtain loans that will increase their yield and transform their commodity crops -- including mangoes, coffee and coca -- to higher value end products.
Delouis attributes much of his success to his Connecticut College education.
"My experience at Connecticut College was instrumental in shaping how I view and approach life," Delouis said. "With its emphasis on personal excellence, community service and global citizenship, Conn afforded me multifaceted skills that I put into practice every day. My pro bono work is a reflection of those values."
As a senior, Delouis was honored with a community service award from the Connecticut Department of Higher Education for his mentoring work in the New London schools. Delouis and Robinson Rojas '06 were recognized for organizing and implementing the "My Brother" mentor program, which continues to be a popular campus program.
For Delouis, the mission is also a personal one. "As the son of Haitian immigrants who lost close relatives in the earthquake, it was very important for me to give back to a country and a people so close to my heart. We are confident that the project will have a long-term impact, especially given the growing emphasis on decentralization in Haiti," he said.
Delouis and Richards were recruited for the case by the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), a New York-based group which provides pro bono assistance to governments and non-profit organizations in the developing world.
Delouis was also recognized by ISLP in October for the assistance he provided to public defenders in the Haitian provinces, which lacked access to such basic legal resources as their constitution and criminal codes.
Currently, Delouis is working with Lutheran Social Services of New York to help Haitian immigrants who arrived after the earthquake apply for deferred action status, which allows applicants to remain in the United States for a temporary authorized period of time.