Jean Bradley Derenoncourt came to the United States in 2010 after an earthquake devastated his native Haiti. He had few connections, and he didn’t yet speak English. By 2018 Derenoncourt had become an American citizen, a Suffolk University government graduate, the first Haitian-American man elected to office in Massachusetts, and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) guest for the State of the Union.
Derenoncourt chose Suffolk for its close proximity to his internship at the Massachusetts State House. After graduation he became director of constituent affairs for a state senator, helping to resolve issues and connecting residents with services. Running for office was a natural next step in his mission to better the community that had embraced him.
“This is a wonderful country,” says Derenoncourt. “We have a solemn obligation to not just live here, but to serve, protect, and improve.”
So what does it take to win that first race, and where does a prospective candidate even start?