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Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick Biography: Inside The Life Of The Haitian American Politician

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Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is a Haitian-American businesswoman, attorney, and politician who currently represents Florida’s 20th congressional district in the United States. She was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 25, 1979. Dr. Gabriel Smith, her stepfather, and her mother, Marie (Cherfilus) Smith, are both Haitians. Cherfilus was raised in Queens before her family relocated to Florida when she was thirteen, where she attended Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory in Hollywood, Florida, and graduated in 1997.

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Cherfilus began working as an intern at Trinity Health Care Services in 1999 while studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she was a member of the Golden Key Honor Society. In 2002, she was promoted to Operations Manager at Trinity Health Care after receiving her BA in political science and government. She then worked as a project manager for the New York City Transit Authority for a short time. Cherfilus attended the University of Maryland Global Campus from 2005 to 2007, working toward her MBA in business administration and management while also serving as the Vice President of Operations at Trinity Health Care Services.

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Cherfilus worked as a legal intern for attorney Robert J. Friedman, as well as the Surfside Town attorney’s office and the Miami Public Defender’s office, while attending St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami, Florida. In 2010, she was promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trinity Health Care Services. Cherfilus married lawyer Corlie McCormick in 2017, and the couple has two children. Cherfils-McCormick advocated for healthcare expansion throughout her career, making numerous trips to Capitol Hill to lobby on the issue.

 

Nearly half a million Haitian Americans live in Florida, where Cherfilus-McCormick lives. Cherfilus-McCormick decided to run for Congress in 2017 after becoming dissatisfied with Congress’s lack of motivation to pass legislation to help the Haitian American community in Florida. She lost to longtime U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings in both 2018 and 2020. When Hastings died of pancreatic cancer in April 2021, leaving a vacancy and the need for a special election, Cherfilus-McCormick poured $2.3 million of her own money into her campaign and won with 78% of the vote.

 

She is now the representative for the Broward-Palm Beach County 20th Congressional District, and she is only the second Haitian American elected to Congress, the first being Rep. Mia Love of Utah (2015-2019). Cherfilus-McCormick is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Veterans Affairs Committee.

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