Black History Month Spotlight: Tanisha Elizaire

By USCRI February 7, 2023

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelou


These are the words Tanisha Elizaire, Associate Director of USCRI’s Refugee Health Services Program, lives by.

Elizaire has worked in the health field for more than 20 years, managing an array of physical and mental health programs.

Through this work, Elizaire was awarded the Garrison Commander Recognition Pendant for providing psychological preparedness training to active military personnel and the Homeland Security Appreciation Coin for structuring and overseeing behavior health, and mental health teams for Operation Allies Welcome (OAW).

Elizaire’s journey in refugee services began after a trip to Haiti in 2012 where she saw the conditions following the 2010 earthquake and, having immediate family who emigrated from Haiti, was moved to start a nonprofit to send donations to Haiti. Back in her home state of Florida, Elizaire also provided free assistance to those coming from Haiti and Africa, by helping them complete paperwork and finding housing, English language assistance, and other local resources.

Joining USCRI’s Refugee health service program has been an opportunity for Elizaire to continue to work with refugees and help others overcome barriers to healthcare. After spending years without healthcare, Elizaire feels that this position was hand-picked for her. “Not only did God place me in a position to overcome that hardship, he allowed me to develop empathy and understanding of what it’s like to go without health care, which makes me even more passionate about providing a service that eliminates those type of barriers,” she said.

Elizaire believes it is important to celebrate Black History Month as an opportunity for people to learn about the struggles and accomplishments of generations of Black people. “It’s important that parents teach their kids… why they should have pride in who they are.”

Fortunately, Elizaire had parents that educated her about Black History because she didn’t learn it in school.  As well, as they taught her that her dreams are not limited by the color of her skin or the opinion of others about who she should be.

It was during Black History Month that she performed a dance to “Young, Gifted and Black” by Nina Simone.

“To hear something that repeatedly tells me, I should be proud to be who I am. That meant something to me,” said Elizaire.

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