Walking into a small coffee shop, is a women with defined naturally curly hair, wearing a long sleeved grey shirt and khakis. A small smile on her face and a look of wonder, as she thinks of her next move. Right behind her, is a little girl with very long straight black hair wearing workout clothes; a grey sweatshirt, along with black tights and a black backpack. This woman is with her daughter, on a saturday afternoon, grabbing a beverage after a productive day. This woman is Nancy Marie Thérèse, the only black women in the top 50 women of Long Island, along with her 11-year-old daughter. Her 11-year -old picks a table and sits down, as she makes her way to the barista and orders a Frappuccino for her daughter and coffee for herself. The woman pays her tab, grabs both drinks, and sits next to her daughter and starts telling the long story that is her career path.
Manigat is the Chief Program Officer of Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services, Inc., a non-profit organization, serving Long Island Residents with behavioral health needs. She has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare and social work business. As Chief Program Officer, Manigat oversees the operations of the agency and the programs. Manigat says, “I have directors under me to do the day to day operation of the actual programs, the clinical and budgetary oversight. I am their supervisor. I make sure that everybody is in line with what we’re supposed to be doing in terms of providing quality care to the mentally ill population. Our goal is to provide a continuum of care.” She continues by sharing the pros of the agency, “ In our agency, we can go from one level of care to another and not have to leave the agency. Not have to leave the comfort of the people you know. It leads to better cohesiveness and collaboration.” Manigat’s goal is to promote recovery, “I don’t think that someone with mental illness should be put on the side. You can contribute to society because it’s like any other illness, such as diabetes or heart disease. They (the mentally ill) can be productive and have meaningful relationships. It’s my job that our programs meet the goals of our mission and provides high quality care that make an impact in people’s life.”
Raised by Haitian Immigrants, she was the first of her family to be born in America. Manigat was born and raised in Queens, New York. She is grateful every time she has a job because when she was younger, she remembers her father unable find a job because of the color of his skin. As her family moved to the United States during the time of segregation, racism and the language barrier made it hard for him to find a job. She remembers her family struggling, her father’s experience is one or of the things that motivates her to be successful. “I am always grateful to have a job.” As she was starting out in her career, her father asked, “Why did you go into the business of human suffering?” She told him without hesitation, “because it’s my calling.” Her opinion on Social Work is that, “You have to want to be in this business. It’s not easy. You have to really want to be able to touch people’s lives. I don’t know why but I never wanted people to feel like they were alone in the world.” Manigat could not be happier in her career, “ My passion is operation. I’m content with where I am.” She continued with, “When I first joined CN Guidance, we were a 13 million-dollar company. I don’t want to move to a bigger company or be a CEO. I know what a CEO does, that’s not what I want.”
Long Island Business News launched in 2000, the Top 50 Women in Business program recognizing the Island’s top women professionals for mentoring, community involvement and business acumen. These women are nominated by co-workers and employers, and honorees are selected by a judging committee. Manigat nominated by her employer is the only black women of the top 50 women of Long Island. This situation is no surprise to her, “I think everything happens for a reason. I was in the City in a court profit consulting prompt. The product was to build technology so that couples who were experiencing infertility could have babies. At that time, I was pregnant with my daughter Simone, and after 9/11, I could not picture myself from that side of the bridge with my daughter on the other side. I took a huge cutback in my paycheck to come back to a non-profit organization. I purposely looked for a job in Long Island.” Manigat said that she didn’t understand what was going on in Long Island at the time adding, “It was a totally different atmosphere at the time. But what I did notice was that even in my position as Director of Mental Health Outpatient at the profit agency, was that the chance of seeing someone who looked like me in a meeting was slim.” She was surprised coming from the city where everything is so multicultural, “I was absolutely shocked. I had to be very aware of my role and my actions for a long time because of who I am, and the color of my skin. Until the people who I was around got to know me. The higher I got, less and less people that looked like me were around.”
She believes that if someone is trying to embark in the social service and health care industry they have to “really want it.” Being a social worker is emotionally draining for anybody. “When I first started,” she said, “I was going to tough neighborhoods. You never know who you’re going to meet or what you will see. I’ve been in scary situations.” She added, “I was also in contact with young girls who have been abused, molested. Hearing all this trauma, even if you don’t experience it first hand, it affects you too you know.” It takes a lot of dedication and determination to succeed as a social worker.
To college students trying to find their passion or entering the workforce, to people looking for their passion she tells to try everything. She says to “find what will makes you feel accomplished and give you butterflies. You’ll know when you find it.” As for graduates entering the workforce, “a job is a job, be grateful and keep working hard for what you want.” Also, she wants students to know that “you always have give the best impression when leaving a job because, people will always remember their last impression of you.”