- Bill Nelson
- Bill Nelson Initiative on Ethics and Leadership
- Coral Springs
- Coral Springs City Commission
- Coral Springs’ Neighborhood Environmental Committee
- Customer Involved Government Committee
- environmental scientist
- Florida Disaster Preparedness Plan
- Foundation to Change the Image of Haiti
- Nancy Metayer
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service
- NEO Philanthropy
Nancy Metayer stood on an outdoor stage near Coral Springs City Hall, raising her hand during a virtual swearing-in ceremony. Her grandmother, Marie Theresa, administered the oath of office in Haitian Creole.
At that moment, Metayer made history as the first Haitian American woman — as well as the first environmental scientist — to serve on the City Commission.
“It was surreal,” Metayer notes.
It also was the culmination of Metayer’s second bid for an elected public post, having made an unsuccessful bid for Mayor in 2019 in a race won by Scott Brook.
In seeking lessons from that experience, “I learned that I am resilient because despite losing the race, I was determined to still represent the people of Coral Springs in some way,” Metayer says.
“I also learned that people really wanted change and that my message truly resonated not just with people who looked like me or shared my ideologies, but with everyone who wanted to see our city thrive into the future.”
Metayer threw her hat into the ring again in 2020 when she was successfully elected to the Coral Springs City Commission in a tightly contested race against five other people.
Metayer says she believes the reason she won her second race is that “our community wants to know they are being heard and being seen and voters want to know that the person they are electing will do that for them. I believe I stood out to voters because I showed up in my most authentic self. I was not pretending to be someone I was not.”
Metayer was born in Fort Lauderdale and moved to Coral Springs in 1997.
“I am a product of Coral Springs wanting the same things everyone wants: a good economy, good schools, and a safe place to raise a family,” she says. “Voters in Coral Springs are extremely smart and know when candidates aren’t presenting themselves honestly. My campaign was about issues, the future, and serving my community; the voters shared my values and chose me.”
It only made sense for her to choose her family’s matriarch to administer the oath of office.
“She is an extremely smart woman and the glue that keeps us together. She has been a model of resilience in my life,” notes Metayer. “Choosing her to swear me in was my highest form of gratitude. I’m thankful for her wisdom, words of encouragement, and prayers that helped me get to where I am today.”
Metayer’s grandmother is not proficient in English. She credits the city staff for accommodating her in her native language.
“I am proud to live in a city that believes in inclusivity and glad we were able to make history,” says Metayer. “I’m proud to know that I’ve made my ancestors and my community proud. I ran an issue-based race with integrity and grace despite the detractors.”
While it is yet unknown how many Haitians live in Coral Springs, Metayer says she witnesses their pride during her daily encounters with them at the grocery store, church, and in hundreds of messages she receives on social media and via email.
“I am filled with pride every day that I am considered a positive representation for my community,” she says. “I want young Black, Haitian American boys and girls to be proud of their heritage when they see me and aspire to be a leader in whatever path they choose.”
It was a watershed moment for Coral Springs’ Haitian community when Metayer was sworn in.
Metayer is cognizant that Haitians still grapple with not being perceived or portrayed in the most positive light.
“We know this is still true based on the recent comments from the former President, who decided to label the beautiful island of Haiti as a ‘s—hole’ country,” she points out.
That despite Haiti being the first Black nation to receive its independence, with the Haitian Diaspora having produced revolutionaries, lawyers, doctors, teachers, entertainers, athletes, and leaders who have and still continue to contribute to the fabric of America’s identity, Metayer adds.
Public service has been on Metayer’s radar since she was president of the Student Government Association at Coral Springs Charter School student where she accumulated more than 200 volunteer hours with local campaigns and in several community initiatives.
At Florida A&M University, Metayer studied the detrimental impact some environmental issues have on communities. She earned a B.S. degree in environmental science policies and regulations from Florida A&M and a Master of Health Science degree from Johns Hopkins University.
“After college, I knew I wanted to apply my passion for social justice to my future career,” she says. “I’ve worked with elected officials for over a decade supporting and implementing policies which promote fair and just societies at the local, state and federal level.”
Metayer has advocated for those impacted by water crises throughout the U.S. and has worked in disaster response following the impacts of Hurricanes Irma, Michael and Dorian.
She has led the Florida Disaster Preparedness Plan strategy to build disaster and community resilience in vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Florida.
Metayer is the statewide coalition manager for NEO Philanthropy, supporting reproductive and gender justice efforts throughout Florida.
Before that, Metayer served as a community engagement liaison for the city of Tamarac, climate justice organizer and program manager for the Florida New Majority, Supervisor-elect for District 1 of the Broward Soil and Water Conservation District, and junior sustainability stewards program manager for the Broward County Government.
She’s also been a community health worker and program manager for YMCA of South Florida, program manager for the Foundation to Change the Image of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and program manager for Operation Blessing International Relief & Development Corp in Port-au-Prince.
Metayer has served as an intern in the Office of Presidential Personnel in the White House, an executive intern for former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and an outreach and legal intern for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Regional Office.
Metayer has served as a committee member for Coral Springs’ Neighborhood Environmental Committee and Customer Involved Government Committee.
“I started my advocacy journey in 2010 after witnessing the cholera epidemic in Haiti,” Metayer notes. “People were dying because they did not have access to clean water, which is a basic human right.
“From that moment on, I was committed to environmental justice from an equity lens. I currently advocate for and educate marginalized communities and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.”
As she gained a better understanding of how government functions, Metayer quickly realized how meaningful changes can happen through policy and embarked on a path to work across different government levels to help enact such changes and eventually seek an elected office.
“I was not hearing our elected officials speak with the urgency needed to address the needs of our present and future,” says Metayer. “I truly believed I could bring a positive change to our community as an elected official.
“Overall, we face many challenges at the local, state and national levels,” Metayer points out. “How do we accommodate our growing population, how do we develop in an environmentally sustainable way, and how do we keep everyone safe?”
Metayer says she felt ready and qualified to tackle such issues alongside her neighbors, activists and other local elected officials.
“We need experienced, bold, and unrelenting leadership or we run the risk of falling behind and missing out on opportunities to maintain and grow the vibrant quality of life we all deserve,” she says.
Metayer says her top priorities for Coral Springs align with those of the residents from whom she has received feedback.
She seeks to move Coral Springs toward decreasing its dependency on fossil fuels, “meaning a cleaner and safer environment for us all.”
She looks to foster economic growth through the implementation of a small and local business preference program, enhancing public-private partnerships, and introducing new industry sectors to Coral Springs. She’s an advocate for solar manufacturing and the introduction of tech hubs.
On public safety, Metayer says she looks to “cultivate greater accountability and implement proactive measures to prevent crime of all kinds from happening. Public safety seeks to mitigate harm and account for the humanity of every single resident in our city.”
When Metayer first ran for office, South Florida had not yet been in the throes of the COVID pandemic with its devastating health and economic consequences as well as civil unrest and the intensification of political strife.
Now facing her role as an elected official against the backdrop of these issues, Metayer applies her experience working in advocacy as a way of grounding herself in values-centered on equity.
“I plan to center those same values in my work as a Commissioner,” she says. “I view myself as an asset to our city and Commission. I look forward to dismantling systematic oppression and patriarchy in every role I am in.
“We are also in a period of transition in this country. I support our President’s message of unity. Our country needs to heal because we only view our political opponents through the worst possible lens.”
The best example of this often comes through Mayors and local elected officials, she says.
“We serve our neighbors directly without any notion of ideology or political persuasion,” she adds. “I will work with anyone at any level of government and on either side of the aisle that wants to help Coral Springs residents and unite our state and country.”
Carol Brzozowski is a writer and journalist based in Pompano Beach.