Biz New Orleans Magazine April 2019

Page 1

Annual Giving Back Issue Michael Williamson, president and CEO of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana

Costumed Crusaders


Poverty in Louisiana Our United Way has a plan. april 2019

Dance Krewes Provide Community Support YearRound P.50

Think Before You Click

The dangers of buying insurance online P.42

Protect Your Business in a Divorce

5 tips from a local divorce attorney P.38

2 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

april 2019 / Volume 5 / Issue 7

contents EVERY ISSUE 08 / 09 / 10 / 12 / 13 / 14 /


from the lens

Editor’s note publisher’s note Calendar industry news recent openings Events

76 / great workspaces

Festival Productions Inc. brings JazzFest ethos to newly-remodeled offices in Canal Place

34 / real estate & construction

Purpose driven building: A movement that looks beyond the bottom line

in the biz 18 / dining

A look at the place to be for a cool seat and great eats at Jazz Fest

38 / law

Things to consider when getting divorced, especially if a business is involved.

20 / tourism

80 / why didn’t i think of that?

Jazz Fest Makes 50



End Poverty in Louisiana? Michael Williamson, president and CEO of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, says his organization can do it if the business community is on board. By Kim Singletary portraits by greg miles

You’ve heard of food trucks, but a plant truck? FAIT NOLA can’t be rooted down, and its popularity is growing.

22 / sports


New Orleans has one more season of Triple-A Baseball, but will fans support a team on the run?

84 / making a match:

businesses and nonprofits

Businesses can team up with CASA to advocate for children who need it most.

24 / entertainment

Joy Theater to show off its new look this month

42 / insurance

A look at the dangers of buying insurance online.

88 / on the job

The Audubon Institute’s senior veterinarian keeps the animals in top shape.

Costumed Crusaders

26 / entrepreneurship

Carnival Dance Krewes spread community spirit on and off the parade route all year long.

What to do if you fly off the handle at work

on the cover

30 / marketing

Michael Williamson, president and CEO of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana

By Rebecca Friedman photos by cheryl gerber

Second-stage startups face unique hurdles 28 / etiquette

Four marketing skills you should be honing this year

Photograph by Greg Miles

Publisher Todd Matherne Editorial Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Suzanne P. Tafur Social Media Assistant Becca Miller Multimedia Blogger Leslie T. Snadowsky Contributors Joseph C. Canizaro, Julia Carcamo, Rebecca Friedman, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Elizabeth S. Meneray, Chris Price, Jessica Rosgaard, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 Account Executive Sydney Steib (504) 830-7225

Marketing Event Coordinator Abbie Dugruise Digital Media Associate Mallary Matherne For event information, call (504) 830-7264 Production Traffic Coordinator Lane Brocato Production Manager Emily Andras Production Designers Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Office Manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription Manager Brittanie Bryant For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231

AABP 2016 Bronze: Best Feature Layout AABP 2017 Bronze: Best Daily Email AABP 2017 Silver: Best Recurring Feature AABP 2018 Gold: Most Improved Publication AABP 2018 Silver: Best Recurring Feature

110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 • Metairie, LA 70005 • (504) 828-1380 Biz New Orleans is published monthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: one year $24.95, two year $39.95, three year $49.95 — foreign rates vary call for pricing. Postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biz New Orleans, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2019 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a selfaddressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.

6 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Meet the Sales Team

Caitlin Sistrunk Sales Manager (504) 830-7252

Brennan Manale Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7298

Jessica Jaycox Account Executive

(504) 830-7255

Sydney Steib Account Executive

(504) 830-7225

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215 / 7

Editor’s Note

Giving Back Our April issue is one that I always enjoy because it’s our “Giving

Back” issue, where we focus on all the good that is being done, and there’s a lot of it. As of 2016, (the most recent data I could find) there were 17,001 nonprofit organizations operating in the state of Louisiana. Together, they employed 104,800 people — approximately 7.1 percent of the state’s workforce — and created $23 billion in revenue. In 2016, Louisiana foundations doled out $236 million, and individuals and companies gave $2.1 billion to charity. Due in large part to efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the number of nonprofits in the state grew by 79 percent from 2005-2010, and while there has been some fall off since then, the nonprofit sector remains an important part of both our state and regional economy. For companies, no matter what the business sector, giving back is also just good business — it connects companies to their communities, creates a positive corporate identity, makes employees feel good about where they work, provides valuable team building opportunities and increases the quality of life and economy. What more could you want? On that note, I’d like to take this space to say thank you. Thank you to the tens of thousands of people who work at all the nonprofits changing lives and sculpting our community every day. Thank you to all of the businesses who choose to give of their time, treasure and talents for reasons that reach far beyond any tax incentive. And thank you to all the individual people and families that do the same all year long. It’s not easy to squeeze in the time to reach beyond our own lives, but it’s always worth it. Happy Reading,

Kimberley Singletary Managing Editor

8 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Publisher’s Note

Good Things Come in Threes It’s an exciting time at the Matherne household!

If you’re not aware, I am the father of three girls very close in age. They are all grown up now and one of them was married last November. This month we will celebrate a second wedding as Miranda weds Paul Jaquillard, a great young man with a wonderful family. So, with two weddings within five months, I am telling my wife she should go into the wedding planning business. She has become a pro and I am looking forward to the celebration this month. Meanwhile, if things were not exciting enough, last month Mallary (Miranda’s twin sister) got engaged to Ryan Wolfe and they are currently planning for a wedding in the spring of 2020. So that will make three weddings in 18 months. I think a career is in the making Andrea. Give it some thought. When you have three children in 13 months you should expect all of life’s events to occur very close together, and they are. So blessed, in love and happy. Todd Matherne / 9


April 2 ABWA Crescent City Connections and New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Strike Up Equal Pay: Negotiations & Networking 4:30 to 7 p.m. Rock ‘N’ Bowl 3016 S. Carrollton Ave.

12 ABWA Crescent City Connections Powerful Financial Panel “How to Build a Better Relationship with Your Money” 9 a.m. Networking 9:30 to 11 a.m. Panel Fidelity Bank 1811 Metairie Ave., 2nd Floor

3 Grow Louisiana Coalition New Orleans Entergy Happy Hour 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Ace Hotel 600 Carondelet St.

12 Governor’s West Bank Luncheon 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. networking 12 p.m. lunch and program The Four Columns 3711 West Bank Expressway, Harvey

4 LABI’s Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute Leadership Bootcamp 4 to 6 p.m. Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport 2829 Williams Blvd., Kenner

17 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at American Factory Direct 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. American Factory Direct Furniture 218 New Camellia Blvd., Covington

9 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce 2019 Power Breakfast 8 to 9:30 a.m. 1515 Poydras St. 5th Floor Auditorium 10 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana 2019 Town Hall Roundtable Discussion & Luncheon 9 to 11 a.m. Roundtable Discussion 12 to 2 p.m. Business Luncheon Sheraton New Orleans 500 Canal St., New Orleans 10 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Northshore Young Professionals Luncheon “Your Personal Brand Online” with CEO and Creative Director of MOXY Company 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Location TBD 11 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana Young Professionals and Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Dog Park Social 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Pontiff Playground Dog Park 217 Fairmont Ave., Metairie 12 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. 1001 S. Clearview Pkwy. 10 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

17 New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce Jefferson Parish Diversity Summit 8 to 11:30 a.m. 1861 Ames Blvd., Marrero 18 AMA New Orleans Women’s CMO & Senior Marketing Leadership Panel 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The New Orleans Advocate 840 Saint Charles Ave. 24 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and JEDCO Prosper Jefferson: Building Business Value and Growing a Business 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 701A Churchill Pkwy., Avondale 30 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Day at the Legislature 12 to 6:30 p.m. Louisiana State Capitol Park Welcome Center Baton Rouge

For a more complete list of events, visit We’d love to include your businessrelated event in next month’s calendar. Please email details to

Industry News



Another Record-Breaking Year at the Airport

Biggest Rent Decreases by Percentage in 2018

An all-time record of 13,122,762 total passengers traveled through The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) in 2018 — 9.3 percent more than the previous record set in 2017. This marks the fourth consecutive year of record-breaking passenger totals and eighth year of continued passenger growth, with an increase of 60 percent since 2010. Overall, the airport saw an average of 159 flights per day — nine more than last year’s average. MSY is currently host to 15 airlines and 53 nonstop destinations.

1. New Orleans Average rent $1,418 one-year decrease -11.4% 2. Jersey City, NJ Average rent $2,596 one-year decrease -6.1% 3. Madison, WI Average rent $1,235 one-year decrease -5.1% 4. Corpus Christi, TX Average rent $843 one-year decrease -4.4%

Freight and mail operations also increased by 12.8 percent in 2018 and international freight increased by 58.5 percent, which the airport says is mostly attributable to transatlantic flights via British Airways and Condor.

5. Portland, OR Average rent $1,644 one-year decrease -4.4% 6. Houston, TX Average rent $1,231 one-year decrease -3.7%

New MSY Routes Announced for 2019:

7. Nashville, TN Average rent $1,408 one-year decrease -3.1%

February 2019 Alaska Airlines —new daily departure to Seattle. Allegiant — added seasonal service to Louisville, MO (SDF), a new destination from MSY.

8. Virginia Beach VA – Average rent $1,092 one-year decrease -2.2%

Vacation Express — began seasonal flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), a new destination from New Orleans.

9. Fort Worth, TX Average rent $1,056 one-year decrease -1.3%

Spirit Airlines — started seasonal, twice-weekly flights to Philadelphia, PA (PHL).

10. Long Beach, CA Average rent $2,084 one-year decrease -1.2%

Delta Air Lines — began nonstop weekend service to Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU). May 2019 Spirit Airlines —will begin daily flights to Austin (AUS) and Denver (DEN). June 2019 Spirit Airlines — launching daily, nonstop service to Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU).

SOURCE: The Apartment Guide 2019 Annual Rent Report


Sazerac House Signage Goes Up In advance of its fall 2019 opening, The Sazerac House lit up its new marquee signage on March 6 at what will be its home at 101 Magazine Street (the corner of Canal Street and Magazine Street). Sazerac, one of America’s oldest familyowned, privately-held distillers — with operations in Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, California, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada — is creating The Sazerac House to be part micro-distillery, part interactive cocktail experience, part museum with exhibits featuring the history of cocktail culture in New Orleans and a host for special events.


Louisiana Among Lowest Property Taxes in the Country Property Taxes in Louisiana (1st=Lowest; 25th=Avg.): • Real-Estate Property Tax Rank: 3rd

“As the largest school system in Louisiana and the 98th largest in America, we have a responsibility to invest in our biggest asset — the teachers of Jefferson Parish. Passage of this crucial teacher pay millage will provide the funds necessary to be competitive with surrounding parishes, retain its best educators and recruit top new teachers in Jefferson Parish.” Todd Murphy, president of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, speaking in support of a millage that would increase the average teacher pay in Jefferson Parish Public Schools by $3,360 in base salary with eligibility for additional stipends. Starting pay for teachers in Jefferson Parish currently ranks 8th out of nine parishes in Southeast Louisiana. Jefferson Parish schools now lose four out of every 10 new teachers and three of every 10 veteran teachers. The millage goes before Jefferson Parish voters May 4.

12 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

• Vehicle Property Tax Rank: 25th • Real-Estate Tax on Median State Home Value: $795 • Real-Estate Tax on Median U.S. Home Value: $1,006 • Vehicle Property Tax on Best-Selling Car: $24.33 SOURCE:

Recent Openings

Churchill Technology & Business Park The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) unveiled its master plan for the Churchill Technology & Business Park in late February when it was approved for adoption by the JEDCO Board of Commissioners. The Churchill Technology & Business Park is located on a 480-acre stretch of land on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. It is currently home to JEDCO, JEDCO’s Conference Center and Business Innovation Center, the Delgado Community College River City Site and Advanced Manufacturing Center, and the Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, a top-performing magnet school emphasizing STEAM curriculum. JEDCO and architectural firm for the project, Perkins+Will, are aiming to attract a variety of tenants to the site, with uses ranging from flex and office space to commercial and residential offerings.

Dream Vacations

Nolé A new restaurant at 2001 St. Charles Avenue called Nolé is now open in the Garden District. Created to celebrate the similarities between Latin America and New Orleans, the restaurant is a partnership between Al Copeland, Jr. and Chef Chris Lusk. Lusk previously helmed kitchens at Cafe Adelaide, the Caribbean Room and Restaurant R’Evolution, and currently also works at The Steakhouse inside Harrah’s Casino. Nolé is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and brunch on Sundays, with a happy hour seven days a week from 4 to 6:30 p.m.



A new boutique kickboxing studio called Kick is now open at 4525 Freret Street. Situated just a few doors down from Bar Frances in the Freret neighborhood, KICK is a unique concept that focuses on kickboxing but also integrates fitness elements from HIIT, barre, Pilates and yoga styles for a full-body workout. Kick is the latest venture by Melissa Burbank, owner and publisher of Natural Awakenings Magazine New Orleans and NOLA Fitness Magazine.

CarMax, Inc., the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, has opened a new store in Kenner; the company’s first in the New Orleans area and fourth in the state. CarMax Kenner is located at 1601 32nd St. and has the capacity to stock approximately 340 used vehicles of nearly every make and model. Customers can also request transfers of almost any vehicle to this store from other CarMax locations throughout the country.

Leading travel agency franchise Dream Vacations is expanding its footprint in the Gulf Coast and is seeking potential new franchise owners. The company has been ranked the No. 1 franchise for veterans by Entrepreneur, Forbes and Military Times and has the highest franchisee satisfaction ranking among all franchises in the travel and hospitality industry according to Franchise Business Review. New franchisees can open their home-based business for less than $10,000 and work anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Hancock Whitney Financial Center On March 15, Hancock Whitney celebrated the official grand reopening of its newly-renovated Mandeville financial center at 3201 U.S. Highway 190. In addition to exterior and interior enhancements, the Mandeville location feature a new drive-up ATM, which replaces what was formerly a walk-up unit, and an interior that includes an updated teller line for faster transactions and a new elevator for easier access to second-floor offices.

The Maritime On March 5, Orange Lake Resorts, home to the Holiday Inn Club Vacations® brand, announced its acquisition of The Maritime, a luxury apartment building originally built in 1893 as New Orleans’ first skyscraper. The historic building is being purchased from Timeshare Acquisitions Real Estate, LLC, which acquired the property from Maritime Building, LLC. Following renovations, the property will join the 26 timeshare resorts in the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand portfolio as the company’s first urban property and New Orleans location. Orange Lake Resorts will begin renovations in May and expects to welcome guests in early 2020. Once the property is renovated and branded, it will contain 105 oneand two-bedroom villas, ranging in size from 496 to 1,110 square feet. / 13











Tuesday, February 5 | Roosevelt Hotel

Thursday, February 14 | Roosevelt Hotel

Tuesday, March 12 | Roosevelt Hotel

ACG Louisiana Monthly Luncheon

New Orleans Chamber 1st Quarter Luncheon: The State of Our City

ACG Louisiana Monthly Luncheon

ACG Louisiana’s February luncheon took on the topic of finance with guest speaker Guy Williams, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Bank & Trust.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell and New Orleans City Council President Jason Wiliams shared their priorities for 2019 at the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce’s 1st Quarter Luncheon.

Gary Sernovitz, managing director at Lime Rock Partners, a private equity investment company with offices in Houston and Westport, Connecticut, was the guest speaker at March’s ACG Louisiana luncheon.

1. Adela Canaj, Luan Vo and Dorothy Clyne 2. Guy Williams, Eli Feinstein and Ken Najder 3. Sam Wheeler, Phil Monteleone and Daniel Walter

1. Delisha Boyd, Jason Williams and Krista PouncyDyson 2. LaToya Cantrell, Trixie Minx and Emily Conelly 3. Jon Kardon, Dottie Belletto and Elisa Speranza

1. CJ Eldahr, Aimee Adatto Freeman and Antonio Carbone 2. Geoff Jacques, Gary Sernovitz and Hank Wolf 3. Scott Whittaker, Frank deVay and Charles Moore

14 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

photographs by cheryl gerber / 15

16 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Biz columnists spe ak out


One of New Orleans’ treasured theatrical institutions, The Joy Theater will be fresh off a $200,000 renovation just in time for Jazz Fest this year.

In The Biz d i n i ng

Jazz Fest’s Coolest Spot Want a cool seat and great eats? Don’t miss the Food Heritage Stage. by Poppy Tooker

18 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

is a spot just inside the Fairground’s Grandstand where festival-goers avail themselves of air-conditioned, comfortable seats and free food provided by some of New Orleans’ greatest chefs. That’s what you’ll find at the Food Heritage Stage. Although the festival was originally intended to preserve and promote New Orleans’ music heritage, food was part of the scene from its earliest days. By 1988, many of the event’s food vendors had acquired a cultlike following among fairgoers. Everyone has a favorite item, whether it’s a Vaucresson hot-sausage poor boy or cannoli from Brocato’s, that is an integral part of their festival experience. That same year, festival director Nancy Ochsenschalger tapped Steve Armbruster to create a new stage showcasing New Orleans’ food heritage. Armbruster had been involved at the festival for years, cooking onsite to feed festival workers during set-up and even serving crawfish pie and file gumbo from a booth of his own for a time. The original concept was for Armbruster to conduct interviews while vendors demonstrated their festival dishes. Incredibly, the first location was a small outdoor tent erected to the left of where the soft-shell crab poor boy booth is located today. Although the vendors agreed to appear onstage at specific times, many were too jammed serving food from their booth to be able to steal away, forcing Armbruster to improvise several “demos” at the last minute so the show could go on. The following year, the festival reached out to New Orleans restaurant chefs for cooking demos and the format that continues today was created. Chef Frank Brigtsen, who was there from the very start, said he remembers cooking in that outdoor tent in a wind so strong a speaker blew over, but the show went on. Thirty years later, Brigtsen is set to return. “It’s my favorite demo of the year, he said. “I see the same people there year after year and often I see them later for dinner at Brigtsen’s.” Brigtsen believes a correlation exists between his booming Jazz Fest business and the Food Heritage stage. “The two weeks of Jazz Fest are our strongest of the year,” he said. “The restaurant completely sells out two or three months in advance of the

festival. For many, it’s their first stop when they arrive in town.” Chef Susan Spicer, another longtime Food Heritage participant, had just opened Bayona when she was tapped for her first Jazz Fest cooking demonstration back in the 1980s. While Armbruster’s demos concentrate on Creole classics, Spicer always tries to do something new. In fact, she’s cooked dishes for the first time on stage, a brave feat considering that cooking for the required 100 tasting portions is done on propane burners, without an oven. Spicer said her restaurant Bayona also receives an attendance bump from her annual Food Heritage appearance. “They’re a special crowd, more relaxed, with money to spend who love to eat and drink,” said Spicer of Jazz Fest’s crowd. “Bayona’s relaxed dress code has always allowed festival-goers to enjoy a fine meal while dressed in fest attire.” For its 50th anniversary, visitors to the Food Heritage stage this year will have a real treat. From 1995 to 2005, the cooking demos were videotaped and stored at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest archives in the French Quarter. This year, between demonstrations a compilation of video excerpts will be shown at the stage. Thanks to the magic of video, famed chefs like Austin Leslie and Jamie Shannon will appear again, along with priceless bits from the Krewe of Nutria and the dynamic duo of Goffredo Fraccaro and Chris Kerageorgio, who clowned their way through a giant pan of paella. So, don’t miss out! Once again seats at the Food Heritage Stage will be cool and comfortable, and the food will be free! n

Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, Louisiana Eats! Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.

i llu st rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.

One of the best-kept secrets at JazzFest, / 19

In The Biz tou r ism

Bell Bottoms and Umbrellas Jazz Fest Makes 50 By Jennifer Gibson Schecter

20 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Festival (Jazz Fest) makes 50. Generations of attendees have been touched by the performances, second-lines, food and simply the vibe of this cultural event that is quintessentially New Orleans. Generations of performers have cycled through, too. Celebrated musicians have passed away, and younger talent has matured to take their “cube” at the festival. Think of the iconic image of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews on stage with Bo Diddley in 1990 when Andrews was only 4 years old. This year, 33-year-old Grammy-nominated Trombone Shorty will close out the last Jazz Fest Sunday, as he has for several years now. Billed as “50 years of joy,” the festival’s 12 stages will once again feature some of the greatest local and international talent. The big news for 2019 is the addition of another full day, adding a Thursday to the first weekend with a lineup that acts as the annual “Locals Thursday” schedule, while the second Thursday will be headlined by a little-known band of retirees called The Rolling Stones. In an unprecedented move, festival organizers more than doubled the daily general admission rate for Stones Thursday and won’t honor Brass Passes for that day. I guess they knew what they were doing because general admission, and even the various VIP ticket levels, sold out in days. With total attendance trending up every year and reaching 450,000 in 2018, this year’s numbers looks like they will continue to rise. I was curious if New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns the festival, had plans for what looks to be an increase in revenue this year. Scott Aiges, director of programs, marketing and communications at the foundation didn’t confirm if there are plans for an increase, but he did outline the approach the organization takes to their community and cultural programming when there is one. “As revenues increase, so do the year-round community development programs of the foundation,” Aiges explained. “For example, our community partnership grants have grown steadily – from $125,000 distributed every other year in the early 2000s to more than $800,000 distributed annually. We’d

like to increase that number significantly. But we also have other programs that we’d like to expand, such as our Heritage School of Music and the vocal workshops for teenagers that we host at NORD (New Orleans Recreation Development) centers around the city.” Small business owners are optimistic about the additional day this year. “Our crew is super excited about the addition of an extra day,” said Patrick Young, co-owner of one of Jazz Fest’s food vendors, Smoke Street Catering. “An extra day equals extra sandwiches sold. However, as with any day of the festival, our sales hinge on the weather. As long as Mother Nature cooperates, we are anticipating a great Fest.” Young has been operating at Jazz Fest for five years and has seen exactly what the weather can do to a vendor’s profit margin, the impact of which has a larger radius than the Fairgrounds race track. Smoke Street’s brisket and barbecue chicken sandwiches are served on Dong Phuong Bakery bread, and the company works with other local vendors as well. “Smoke Street Catering is a small, familyowned business,” explained Young. “Jazz Fest is an all-hands-on-deck evolution for us. Our parents, spouses and now our children all pitch in to make the booth a success. We are ecstatic to be a part of the 50th anniversary of a local institution.” The impact of Jazz Fest’s 50 years can be measured in many ways, like number of mango freezes sold, number of rolls of gaffer tape that have crossed the stages and number of children inspired to learn to play the trombone. While it is always measured by attendance and revenue, what keeps Jazz Fest relevant is not the dollars, but the memories it makes that continue to carry on for generations.n

i llust rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on

This month, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage / 21

In The Biz s p o r ts

Wichita, Kansas made the pitch, and New

Foul Ball New Orleans has one more season of Triple-A Baseball, but will fans support a team on the run? by chris price

22 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

expect fans to invest their time, energy and treasure to support an entity that will be gone come September? “We are excited about the 2019 season,” said Baby Cakes GM Cookie Rojas. “We have some great Miami Marlins prospects coming through the system, and they should make a great impact this season. “We hope fans will come out and enjoy our 2019 season,” he continued. “We are finalizing our promotions calendar. We have some great giveaways, and of course our Friday-night fireworks games are back this season.” Getting fans to the ballpark may be easier said than done. After some initial interest after the name change and its Mardi Gras-related merchandise were revealed, attendance fell. According to Minor League Baseball stats, the Baby Cakes saw a reduction of 97,269 fans overall year-over-year from 2017 to 2018. The team’s average attendance of 3,827 fans per game last year was 1,727 fewer than the year before. For comparison, Round Rock, a suburb of Austin, Texas, had the highest average attendance with nearly 9,000 fans per game last year. With one foot in the batter’s box in New Orleans, it will be interesting to see how fans react to the Baby Cakes this season. They may benefit from the Pelicans’ slump in play this spring. But with the team headed for home in Kansas it looks as if a successful financial season may be as tough as hitting a 100 mph fastball. n


BAD NEWS FOR THE BALLPARK When baseball came back to New Orleans, it opted for a stadium in family-friendly Jefferson Parish. But increased competition for the sports entertainment dollar and shifting demographics changed the region’s economic landscape. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Jefferson Parish’s population has decreased 0.02 percent between 1990 and 2017 while St. Tammany’s population has increased 77.3 percent in the same period. Year


1990 448,306

% Change


St. Tammany


% Change


2000 455,466




2010 432,552




2017 439,036




i llust rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at

Orleans’ Triple-A baseball franchise swung for the fences. They’re going, going, but not quite gone yet. The Baby Cakes will begin their final season in the Big Easy this month. It’s the beginning of the end of an affair that started in 1993. When the team moved to Zephyr Field in 1997, Jefferson Parish had one of the biggest populations in the state. Flush with numerous middle-class families and lower crime compared to neighboring Orleans, Metairie appeared to provide a strong, stable fan base for the team to attract and entertain. But dynamic changes were coming to New Orleans’ sports landscape that no one saw coming. The first was the arrival of the NBA’s Hornets in 2002. Hurricane Katrina struck three years later, causing momentous shifts in the region’s population and demographics. Finally, in 2006, the NFL’s Saints, an underachiever for most of the franchise’s history, began and have continued to enjoy their most successful period the team has ever seen. In addition, since the early ’90s, LSU and Tulane have consistently been among the best clubs in collegiate baseball. Combined, these factors created an environment that pushed interest in Baby Cakes games and merchandise further down fans’ priority list. Additionally, it could be argued that the baseball team was a victim of the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. While there had been a northward migration to St. Tammany Parish for years, Hurricane Katrina changed the region’s makeup almost overnight. Many of the families who lived in Jefferson before the storm moved across Lake Pontchartrain and settled on the Northshore. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Jefferson Parish’s population decreased 0.02 percent between 1990 and 2017, the last year for which figures are available. St. Tammany’s population, however, increased 77.3 percent in the same period. There’s no data showing how much of the increase in St. Tammany’s population was due to Jefferson Parish transplants, but regardless, its not good news for the ballpark. The Baby Cakes will be in a precarious situation this season. They’ve already declared their intention to move. Can they / 23

In The Biz enter ta i nment

A New Joy Joy Theater to show off its new look this month by Kim Singletary

24 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

$10 million renovation in 2013. The Civic is also a 1,200-seat theater. Work at the Joy began in December and has included new wall treatments and lighting, updates to the green room and a new curtain track that will enable the venue to be separated into multiple spaces. “GoodWood NOLA is redoing the lobby, theater and upstairs bars,” says Portwood, “and I have worked with Colin McQuilkin (a local lighting, video and set designer) to create a brand-new proscenium.” Portwood says the goal of the renovations is to transform the Joy into “more of a New Orleans venue than an old school theater,” meaning acoustics had to be part of the upgrade. “We’ve had multiple tours come through and say we’re one of the best-sounding venues in the Southeast,” he says. “And now we’re putting in a D&B Audiotechnik Vi8 Line Array Sound System, which is world-renowned.” The first chance for the public to get a look at the new $200,000 update to the Joy will be at the grand re-opening April 9, but if you miss that, the Joy will once again be a hot spot during Jazz Fest. “It’s the 10th anniversary of Winter Circle [Productions] and the 50th anniversary of Jazz Fest so it’s really going to be great,” Portwood says. “We’re going to be hosting 12 shows in 10 days, with music going until 5 or 6 a.m. each day.” For more information, visit n

i llust rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.

It was the start of the Cold War, Howard

Hughes’ Spruce Goose was taking to the sky, a UFO had allegedly landed in Roswell, New Mexico, and a gallon of gas cost $.15 a gallon. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, in the year 1947, the brand-new Joy Theater celebrated its grand opening with a showing of the film “Lover Come Back,” starring Lucille Ball and George Brent. The Joy quickly became known as the premier affordable motion picture house in the region. “It was kind of the Woolworths of movie theaters, explains Andrew Portwood, general manager of the Joy. “If you’ve been to the upstairs bar area, that used to be where they had a baby crying room. Parents could take a child up there if needed.” The Joy served as a movie theater until 2003, when it was sold and its doors were closed. “In 2011, with the help of historic tax credits, the theater was reopened,” says Portwood, “but now as an entertainment and concert venue.” The theater was now under the care of local contractor Allan McDonnel, hotelier and real estate developer Joe Jaeger and businessman Todd Trosclair. For the past eight years, the 1,200-seat theater has played host to a wide array of musical entertainers, including Dr. John, Rick Springfield and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, as well as comedians like Louis C.K., Fred Armisen and Mark Maron. The Joy has also been a popular event space, hosting pre-season screenings of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the New Orleans BioInnovation Challenges and various corporate trainings and events. Time, however, has taken its toll on the 11,000-square-foot building and it has been due for a facelift for some time. Its neighbors have all had work done fairly recently. Just across the street from the Joy Theater, the Saenger Theatre completed a $52 million renovation in 2013. Just a few blocks down, the Orpheum Theater finished a $13 million renovation in 2015. A little further away, the Civic Theatre also completed a / 25

In The Biz ent r epr eneu r s h i p

Growing Pains Second-stage startups face unique hurdles. by keith twitchell

26 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

capital they need for sustainability and growth. This aspect of the organization’s services will very much be woven into the programming. The organization recently received a $300,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation and plans to use it to focus on networking and collaboration. “The Chambers of Commerce do good business-to-business relationship-building on a larger scale,” said Malone, “but we will be working with our clients to build networks among themselves. We will also be increasing entrepreneurs’ knowledge around business collaborations and joint ventures. Together, businesses can take advantage of opportunities that individually they are too small to access.” Another way GWN is seeking to expand opportunities for its clients is by diversifying the sectors occupied by women and minority businesses. “There are a lot of folks in professional services, skilled trades and contract services, but the growth opportunities are not necessarily in those fields,” said Malone. “A key growth strategy is to get people from where they are to where the opportunities are, and help them add a complementary service or product.” This approach has the added advantage of reducing competition within fields where minority businesses have historically had a strong presence. With its strong existing programs and track record of success, GWN is ideally positioned to help its clients reach a stability level that is a vital prerequisite to taking the next step. In turn, the entire Greater New Orleans economy benefits. Business strength across all sectors and demographics translates into greater overall capacity, creating opportunities for all businesses to compete regionally and nationally. While it may be challenging for a small, local business to see opportunity on this scale, the success stories of the future will increasingly be much less tied to geography. The vision of organizations like Good Work Network, in its work to bridge the gaps of inequity and capacity, will lead to sustainable prosperity for business owners of all backgrounds. n

i llust rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.

Women and people of color remain

seriously under-represented in Greater New Orleans’ entrepreneurial landscape, although there have been some gains in recent years. Further, so-called disadvantaged businesses earn a fraction of the receipts enjoyed by white-owned businesses. Minority- and women-owned businesses also have an average net worth of less than 10 percent of their white-owned counterparts. Organizations such as LaunchNOLA now provide services for women and minorityowned start-ups, while New Orleans city government – particularly through the New Orleans Business Alliance – is increasingly working to help existing DBAs scale up. However, according to the Good Work Network (GWN) “there is a dearth of resources aimed at those businesses that have started and are struggling to grow.” Since it was founded in 2001, Good Work Network has provided resources to minority- and women-owned businesses within 15 parishes in Southeast Louisiana, serving more than 2,100 women and minority-owned businesses and helping to generate or sustain close to 7,000 jobs. The problem, according the GWN Executive Director Hermione Malone, is that “in creating a continuum for entrepreneurs of color, there is a gap. There is a lot of focus on startups and on scaling up, but for those squarely in the middle, there are not a lot of resources.” To assist second-stage entrepreneurs as they work to achieve the stability they need before considering further growth, GWN is developing new programming to address what it defines as “the three most well-documented and critical ingredients for small business growth: contacts, contracts and capital.” Existing GWN programs focus on areas like connecting businesses to contract opportunities and assisting them with the RFP process, along with business-mentoring services and educational programming related to business strategy and management. Malone said focus areas will be further refined to meet the needs of entrepreneurs in the sustainability stage. GWN also works with its clients to help them become qualified to obtain the / 27

In The Biz et i quette

Anger Management What to do if you fly off the handle at work. by Melanie Warner Spencer

Most of the time, especially at work,

I keep my temper in check and prefer laughing and joking to ranting and raging. But, we all have those moments when our moods or certain situations get the best of us — even those of us who study and write about etiquette and work hard to temper our tempers. As of the writing of this column, nearly a week has passed since I lost my cool at the office and — despite apologizing to everyone present for it — I’m still red in the face and psychologically flogging myself over it. Thankfully, I wasn’t yelling “at” anyone, rather about something, so at least there’s that saving grace. But while my colleagues accepted my apology and, I’m sure, moved on, six days later, my embarrassment hasn’t yet abated. I’m aware of this tendency I have to fly off the handle about certain things. It’s me at my worst. When I get into that headspace, my demeanor and words can be vicious, and I’ve been working hard to get to the root of it and curb it. Ironically, last September I completed a course called “How to Communicate Like a Buddhist,” which is designed to help participants speak compassionately, consciously, concisely and clearly. It’s difficult to simultaneously type and sign up to retake the course while inserting my face in the palm of my hand — but, here we are! Why am I confessing all of this in a column? Precisely because we’ve all been there and it’s helpful a) to own our faults and share stories about our humanity so that we can feel connected and less alone, and b) to have a few tools in place to help swiftly recover the trust and good will of our colleagues and, whenever possible, our own dignity. So, the next time your temper takes ahold at the office, consider taking the following steps.


28 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019


Make an apology that is thoughtful

and complete. Avoid giving one of those non-apologies that celebrities and political figures seem to favor so much these days. Don’t attempt to shift blame, make excuses or omit awkward details. Take responsibility for any and all wrongdoing and hurt feelings. In my case, I did offer a bit of background on why my temper got so out of hand, but only because I wanted my colleagues to know it had nothing to do with them or their actions. Then I followed that information by saying that wasn’t an excuse, however, and that I will work hard to do better.


Ask for forgiveness, but don’t expect

or demand it. While it’s our responsibility to apologize when we do or say something wrong or hurtful, it’s not the responsibility or obligation of the other party or parties to accept it. As I learned in my Catholic Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes lo those many years ago, we have to live with the consequences of our sins (aka actions and behaviors) even when we repent and do penance.


Once you’ve completed all of the

Self-flagellation is unproductive. Self-reflection and selfcompassion, on the other hand, will help you bring more kindness to your reactions and also your responses to others when they have an ugly moment. above, let it go.

apologize as soon as possible.

Allowing things to linger makes matters worse, especially if anyone present took it personally. In my case, I didn’t direct my vitriol at anyone in the room and therefore, unfortunately, didn’t realize that my behavior had offended my

I’m going to keep repeating that last part to myself until it sinks in. Meanwhile, round two on that Buddhist communication class should help. n

i llust rat i o n by To n y H e a l e y

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and managing editor of Louisiana Life and Acadiana Profile. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to

Acknowledge what happened and

colleagues. Also, I was pretty consumed with my anger, which clouded my ability to assess the tension in the air after my blowup. If you are unable to pick up on nonverbal cues for any reason and you are lucky like me, you will have a concerned, caring and tactful co-worker who discreetly informs you. When I was made aware, I thanked the co-worker for telling me and I sent an apology to everyone that was in the room at the time. / 29

In The Biz m a r ket i ng

The Fab Four for 2019 A look at four marketing skills you should be honing this year. by Julia carcamo

Today’s tech-savvy shoppers are making

it tougher on marketers trying to stay ahead of the changing landscape. As such, marketing professionals need newer and sharper skills with each passing day — skills they will need to be ready for the next challenge and the next career opportunity. Here are four you can work on this year.


I get it. LOL! LMFAO! SMH! LMK! I use these all day long, too. It’s the way most of us are communicating, but used in professional communication, this shorthand can leave an impression you may not want. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of properly written communications, but writing can easily be one of the most important skills you can develop and strengthen. Consider how you interpret emails you receive when they are poorly written. By far, the most common explanation I get is “I just sent something off quickly,” or “No one is going to care.” Trust me. Someone is going to notice and care, IMHO. As business people, we have a certain expectation of the communications we send and receive. Additionally, as content marketing has become such an essential part of marketing, the written word can be the difference between a smooth success or a clumsy attempt. Tools like the free grammar checking website Grammarly. com can help you hone your skills.



Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at and

30 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019


There is no longer a question of “should we” use social media. The issues now revolve around managing the variety of channels Social media management


Day after day, we add more and more reporting and data that needs to be gathered and interpreted. Modern marketing requires much analysis in order to craft strategies that will meet goals and to understand any necessary course changes. Essentially, that math you always said you’d never need after school ended has come back and bitten you (in the you-knowwhere). Analytics is reported to be the second-most difficult skill set to find in new marketing talent, even as it continues to become a necessary skill. It’s no longer enough to pass reporting and analysis on to another person. Marketers are continuously testing and refining; good marketers are using data to drive those refinements and increased effectiveness of programs. Marketers who can tie their efforts to reportable data that shows improving revenue will thrive. The high-demand, data-proficient marketers will only continue to be in-demand. n Data proficiency.

i llu st r at i o n by To n y H e a l e y

This is not a marketing skill that gets a great deal of attention, if any. However, being a good project manager can be integral to the success or failure of your marketing plans. Look back at a project that was less than successful. If you dig deep enough, you will probably find a lack of visibility was an issue. For projects to succeed, all affected team members — the project team, executive team and department managers — need appropriate access and information. My team has been testing more robust project management tools with great success. These tools provide access to reports, a focus on priorities, deadlines and status of tasks. Effective project management

and their different demands and how they fall into our business strategies. More than creating posts, we have to understand our audiences. Where do they live? What are they interested in? Is our audience the same or different across channels? Moreover, how does that impact our messages? How do we get our messages in front of our audiences on a consistent level? Paid, sponsored, organic or some combination of all? Desktop vs. mobile. Even the placement on a web page requires thoughtful consideration and analytics. / 31

hot topics in southe ast Louisiana industries

perspectives real estate & construction  /  law  /  insurance

Heading for a divorce? A local attorney offers five tips for protecting you and your business.

Perspectives r e a l estate & const ruct i on

Purpose-Driven Building A movement that looks beyond the bottom line By Joseph C. Canizaro

You’ve probably heard about a purpose-driven

life. There’s even a popular book by Rick Warren entitled, “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” The book takes the reader on a 40-day personal spiritual journey on five purposes for human life on Earth. That search can carry over into the way and where we live and work. There is a movement in real estate development called purpose-driven building, and it’s about developing something with a deeper objective than simply building another subdivision, shopping center or office building. In real estate development, of course you want to be successful and profitable, but purpose-driven building is not based on finding the most efficient way to make a quick dollar and leaving it at that. There’s a lot more vision, heart and passion that goes into it. You find that the people who do purpose-driven development tend to be more creative and think about the broader impact that their development will have on the community. They’re trying to draw connections of how this construction and the parts of the development can combine into something that will positively impact how people work, interact and live. In the long run, the projects where people utilize this type of thinking, where they take a chance to do something beyond the norm, tend to be the most successful. The long-term value goes well beyond the bottom line, and if done right, can help other area project designs think about how they can also improve an area’s quality of life. One example is in nearby Mississippi, where I am developing the Tradition master planned community in Biloxi. It has been my vision to create a world-class community in the town where I grew up, and we have been making significant progress over the last few years. As with most master plans, they are dynamic and evolve to meet the needs of the intended audiences. This was just the case with Tradition. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant issued a challenge to me to see what we could develop that would help find a cure for diabetes, a disease that affects more Mississippians than

34 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019 / 35

any other state in the country. With this challenge, the trajectory of our development took on a larger purpose — becoming a medical city. The Tradition medical city’s anchor tenants in the field of education, research and health care are collectively working together to make advances that will improve the quality of life of Mississippi residents, but also share these strides with our nation. We have partnered with the best and brightest at the Cleveland Clinic to start outreach programs and do research to work toward a cure. The hallmark of this new Medical City is the National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute at Tradition, which is already doing terrific work. But we were not the first to think of this type of purpose-driven development that put research and medical advancements at their helm. We looked to models like Lake Nona in Florida. Several years ago, this project took an abandoned golf course and transformed it into a research facility that has grown to a 650-acre health and life sciences park, with thousands of square feet of businesses and residential neighborhoods. People across the country are also incorporating purpose-driving building into things like LEED-certified buildings. If, for example, you develop a strip mall and make the decision to incorporate solar panels on the roof, your tenants will reap the benefits of cheaper utility bills. It might initially be more expensive, but it pays off. Tenants or buyers will be willing to pay a bit more for the savings they can see. Developers are also tuned in to purposeful, sustainable development from a residential perspective. That includes everything down to the design of street layouts within a neighborhood. Traffic flow can affect emissions, so thoughtful layouts can reduce those emissions and improve safety. Walkable neighborhoods with sidewalks and paths encourage people to walk or ride bikes, rather than hopping into their cars to go to the corner store. We work with the natural environment around us. Instead of mowing down trees and the terrain, we’re working with the topography instead of against it. That also includes focusing on native plants instead of introducing those which are more appropriate for another zone or climate. That has been a significant concern for areas such as Southern California and other western states, where thirsty, non-native plants demand water that’s already in short supply. Finally, purpose-driven development means taking advantage of technology that will improve a person’s overall quality of life. Fiber optics and broadband capabilities can not only automate things within our homes like lights, entertainment, cooling and security, but this technology gives us the opportunity to share medical treatment and diagnoses from experts from are states away through telehealth initiatives. Purpose-driven building is not always the easy path, but it can certainly be the most satisfying in the long run. While still making money, you can help transform communities and improve the quality of life there. It just takes a little more time to really look at your next development opportunity and approach it with creativity, imagination and purpose. n 36 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Joseph C. Canizaro is president and chief executive officer of Columbus Properties, L.P., a commercial real estate development company founded in 1966 and headquartered in New Orleans. Columbus Properties has developed, acquired and managed office buildings, hotels, mixeduse projects, as well as land and residential projects throughout the Southeast/Southwest. Some of his most recognized developments in New Orleans include Canal Place, First Bank and Trust Tower, Texaco Center, First Bank Center and the Information Technology Center Office Complex at the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park. Canizaro is currently developing TRADITION, a 4,800 acre masterplanned community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is designed to be a sustainable development with employment, residences, schools and recreational amenities centered on health and wellness, education, culture and the environment. / 37

Perspectives l aw

Five Tips from a Local Divorce Lawyer Things to consider, especially if a business is involved. By Elizabeth S. Meneray

We need to talk.

You may have been considering it for a long time, or you may not have seen it coming, but as soon as a decision is made to seek a divorce, you need to get a jump on preparations.


Hire a family law specialist.

Surprisingly, many wait to take this step, concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer. Others delay, hoping a lawyer friend will shepherd them along. Both decisions cost more money than they save. Your lawyer friend may be there to support you emotionally, and can help you understand some basic legal concepts, but in Louisiana, family law is a unique practice area with its own set of challenges and dynamics. It is better to have a specialist with you from day one, to help you plan and protect what’s important to you.


Be proactive. Planning is very

important. In the initial consultation, discuss every concern you have in order to give your family specialist the best overview of your situation. Consider how the divorce will affect your children, your family

38 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019 / 39

home, your business, your investments. Your attorney will file requests with the court to seek immediate relief in the form of restraining orders and injunctions, emergency access to children, to the family home, even to liquid assets to pay attorney’s fees and court costs.


Consider terminating your community regime. In Louisiana, all spouses who do

not have an agreement to the contrary are considered members of a community property regime. That means all assets and debts incurred during marriage by either spouse are the property of and responsibility of the spouses jointly. If one spouse is incurring a lot of debt, whether it be through excessive spending, gambling or wasteful behavior, and the community is at risk, the court can terminate the community. Once the community is terminated, the spouses remain co-owners of the assets and debts they acquired during the marriage, but all new assets and debts incurred after the termination belong to the spouse who incurred them. This gives peace of mind to both spouses, ideally, because the one incurring the debt feels independent and free to do what they want, and the spouse without responsibility for the debt feels relieved of the pressure created by the other’s spending habits.


Consider a matrimonial agreement.

Whether you call it a prenup or a postnup, if you and your spouse can come to an agreement about what happens to your assets and your debt in the event of a split, it is efficient to have that put into a contract either before the marriage begins or prior to its ending. The agreement can be recorded and will bind third parties. Once you’re married, though, a court will have to approve the arrangement.


Can you trust your spouse to run your

business? If you and your spouse are partners or managers of a community enterprise, you are expected to work together. This can create conflict in an already trying circumstance. In some cases, a business owner spouse can be granted authority over business affairs during the divorce. If your spouse is acting irresponsibly or threatening the viability of the business, a court may consider it prudent to put you in control.

Talking with a divorce attorney about your divorce should help you feel more confident, organized and in control of what happens next. Plan carefully, and good luck. n

40 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Elizabeth S. Meneray is sole owner and manager of Meneray Family Law, L.L.C., a specialty legal practice in New Orleans focused exclusively on domestic issues, including divorce, community property division, child custody, child and spousal support and adoptions. She presents frequently to members of the Louisiana State Bar Association on family law topics and has been recognized by her peers as a top family attorney in New Orleans Magazine and a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine. She may be reached at / 41

Perspectives i nsu r a nce

Think Before You Click A look at the dangers of buying insurance online. By Jessica Rosgaard

We’re living in an age of do-it-

yourself. Thanks to the internet, instead of hiring a travel agent or a tax preparer, you can book your own trip and file your own tax returns with the click of a mouse. You can also insure your car, your home, or even your life — all online. But buying insurance for your most important investments is more complicated than buying an all-inclusive vacation and purchasing insurance policies online can come with a lot of risk. Eric Vocke is the president of Capstone Insurance – an independent, Louisiana-based property and casualty agency. He’s also the president of the Professional Insurance Agents of Louisiana New Orleans chapter.

42 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Vocke says it’s okay to get a renter’s insurance policy online because there aren’t many variables at play. “A renter’s policy is pretty straightforward,” Vocke says. “You have contents — your personal belongings — personal liability, and loss of use in case you have to evacuate, or your apartment is damaged.” But, Vocke says, if you are looking at homeowner’s insurance, you should talk to an agent. “We have a questionnaire that we always go through with people and not every question will pertain [to every client].” On Vocke’s questionnaire are approximately 60 questions relating to variables dealing with things like

occupancy, ownership, roofing type, plumbing, heat, air, electrical, siding and foundation — to name a few. All impact liability exposure. And then there are things that are more regional concerns, like cracked driveways and sidewalks, as well as big oak trees, all of which are common in the New Orleans area, that could impact coverage and liability. At Capstone Insurance, Vocke says he writes homeowners insurance policies with over 25 carriers. He notes that using an agent with access to multiple carriers gives the client more options. “If somebody is trying to buy a policy online, they’re at the mercy of that one company and that one company’s guidelines and whether or not they’re asking you the right questions,” Vocke says. “If they’re not asking you [on the questionnaire] if a small portion of your roof is flat, and it is, and they don’t take flat roofs, you may have an issue.” Life and long-term care insurance are other types of coverage where you might want to talk to a professional. Tina Dandry-Mayes is an insurance agent and financial advisor who deals with both life and long-term care insurance — which she says is not as simple as one might think. “Life insurance is not concrete,” Dandry-Mayes says. “Nobody knows when they’re going to die, so you don’t know how many years of money to create for a client if they’re leaving behind a wife and kids.” Life insurance policies can be set up to cover a certain length of time. Say you want a plan that will cover your mortgage for 10 years, or until your kids graduate from college if you were to die unexpectedly. But maybe you don’t need to continue that high level of coverage beyond 10 years when the mortgage is paid off and your kids are able to support themselves. “Life insurance and long-term care are two very personally designed plans,” says Dandry-Mayes, who adds that conversations about purpose, budget and timeline of coverage

likely don’t happen when you sit down to buy insurance online. An agent can also help adjust your plan when your needs change, for instance, if someone is looking for a plan that can convert to a permanent policy, they need a policy that offers conversion rights, “which means you can take that policy you wrote at a preferred rating and 10 years from now you can convert it to a permanent plan to last until you’re 100, without having to go back to underwriting,” Dandry-Mayes says. The benefit is that the rate stays the same, even if, for example, someone develops a health condition like diabetes. Ryan Rodrigue, vice president of sales and administration at Hollis Companies — a Louisiana firm that specializes in employee benefits — says it’s a common misconception that you’ll pay more for insurance with an agent than with shopping online. “A lot of times there’s no cost difference between buying direct or buying through an agent because that commission percentage is already built into the rate,” he says. “Insurance agents get a small percentage of the premium dollars; we don’t tack on an additional fee for doing our job. So why not have access to a local expert? You’re paying for it anyway.” There’s also the issue of continuity of service. “A policyholder becomes that agent’s ‘client,’ and now the client has a point of contract for service issues, questions and annual reviews to see if the contract still provides what the client needs,” says Dandry-Mayes. “When buying insurance online or over the phone there is no assigned agent — just a 1-800 number and a robo answering service to try and get to the proper person to answer your questions.” When it comes to buying insurance online, Dandry-Mayes adds, “Remember the old saying — ‘You get what you pay for’ —but you won’t get what you really need.” n / 43

44 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

po ver end

in louisiana? Michael Williamson, president and CEO of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, says his organization can do it if the business community is on board.

By Kim Singletary portraits by greg miles / 45

T he United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has a clear goal:

to see a future where every single resident of our region is healthy, educated and economically stable. It’s a lofty ambition, given that currently in New Orleans, 48 percent of residents can’t afford the basics to survive. The organization’s president and CEO, Michael Williamson, acknowledges the challenge but says it’s far from impossible.

46 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

A native of Aiken, South Carolina, Williamson’s first interaction with the United Way occurred shortly out of college when the bank where he was working loaned him out to the organization as a volunteer loans executive. “This is back in the days when companies, banks and businesses could loan their employees to United Ways for a three-month period to help with a campaign,” he explains. A few months later, the nonprofit offered him a job as director of marketing and resources development, which he happily accepted, eventually rising to become CEO before joining United Way Worldwide in 2004. Then Hurricane Katrina hit. “I was immediately tasked with staffing the United Way of America Hurricane Response and Recovery Fund,” he says. “It was a national fundraising effort to raise money for United Way communities in the Gulf… I was charged with raising resources and helping local United Ways and their communities recover. I think all in all, we raised about $28 million.” Williamson’s success led to him joining UWSELA in the spring of 2009 as the chief operating officer with an agreement that he would eventually become CEO. That happened in June of 2013. Williamson currently leads a staff of 45 full-time employees, along with thousands of volunteers across a seven-parish region of Southeast Louisiana. Since taking the helm, Williamson says he’s been excited to see the organization narrow its focus to eradicating poverty and step beyond only funding other nonprofits to creating its own efforts on that front, which has included joining with United Ways across Louisiana to create the ALICE Report, the third version of which was release Jan. 8, 2019. An effort to get a clearer picture of how many people are struggling financially, the ALICE Report looks at Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed individuals — the working poor. ALICE individuals and families earn more than the federal poverty level but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, childcare, health care, transportation and basic technology, such as a smartphone. The latest report updates indicate that 828,255 households — approximately 48 percent of Louisiana’s total households — are unable to afford basic costs of living. The number is up 6 percent since the first ALICE Report in 2017. While the numbers are far from encouraging, Williamson says a war is being waged against poverty, and in that war, business has a very important part to play.

How did the United Way of Southeast Louisiana come to focus on poverty? One of the important things to do as an organization like ours, especially as we were transforming the way we do business, our business model, was to turn outward and go talk to people. We hosted 63 community conversations throughout the seven parishes that we serve and what we heard repeatedly was that the issue of poverty is the single most important issue in our region, for both people who live in poverty and struggle financially, but also for folks who don’t. Poverty places stress and pressure on our social services sector, and the government agencies trying to meet those needs. One of my first acts as CEO, I think it was actually the first day that I started, was to talk to our chief operating officer, Charmaine Caccioppi, about the establishment of a formal public policy committee of our board. We called on Kim Sport to chair that; she’s an accomplished attorney and a fierce advocate in the community. Almost six years ago, we formed our first public policy committee, and from there, every year we produce a legislative agenda and an advocacy plan that can ultimately affect communities and address the barriers to economic opportunity that hold folks in poverty.

FAVORITES Favorite book? “Make Your Bed” by William H. McCraven Favorite TV Show? “The Big Bang Theory” Who do you look up to? My mother Biggest life lesson learned? Do not expect to receive something for which you are not willing to work hard and make sacrifices. Best advice ever received? Fundraising is not rocket science. It is simply about people and relationships. Hobbies? I have always filled my time with family and watching our two sons play sports. For the last 12 years I have enjoyed traveling to watch them play lacrosse. Daily habits? About 5 a.m. each morning I feed our two dogs and two cats, have my coffee, watch a little Netflix and consider the possibilities that lie ahead for our United Way in the days, weeks, months and years in front of us. Pet peeve(s)? Clutter, rudeness, negativity What are you most looking forward to in the next year? I believe our United Way is at a critical tipping point and leaning toward a bright future and increased capacity to serve our region. I am most eager to engage our business leaders in an innovative way much different than the traditional approach of our past. / 47

What are some of the programs that you support on that end? We’re currently funding 50 different organizations and their programs. Those 50 organizations host about 74 different programs that we fund. They are programs like Kingsley House, Family Services of Greater New Orleans, Second Harvest Food Bank and the St. Bernard Battered Women’s Shelter. We’re funding their programs, but something we did different, because we really wanted to pivot and start to tackle systems-level issues, is we’ve also started funding collaboratives.

When did this happen? A little over three and a half years ago — that’s when we did an open announcement and we had 50 collaboratives apply. We were actually able to interview 12 prospective collaboratives, and we are now going into our third year of funding, seven different collaboratives, that are focused on, for example the New Orleans Campaign for Grade Level Reading, the Louisiana Prisoner Reentry Initiative, Youth Force NOLA, the Ending Homelessness Collaborative, in partnership with Unity, the Now Collaborative in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and other folks in the workforce development space. We’re spending about $500,000 or so a year on those collaboratives. Let’s talk a bit about the ALICE report. What does this latest version show? The reality is, we’ve seen in the past several years a downward trend on families and poverty. We’ve seen a little bit of growth, a few percentage points’ growth,

facts $11,800 from the latest $24,300 alice report The federal poverty line for an individual

The federal poverty line for a family of 4

among households that are earning above In New Orleans, 63 percent of residents are living below the the poverty level wages, based on how ALICE threshold. In Baton Rouge the federal government defines poverty. DID YOU KNOW? it’s 57 percent and in Shreveport Which, one can argue, might be a little The greatest expense it’s 56 percent. Our metro area for the average Louisibit antiquated, but that’s the measure on average is at 48 percent. ana family is childcare, we have. which averages $996 If you look at how Louisiana We’ve seen that of our households per month for two compares to the rest of the that are earning above poverty, however, children in licensed and country and other communities, they’re not earning enough to meet the accredited childcare — we have the third-highest rate basic survival budget — housing, trans- a $302 increase since of ALICE in the nation. the 2014 ALICE Report. portation, childcare, health care, basic Louisiana uses the federal needs. That is, on one hand...a little bit minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. disappointing. At the same time, we’re hopeful How does that compare to what someone actually that it shows some degree of upward mobility, needs to live? An individual in Orleans Parish that folks may be gradually trying to move out needs to make about $11.09 an hour. For a family of poverty. They may struggle financially still, but of four, it’s about $30.37 an hour. If you look at they may be struggling less than they were before. all of Louisiana, it’s about $9.77 on average, for What it tells us in Southeast Louisiana is that an individual, and then for a family of four, on one of every two households is either living in average in the state, you need to make almost poverty or struggling financially, and doesn’t earn $27 an hour to meet the basic needs of a family. enough to make ends meet. So, we should be raising our minimum wage? Yes, It’s been eye-opening, but it’s a great conversation but it’s not just about raising the minimum, but starter when folks want to talk about wages. You creating an environment where individuals have have to look at what a person needs if they live in the education, the skills and the tools they need Orleans Parish, to take care of their family. Then to acquire the high-wage, high-demand jobs that drive the conversation around not what is the are being created not just in our communities, but minimum, but what is required. We’ve received other communities around the state. We really great feedback from our corporate partners and believe that informing those discussions, especially policymakers that are now touting the report, amongst business leaders and policymakers, is and saying, this report is a very helpful tool for what it takes and the ALICE report lays it out us to understand what our community, or our so very clearly. Businesses can the make the decisions around offering competitive wages to communities are facing. their employees, which allows them to attract and retain their employees, especially during a time where unemployment rates are reaching all-time lows.

19% of Louisiana residents fall below the federal poverty line

48% $19,548 $53,988 29%

of households in Louisiana are not financially stable.

The average Household Survival Budget (calculation created for the ALICE report) for an individual

48 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

The average Household Survival Budget (calculation created for the ALICE report) for a family of four

of households earn below the ALICE Household Survival Budget

Unemployment is low, but you also see reports of people are having to take multiple jobs to make ends meet. How does that factor in? Yeah. Definitely. We’ve seen amongst ALICE households, that individuals, in order to string together the income to meet their household needs, are having to work multiple jobs, because they can get a part-time job here, or a part-time job there. The numbers I quoted early are really the bare bones basic, meaning you could be making $11.09 an hour as an individual and find a way to put together housing and transportation, etc., but that’s it. You’re not going to have any resources for savings. [You probably would] not be saving for retirement, certainly not saving to evacuate the community if a natural disaster comes. If you happen to have a car and it breaks down and it’s going to cost you $400 to get it fixed, you don’t have that money. What happens is — and we highlight this in a document called Consequences of ALICE — when one thing goes wrong, one health emergency, national disaster, or car repair gets sprung on these individuals, it literally throws them into a downward spiral. They can’t go to work. They’re

missing work. They’re getting paid by the hour. They’re losing income. Soon, what started out at as a $400 price tag to get my car fixed, actually turns into several times that with lost wages and productivity and business. Oftentimes, you can drive down the street and you can see a homeless person, and say, that’s a person who lives in poverty. But, what we oftentimes don’t think about, is the working poor. The folks that are facing financial hardship. You know what, we know who they are. You’ll see them, they’re in the service industries, we may see them in a coffee shop, or in a grocery store. They can be a home health worker, providing care for one of our elderly citizens. These are our families, neighbors, friends of coworkers.

How is the United Way of Southeast Louisiana specifically working to eradicate poverty? Back in the day, we were perceived as a pass-through funder. We’d raise money to fund a bunch of great organizations, then we go out and raise some more money the next year and fund a bunch of great organizations. I think how we are innovative and unique and unlike others, is we’re funding programs, we’re funding collaboratives and tackling systems issues, we’re in Baton Rouge, advocating for policy change that’s aligned with our goals and objectives, but we’re also contacting with departments at the state to leverage our capacity on the ground, to help us collectively achieve our mission to reduce and hopefully eradicate poverty.

As an organization, what is your return on investment? For every dollar invested in United Way, we create $2.66 in community impact. It’s not all about money, though. It’s also about policy, and advocacy, and mobilizing a community to get out and be active in their community and help tackle the issues that are wound tight within poverty.

How much does United Way contribute to these efforts every year? What’s the budget for Southeast Louisiana? Our overall campaign goal this year is $12.3 million.

When you talk about policy changes, what kind of things are you advocating for? We’ve had I think groundbreaking efforts and amazing breakthroughs around domestic violence and sexual assault. We pushed for the expansion of the state earned income tax credit. We supported legislation around pay equity. We’re supporting efforts to encourage paid family medical leave. Strengthening laws against domestic violence. Obviously, the work around criminal justice reform, we’ve been a funder and a supporter of Louisiana Smart on Crime, to advance the policy successes that took place recently. Now, we’re pivoting to, how do we develop more effective reentry system. We’re also working on early childhood education. We’re in the discussions right now around sports betting and could those resources be used to fund increased investments in early care and education. We’ve also offered our voice to the Louisiana Ethics Committee around

childcare expenses for candidates running for office, because we want everyone to have the opportunity to run for public office and bring their voice to our legislative process.

For businesses of all sizes and individuals looking to help eradicate poverty in our region, what would you suggest they do? I would say get connected to your United Way. Whether you’re a small business, or a large business with thousands of employees, we can help connect you to others, to really address the issues that are holding families in poverty. Everybody can be a donor. Everybody can be an advocate and lend their voice to our policy and advocacy efforts, or be a volunteer.

How many volunteers does United Way of Southeast Louisiana have? It’s in the thousands. I’ll tell you why. We run 800 workplace campaigns, and each has teams of United Way volunteers. For example, all the local refineries run United Way campaigns, along with companies like DXC Technologies, Avondale Marine and Hilco. Multiply 800 campaigns and three, four, five individuals, that’s thousands. Then we have a board, our board of trustees, our community impact committee, which is volunteers, our finance committee, product committee and campaign cabinet. We have a women’s leadership group of hundreds called Women United. We have disaster volunteers, volunteer ambassadors — so many ways to get involved.

When you sit down with a business, how does that conversation go? The conversations we’re having today are vastly different than they used to be. Where we start our conversations with businesses is looking at how we can help them accomplish their objectives. Can we be your internal community relations strategist? Can we offer you turnkey opportunities to do great work around philanthropy and engagement opportunities for your employees? We know today that’s important. We know it’s important among employees within business to be civically and socially engaged and connected in their communities. We can help with that. We can sit down and craft very unique plans and strategies for businesses help them accomplish their goals, especially as it relates to their workforce development needs and their employee retention and engagement needs.

Are you hopeful for the future? I think there’re a lot of great things happening in the region. The focus on education, the focus on career and technical education for children in Orleans Parish schools, the greater focus on early care and education, we just wrapped up Louisiana Early Ed week. feel like we’re headed in the right direction, and I feel like we’re making progress, but the systemic issues that lead to families struggling financially and in poverty is really, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We have to be committed long-term as we fix systems and try to change generations to come. We didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t be successful overnight.

What Can a Business Do to Fight Against Poverty? Ask Entergy. Sponsors of the ALICE Report since its inception, Entergy has been working to help struggling Louisianans for 20 years. Patty Riddlebarger is vice president of social responsibility for Entergy, which includes 14,000 employees and 2.8 million customers in communities across the southeast and northeast United States. A big part of her job is helping the company battle poverty on all fronts. “Two decades ago, our CEO, J. Wayne Leonard, (who passed away in 2018) looked at the fact that a significant portion of our customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi live just above or below the poverty line,” says Riddlebarger. “That’s when tackling poverty became a corporate cause for us.” Entergy has been a sponsor of Louisiana’s ALICE Report since its first year and is on the national advisory council for the project. “The ALICE Report should matter to all businesses because poverty impacts our entire community and drains our resources,” she says. The United Way’s focus on ending poverty dovetails perfectly with efforts Entergy has been making for years, including creating a low-income customer assistance initiative that advocates for and provides funding for programs aimed at helping people become economically self-

sufficient. Entergy allows customers to choose when their bill is due and the company’s The Power to Care program provides emergency bill-payment assistance to seniors and disabled individuals in crisis. Riddlebarger says the program provides about $2.2 million in assistance every year. The company also makes its voice known in the political arena. “Next week we’ll be taking a team to Washington to make sure leaders know the importance of income tax assistance programs,” she says. “We partner with the IRS the United Way and other nonprofits in providing almost 300 income tax assistance programs which every year provide about 18,000 families in this country with refunds of between $2,000 and $6,000. Workforce development also continues to be a priority for the company. In 2016, Entergy announced it was committing $5 million over five years to address workforce readiness in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In New Orleans the focus has been on the tech and healthcare fields. “In everything we do,” Riddlebarger says, “we look at it through the lens of how it will impact our low-income families.” / 49

50 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Costumed Crusaders Carnival dance krewes spread community spirit on and off the parade route all year long. by rebecca friedman photographs by cheryl gerber / 51

The Sirens


Anyone attending a Carnival parade in recent years has likely witnessed a uniquely New Orleans phenomenon: the “dance krewe.” The popularity of these bewigged and bedazzled organizations, which entertain paradegoers with eye-popping routines and outfits, has exploded in recent years with more than 40 clubs making parade appearances. The trend shows little sign of slowing, as existing groups spawn spinoffs and new clubs emerge to cater to different genres of music, costumes and cultural commentary. While these krewes are most visible during Carnival season, their contributions extend well beyond the parade route. Giving back to the community — whether by raising funds, participating in walkathons, or even pouring champagne — has become as much a part of the mission for many krewes as strutting through the streets. The following is a look at how a handful of dancing krewes work their philanthropic moves into their year-round routines.

52 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Annually making a splash in ethereal costumes of blues, greens and fishnet tights that evoke the watery depths, this group’s broader mission covers the “three C’s”: choreography, comradery and community. As with any serious dance krewe, the Sirens pay close attention to choreography. “Mermaids” dance through the entire parade route and practice at least twice a week for much of the year to perfect their moves. Their hypnotic performance is, indeed, a siren call. “That’s what attracted me,” says Siren Kelley McDougall. “The majestic, dreamy feeling of mermaids and nautical life, the constant energy, smiling and choreography — it’s wonderful to watch.” But the Sirens’ impact extends far beneath the surface. Their community work runs year-round, with a strong focus on organizations that support women and families. Every October, the krewe holds a “Mermaids and Mayhem” fundraiser; in 2018, the event raised $12,000 for the New Orleans Family Justice Center, an The Sirens organization dedicated to ending Formed in domestic violence. The Sirens also 2010 support FestiGals, an event held each Number of marchers 85 dancing mermaids; summer in New Orleans to connect 70+ sailor core members and inspire women, and through this Leader effort raised an additional $5,000 Governed by a board for nonprofits that serve women the New Orleans Musicians’ Mardi Gras 2019 parade appearances and families. Clinic, to name just a few. Mystic Krewe of Nyx, “When I saw that it wasn’t just They donated more than Krewe d’Etat, Krewe of Cleopatra, Krewe of about Mardi Gras and pretty costumes 700 children’s books for Pandora and parades but caring about each LSU’s pediatric hospital other, caring about your community, and supported hurricane giving back in different ways — that’s relief for Texas, Florida and what sealed the deal for me to become Puerto Rico. And, true to a Siren,” says eight-year veteran Crystal Catania. their marine roots, the Sirens have worked The krewe’s philanthropic efforts have added up every year on a coastal restoration project, to a significant impact. According to McDougall, helping bag 38 tons of oyster shells to rebuild over the past few seasons, the Sirens have raised local reefs. more than $30,000 for local charities and logged “Whether performing, rolling up our sleeves over 1,400 volunteer hours at events to support and giving back, providing direct financial help, Girls on the Run, Team Gleason, the Audubon fundraising or serving beer,” says McDougall, Aquarium of the Americas, Odyssey House and “philanthropy is a huge piece of what we do.”

The Organ Grinders

Team Gleason is just one of the organizations the Sirens support. The group has raised over $30,000 for local charities and donated over 1,400 volunteer hours over the past few years.

The Organ Grinders are a high-energy dance machine committed to keeping the crowd engaged. “You won’t see us walking — we’re not going through the motions,” says the group’s leader and founder Christina Duggar. In fact, every year the krewe choreographs 30 different dances to keep things exciting on the parade route — for both the crowd and the krewe. To polish these routines, the Organ Grinders hold 10 to12 practices a month, with members required to attend at least half. In addition to their performance responsibilities, the Organ Grinders maintain a busy schedule of community service, participating in events to benefit a range of causes. For the past five years, the Organ Grinders have been active participants in Jefferson Parish’s annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project, which uses trees to shore up vulnerable areas of the state’s wetlands. “We were the physical labor that puts the trees into the boats and throws them into the swamps,” says Duggar. The group’s philanthropic highlight is their annual blood drive, which they host every August at Tipitina’s in partner- / 53

Last year, the Organ Grinders’ annual summer blood drive resulted in the collection of 264 pints of blood in just one day and also doubled as a public showcase of 10 different local dance krewes.

ship with the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation and the Blood Center of New Orleans. Why a summertime blood drive? “There is a high need for blood in summer because school’s out, and that’s where most donations come from during the year,” says Duggar. “It’s also hurricane season and a peak period for violence in the city.” Last year’s drive was a tremendous success, collecting 264 pints of blood in one day. In addition, the Organ Grinders pack other services into the event by bringing in community partners to offer what Duggar calls a “one-stop-shop” of voter registration, organ/bone marrow donor registration and information on topics such as Medicaid, mosquito control and public health. The drive also serves as an opportunity to collaborate with other local dance krewes — last year’s event featured 10 troupes performing in a dance exhibition. This spirit of collaboration among the city’s krewes is meaningful for six-year veteran Organ Grinder Nicole Spruill, who serves as the krewe’s dance captain. “We have a lot to offer in that we are all a community that comes together to try to help the city,” says Spruill, “to bring a little fun to it while doing something positive.” The Organ Grinders Formed in 2010 Leader: Christina Duggar (Founder) Number of dancers/marchers: 75 Mardi Gras 2019 parade appearances: Lyons Carnival Club Practice march, Krewe of Barkus, Krewe of Muses, Mystic Krewe of Druids, Krewe of Tucks

54 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Merry Antoinettes It’s hard to miss the Merry Antoinettes in a crowd — even during Carnival. Resplendent in towering wigs and costumes fit for a queen, the Antoinettes lend artistic flair and elegance to gatherings all year long. “The main thing that sets us apart is that no one costume is alike,” says co-captain Julie Barecki. Most costumes are handmade and reflect the particular tastes of the wearer. Some are even inspired by pop culture references — from Harry Potter to Star Wars. “I have six Merry wigs at this point — and I don’t know how many corsets,” laughs Barecki. “We allow our members to be super creative,” agrees co-captain Francesca Brennan. That desire for free expression was part of the inspiration for the group. The founding Merries were members of other dance or marching krewes who wanted to be in more parades and gatherings, but didn’t want more rehearsals. “We are sort of like the antithesis of a dance krewe,” says Brennan. “Obviously we appreciate those a lot, but we just wanted to do something different. A friend of ours came up with the name, inspired by Sofia Coppola’s visually stunning movie, ‘Marie Antoinette,’ and we said, ‘We have to do this!’” It turns out the founders weren’t the only ones in town with a fondness for champagne, corsets and cake. “I think the first year we had about 40 members, then the next year was around 80 members,” says Brennan. “It’s really inclusive. I wasn’t in a sorority in college, and now I have 150 women and men that I wouldn’t have necessarily met because we don’t live in the same neighborhood, or I have kids and they don’t, or we’re in different fields. It’s pretty awesome at this age to make really great friends.” “Over something so fun and joyful,” adds Barecki. 2019 was a landmark year for the Merry Antoinettes because it marked the debut of the Krewe de Bohème, a parade they co-founded with 19 other sub-krewes to present a “visual and auditory feast of mystery, artistry and fun” through the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. “When you take groups of creative people and say ‘Just have at it!,’ the most amazing things happen,” says Barecki. After the hubbub of Mardi Gras (many of the Merries participate in other krewes), the group revs up with events and fundraisers. One key

The Pussyfooters

Merry Antoinettes Formed in



Co-Captains Francesca Brennan and Julie Barecki

Looking for a little French flair at your next event or fundraiser? The Merry Antoinettes attend events throughout the year to benefit a wide array of organizations.

partnership is with the Link Number of dancers/ Stryjewski Foundation and marchers 150 their various philanthropic Mardi Gras 2019 efforts, including the founappearances Krewe de Bohème dation’s annual Bal Masqué. The Merries also participate in the annual Big Wig Ball to support the New Orleans Opera Association’s student education programs, as well as events to benefit the New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, Odyssey House, Covenant House, Project Lazarus and a number of French-themed events, such as Ecole Bilingue’s Fête Française, among others. “Most organizations want photo ops and ambience,” says Brennan. “We can help pour champagne and greet people. It’s awesome to see 20 Merry Antoinettes when you walk into a party.”

Clad in their signature hot pink and orange corsets leading down to tall, white boots, the Pussyfooters have been a familiar sight on Carnival parade routes for almost two decades. “We’re always trying to gauge the crowd and make sure we’re bringing life to everyone,” says five-year member Shelita Domino. “It’s about the crowd.” To impress those onlookers, the Pussyfooters practice up to five times per week, particularly in the run-up to Carnival, but they also convene frequently for community-based activities. “That’s pretty much all we do all year!” says Domino. The Pussyfooters’ highest-profile event is the krewe’s annual Blush Ball, which the organization puts on to benefit a local nonprofit – this year it was the Metro Centers for Community Advocacy, which supports survivors of trauma and domestic violence. The Pussyfooters have also worked with organizations including the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Tulane Cancer Center, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, among many, The Pussyfooters Formed in: 2001 Leader: many others. Domino estimates that the Overseen by an Execukrewe participates in nearly 50 events tive Committee (led by per year to help other organizations raise President Tracy Brenes) Number of dancers/ funds. Last year, the Pussyfooters ended marchers: Over 120 (all up raising enough funds to donate to a age 30+) Mardi Gras 2019 younger New Orleans dance krewe that appearances: Krewe of Carrollton, Mystic Krewe needed money for uniforms. “We as a board will discuss what’s needed, of Nyx, Krewe of Muses, Krewe of Thoth what they have done in the past, and how we can help,” says Domino. That might mean selling raffle tickets, serving food or guiding event attendees to a silent auction. “You find fun in all of them, in bringing a smile to someone else’s face.” In addition to assisting outside organizations, the krewe prides itself on supporting its own members. “The sisterhood is real,” says Domino. “We are big on empowering each other and instilling confidence — whether in the business world or walking or dancing in the street.” / 55

The Disco Amigos It’s hard to stand still when the Disco Amigos are around. “When I hear the crowd talk, it’s ‘Wow! I love these guys! They have so much fun when they walk by,” says Disco Amigos founder and leader Francois Camenzuli. But the Amigos’ appeal is more than catchy dance steps. As Camenzuli says, “It’s about the production we do throughout the parade — the look, feel, imag, and atmosphere we exude.” The krewe challenges itself to keep the disco theme fresh, year in and year out. For this year’s Mardi Gras, the theme was “Fantastic Voyage” (after the Lakeside R&B hit) replete with a high seas pirate twist. But for Camenzuli and his amigos, disco is timeless. The Disco The idea for the group emerged Amigos from a road trip that Camenzuli, Formed in: 2012 then a 610 Stomper, took with Leader: Francois Camenzuli friends in an old van they bought Number of for $2,500. dancers/ “We didn’t think we’d make it marchers: about 135. There is past Slidell,” recalls Camenzuli. also a chapter The van’s shag carpet and in Birmingham, Alabama Mardi mirrored disco ball set the stage Gras 2019 for the journey. Along the way, the appearances: group researched the roots and Krewe of Cleopatra, Krewe evolution of disco and discovered of Carrollton, a surprisingly heavy Latin influMystic Krewe of Nyx, Krewe of ence. The van became a mobile Tucks disco machine, and the Disco Amigos were born. The van is no longer, but the Disco Amigos are thriving as a year-round organization with the mission of “spreading the love and joy of disco.” The group gathers almost weekly to practice or appear at events, such as their partnership with Upturn Arts, a local organization that brings art to underprivileged children (the Amigos teach dance, naturally). Other appearances include events for Alzheimer’s research, Girls on the Run and the Down Syndrome Association of New Orleans Buddy Walk, where the Amigos donned capes over their uniforms to serve as superhero buddies and cheer on the walkers. “A lot of the events we do are near and dear to certain members’ hearts,” says Camenzuli. “If we have the ability, we usually do it.” Last year the Disco Amigos participated in a whopping 42 events. “It allows a channel for folks to give back in a different way,” he says. “Our goal is to have multiple chapters and keep spreading that joy all around.”

56 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

The approximately 135 members of The Disco Amigos drive the group’s charity work by suggesting causes close to their hearts.

The 610 Stompers The 610 Stompers have become one of New Orleans’ iconic organizations, instantly recognizable by their gym teacher shorts, high-rise socks and tagline: “Ordinary Men. Extraordinary Moves.” “I knew it was something New Orleans was missing and the world wanted to see — their brothers, doctors, plumbers and next door neighbors dance,” says co-founder Brett “Slab” Patron. “You don’t see enough men letting loose except at special occasions. I knew it was a good concept, but as far as where we’ve taken it since then, it’s a culmination of a lot of passionate and smart people and the work they’ve done.”

The Stompers’ profile extends well beyond the New Orleans area. Over the years, the group has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the Kentucky Derby (twice), the Washington, D.C. Mardi Gras Ball and at NBA games. “We’re always looking to take over the world one dance at a time,” says Executive Director Mont “Big Bird” Creamer. Dancing is a cornerstone of the organization — the group practices as often as twice a week leading up to Mardi Gras — but community service plays an equally significant role. Through the Stompers’ quarterly charitable giving initiative, “Stompers Give Back,” the organization donates proceeds from its fundraisers (such as the “Debutante Ball”) to a variety of causes throughout the year. “We like to focus on organizations that are close to the heart of Stompers,”

says Creamer. “For example, we’ve had brothers who’ve been through organ transplants, so we’ve partnered with Louisiana organ procurement. We invite charities around New Orleans to apply for our grants. Our standard check is $5,610, but we gave $50,000 to the Youth Empowerment Project a few years ago, and we’ve donated well over a quarter of a million dollars to charity over 10 years.” The Stompers are in demand for performances throughout the city. “When you don’t charge, and your project is sought after, you get asked a lot,” says Patron. “We became very sought after very fast – we got tons of requests for charitable events and decided it would be fun for the guys and great for the community. Whether we’re doing some good putting smiles on people’s faces or helping them out with our philanthropic side, it’s a great thing.”

The 610 Stompers Formed in



Executive Director Mont “Big Bird” Creamer Number of dancers/ marchers

127 Stompers; 60-65 members of the Splits Mardi Gras 2019 Parade appearances

Krewe of Poseidon (Slidell), Krewe of Hercules (Houma), Krewe of Carrollton, Mystic Krewe of Nyx, Krewe of Hermes, Krewe of Thoth, Krewe of Orpheus / 57

special advertising section

GIVING BACK In Southeast Louisiana we’re all about relationships. Here, there’s nothing better than spending time with friends, family and colleagues — that is, unless it’s time spent also doing something to help people we’ve never even met, and maybe never will. In this issue of Biz New Orleans, we’d like to celebrate all the corporations whose company mission goes far beyond keeping their financials in the black, along with a few of the many nonprofits they partner with to get the job done — whether that job be fighting crime or fighting cancer, running a race or running an afterschool program. An integral part of their surrounding communities, these businesses and organizations have dedicated themselves to giving back to those in need, while encouraging others, especially their own employees, to experience first-hand how stepping away from their desks for a while to play a personal roll in the effort to make life a little better for those around them can have a profound impact on their own lives as well. We at Biz New Orleans salute you for your efforts. Keep up the good work!


giving back nonprofit profile

benjamin franklin elementary 504.304.3932 | 6101 Chatham Drive, New Orleans

about Benjamin Franklin ascribes to a vision they have dubbed the Legacy of Excellence—a vision that lays out their goal to become a national model for non-selective admission schools that excel in providing students with diverse needs the elite educational programming and experiences to guarantee success in life. In addition to their accelerated school curriculum, Franklin provides an exceptional program for the arts in vocal and instrumental music, theatre and visual arts. The school also serves special needs students, providing them skills, resources and development to build fulfilling lives. The school’s offerings are grounded in data-driven inquiry, reflective teaching and impactful learning that allows students to take their classroom ideas out into the world.

events Schools depend heavily on outside donations to continue serving all of their students. Benjamin Franklin’s mission of growing experts inside and outside of the classroom is, at least in part, dependent on and helped by donations, both from community members and from larger sponsors. As this is their first year as a nonprofit charter school, Franklin is currently planning events and fundraisers for the next school year; more information will be available on their website as fundraisers and events are confirmed.

donations The school acts as both donor and nonprofit: their school community as a whole participates widely in a variety of service projects, and as they embark on their first year as a nonprofit single charter school, they have been actively seeking out donation opportunities. Their student philanthropists lead recycling, anti-bullying, environmental and generational campaigns. Franklin is hoping to use donor money to build technology and special project resources to help advance those students further; they’re also planning to use donations to provide uniforms to homeless students or to students who can’t afford spare uniforms. Larger sponsored donations would provide much-needed capital project money dedicated to projects including unifying the two campuses, expanding opportunities for more children to participate in the arts, providing after- and before-school tutoring services and sponsorship of after-school activities.

mission Benjamin Franklin’s mission is for staff, students and families to excel academically and individually. Their school creed implores the students to “be kind and considerate; respect people and property; follow directions the first time; and do [the] very best quality of work.” / 59


friends of bayou st. john 3205 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans

about Friends of Bayou St. John is probably most well-known among New Orleans residents for their chief fundraising and outreach initiative: the MidCity Bayou Boogaloo. The event, a community party filled with music, food, crafts and art all along Bayou St. John, was established in 2006 to reinvigorate the neighborhood post-Katrina. In its 14th year, the festival has enabled Friends of Bayou St. John to build community and create opportunities for all residents to celebrate the heritage, culture, and diversity of New Orleans. They are the only organization focused solely on the well-being and prosperity of the bayou, as well as the quality of life for the residents surrounding it. Through their fundraising, attention and community partners, the nonprofit has taken responsibility for making the bayou a resource and asset for the city.

events The Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo is the organization’s cornerstone event, providing a crucial outreach tool—and while the festival lasts only three days, its impact stretches year-round. Since its early years, when it was a one-day, one-stage event, the festival has grown into a three-day, four stage festival that draws 35,000 people from around the city and region. They offer music from all of New Orleans’ musical backgrounds, from blues and jazz to zydeco and Cajun to funk, hip hop and rock. A kids’ stage has helped make it a family event, while the Boogaloo Art Market brings together original works of art that span genres from 60 of Louisiana’s most celebrated artisans. The food is also worth stopping for; 30 Louisiana food and beverage vendors serve up a bounty of original treats and traditional New Orleans cuisine. Those looking to volunteer at the festival or to help clean up the banks and bayou can find out more at; others who are inspired to help out yearround can become a member of Friends of Bayou St. John at

donations The nonprofit’s fundraising is spread to a diverse range of causes, including economic development and support for local musicians, small business owners and artists through Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo as well as community improvements, such as sponsoring solar-powered garbage units on the Lafitte Greenway or requesting permission from the City to install wroughtiron trashcans along the bayou. Their Restore the Bayou Canopy Campaign planted five 200-gallon, one 300-gallon and two titanic 750-gallon Southern live oaks along the bayou and maintains the trees throughout the year. Each year after the festival FOBSJ donates on average $25,000 directly to other nonprofits, chosen in advance to be that year’s official Community Partners. Past Community Partners include Friends of Lafitte Greenway, Sustaining our Urban Landscape (SOUL) and Odyssey House Louisiana, among many more.

mission Friends of Bayou St. John is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes stewardship, cultural appreciation, responsible recreation and initiatives that support a clean, healthy Bayou St. John that is accessible to all. / 60

giving back nonprofit profile


greater new orleans foundation

giving back nonprofit profile

504.598.4663 | 919 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans

about The Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) has spent the past nine decades as a trusted philanthropic leader for the thirteen-parish region. Their work runs the gamut from grant-making to strategy planning, helping to connect people, resources and ideas that result in solutions that address the region’s greatest challenges. GNOF made major donations after natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; created the Community Revitalization Fund, which has helped develop nearly 9,500 housing units; and created additional funds, such as the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund in 2010, which helped those affected by the worst oil spill in history get back on their feet. Their work helps to improve individual lives, communities and the entire region every day.

events The Greater New Orleans Foundation has created GiveNOLA Day, a one-day online giving event meant to inspire people to give to nonprofit organizations focused on improving their region and communities. Last year’s event raised $5.6 million from nearly 49,000 donations. Those who wish to participate in this year’s GiveNOLA Day can take part on May 7—more information can be found at Another of the myriad ways GNOF gives back is through Impact 100, a women’s giving circle of 100 local women committed to awarding a $100,000 transformative grant per year that can be groundbreaking for a local nonprofit.

donations The foundation’s roots lie in the Community Chest of New Orleans, a 1923 organization founded to address and solve the needs and problems of a growing city. GNOF carries on that mission today for the entire region, and every donation makes their work further-reaching. The organization has embraced donors of all shapes and sizes, from more outward-facing events like GiveNOLA to quieter actions like estate planning. Fundholders can use the organization to set up funds that connect donors to their passions. The New Orleans Town Gardeners Legacy has funded projects through GNOF for many projects that range from rebuilding gardens to the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans to founding conservation scholarships. GNOF also connects advisors to clients, helping craft giving strategies that meet the truest needs of the communities they seek to serve.

mission For over 90 years, the Greater New Orleans Foundation has been connecting generous people to the causes that spark their passion. As one of the most trusted philanthropic organizations in the region, they work every day to drive positive impact through philanthropy, leadership and action in their thirteen parish region.

GiveNOLA Day, an initiative of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, is a one-day online giving event.

Anne Milling, Betsy Nalty, Caroline Reily, and Sybil Favrot. An anonymous donor offered them a $500,000 match for every dollar raised. They accepted the challenge and went after it. / 61


giving back nonprofit profile

Jerry Riggs, Head of Schools (left), Karla McKnight, Administrative Assistant (center), Dan Pritchett, Senior Pastor (right)

memorial baptist 504.887.0533 | 5701 Veterans Boulevard, Metairie

about Memorial Baptist is a unique Christian private school located in the heart of Metairie. The school, which has grown exponentially over the past five years, currently serves 340 students by providing them with a personalized, tailored education grounded in faith, personal interaction and student investment. Test scores, which are, on average 2 grade levels above the national average, are kept high thanks to their certified teachers and advanced curriculum, which is supplemented by forward-thinking technology coupled with old-fashioned personal attention. Their tuition is kept affordable to allow students from all backgrounds access to high-quality education to further their prospects and make their futures bright.

events The school’s draw on philanthropic endeavors has been lighter than others in the past; they currently have no philanthropic fundraisers or events scheduled, instead focusing on specific projects that might require larger sponsorship. One such focus is on securing funding for their outdoor basketball court, so that even in rainy weather the students will still be able to get outside and stay active. The school is working towards these larger improvements so they can continue to focus on the small, day to day features that make the school a unique, almost boutique experience—the principal knows every student by name; parents stop in for their first morning coffee at the coffee station; and individualism is encouraged. Individual donors or corporate sponsors can rest assured that any donation they make is going to improve the day to day lives of the students the school serves. / 62

donations The money the school has garnered through donations over the past five years has primarily gone to improving the technological offerings the school provides to students. One specific development has been the acquisition of personal laptops for middle schoolers (fifth to seventh graders) to use for the entire year. While many schools charge a “technology fee” for laptop use, at Memorial Baptist, thanks to philanthropy, the laptops are free of charge for the year, allowing all students to have the same technological access regardless of the ability to pay.

mission Memorial Baptist’s mission is to provide a high-quality, comprehensive academic program in a loving Christian environment. They guide their students educationally and spiritually to grow into adults who will contribute a positive influence to the world. Mr. Riggs, the school’s principal, offers his own mission statement, drawn from scripture: King David, in the Old Testament said, “Joy comes in the morning. You just have to slow down long enough to find that joy. That’s what we desire for all of our students at Memorial.”


new orleans area habitat for humanity

giving back nonprofit profile

504.861.2077 | 2900 Elysian Fields Avenue, New Orleans Social Media: @habitatnola

about New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity is often thought of as a recovery organization, but for over 35 years, they have changed lives one home at a time, building houses and communities. Habitat provides zero percent interest loans, made possible by donations of time and money, for hard-working families. An independent local affiliate of an international nonprofit, Habitat has built over 600 homes in partnership with local families since 1983. By helping families achieve affordable, reliable homeownership, Habitat has improved the lives of employees, customers and families of businesses across the area.

events Habitat is best known for their build days, which can be arranged for companies or organizations as a day of philanthropy and team-building. They also provide employee outreach, in which they visit local companies by request and explain their affordable home ownership program. Another avenue for philanthropy is the ReStore, a retail outlet that sells donated materials like furniture, appliances and building materials. Habitat operates two stores: one at 2900 Elysian Fields and one at 2425 Williams Boulevard. Their three largest event builds are the Women Build, comprised of local women; the Unity Build, an interfaith building project; and the Bench and Bar Build, which recruits the legal community for a one-day build. Donors who don’t necessarily want to swing a hammer can also run for Habitat in the Crescent City Classic.

donations A gift of money, time or materials to New Orleans Habitat ripples out to impact the entire community. Every gift helps fund the construction of new homes and the empowerment of local families. By reducing the cost of shelter, capital is freed up for families to use in other ways, such as transportation, food, savings, education and healthcare. This brings them greater financial stability and makes them more likely to thrive. Through their gift, donors make New Orleans neighborhoods stronger and more stable.

mission Habitat’s mission is to build homes in partnership with sponsors, volunteers, communities and homeowner families, whereby families are empowered to transform their own lives; and to eliminate substandard housing in the New Orleans area while serving as a catalyst to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. / 63


giving back nonprofit profile

Second harvest Food Bank 504.734.1322 | 700 Edwards Avenue, New Orleans

about Second Harvest’s mission is to serve as many families in need as possible, through community partners across South Louisiana. The organization, which employs 80 full-time staffers and works with nearly 10,000 yearly volunteers, has a large scope of operations: they provide the equivalent of more than 32 million meals per year to over 210,000 people. Aside from their more well-known programs with food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and schools, the organization also serves as a major disaster responder. Since 1982, Second Harvest has responded to every major disaster that has struck South Louisiana, from hurricanes and flooding to tornadoes and environmental cataclysms.

events On June 1, Second Harvest will host their annual Rubber Duck Derby in City Park. This event, a favorite among families in the city, features “adoptable” rubber ducks that go on a race to the finish line. Families or individuals can adopt their own rubber duck racer for just $5 each. The event, which is Second Harvest’s largest single-day fundraiser of the year, is one of many events that allow the public to come together and donate to the cause. Other events to be on the lookout for include GiveNola Day, iGiveCatholic Day and special events throughout the year featuring local celebrity chefs. / 64

donations Second Harvest’s relationship to philanthropy is more akin to a lifeline: 75 percent of the organization’s operation budget comes from private philanthropic donations, from smaller monthly donations from individuals helping out all the way to major support from corporate sponsors and foundation partners. But Second Harvest also draws on a second source of philanthropic support: major donations of food and of time. The group relies on all three types of donations to keep their doors open and to fulfill their mission of feeding the hungry across South Louisiana.

mission Second Harvest Food Bank leads the fight against hunger in South Louisiana by providing food access, advocacy, education and disaster response. Second Harvest provides food and support to 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes. They are an affiliate ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and a member of Feeding America and United Way.

advertisement advertisement

giving back nonprofit profile

xavier university of louisiana our events 504.520.7575 | 1 Drexel Dr., New Orleans

who we are Being America’s only historically Black and Catholic University is just the first of the distinctions that have set Xavier University of Louisiana apart for over nine decades. As Xavier enters its second century of service, we remain rooted in our faith, passionately pursuing our mission in our unique role as the only Black, Catholic institution in the nation, with a special concern for diversity and inclusion; creating a more just and humane world, and a more sustainable world; and continuing to strengthen our academic performance and success. We are inspired by our foundress, St. Katherine Drexel and her vision, ability, and commitment to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of her times. Xavier continues to be guided by its Foundress’ vision and remains rooted in its mission to be a globally recognized University that celebrates diversity, fosters an intellectual environment of academic excellence, and educates future leaders who will build a just and humane society. Despite Xavier’s relatively small size of 3,300 students, we continue to be the nationally recognized leader in the STEM and the health sciences, producing more African American students who graduate from medical schools each year than any other university in the United States. Xavier’s College of Pharmacy is among the top producers of African American pharmacists. Our liberal arts-based programs in business, education, psychology, and political science – as well as such recent additions as our newly announced Physician Assistant program in partnership with Ochsner Health Systems, bioinformatics, data science, neuroscience, crime and social justice, and jazz studies – offer students an unbeatable combination of traditional classroom study, hands-on research, service-learning opportunities, and experiential education. The winning Xavier formula? Provide students with a well-balanced curriculum and an environment that nurtures their intellect and feeds their souls.

Supporting Xavier University of Louisiana is one of the best investments you can make. The impact of your giving goes beyond the borders of the campus, into the local community and out into the world. The 7th annual Give. Love. Xavier Day is Tuesday, April 2nd. The all-day, online fundraising event is dedicated to the annual fund and helps Xavier University of Louisiana to continue our legacy of educating deserving students. Our goal is to have at least 3,500 donors contribute a minimum of $20 for Give.Love.Xavier Day. For more information about Xavier University of Louisiana visit us online at, call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 504-520-7575, or follow us on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter @XULA1925. Make a recurring gift by visiting the Xavier University site When you make a gift, post about it on your social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to encourage your friends to give. Join in the conversations about Give Love Xavier Day and spread your love with the hashtag #GLXU19!

Our mission Xavier University of Louisiana, founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is Catholic and historically Black. The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society. This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service. / 65


Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr.

honor and joy to recognize these remarkable heroes.

985.872.2413 | 742 Highway 182, Houma

benny cenac, owner


on the wounded war heroes organization

Jock Cenac founded Cenac Marine Services more than eight decades ago to advance opportunities and wellbeing through the marine industry. 88 years later, the company has passed from Jock to his son Arlen and now to his grandson, Arlen “Benny” Cenac, Jr. who has continued to run the company in the spirit his grandfather intended: focused on employee satisfaction and company morale. The Cenac family has long embraced giving and philanthropy in their company and with their employees; they pride themselves on the safety, education and satisfaction of their workers, and through philanthropy they ensure that their current and future workers will continue to reap the benefits of working with Cenac Marine Services. Benny Cenac has ensured that the company functions as a family by fostering strong ties with their employees, which in turn allows the employees to provide the highest level of professionalism, loyalty and dedication to the company and to the customer.

of our guiding principles is service. Service “One not just for our customers and partners, but

service for South Louisiana – where the majority of our employees live and work. benny cenac, owner

66 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

look forward to this sponsorship “Iopportunity each year. It is such an

why they give Cenac Marine Services gives back because the Cenac family gives back. For the last 88 years, Cenac has been committed to employee satisfaction and company morale—and the company understands that the happiness and satisfaction of its employees is inextricably linked to the happiness and success of the greater community around them. For the company, advancing the wellbeing of their employees is tied to advancing the wellbeing of Houma’s community, Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast region. To that end, Cenac makes sure to invest in both their current and their future employees. Cenac’s dedication to providing a safe and happy work environment (a dedication that recently won the Louisiana’s Workers Compensation Corporations’ Safest 70 award) is involved in their decision to pay it forward. One of the company’s main philanthropic focuses is providing increased opportunities for advanced education, particularly in the marine education field. Through their donations to various institutions, Cenac has ensured that the marine towing industry has and will continue to have a steady stream of top-tier professionals for years to come.


giving back company profile

methods Cenac believes in fully-rounded philanthropy. Benny Cenac is a dedicated philanthropist who gives time and attention to all sorts of causes, from educational to environmental to health and well-being. Benny Cenac has led the drive for sustainable and local food through local community garden donations, and has grown the region’s culinary program through donations to Nicholls State. The company also donated a fully-refurbished updated barge to Southern Louisiana Community College’s Maritime Training program, which will allow the program’s students to experience the highest quality of education and situational training. Benny has also made it a point to give back to veterans through their partnership with the Wounded War Heroes Organization and the Houma Oilman’s Fishing Invitational. Since 2013, Cenac has provided accommodations for veterans at the fishing invitational to allow the veterans an all-expenses paid weekend dedicated to fun and camaraderie, including delicious meals and fishing. Cenac also devotes time and resources to South Louisiana Community College, Terrebonne Parish Foundation for Academic Excellence, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, Louisiana Wildlife Federation and Terrebonne Parish. Cenac’s rounded approach to philanthropy helps contribute to a stronger and greater community, which helps to improve the state and nation as a whole.

training and education is a key component “Maritime to the area and the industry. Cenac’s partnership with SLCC yields tanker operations and simulator training for all wheelhouse members, while at the same time, gives hands on experiences to others that would otherwise not made available to the public. benny cenac, owner

mission For over 88 years, Cenac Marine Services has been known throughout the towing industry for its excellence in customer service, highlighted by an impeccable safety record and an unwavering commitment to strict maintenance and operational standards built upon a foundation of experience dating back to the 1920s. Today, Cenac Marine Services continues its pioneering way in the marine industry. Additionally, Main Iron Works specializes in the construction, repair and repowering of marine vessels and barges. Since its conception in 1947, Main Iron works has proudly built and refurbished push boats and offshore tug boats. Those interested in learning more about Benny Cenac and his philanthropy can follow his Twitter, @arlenbennycenac. / 67


gallo mechanical 504.944.6736 | 4141 Bienville Street, Suite 100, New Orleans

about Gallo Mechanical LLC is built on a bedrock foundation of dedication to family, service and performance. The company, a 75-year locally-grown family operation, is deeply invested in finding the best way to both serve and grow the community in which they live and work. As they have grown over the last seven and a half decades, Gallo Mechanical has sought to ensure that their focus remains in reinvesting in their community through both the work they carry out and the opportunities that they provide.

order to serve our clients, we need talented, “Inwell-trained employees. One of our top priorities is to invest in local programs which will help to develop our future workforce – we want to provide careers (not just jobs) for our current and future employees.

JP Hymel, President, Gallo Mechanical

68 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Gallo Mechanical we know that “Atmaking an impact in our community

through workforce development is possible with meaningful partnerships. Maria Pote, Director of Special Projects, Gallo Mechanical.

why they give While Gallo understands the importance of traditional philanthropic giving, they felt the need to do more. The company has moved to partner with civic and local groups to create and foster opportunities for growth, stability and prosperity in their community, particularly among disconnected young New Orleanians. They have also engaged with programs which foster support for their employees during life’s hurdles, from navigating custody disputes or helping find the right medical provider. Gallo’s investment in education and trade-based employment provides a scalable market solution for disconnected youth in the community. The company has become and will continue to be a part of the solution for today’s workforce challenges by providing opportunities for young adults to achieve sustainable long-term employment and through that, financial prosperity.


giving back company profile

Earn and Learn — Tulane Cowen Institute

methods In the spirit of their company’s mission, Gallo has created a partnership with Earn and Learn, a career pathways program that reconnects opportunity youth to higher-growth career pathways. Gallo will work with Earn and Learn, which was created by the Tulane Cowen Institute, to provide five candidates with paid apprenticeships. These candidates will apprentice with Gallo as Helpers, registering with the Plumbers and Steamfitters’ Local Union No. 60 to receive education and training in skilled trades. In addition to that education and paid position, the candidates will receive medical insurance benefits, additional soft and technical skills training, life coaching and wrap-around skills (including financial and medical aid and support). Gallo aims to work with their partners to promote trained workers with connections and a pathway to long-term success in both work and life. Gallo is also partnering with NOLABA/GNOF and making use of their field-based navigator program. This program helps to empower employees to take on challenges that arise in their daily lives such as obtaining access to medical resources, navigating financial challenges and even finding access to legal aid for custody and familial support. Gallo’s own fieldbased navigator, Powell Digangi, is a trained social worker employed by GNOF. Digangi acts as a bridge for Gallo’s employees, connecting them to resources and support that they might not otherwise be able to reach. This bridged support allows Gallo’s employees to better grow and improve their lives, reaffirming Gallo Mechanical’s commitment to transformational change through support and workforce development. Gallo will continue to partner with community-based nonprofits to give back to their community—both through traditional philanthropy and through the new, innovative route of fostering personal and professional growth and improvement within their company and beyond.

with Gallo Mechanical to design “Working this program has been a pleasure. JP, Maria, and the rest of the Gallo team are motivated to attract the top talent New Orleans has to offer while also providing unmatched career opportunities for young adults.

Amy Barad, Deputy Director, Cowen Institute

companies like Gallo “When Mechanical act on the call for

transformational change in New Orleans, it demonstrates that the city is moving in the right direction to improve the business climate and bring everyone to the economic table for prosperity. Gallo is taking affirmative steps to ensure that its people, the company’s most critical asset, have resources and services to enable them to be their most productive.

Quentin L. Messer, Jr., President and CEO, New Orleans Business Alliance

mission Gallo Mechanical is a top-tier mechanical construction and service provider headquartered in New Orleans. Performance the right way is their only agenda. They aim to be the mechanical contractor of choice throughout the Gulf South region. To accomplish this aim, they’ve doubled down on their dedication to strong, consistent and excellent performance on their jobs while investing in their staff and their community. / 69


giving back company profile

Cox employees spent an afternoon helping the Second Harvest Food Bank repack pallets of food for distribution across the state. The group worked together like a well-oiled machine while keeping the mood light and fun, and enjoying the comradery.

cox communications 504.304.8444 |

Cox and Manheim New Orleans teamed up to help the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Ocean Conservancy clean up the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Employees, along with family and friends, picked up 334 pounds of trash.



Cox believes life gets better when there are more moments of real, human connection. Cox and its employees live and work toward a company-wide mission: connecting their customers to the people and things they care about the most. Their knowledgeable and down-to-earth employees are there to support their customers and are genuinely eager to help; be it through technology or philanthropy—or both.

Cox gives back to the community through donations of both time and money. Most recently, the Cox Charities Program offered five grants to local New Orleans nonprofits to support programs and projects intended to improve our community. Grant recipients were Angels’ Place, Grace at the Green Light, Luke’s House, Odyssey House Louisiana Inc. and Murphy Education & Sports Foundation. Grant applications were read and processed by local employees to determine how the dollars would best impact positive change in the communities they serve. The grants were funded via the generosity of Cox employees, who gave from their own paychecks to support these community organizations. Cox also provides support to local schools through Innovation in Education grants, five of which were presented to local schools for the 2019-2020 school year to support programs such as a sensory area, a reading corner and scholarships promoting STEM careers.

why they give Nonprofit organizations help foster growth and strength in their communities, and Cox has a long history of community involvement. With its philanthropy efforts focused on youth and education, diversity, and environmental issues, Cox understands the importance of serving the communities in which they live and work. They encourage their employees to take part in volunteer work, whether packing food boxes or cleaning up beaches. Cox employees have held clothing and diaper drives for Covenant House, Odyssey House and the Junior League; they have donated 30 coats for kids in need at the High-Level Speech and Hearing Center; and they have refreshed the technology center at the Boys & Girls NFL YET Club to allow young people to bridge the digital divide. / 70

mission Cox’s mission is to connect our customers to the people and things they care about most.


Our employees on the Northshore granted $2,000 through the Home Bank Helps Giving Fund to Madisonville Junior High School for their “Shoveling for Seniors” project. Madisonville City Park will receive updates and help from the students at the junior high. Thus far, the students have planted 50 azalea bushes, three oak trees and are putting new benches out for seniors to enjoy when visiting the park.

giving back company profile

home bank 866.401.9440 | Facebook: HomeBankHelps Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender Our Magazine Street branch staff shows off coats donated during our annual Coats for Kids drive.

about For over 110 years, Home Bank has been committed to serving the community—both as a community bank and through their philanthropy. The full-service bank, which offers deposit and lending solutions tailor-made for families and businesses, deeply believes in community investment and its potential to change and enrich individuals, communities and regions for the better. The local nature of their business helps them provide insight, help and assurance for any customer who walks through the doors of any of their 39 locations across Louisiana and Mississippi – 12 in the Greater New Orleans area. Home Bank puts customers first with all the latest banking technologies, and the reassurance that a local banker is right there when needed.

why they give Home Bank approaches philanthropy as a part of their culture. Giving back is a core value in their company. Employees are passionate in developing solutions to the challenges in their community. As a result, they become better citizens, leaders, spouses, parents and friends. For Home Bank, philanthropy creates an energy and positive spirit that helps build community and provides a deeper, more meaningful connection in all that they do.

method Home Bank gives back financially, and is proud of their employees’ service to many causes. Home Bank staff across the Louisiana and Mississippi regions have helped in a myriad of ways, from stuffing school buses with supplies to helping those in need by hosting donation drives in their branches. Home Bank employees teach financial literacy to both students and adults, and have even created a Home Bank Helps employee-driven grant program, in which employees donate their own dollars to invest in local nonprofits.

Service Philosophy To serve the community with their time and talents – because together we are stronger. / 71


giving back company profile

RYCARS partners with Son of a Saint for an annual lunch and learn day.

RYCARS Construction, LLC 504.305.5309 | 503 Coleman Place, Kenner

about As a commercial roofing company with over 75 years of collective roofing experience, RYCARS knows that a roof is a building’s first line of defense against all types of weather. To that end, they have mastered innovative roofing solutions that ensure long-lasting structural success for clients. The RYCARS team is comprised of highly qualified and extensively trained professionals who have experience with all roofing systems and manufacturers. The company offers safe, professional and reliable commercial roofing and construction experiences for clients while building a durable, well-insulated roof that provides the protection clients seek.

why they give The RYCARS family values both the community it is in and the communities it serves. Since its founding, the company has prioritized philanthropy, giving back and serving the communities that support its work whenever possible. From providing monetary backing for local nonprofits to working directly to provide job opportunities to people within Greater New Orleans, RYCARS aims to build and strengthen the community to the benefit of all. The RYCARS team is particularly passionate about and proud of its work with ex-offenders, which has contributed to the area’s decreasing recidivism rate. / 72

Ryan E. Burks, President, explains roof details to Son of a Saint mentees.

method With an emphasis on monetary contributions and volunteer practices, RYCARS and its employees have worked with and supported several organizations in the New Orleans and Atlanta areas, including Son of a Saint, BRAVO, Orchid Society, Second Harvest Food Bank, Ozanam Inn, Meals on Wheels and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The company sponsors quarterly volunteer days with local market nonprofits and charitable organizations to encourage their workers and families to stay active in growing their local communities.

mission RYCARS aims to provide innovative, professional and reliable roofing solutions and construction services while maintaining a deep-rooted focus on safety and quality.


the old No. 77 Hotel & chandlery

giving back company profile

504.527.5271 | 535 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans

about The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, an award-winning acclaimed hotel that draws its name from its historic warehouse building’s old address, prides itself on being known as a hotel grounded in its community. The staff come from all walks of life—some were born and raised New Orleans natives, others are newcomers who have chosen to make a life here; some are new to hospitality, while others are practiced hands. The hotel has intentionally chosen a staff with diverse experiences and strengths to create real, vibrant accessibility to anyone who wants to truly experience the whole city of New Orleans, from art and history to food and culture.

why they give The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery and Provenance Hotels believe that a hotel experience is made up of more than the qualities of a building; a hotel experience begins and ends with the contributions made by people. This focus on the importance and authenticity of human interaction has led Provenance and The Old No. 77 to a real understanding of the importance of philanthropy and community building for the hotel industry. The Old. No 77 in particular has always been motivated to support its community. Their newest wave of philanthropy was born from their enjoyment of the Tricentennial celebrations—the hotel wants to see New Orleans and the region continue to grow and thrive for the next 300 years while preserving its culture and way of life.

method This year, the hotel is partnering with Restore the Mississippi River Delta, a coalition organization serving the Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. The project is dedicated to fostering and advancing solutions to reverse the delta’s collapse. The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery’s partnership with Restore the Mississippi River Delta works as a guest promotion: guests can book their rooms through the promotion “300 More,” which promotes 300 more years of a thriving New Orleans. Through that promotion, 5 percent of the room rate goes to the coalition to support the delta’s revitalization.

mission The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery and Provenance Hotels don’t have a mission statement, but instead a Manifesto, in which they promise that their hotels and their experiences are rooted first and foremost in the experiences of the hotel staff and its guests. They are dedicated to creating an experience, not just providing a hotel stay. / 73

Southe ast louisiana businesses in full color


A peek inside the 1-ton solarium-onwheels that is FAIT NOLA.

From The Lens g r e at wo r ks paces

Team Effort Festival Productions Inc. brings JazzFest ethos to newly remodeled offices in Canal Place by Melanie Warner Spencer photos by sara essex bradley

76 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

A wood, metal and glass divider wall separates two of the company’s departments, while still allowing for openness and easy collaboration.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The glass-walled conference room has a privacy screen with images from throughout JazzFest’s history. JazzFest posters and photos are extensively employed throughout the space.

is celebrating 50 years this month, and while Festival Productions Inc. (FPI), the company behind the iconic event, moved into its new offices at 365 Canal St. at the end of 2017, a remodeling of the space to reflect the work and culture of its tenants was only recently completed. Projects and Planning Director Dana D. Perry had a vision for the 13,000-square-foot office suite on the 22nd floor at Canal Place and, along with the team at NANO LLC, was able to bring it to fruition. “We’re an eclectic bunch,” said Perry. “The thought process was, ‘How can we bring modern [flair] into something funky?’” That question is answered as soon as visitors enter through the glass doors. The entry features a reception desk and just left of center, two Matrix “Italian Plum” chairs with walnut accents situated in front of it. To the right of the door there is a striking, angled wall made from cypress, which Perry says was created to both separate the entry from the reception area and to define it. Each sleek, modern element however, is juxtaposed by one or more eclectic pieces. In the case of the reception area, new is paired with old with the inclusion of a custom door, created by folk artist Charles Gillam, from the former Camp Street offices hung with care on the left flanking wall. / 77

The glass-walled conference room behind the reception desk is adorned with a privacy screen made from images that depict JazzFest’s history. JazzFest posters and photos are extensively employed throughout the space. Just outside the human resources department’s offices, the lighted, metal JazzFest letters used in the festival’s CD tent decorate a dark accent wall. The company embraced the history of its immensely popular event and told its story in the space for its staff and visitors, but Perry emphasizes that the group’s large-scale event production happens yearround and includes other popular annual events like Essence Fest, Bayou Country Superfest and full-scale, one-time events for clients including the NFL and NBA. “We employ longtime staff members in all of the key areas of special events production: talent booking, finance/bookkeeping, marketing and public relations, corporate partner relations, site development, security and logistics, food and beverage operations, concessions, etc.,” she said. “Our audiences vary widely from event to event.” The extensive collaboration required to seamlessly merge all of those areas in the final product of an event necessitated an open office plan for several key departments. The 14 separate offices maintain visual openness through the use of glass walls. There is a small conference room, in addition to the large one near the entrance, and various casual seating arrangements dot each department. “We love to meet regularly, which fosters great communication and a highly focused production management team,” said Perry. The attention to detail in the décor and space planning echoes what Perry said is at the heart of the team’s work. “FPI’s singular list of special events is our calling card,” she said. “Anyone who attends an FPI event can perceive the level of attention to detail in every area, and we believe that is what sets us apart.” The staff is still getting settled in since the remodel and Perry said the biggest challenge right now is to zero in on what’s working and what isn’t as they use the space and tweak it as needed. This meshes well with the company’s overall objective and philosophy of excellence in its production work. “Our goal at work is universal,” said Perry, “to create a top-notch experience for festival-goers and event attendees.” n

78 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

(Top) In CEO Quint Davis’ office color abounds. Multiple collections of art, posters and other memorabilia are employed throughout the room, which is flooded with light. (Bottom) A sketch of the first JazzFest map hangs in the hallway.

At A Glance

Club Champion Festival Productions Inc. Location

365 Canal St. Date of opening

Renovation completed December 2017 Size

13,000 square feet Number of Employees

Core team of 50; Festival peak production, 75 People in Charge

Quint Davis, CEO; EJ Encalarde, Chief Operating Officer

The decorative theme of CEO Quint Davis’ office is music and color.

From The Lens w h y d i dn ’ t i t h i nk of t h at ?

Business is Blooming You’ve heard of food trucks, but a plant truck? FAIT NOLA can’t be rooted down, and its popularity is growing. by Ashley McLellan photos by sara essex bradley

Operating out of a 1-ton solarium-on-wheels

nicknamed “Axil Rose,” FAIT NOLA is one of the most unique mobile businesses in the Metro. The company, founded by sisters Emily and Laura Stirling Joffrion and their mother, Kathleen Robinson, has bloomed since launching in August 2018, offering carefully crafted plant arrangements and succulents at farmers markets, festivals and events, as well as classes and instruction, to an eagerly growing clientele. FAIT NOLA is on trend with the current spike in popularity of succulents, cacti and indoor plants, especially among millennials — the largest segment of plant purchasers since 2012. According to, consumers age 18 to 34 account for 31 percent of all houseplant sales. And this plant parenting trend among the country’s youth is showing no signs of weakening. According to a 2017 report from Garden Center Magazine, 41 percent of independent plant and garden centers across the country reported sales volumes above $1 million in 2016. That number jumped to 49 percent in 2017. Unlike your traditional plant and garden center, however, FAIT NOLA is a traveling operation. Mobility is a key part of the inspiration, customer outreach and continued success of the business. “Having the ability to bring our product to the customer is a huge advantage,” Laura Joffrion said. “For the cost of an annual lease, we modified an old laundry truck into something beautiful that is quickly gaining international recognition [with attention from Instagram followers in Paris and beyond] It’s not something you see every day. Our guests love being inside and sharing their experience on social media.” Popular items range in price from $12 to $70, from simple succulents to cacti and handmade items.

80 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

“Our most popular selling item has been our smudge sticks. They are gorgeous, made with lavender, sage, cedar and rosettes,” Joffrion said. “We source the elements from California and Northern Oregon and they are handmade by my mother, Kathleen. Most of our more expensive products are the 10-inch cactus and the Blue Tango bromeliad. Its vibrant purple and pink colors make it a huge hit.” Joffrion has seen success with farmers’ markets and weekend popup markets across the city, with a growing list of patrons who access the truck’s location via social media.

“We love the Freret Street Market,” she said. “The truck does really well in that environment and we enjoy the food, vendors and music they offer. We also do really well popping up in partnership with other businesses. [For example,] we have a brick-and-mortar partnership with Lionheart Prints on Magazine Street. They have most of our products in their store. This way our inventory is still accessible when we’re not rolling. We also pop up outside their store frequently. We have such a girl crush on their team.” Accodring to Joffrion, other business partnerships include: LemonShark Poke, Magazine Merchant

FAIT NOLA’s one-ton Chevy solarium-onwheels is nicknamed “Axil Rose,” and features plants for sale, custom plant arrangements and classes on plant care and design. Recent classes have included information on Staghorn ferns, terrarium building and plant problems. “Axil Rose” and the FAIT NOLA team can be found around town at farmers’ markets, festivals and in partnership with local businesses around the city.

growing green

Most popular plant trends Succulents $10-$20 Cactus $10-$20 Monstera $30-$50 Snake Plant $10-$30 Pilea $15-$30 Fiddle-leaf fig $60-$250 Source: Architectural Digest / 81

House, Freret Street Market, The Kolache Kitchen, In addition to selling plants, FAIT NOLA also offers a series of workshops. Lilly’s Cafe and Saint Claude Social Club. “We have a regular library of work“We have [also] started popping up shops that we do around plant care on weekdays, which will open up a lot did you know? and plant design,” says Joffrion. more opportunities to partner with a Indoor plant Recent classes have included: variety of local businesses all over the benefits “Mounting Staghorn Ferns,” “Pots, city,” she said. “We are doing our best Painting and Planting,” “Terrarium to branch out into different neighborThe American Lung Building” and “Problem Plants — Plant hoods in New Orleans.” Association touts the importance of indoor Hospital.” The truck, a Chevy Stepvan, is also plants for lung health. Plant sales still dominate the busia showpiece, crafted by a local builder Plants help remove ness’ revenue and Joffrion notes that and designer with a team of artists. harmful volatile organic FAIT NOLA is seeing constant growth “She is 23 feet long and 8 feet wide,” compounds (VOC) Joffrion said. “We partnered with in its sales. found in many massproduced products, Christian Reepal at New Orleans Airlift The seeds for FAIT NOLA were planted building materials and to do the fabrication of the truck. They with experiences the trio of women carpets from the air. did all of the work custom, including gathered from living in diverse, creative the roof. Mankh of Italistics Collective cities across the United States. did all of the woodwork. Honestly, we “My family is originally from Baton could not be happier with the result. They did Rouge,” said Laura Joffrion. “We moved away in an impeccable job.” 2002 and spent about 13 years living all over the

82 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

U.S. There are other mobile plant companies in San Francisco, Brooklyn and Nashville. We are plant people and believe in plants as a medium for creative expression. We believe plants bring people together through a love of nature and wanted to offer our guests time away from technology to reconnect with getting their hands dirty.” A true family-owned and run business, each member of the team has years of experience that each brings to the planting bench. “My mother, Kathleen Robinson, went to LSU for horticulture and has 30-plus years of floral design experience,” Joffrion said. “Her love of plants has always been a huge part of our family and so, naturally, my sisters and I all love being surrounded by plants. My mother leads our product mix and the design of all of the products on our truck, Axil Rose.” While Robinson brings plant knowledge to the table, Joffrion and her sister Emily bring marketing skills. “Emily has 10 years of public relations and brand-messaging experience,” Joffrion said. “She also has worked for a number of companies to expand their branding. She came to work with us for six months full-time to create our brand identity and launch the truck, and now [she] lives in San Francisco, where she’s a marketing consultant.” Joffrion also brings West Coast flair to the business, with lessons learned in design and marketing. “I worked in digital marketing and social media strategy for over 10 years,” she said. “I also have a merchandise marketing degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. I manage the company on a day-to-day basis, building relationships with the community, and exploring future opportunities and partnerships for the company.” While Kathleen and Laura work full time and Emily consults, FAIT NOLA’s quick success means the company is nearly ready to bring someone new into the fold. The company is also making a move indoors, but not out of Axil Rose. “We are now offering interior living walls [made of plants],” Joffrion said. “Axil Rose is getting two walls installed this month, so guests can see the impact they offer.” Walls can be crafted out of tropical plants or even herb gardens for your kitchen.” Joffrion says her family is building the company organically. “We are exploring options as we grow but our main focus is to stay true to the values of our mission,” she said, “to bring exotic, beautiful plant life to New Orleans and spread the love of plants and plant design within our community.” Follow FAIT NOLA’s website and social media for current and upcoming locations: n / 83

From The Lens m a k i ng a m atc h: bus i nesses a nd non pr of i ts

Fighting for the Kids

Advocate Supervisor Tanyanika Franklin and Executive Director Joy Bruce

Businesses can team up with CASA to advocate for children who need it most. by Pamela Marquis photos by cheryl gerber

Every two minutes, a child enters the

foster care system in this country. In one month, 300 Louisiana children will be removed from their home due to abuse and/or neglect and placed into foster care. “These children have done nothing wrong,” said Joy Bruce, executive director of CASA New Orleans (Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children). “It’s no fault of their own and their parents do care deeply about their children, but poverty, lack of education and resources and mental health issues can make it hard to be the parents they would want for their children.” Recently retired, Joe Melcher, a professor of speech pathology at Xavier University, began volunteering with CASA three years ago after deciding he wanted to do something new and rewarding in his life. He said he’d always been curious about how the foster system worked and had heard some horror stories. He decided to try and help. “I didn’t want to sit on my rear end and do nothing,” he said. “My first child was 17 years old. His home life was not good at all. He was simply not being taken care of. At the first meeting, I got to know him and learned some things about him, like what kind of candy he liked. The next time we met, I had a Mr. Goodbar candy bar for him. His face absolutely lit up. He was impressed and grateful that I’d remembered that one small thing about him.” In an eight-month space of time, Melcher’s youth was transferred to a new foster home seven different times. CASA program manager, Karen Henry, said that the organization provides much-needed, consistent one-on-one contact for kids in foster care.

84 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

A Good Match

FOR COMPANIES WHO CAN… Help spread the word about CASA on social media. Encourage employees to learn more about becoming an advocate. Donate advertising. Put together a team for next year’s Superhero Race (held in February) Choose CASA as your nonprofit to benefit when shopping through Amazon’s Smile program.

CASA aims to ensure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe and be treated with dignity and respect. Advocates also assume the role of a lay guardian ad litem: adults responsible for protecting the wellbeing and interests of their ward. CASA advocates remain appointed to the child’s case throughout its duration. So, while a child may have multiple attorneys, social workers and therapists, most of the time they have only one CASA advocate. “They need that constant person in their lives,” Henry said. “Connection is important to everyone, but it is especially important to these children to have a permanent connection. They are the glue that connects the pieces in this complicated child welfare system.” The creation of CASA

The CASA program was created in 1977 by Seattle family court judge David Soukup,

who recognized that the system to care for foster kids was underfunded and overworked. He knew that children would have a much better chance if they could rely on a single adult volunteer that was outside of that system and trained in how to advocate for each child’s individual needs. In 1985, CASA New Orleans was formed under the guidance of Judge Salvadore Mule. It became the first CASA program in the state of Louisiana and has since served thousands of children under the jurisdiction of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. CASA volunteers’ primary responsibilities include reviewing documents and records, providing written reports at court hearings, helping the child understand the court proceedings, recommending services for the child’s health, education and mental health, and keeping the court informed. Kayana Bradley started working with her CASA advocate, Caitlin Waugh, when she was

by the numbers

SUCCESS OF SERVICES A child with a CASA volunteer is: • More likely to find a safe, permanent home, spending less time in foster care; • Half as likely to re-enter the foster care stem; and • More likely to do well in school. CASA New Orleans serves more than 120 kids at a time. Of those, 61 children up to the age of 18 stayed in foster care and were assigned an advocate. Of the 61 with a volunteer advocate in court custody, 31 cases were closed. Of the 31 closed cases, 28 found permanency (over 90%) 18 (64%) were able to return to their parents or a relative 10 (36%) found a forever home through adoption The three kids who did not find permanency aged out of foster care and the organization has followed them.

CASA New Orleans also serves 16 youth over 18 with 8 dependent children, bringing the total of kids that it provided long-term services to 85 total last year.

Joy Bruce teaches a volunteer class. CASA volunteers must attend 36 hours of training to work with youth.

For youth transitioning into adulthood (18+ years old) in New Orleans:


have experienced homelessness after 18 (including 50% of kids who graduated after experiencing homelessness in high school)


have been helped by CASA with enrolling in school or a job training program


of former foster youth nationally enroll in college (and only 3% finish) but CASA New Orleans has had 53% of its kids accepted to college (82% of those with a high school diploma) and 19% are scheduled to graduate in the next year.

13 years old. She’s now 22 and determined to “pay it forward” by working at CASA through AmeriCorps as youth support, where she helps other foster kids as they age out of the system. “I was fortunate to work with my advocate,” Bradley said. “She’s my best friend and she still gives me guidance and words of wisdom. You want normalcy, just like any other child, and Caitlin provided that for me.” Becoming an Advocate

Advocates come from all walks of life and need no special education. Bruce said the most important things volunteers need are to be caring and competent. “They do need to be a bit computer literate and willing to make a commitment,” he added. Advocates do, however, undergo a lot of training. Since 2016, Leslie Adams has

The week after she turned 18, Bradley been training volunteers to be CASA child was the centerpiece of a series of National advocates. The 36-hour training, which also CASA videos includes observations and homework, covers highlighting the importance of teamwork topics including childhood development, in the foster care system. She spent two domestic violence, child abuse and everything days bravely telling her story, which has advocates need to be successful during court now been shared across the country and dates. Adams recently completed training on social media. seven new CASA advocates. She also worked with DCFS and the Chaffee “They did a great many case studies that Independent Living Skills providers, speaking put what they’ve learned to practical use,” directly with current foster kids and preparing she said. “And this group was very impresthem to age out. sive, they really took to the skill sets. I was “We are so happy to see Keedy find her impressed.” voice and watch her grow,” said Joy Bruce, Melcher said he continues to be rewarded executive director of CASA New Orleans. for his volunteer efforts with CASA. He’s worked with several more children but said Ongoing Partnerships: his first foster child still holds a CASA partners with DCFS and the special place in his heart. That Orleans/St. Bernard court systems. young man was eventually reunispeak out Some of the organization’s biggest fied with his parents. If you suspect supporters are Chalmette Refining, child abuse or “Foster care isn’t just about neglect The Advocate, Baptist Community providing a roof over these kids’ Ministries, the Meraux Foundation heads, Bruce said. “It’s about call toll-free and The Domain Companies. 855-4LA-KIDS a team helping them. Society CASA New Orleans is a private, has a fundamental obligation to 24 hours a day, non-profit organization, managed 365 days a year ensure the basic rights and needs by a board of directors and operof every child are met, and CASA ated by staff. The organization volunteers are a formidable force receives funding from a variety of that fight for these rights.” sources, including the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Temporary Aid for Needy Families Success Stories and Victims of Crime Assistance, as well as Kayana “Keedy” Bradley came into foster care other private foundations, corporations and as a young teenager. As Keedy prepared to generous individuals. n age out of the system at 18, she was adamant that she wanted to use her story to help improve outcomes for other foster youth.


CASA New Orleans Mission

The mission of CASA is to provide trained community volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in court. The goal is to ensure that every child has a safe, permanent, nurturing home. Contact

1340 Poydras St. Suite 2120 (504) 522-1962 Annual Budget

$500,000 Need to verify

Current Needs

Volunteers Food and beverage for CASA trainings and events / 85

PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Ace and the Louisiana Open Housing Act, which make it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. For more information, call the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-273-5718.

86 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019 / 87

From The Lens ON THE JOB

Is There a Doctor in the House? The Audubon Institute’s senior veterinarian keeps the animals in top shape. Dr. Robert MacLean spends

his days caring for what is arguably the most eclectic bunch of patients in New Orleans — which includes the sea lion seen here. Working primarily at the Audubon Zoo, MacLean also assists other veterinarians in caring for all the animals at Audubon’s Aquarium of the Americas, the Freeport McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, the Audubon Aquatic Center and the Coastal Wildlife Network. For more information on the Audubon Nature Institute, visit n

88 / Biz New Orleans / april 2019

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.