Biz New Orleans Magazine February 2023

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Since the start of the pandemic, Feed the Second Line has been supporting local artists in many ways. Their newest program aims to aid entire neighborhoods by creating solar-powered storm havens.

Tinice Williams, executive director of Feed the Second Line, and her son, Terrance Williams Jr., big chief of the Black Hawk Hunters indian tribe

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT Celebrating a new chocolate bar in 2022, Chocolatier Christopher Nobles loves his work, but a lot more goes into it than you might think.

Hot Legal Issues for 2023

Local lawyers share their thoughts on the year’s biggest changes and issues to watch

Shelter from the Storm

Nonprofit Feed the Second Line is turning area restaurants into powered-up hubs in emergency situations — a move that aims to be transformational for small businesses and communities.

20 HEALTHCARE Local pros share simple ways to stay heart healthy 22 MARITIME+PORTS 2023 is looking to be a good one for the maritime industry 26 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Things are looking up downriver and SBEDF is leading the charge. 27 GUEST A peek into the future of Greater New Orleans’ commercial real estate market EVERY ISSUE FROM THE LENS PERSPECTIVES 06 EDITOR’S NOTE 08 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 09 ON THE WEB 10 WORD ON THE STREET IN THE BIZ 12 DINING After only five years in business, El Guapo’s bitters are now in 49 states and five countries — and growing fast. 14 TOURISM Valentine’s Day love for the French Quarter 16 SPORTS Green Wave finishes memorable season ranked No. 9 in the nation 17 ENTREPRENEUR Good news from the 2022 Greater New Orleans Startup Report 56 GREAT WORKSPACES It took a team effort to create Tulane Athletics Department’s new state-of-the-art academics center. 64 NEW ORLEANS 500 Monique Doucette, Shareholder at Ogletree Deakins VOLUME 09 ISSUE 05 FEBRUARY 60
24 EDUCATION A lack of quality childcare affects both the current and future workforce, so what’s being done to provide it in New Orleans? 34 28


The home of Valentine’s Day, February is a great month to focus on love — in all its forms.

Whether you have a valentine or not, I invite you to focus on and feel the love this month. With Carnival happening, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Back in December, I was fortunate enough to participate in the revamped Christmas parade with my fellow Dolly Partons in the Krewe of Dolly. It was a gorgeous, sunny day as we sashayed down the street in giant blonde wigs and an obscene amount of rhinestones and glitter, singing along to Dolly music and waving to the crowds.

About halfway through the parade, I saw a little boy, about 4, who was looking down at the ground, hopefully just lost in thought. I wiggled over and tapped him on the shoulder. At first, he gazed up at me, momentarily stunned, but then, taking in the totality of the ridiculous creature in front of him, he broke into a huge grin. At that point, I handed him a rainbow candy cane: It was like his whole being started vibrating with joy.

Just a goofy stranger and a 10-cent candy cane. That’s all it took — for both of us.

I share this because we spend a lot of time, justifiably, bemoaning the problems of this city all year long. It’s a lot. I feel it too. But this month, this is our time. This is when we celebrate in ways nobody else does. This is when we come together and marvel at the beauty of what can be created out of love. We revel in our

unique culture, our traditions, our food, and the little moments of magic they make possible. We eat too much, scream too loud, and drag way too much crap back to the car — including maybe a few treasures, the value of which nobody anywhere else would understand.

In this issue, you’ll find lots to lift the spirits — from our cover story of a local nonprofit that has found a genius way to support local restaurants and entire neighborhoods in times of crisis, to a rundown of the good news proclaimed by this year’s GNO Startup Report in the Entrepreneur column. And for those looking to be a good valentine, check out our Why Didn’t I Think of That? feature this month for some inspiration.

A very happy Mardi Gras to all! And if you happen to be at the King Arthur parade on Feb. 12, or the Bosom Buddies parade on Feb. 17, look for the Dollies. I’ll be in there somewhere getting my groove on.

Happy Reading,

Publisher Todd Matherne


Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary

Art Director Sarah George

Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot

Associate News Editor Rich Collins

Perspective Writer Drew Hawkins

Contributors Meaghan McCormack, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Arthur L. Schwertz, Melanie Warner Spencer, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell


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Sweet Baby James

What a start to the new year!

Right after Christmas, we were ready to fly to San Diego, California, to be there for the birth of our second grandbaby, however Southwest had different plans.

As we arrived at the airport, our flight was canceled in the mayhem of the airline’s end of the year meltdown. Like so many others, we started to scramble for alternatives. Lucky for us, we found a flight the next day to Los Angeles via Delta. The only problem it was $1,300 a ticket and a rental car ride away, but we had a baby coming and needed to get there. My daughter’s due date was December 30.

So, 24 hours later, we arrive in California. While we were settling in, we hear that Southwest is trying to make good on all the thousands of canceled flights and stranded passengers. After some investigation into the process, I uploaded my Delta and Hertz documents, and 24 hours later I get an email from Southwest informing me they will reimburse our travel expenses and provide miles and vouchers for future travel.

I only tell you this story — before I let you know about our new grandbaby — to make a point of customer service and owning up to your mistakes. Did Southwest cause thousands of headaches? Yes, they did. Were some more severe than Todd just trying to get to California? Yes, they were, but as a company you need to quickly adapt and do damage control to fix your errors, and that is what Southwest

did. The company admitted its mistake, took responsibility, and overcompensated passengers for the error.

I think we can all learn a lesson from what everyone hopes never happens again for any airline or business.

Now, to finish the story, we were blessed four days late, on January 3, 2023, with little James Todd Schmidt — a healthy baby boy weighing 7 pounds and 19.25 inches long. Little sweet baby James, named after his two grandfathers, is our second grandchild (remember Penelope). We hope there are many more to follow. I am so proud of Malayne and Jake as new parents and am excited to get to see their life unfold with their new son.

With little James living so far away, Andrea and I now have decided that vacation time is James time, and with our office a remote workplace, I can even campout in San Diego a few extra days and work while enjoying great times with James and his parents.

Have a great Carnival everyone. We will not be parading this year, heading to see James.

JESSICA JAYCOX MAHL Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7255 KATE HENRY VP of Sales and Marketing (504) 830-7216 MEGHAN SCHMITT Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7246 PUBLISHER’S NOTE SALES TEAM


Catch all the latest news, plus original reporting, people on the move, videos, weekly podcast and blogs, digital editions of the magazines and daily Morning Biz and afternoon newsletters. If it’s important to business in southeast Louisiana, it’s at


EPISODE 134 Investment Expert Shepard Buckman

The S&P 500 hit its high mark on the first trading day of 2022 and never came close to that number again for the rest of the year. Senior Investment Management Consultant Shepard Buckman of Equitas Capital Advisors talks about what contributed to the rough year for retirement accounts in 2022 and his strategies for recovery in 2023.

EPISODE 133 Tackling Workforce Shortages with Claire Jecklin, CEO, New Orleans Career Center

In the words of this week’s guest, “New Orleans’ future workforce is not going to prepare itself.” New Orleans Career Center’s CEO, Claire Jecklin, shares how the organization is partnering with local industries to prepare area young people and adults for a wide variety of high-wage, high-demand local careers, along with the details of NOCC’s incredible new 143,000-square-foot space.

“The pandemic put us in the mindset of having peace in the home. Plants help you to slow your life down. When you take time to water them, it’s a reminder that life doesn’t always have to move so fast.”
Teresa Thomas, founder and owner of Crazy Plant Bae, on the Jan. 5 Neighborhood Biz blog.
” New Orleans culture starts with food and music. In music, we’ve done well with educating the next generation, but we have not done that on the food side. We are a step in that direction.
Gerald Duhon, executive director of the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, speaking to Keith Twitchell on the Dec. 29, 2022, Neighborhood Biz blog.




For local execs, Carnival is a break from routine and a chance to make new connections.

For this month’s New Orleans 500 survey question, we asked leading local execs if they are affiliated with any Carnival organizations, and what the season means to them personally and professionally.

The responses are as diverse as the New Orleans business community itself.

NEWS FROM THE TOP Each month, we ask the top business professionals featured in the New Orleans 500 to weigh in on issues impacting the New Orleans business community. Have an idea for a survey question for the New Orleans 500? Email

Coast Athletic Conference, is a big fan of the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale, formed in 2013 “by African American women for African American women, although all women are welcome.” The organization parades on the first Sunday of the season.

“Carnival season is a time to celebrate family, food, fun and the beautiful spirit of the people of New Orleans,” said Barnes. “I love Mardi Gras.”

The “super krewe” Bacchus, meanwhile, is the organization of choice for Ted Longo, senior wealth management advisor at the Longo Group. He said the annual experience provides a unique way to entertain clients and introduce them to the city and region.

“Mardi Gras is ours,” said Longo. “It’s our festival and no one else has it … at least not like New Orleans does it. As far as Bacchus goes, it’s just a few years younger than I am, and I grew up watching that parade. So, when I got a chance to be in the krewe, it was a little boy’s dream come true.”

Because of his Jefferson Parish bonafides, noted philanthropist Henry Shane — chairman of Favrot & Shane Companies — devotes his time to Argus. Founded in 1972, it is Jefferson Parish’s Mardi Gras Day parade.

“Since our business has always been located in Jefferson Parish, we have decided to help with this tradition,” he said. “Overall, the Carnival season is a time of celebration with our friends.”

Ronnie Slone, president of the Slone Group, agrees.

Julie Babin, a partner and architect at studioWTA, is a member of Les Bonnes Vivantes, a rolling bathtub krewe.

“Les Bonnes Vivantes doesn’t directly benefit my architecture firm but it’s a creative outlet for my soul,” she said. “Catch us in Muses!”

To Babin, the season is all about “family, friends — and revelry!”

Kiki Baker Barnes, commissioner of the Gulf

He said the Carnival season is “a time of celebration for all and unique to the culture of New Orleans. … It’s also a quick break for me as I navigate the ‘jack rabbit’ start to a new year.”

Matthew Rosenboom, CFO at International-Matex Tank Terminals, rides in Hermes.

“I do not use it for business purposes, but I have made relationships through the organization which have carried over into business dealings,” he said. “It’s a time to celebrate with my family and let loose for a few days.” T





After only five years in business, El Guapo’s bitters are now in 49 states and five countries — and growing fast.

14 TOURISM Valentine’s Day love for the French Quarter



Good news from the 2022 Greater New Orleans Startup Report

16 SPORTS Green Wave finishes memorable season ranked No. 9 in the nation


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.

The Handsome One

recipes and brand. She spent two years developing a proprietary brewing process yielding 100% alcohol-free bitters instead of using the high-proof grain spirits usually incorporated in bitters manufacturing.

From that original bitters assortment, Cotton has grown her offerings to include more than 10 core bitters flavors and seasonal selections. The company also produces syrups, cordials and mixer bases that result in professional craft cocktail results from any home bar. Bartenders and restaurateurs across the nation are fans of El Guapo’s impeccably sourced, all-natural production with gallon sizes of many items available especially for them.

Guapo grows, however, the bottle’s red wax seals will remain — a choice that replaces the tiny, plastic tearaway seals more commonly used in the industry that end up in landfills.

Aside from the line’s beverage applications, chefs are discovering many food applications for El Guapo’s products.

Christa Cotton of El Guapo is really going places! In just over five years, Cotton has grown the production of one of America’s hottest beverage brands from its original, leased commercial kitchen space in Gretna, to a 2,350-square-foot shotgun on Tchoupitoulas Street and most recently to spacious new digs on Gravier Street in New Orleans’ Mid-City. The company’s new 32,000-square-foot facility has allowed them to grow exponentially.

“Just 18 months ago we were only capable of processing 200 orders a week,” said Cotton. “Today, we’re handling 2,000 orders in the same amount of time.”

When the El Guapo trademark became available in 2017, Cotton formed the New Orleans Beverage Group before purchasing the original

A historic building, the company’s new home comes complete with a fascinating history. The sturdy, brick structure was first used as New Orleans’ original malaria hospital. By the late 1800s it became Bell South’s headquarters. Every telegram sent in New Orleans originated there, delivered via horse and carriage from the facility’s barn. Eventually, Bell South became AT&T and the company continued to use the building as its local headquarters until Hurricane Katrina.

“So many original components of this beautiful building were still here,” Cotton explained “like the 18-foot-tall, windowed barn doors that will allow semi-trailers to pull in and load shipments. We’ve scaled up from cases packed with 12 bottles each, to flats holding 96 bottles and soon, pallets with 1,000 units each.”

That production growth is possible thanks to new, 300-gallon brewing tanks capable of three production runs daily. El Guapo’s first automated filling machine replaces the original gravity-fed unit.

While Cotton looks forward to automated labeling too, she remains firmly committed to keeping the packaging sustainable. The company’s glass bottles have paper labels printed with black ink to allow for recycling. No matter how big El

“While we have chefs who serve raw oysters with a dash of our crawfish boil bitters, some home cooks report using them for boiling hot dogs and spicing up pimento cheese recipes,” said Cotton, who adds that she’s most excited about the baking applications for bitters. “When Chef David Chang’s team used our chicory pecan bitters to replace vanilla in his chocolate chip cookie recipe, it was a game changer. I love to use them to create scented whipped cream.”

As exciting as the growth has been, Cotton is over the moon about international opportunities headed her way. With products already available in 49 states and five countries, 2023 finds Cotton headed to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman to explore additional distribution opportunities.

Not long after acquiring the El Guapo trademark, Cotton became pregnant with her daughter, Flora, and alcohol in any form was off the table. Realizing the market potential for alcohol-free drinks, she focused on developing and marketing her completely alcohol-free product line.

“We were alcohol-free before it was cool to be!” Cotton laughed. This unique trait is opening doors for El Guapo in the Middle East, where bitters are popular, but alcohol is strictly controlled, and in most areas, expressly forbidden.

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.

No matter where in the world El Guapo may lead the indomitable Christa Cotton, New Orleanians can rest assured that she will represent our beloved city as the cheerleading ambassador that she is! T

After only five years in business, El Guapo’s bitters are now in 49 states and five countries — and growing fast.
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French Quarter Romance

Two business owners share their thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Lyons, a jewelry and lifestyle brand that specializes in uncommon luxury. The company has been operating out of the French Quarter since 2016, and recently relocated its flagship store to 623 Royal Street. The store sits at street level, topped by a design house.

Porter was inspired to locate her flagship location in the French Quarter because of its historic importance to New Orleans and its iconic representation of the city. The atmosphere is inspiring as well.

“The French Quarter is intrinsically romantic,” said Porter. “When you’re here, there’s an aspiration towards the infinite. You never know where your day will end up and you certainly never hope it will end.”

The French Quarter will always be the heart of New Orleans. It’s architecture and vibrant street life create a romantic milieu that charms visitors and transports locals. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I spoke with two business owners who experience the romance of the French Quarter daily.

Sarah Vogue Hester is the owner/operator of Free Tours By Foot New Orleans, a company with a stellar reputation for providing fun, accurate and insightful tours of various locations in New Orleans, with particular emphasis on the French Quarter. Hester uses a name-yourown-price model to make the tours universally accessible, even creating virtual tours during the pandemic that are still available on their website.

Free Tours By Foot New Orleans has been operating for 11 years and now includes 14 professional historians who act as tour guides. Hester, who worked as a guide herself for eight years, knows the French Quarter intimately.

“The most romantic aspect of the French Quarter is the fact that an unexpected moment of magic can be around any corner – bubbles from a balcony,” said Hester, “a lone singer in Jackson

Square late at night, an amazing, shared meal with live music on a balcony or in a courtyard.

“It’s the closest visitors can get to a time and place that is no longer attainable. For many people who cannot travel out of the continental United States, New Orleans is the closest they will get to a trip to the Caribbean or Europe. It’s unexplainable really, but, as many famous travelers have said, ‘There’s nowhere like New Orleans.’”

The Lower Quarter holds the most romance for Hester.

“Having been in New Orleans for most of my life, I can still walk down streets like Ursuline, Barracks and Dumaine and be surprised by beautiful trees I’ve never seen before and notice houses with the cutest charm.”

Tours can be booked online at, and the company can also customize romantic experiences for a fee, including arranging tours for weddings and engagements.

A business owner with deep family ties to the French Quarter, Ashley Ann Lyons Porter hails from the family that owned the I.L. Lyons & Co. pharmacy in the French Quarter from 1866 to 1966. Some of the pharmacy’s artifacts are on display at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Porter is the founder and designer for Porter

“I think just being in the French Quarter and the serendipity of a marching band or second line coming by and being able to join in and dancing and moving your body in a spontaneous, fun way is the most romantic thing in the French Quarter,” said Porter. “You never know when it’s going to happen. It always surprises you and catches you off guard in the best way possible. Only this city has it. There’s nowhere else I’ve been where it happens as frequently as the French Quarter.”

Each Porter Lyons collection is rooted in a theme, and designs can be customized for clients. But if a couple is looking for an especially romantic design, they can work directly with Porter to create bespoke pieces.

“I have a whole custom experience and process, which involves meeting with a couple and asking them a series of questions and helping them create a mood board,” she said. “From that, I create a piece that is really an expression of their soul, and everything that encompasses.”

Porter Lyons will be releasing a spring look book entitled “Flora Romantica,” which will highlight some fan favorites and tease her newest collection. She plans to launch her first bridal collection in May, which she said will feature pieces that are “non-traditional and intrinsically unique.”

For store hours, or to schedule a custom experience, visit T

JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home.

Top 10 for Tulane

Green Wave finishes

memorable season ranked

No. 9 in the nation

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.

They poured out of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, euphorically singing to the tune of the classic New Orleans commercial for Rosenberg’s Furniture, “Cotton Bowl, Cotton Bowl, 46-45, Tulane!”

The crowd’s excitement was as easy to understand as it was contagious.

Whatever equity The Wave built in the first half of its existence was lost in later years. Even

when the team went 12-0 in 1998, they were uninvited to a major bowl game. But this year was different.

In 2021, the team — forced to relocate to Birmingham, Ala., after Hurricane Ida — posted a 2-10 record and tied for last in the American Athletic Conference. They rebounded to post an 11-2 mark, win the AAC in 2022, and earn an invitation to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The Green Wave were rewarded with a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face the University of Southern California, college football royalty, who has a 783-322-40 (68.3 winning percentage) since beginning play 101 years ago. No. 10 USC featured Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, whose hamstring injury in USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game prevented the Trojans from making the four-team College Football Playoff.

Before kickoff, the game appeared that it would be a one-sided mismatch, USC’s to take, and No. 16 Tulane should have been thrilled just to be there.

For much of the game, Williams guided USC up and down the field, completing 37 of 52 passing attempts for 462 yards and a Cotton Bowl-record five touchdowns.

While Tulane played honorably, they trailed 45-30 with 4:30 left in the game. As many Green Wave faithful were ready to pack it in and congratulate themselves on an unexpectedly great season, the improbable happened.

Running back Tyjae Spears scored a touchdown with 4:07 left. On the ensuing kickoff, USC’s Mario Williams signaled for a fair catch but fumbled the ball out of bounds at the 1-yard-line. Two plays later, defensive tackle Patrick Jenkins stonewalled Trojan running back Austin Jones in the end zone for a safety. After receiving the Trojan kick, the Green Wave methodically moved the ball down the field until quarterback Michael Pratt found true freshman tight end Alex Bauman in the endzone with 9 seconds left in the game.

Initially ruled incomplete, video replay proved Bauman caught the 6-yard pass, arguably the most important touchdown in Tulane history, to tie the game. After not having the lead in the game for 59 minutes and 51 seconds, Kicker Valentino Ambrosio split the uprights to give the Greenies a 1-point lead and their most significant bowl win since capturing the Sugar Bowl in 1935.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, over the past five seasons, teams had been 1-1,692 when trailing by 15 or more points with 5 minutes or fewer remaining in the fourth quarter, before Tulane became the second team to do it by scoring 16 points in the final 4:07.

“I might have had a heart attack,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said to ESPN on the field moments after the contest concluded. “Huge win for the program, huge win for the university, huge win for the city.”

Other than the 2021 Ida-marred season, Fritz has had Tulane on an upward trajectory. As the 2022 regular season concluded, Fritz won the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year Award and emerged as the front-runner to be the next head football coach at Georgia Tech. However, the 62-year-old coach decided to stay in New Orleans and sign a contract extension with Tulane, where he’s been since December 2015.

“The timing wasn’t right for me,” Fritz told the Times-Picayune in November, explaining his decision to remain at Tulane. “Everybody has put a whole lot of time, effort and energy into the program, including myself. My loyalty was to the team and to the players. We’re excited about the future of our program, and we want to continue this momentum right now.”

When the final college football polls were released last month, Tulane was ranked No. 9 in both the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls.

For his part, Fritz was invited to reign as grand marshal of the Endymion parade this month. It will be a hell of a hullabaloo, one last hurrah to celebrate an amazing season and a win in, arguably, the best college football bowl game of all time. T


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.

In the Startup World, You Want to Be a Camel

The 2022 Greater New Orleans Startup Report explains why, amidst no shortage of good news.

Some major gains and a few mixed messages highlight the 2022 Greater New Orleans Startup Report, recently released by the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. Now in its fourth year, the report details results from a survey of approximately 150 startups and small businesses in the 10-parish region.

The report paints a landscape that is clearly recovering from the pandemic, yet is altered in ways that are probably permanent. Notably, the survey was conducted in first quarter of 2022, soon after the major buyouts of 2021, whose effects continue to ripple across the startup scene.

The workplace itself remains a front-and-center issue, and here the survey results are somewhat contradictory. On one hand, more than half of the businesses who responded now offer a remoteworking option — a first for the study. On the other, numbers for respondents working at home dropped from 48% to 32% year-to-year, fewer than the 38% back working in the office.

“We’re starting to see that businesses want to get back to more in-person interaction,” observed Emily Egan, director of strategic initiatives at the Lepage Center. “They’re not going fully back to in-office, but they’re not

going to be fully remote, either.”

While this is good news for the commercial real estate sector, Egan noted changes from the pre-pandemic leasing model. Many firms want shorter-term leases, and the use of co-working spaces is increasing.

“Companies are looking for more flexibility,” was her analysis.

Meanwhile, the workforce also wants flexibility, including remote-working options. Egan reported that “companies are looking at how they can make it more enticing for people to come into the office, like on-site bike storage and free catered meals.”

She also noted that remote work doesn’t necessarily mean working from home; many employees are taking longer vacations or visits to family while building work time into their days away.

One major positive cited in the report is that startups enjoyed significant increases in equity financing. Fifty-nine percent of startups reported raising some type of equity capital, up from just 36% in 2020. Large-scale investment showed similar growth, with 62% of those who obtained capital attracting upward of $1 million.

“That’s a 20% increase in the companies that have raised more than $1 million,” Egan pointed out. “That speaks to the maturity of the

market. And the majority of the capital came from outside the region, which is a real validator.”

At the same time, the amount of local-source investment increased, something Egan felt could be attributed in part to reinvesting of the 2021 exit cash-outs.

“Exits are a really important maturation factor in the development of an eco-system,” she commented.

One unfortunate damper in the investment news is that businesses founded by Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) experienced a decline in access to equity financing, an unfortunate trend that mirrored national data. This makes the recent commitment from the U.S. Treasury of $113 million for new loans and venture capital investment in Louisiana even more important, as the funding is focused on economically disadvantaged individuals.

More good news is the report’s findings that gross revenues among survey respondents grew from $1.56 million in 2020 to $2.31 million in 2021, a 67% increase.

“It’s really promising to see this, in terms of how companies have been able to weather the pandemic, economic uncertainties, even a hurricane,” observed Egan.

While 2021 saw the first “unicorn” in New Orleans (a startup selling for $1 billion or more), Egan echoed the report’s suggestion that the camel may be better suited for the local entrepreneurial scene. “Camels represent resilience,” she said, “being able to sustain and grow in adverse conditions. In New Orleans, you don’t have this ton of capital, this ton of talent. You have to model yourself to withstand the economic shocks.”

Unicorns may be much flashier, but they are fundamentally a fantasy. Camels are real, and so are camel-like results: surviving, growing, succeeded no matter the environment.

“We should celebrate all the wins, not just the big ones,” Egan concluded. T

Keith Twitchell’s blog, “Neighborhood Biz,” appears every Thursday at


Local pros share some simple ways to stay heart healthy

2023 is looking to be a good one for the maritime industry

Things are looking up downriver, and SBEDF is leading the charge



A peek into the future of Greater New Orleans’ commercial real estate market

A lack of quality childcare affects both the current and future workforce, so what’s being done to provide it in New Orleans?



What are some simple ways to stay heart healthy?


Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in adults in the United States. However, the majority of the burden may be attributable to modifiable risk factors. These risk factors can be reduced by effective implementation of a healthy lifestyle and adjunctive drug therapies. Smoking cessation and avoidance, regular exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet were proven to be effective strategies in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Management of underlying diseases including high blood cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes also greatly reduce the risk of heart disease.

We hear a lot about food and exercise habits, but I’ve found that what I eat has the biggest impact on my health and how I feel. As a father of two small children, preparing healthy meals in advance and planning small healthy snacks throughout the day is our family’s secret weapon against choosing easy, unhealthy options when time is tight, kids are hungry, and stress is high! A close second is staying hydrated— our CHNOLA heart experts recommend much more daily water consumption than most people might think.


Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet, stay active and never, ever start smoking. Heredity is an important factor, but we can’t choose our parents. We can choose not to smoke, to eat more healthy foods and to find ways to be physically active at every age. Parents who model those choices increase the odds that their children will do likewise, significantly improving health outcomes.




Most heart disease can be prevented or managed with lifestyle changes:

1. Eat a healthy diet. Lean meats, fruits and vegetables, controlled portions, limited sugar intake, limited saturated fats

2. Maintain a healthy weight.

3. Stay physically active. Having a regular fitness routine gives you more energy and helps to improve your mental and physical health. Walking just 30 minutes a day can lower risk. The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing and keep moving.

4. Do not smoke. Quitting smoking is hard and it sometimes requires several attempts. The younger you are when you quit, the better. But it’s never too late to stop as your body starts to respond almost immediately upon quitting.

5. Limit alcohol consumption.

6. Get enough sleep. An average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night for adults.

More people have heart attacks in the latter part of the year due to excessive behavior and lack of exercise—hallmarks of the holiday season. Here are a few simple tips for staying heart healthy:

1. Eat and drink moderately. Don’t overindulge!

2. Continue to exercise during the holidays. Cardiovascular activity can be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk. This reduces the risk of heart disease and depression.

3. Decrease your salt intake. Salt can increase blood pressure because it holds extra fluid in the body, which can put unnecessary stress on the heart. Watch out for sodium amounts in foods.

4. Quit smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure and is bad for the heart.

5. Get vaccinated. Make sure you’re up to date with your influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations. There will be a lot of mingling during the holiday season, and infections can be triggers for heart events.

6. Don’t ignore symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to heart disease, reach out to your doctor as early as possible. If your symptoms are severe, call 911.

As a pediatrician, my focus has always been on helping children develop healthy life-long habits. I encourage families to keep
JONATHAN E. BROUK SVP and chief operating officer Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Fair Winds and Following Seas

2023 is looking to be a good one for the maritime industry

“Subchapter M,” completed the four-year phase-in period, which means that 100% of the U.S. fleet of vessels is now under the purview of the United States Coast Guard.

Morvant said the new legislation ensures a safety standard across the entire fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels, and with that comes a sense of safety and reliability. But getting everybody on board required all hands-on deck.

“Every single person that works in the maritime industry played a part in their respective organization’s success in achieving Sub M Compliance, which was a major challenge and accomplishment,” Morvant said.

There have been big achievements on land, too. Port NOLA officials have reported that breakbulk — cargo that is moved in separate pieces, not in containers, like steel coils for example — is up 29% over last year. And just last month, the port hit two major milestones.


Senior Operations Manager


There are so many good maritime job opportunities for young men and women in our region. The work that the maritime industry performs is very meaningful, and I hope that young women and men understand the impact they could have if they choose to work in this industry. Start in an entry-level position and work your way up: In a few years you’ll be making a good, honest living that will enable you to do whatever you want in life.

Strong. Diverse. Historic. These are just a few of the words experts use to describe the future of the maritime industry in South Louisiana.

With massive infrastructure projects underway and the global shipping industry starting to get back to normal, along with reduced congestion across U.S. ports, the region is poised to become an even bigger player on the international shipping stage in 2023.

For starters, many on the water are happy to see some stability, despite geopolitical influences on international trade, the price of fuel and “unfavorable navigational conditions” for mariners.

“The maritime industry as a whole is diverse and serves a large swath of industries—petroleum and chemical industries, coal, the grain trade, and container shipments to name a few,” said Ben Morvant, senior operations manager at Crescent Towing. “So we are well positioned for the ebbs and flows of trade and markets.”

That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges. Last year, a new tranche of the Code of Federal Regulations, more commonly referred to as

First, four gantry cranes, including two new ones, worked a vessel simultaneously. Second, the port welcomed a new container vessel, the MSC Shay: At 1,114 feet long, it is the longest container vessel to ever call Port NOLA home.

There’s also the long-awaited return of cruise operations. This past November, the port announced that numbers of cruisers had returned to pre-pandemic counts, and the expectation is currently for 2023 to see 1.4 million passengers traveling out of New Orleans, surpassing the current record of 1.2 million set in 2019.

Carnival is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with an average 110% occupancy on sailings out of New Orleans. Royal Caribbean returned seasonally in November, and Disney is doubling its cruises from Port NOLA in 2023 with 14 sailings.

River cruises resumed successfully from the Port in March 2021 and are now at record levels, with nine river cruise vessels departing from New Orleans.

Finally, there is the ongoing development of the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal in St. Bernard Parish, which officials say will create more than 17,000 jobs, $1 billion in state tax revenue and an overall of $98 billion in economic output.

“We’re on track to begin construction in 2025,” said Port NOLA Press Secretary Kimberly Curth, “with the first berth opening in 2028.” T


Two historic, decades-long infrastructure projects have paved the way for the future of maritime in Louisiana and the development of the Louisiana International Terminal, the $14.5 billion federal Hurricane Risk Reduction System, which proved successful during Hurricane Ida, and the recent completion of Phase 1 of the deepening of the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet. With flood protection and deep draft, we will be able to welcome bigger ships, more cargo and resilient facilities for decades to come.



A lack of quality childcare affects both the current and future workforce, so what’s being done to provide it in New Orleans?

DID YOU KNOW? Child care is the single largest expense for “Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” families, which account for 57% of families in New Orleans.

Ask any parent of school-aged children and they’ll tell you that the pandemic was tough for kids. Not only were many deprived of social interaction with their peers — which research says is really important for learning how to build healthy relationships later in life — but they also had to attend school virtually for a time, which meant they were learning from home.

And with working parents, it was difficult for many kids to get the benefits and attention that comes with learning from a teacher in an actual classroom setting.

This was especially true for early childhood education, a term that refers to the time from birth to kindergarten — usually around age 5 or 6. This crucial age is when many children first learn how to interact with people outside of their families, like other kids, teachers and parents. It’s also when many will start to develop interests and skills that can often stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Studies show that the learning loss from the pandemic is staggering, and as educators have begun to focus on helping students “catch up” and get back on track, many say it’s vitally important that we make sure the youngest children are starting well, too.

“The pandemic taught us that the economy does not work without a workforce, and the workforce does not work without care for its children,” said Dr. Ronicka Briscoe, chair of the education department at the University of Holy Cross. “It is imperative that families are able to access early childhood education.”

Briscoe said early childhood education is so much more than just learning basic skills or childcare for working parents. Research has shown that it’s essential for students to succeed in life, she said.

“Early childhood education is important for academic purposes, but it’s maybe even more important for social-emotional learning and meaningful interactions with age-appropriate peers,” Briscoe said.


And while many states and communities are working to adequately fund and support highquality early childhood education programs that can be so valuable and formative for young children, some say these programs need to be expanded so more children — especially those from low-income families and families with working parents — can access these critical resources and educational opportunities.

“While this is an issue that policymakers, advocates and educators are actively prioritizing, and while New Orleans has made substantial progress in addressing the lack of high-quality early childhood education options for families, only about 18% of children from birth to age 3 in the city have access to quality early care and education,” said Rev. Justin Daffron, interim president at Loyola University New Orleans.

Daffron said Louisiana has earmarked millions of dollars in federal and state funding to support the expansion of high-quality early childhood education programs, but a longterm funding model is still necessary. Research shows that providing access to high-quality early childhood education programs helps interrupt generational poverty, prepare young children for kindergarten and make them more likely to graduate high school and need fewer educational supports.

“In an ideal world, leaders and educators across the community will be able to come together and find a sustainable way to make this a reality for all children in our city,” Daffron said.

The “elephant in the room,” according to Briscoe, is that providing developmentally appropriate education and care for children starting at birth is expensive. She said there’s long been a model that pays early childhood staff only minimum wages — especially those lacking four-year-degrees — and most early learning and day care centers are open 12 or more hours, often from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“These long hours and low wages make roles inside centers less desirable and not the best havens for children in need of quality services,” Briscoe said.

Additionally, Briscoe said that while there currently aren’t enough quality options for childcare and pre-K for any demographic, families of the lowest socioeconomic status and ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families not only have difficulty securing care for their children, but they have difficulty financially accessing quality care.

And while some governmental assistance and grant-funded programs may be available for

families whose incomes are below the poverty line, there are few options for ALICE families who are employed but still lack the financial resources to access early childhood education for their children.

“Historically, there has not been a concerted effort to fund early childhood education,” Briscoe said. “Many of the resources, including philanthropic dollars, have gone into K-12 education or the nonprofit sector, especially post-Katrina. We are seeing a shift here, but this shift has been slow.”

There have been efforts at the local, state and federal level to address the need for early childhood education, especially for communities in recovery from COVID-19 and natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. Last April, voters in New Orleans approved a property tax measure aimed at creating 1,000 or more early childhood seats for low-income children.

At the state level, the Louisiana Department of Education won three competitive federal early childhood grants between 2014

and 2020, totaling $72.1 million. These funds have been earmarked to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs and to implement state-level infrastructure and quality improvements.

”In early 2022, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona laid out his vision for education in America. One of the priorities was “providing every family the opportunity to start on a level playing field through free, universal pre-K and affordable, high-quality childcare.”

On the local level, philanthropic organizations such as the Institute for Mental Hygiene, led by Ron McClain, have prioritized early childhood education initiatives. The same is true for the nonprofit sector, where organizations like 826 New Orleans — a youth writing organization — has received philanthropic funding to start a tiny authors program called “Wee Write” for 3- to 5-year-old children, which aims to prime early learners with key literacy concepts ahead of entering elementary school.

Local education centers have also expanded their focus on early childhood education. One unique program, called “The Nest,” is housed within The Net Charter High School, a non-traditional high school for students seeking an alternative path to graduation. By offering on-site childcare, the goal is to ensure students with children can continue their education.

All these efforts take time, commitment and money, but educators say they’re seeing more attention being put on addressing the problem, which gives them hope.

“The future of early childhood education is looking innovative, high-quality and well-funded,” said Briscoe. “Children as young as 6 weeks will have access to the best care and experiences. All children will be introduced to children’s literature, developmentally appropriate experiences and an exceptional team of educators.”

Briscoe said she envisions a future for early childhood education that is equitable and collaborative and will center on the voices of educators, parents, children and the community. It will be accessible, affordable and easy to access, with quality options available in every community.

A brighter future will also include childcare careers that provide a living and saving wage for staff and offers adaptive scheduling options that allow workers to work between 36-40 hours per week, not 60 hours.

“The work of early childhood educators is essential,” Briscoe said, “and they should be compensated like the economy relies on it.” T

“The pandemic taught us that the economy does not work without a workforce, and the workforce does not work without care for its children.
Dr. Ronicka Briscoe, chair of the education department at the University of Holy Cross.

MEAGHAN MCCORMACK is the CEO of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. Her efforts center on business retention, expansion, and attraction, strategic neighborhood development, workforce development and marketing the parish as a great place to live, work and play.

Things Are Looking Up Downriver…

stormwater drainage — both of which serve as safety nets proven effective during the most recent Katrina-level hurricane in 2021.

In 2018, just 4 years into SBEDF and SBPG’s Office of Community Development launching the “Sold on St. Bernard” program to create housing stock and bring residents home, the parish was named the sixth fastest growing small county/parish in the United States. Around the same time, Arabi was named by as the eighth fastest-growing suburb in the United States.

In the past few years, we have seen year-overyear increases in both residential (77%) and commercial (22%) construction permits issued, and the progress doesn’t stop there.

Despite two tornados touching down in Arabi within nine months of each other in 2022, the township continues to lead residential growth in the parish. The Meraux Foundation remains invested in the Arabi Arts District (which serves as the gateway into the parish), most recently with the opening of the St. Claude Arts Park this past October.

In Chalmette, we’re experiencing recordlevel expansions of leading parish employers, including Chalmette Refining, who worked with SBEDF to secure an industrial tax exemption (ITEP) and is in the process of retrofitting a formerly idle hydrocracking unit to form a new renewable diesel unit. The $600 million investment in St. Bernard Parish is a major step toward a greener future for our parish and state.

On the food manufacturing side, last year Domino Sugar completed a $4 million warehouse expansion at the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District. Another may be in the pipeline for this year.

And further “down the road” as we say, in Violet, Louisiana, St. Bernard and the Port of New Orleans continue to make strides in developing what will be the world’s newest international container terminal — the Louisiana International Terminal (LIT). At full buildout, it will have a capacity of 1.2 million containers and is slated to create up to 4,500 new jobs.

Seventeen years after most of St. Bernard Parish was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, I am thrilled to say we are thriving.

Due to the collaborative strategy of the St. Bernard Parish Planning Department, which later became the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF), the parish was able to secure $200,000 to help bring back its businesses and community. Since then, SBEDF has been able to leverage that initial $200,000 ten times over, to nearly $2 million for the people and businesses of St. Bernard Parish. SBEDF invests its energy and resources into four key areas: business attraction, retention and expansion; neighborhood revitalization; small business assistance; and talent and workforce development.

Currently, St. Bernard Parish stands tall with over $1 billion invested in flood protection and

Our public schools continue to rank top in the state, with an over 95% high school graduation rate and over 90% of graduates earning at least six college credits while in high school. We’re home to the best educators in the state. Since 2020, two of our teachers have been named Louisiana’s Teacher of the Year (in 2020 and 2022) and one was named High School Teacher of the Year (2022).

Nunez Community College is also leading the way statewide when it comes to industry-aligned education. It’s home to the only program dedicated to aerospace manufacturing technicians in the state of Louisiana, and recently signed a letter of intent with Energy Innovation of Norway to develop a curriculum and training center for construction and maintenance of on and offshore wind turbines. To support the statewide rollout of broadband, Nunez was the first college in Southeast Louisiana to launch a training program for fiber optics technicians.

Today, St. Bernard boasts a population climbing closer toward pre-Katrina levels, commercial and residential investment coming in at an unprecedented rate, and attractive developments throughout the community. We’re home to a state-of-the-art hospital, a burgeoning film industry, and a soon-to-be redeveloped former Ford Manufacturing Plant.

Both the St. Bernard Port and St. Bernard Parish Government have budgeted millions for investment in infrastructure that will help sustain our rapid growth.

We’ve come a long way since 2005. We’ve been certified as a “Development Ready Community” by Louisiana Economic Development and are accessing our boundless potential. According to the 2020 census, St. Bernard was rated the fastest-growing parish in Louisiana by population and had the second highest per-capita GDP in the state.

St. Bernard Parish is a not-so-hidden gem, and we remain bullish on all that’s happening “down the road.” We continue to seize opportunity and make sure things stay booming downriver. T

…and SBEDF is leading the charge


Inflation and Rising Interest Rates: Where Will the Hardest Hits Be Felt?

A peek into the future of Greater New Orleans’ commercial real estate market


The office market was in the process of recovering from the effects of the pandemic when it became faced with significant pressure from high inflation and increasing interest rates. In the fourth quarter of 2022, rental rates for office space in the New Orleans CBD averaged approximately $19 per square foot, with a vacancy rate of about 15%. This translates to an effective rental rate of ±$16.15 per square foot ($19.00 X 85%, rounded). When combined with average expenses of ±$11 per square foot, net income of a little more than $5 per square foot is available for debt service and other ownership expenses (i.e., income taxes, etc.).

A net operating income of $5 per square foot would indicate a value of approximately $80 per square foot. In comparison, the buildings currently listed for sale in the Central Building District have asking prices in excess of $175 per square foot. This implies a market-indicated discount of ±54% between value and price.


consumer spending is reigned in to be reserved for the essentials of housing, food, clothing and health care. This curtailment will affect the need for industrial properties related to manufacturing, storage and transportation of goods.

Does the combination of increased inflation and rising interest rates pose a threat to the commercial real estate market in the Greater New Orleans Region? The answer is, “It depends.” While all sectors of commercial real estate will be affected, the degree to which the impacts are felt will vary. The two sectors that will likely be most vulnerable to the double whammy of rising interest rates and inflation are office buildings and lodging facilities.

Similar to office buildings, lodging facilities are highly susceptible to inflation as the cost of all the goods and services in the operation of the property will continue to rise. While operators are able to raise their room rates to compensate, if inflation continues at the current level or higher, the market will eventually prevent significant rate increases as travel is not considered a necessity and will be curtailed, as was seen during the pandemic. This will lead to a reduced net operating income available for debt service and an overall reduction in value.


Due to the triple net lease nature and long-term status of industrial leases with only minimal rent increases, the industrial market is somewhat isolated from the direct impact of inflation and rising interest rates. The impact that will be felt in the industrial market will be due to the impacts in other sectors. For example, inflation, if left unchecked for too long, will cause retail businesses to falter and possibly fail as

As shown above, the foregoing impacts will cause lenders to reevaluate the properties held as collateral for commercial loans as the cash flow generated by the properties is reduced due to inflationary impacts. There are approximately $162 billion in commercial loans scheduled to mature in 2023 across the four primary financing sectors: single-borrower large-loan securitizations (SBLL), commercial mortgage-backed securities conduit trusts (CMBS), collateralized loan obligation (CLO) and agency backed securities (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae). As these loans reach maturity, they will have to either be paid in full or refinanced (which is the typical route). Property owners and business operators with recourse loans will have to put capital into their real estate, which will curtail business investment as they will be personally liable for the debt. Those with non-recourse debts will be able to forfeit the property to the lender with no personal liability. Those lenders who have issued the non-recourse debt, however, will be saddled with a property valued at a fraction of the original loan amount. These lenders will then have to set more capital aside as reserves against “bad loans” reducing the amount of money available for lending to consumers.

When reviewing the commercial real estate market for the coming year, it makes one wonder if we will see a commercial real estate bubble similar to the housing bubble in 20082009 where property values are “reset”? Or will it be the beginning of something far greater, akin to the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s? Or, hopefully, will the Federal Reserve be able to judicially set a fiscal policy that will both curtail runaway inflation and reduce interest rates to a manageable level?

As the old curse goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Friends, we will definitely be living in interesting times for the next several years. T

ARTHUR L. SCHWERTZ, MAI is the senior managing director for Louisiana for Valbridge Property Advisors, the largest independent commercial property valuation and advisory service firm in the nation. He may be reached via email at


Local nonprofit Feed the Second Line is turning area restaurants into powered-up hubs in emergency situations — a move that aims to be transformational for small businesses and communities.



is world-renowned, and for many in our region, it’s the reason we stay here in the face of the endless challenges, natural and man-made. Yet the appreciation for its culture does not always extend to the culture-creators. From musicians to Mardi Gras Indians, the fact is that only a small percentage of local culture-bearers actually make a living from their contributions.

Into this void steps a nonprofit group called Feed the Second Line.

“We are a grassroots organization solely dedicated to supporting the culture-bearers of our city and creating opportunities for them,” said Tinice Williams, the nonprofit’s new executive director. “Being a culture-bearer, living it, it’s a great feeling for them to know that there is someone they can go to, someone who has their back.”

Within the local cultural spectrum, the creators are a very diverse group. Feed the Second Line not only recognizes this, but it also utilizes that diversity to design widely encompassing solutions to the divergent problems those creators face. The organization also realizes that the regular 9-to-5 job routine usually doesn’t mesh well with the schedules and lifestyles of musicians, artists, second-liners and other creative types.

Instead, Feed the Second Line focuses on helping younger culture-bearers fit into the gig economy, where working hours are flexible and self-selected, and don’t conflict with rehearsals, performances and the general creative process.

“So far, we have helped create over $500,000 worth of gig-work opportunities for 107 musicians, 18 second-line club members, 19 Baby Dolls, 31 Mardi Gras Indians,” Williams reported, “the folks who make our city’s culture.”

The organization took this one step further when the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

“We needed to keep our elders safe, and going to the grocery store was not safe,” said Williams, who also noted that older members of the cultural community often have health issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. They may also have limited mobility and/or access to transit, and many live in so-called “food deserts,” meaning that grocery stores selling healthy foods are not found nearby. The final straw, for both older and younger culture-bearers, was that the pandemic severely curtailed their already-limited income opportunities.

From all this came the Food Love! program.

“We provide $400 worth of groceries for elders among the culture bearers, which they can spend on food, cleaning products, hygiene, whatever they may need,” Williams explained. “Then we pay the younger culture-bearers to get the shopping list, go to the grocery stores, buy the groceries, and deliver them to the elders.”

Not only does this provide food, employment and income, it connects cultural creators across

the generations. For the elders — many of whom still have few opportunities to get out and socialize even as the pandemic wanes — it provides welcome human company and interaction. For the younger set, it connects them to the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before them, a truly priceless learning opportunity. Thus far, the program has delivered some $200,000 worth of groceries to nearly 140 culture creators.

This approach of creating multiple connections in service of resolving multiple issues is carried one step further with the organization’s Get Lit Stay Lit program, launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and the extended power outages that followed it.

“Our founder, Devin DeWulf, couldn’t leave for the hurricane because his wife is an ER doctor,” Williams recounted. “After the storm passed, when he went out and checked around his neighborhood, he was the only one with power because he had solar power and storage batteries at his house.”

Most of DeWulf’s neighbors who couldn’t leave, either before or after Ida, were elderly people or those with physical disabilities. DeWulf ran an extension cord over to one neighbor who was on oxygen; created a neighborhood cell phone charging station on his front porch; and distributed ice and cold water. Once the word got out, he even got calls from nearby restaurants wanting to know if they could store food in his freezer before it all spoiled.

This last part was not doable, but it triggered some very innovative thinking.

“We have local restaurants all over the city, even in our higher poverty communities,” Williams pointed out, “so we thought, let’s make them neighborhood hubs. They are losing thousands of dollars’ worth of food every time the power goes out, and they are usually in touch with their neighbors.”

To accomplish this, the Get Lit Stay Lit program is placing solar panels on the roofs of neighborhood restaurants and installing storage batteries inside their buildings.

“The restaurants can be feeding locations, and cooling centers in that August heat,” Williams elaborated. “You can get ice, water, charge your cell phone. They would create safe spaces in our communities, because not everyone can evacuate, and not everyone can afford to have solar power and batteries in their homes.”

The benefits for the participating restaurants


are many, starting with the fact that maintaining power preserves their hefty investments in perishable foods. The solar power also helps reduce their utility bills year-round. They are able to resume operations much faster after a disaster, reducing their revenue losses. Employees are happier because they lose less working time and income. Serving as a neighborhood hub may even bring future new customers into the establishments.

Underlying all of this is that neighborhood restaurants, often owned and operated by members of the local community, generally have fewer resources to begin with, and are at the highest risk of failure as a result of a serious disruption. Further, issues with the city’s power grid cause far too many outages even outside of major storm events. Even a shorter outage can cause food to spoil and threaten the health of residents who depend on specialized medical devices or cannot tolerate the loss of heat or air conditioning.

In the emergency situations, Williams pointed out that additional beneficiaries of this concept are the first responders.

“The restaurants themselves become like a first responder, and it helps the actual first responders. They can’t get everywhere, maybe because power lines are down, or the streets are flooded, it keeps them from getting to people. But if they know there’s a hub close by, they can focus on other areas.”

To help with this aspect of this very big picture, as the program expands, Williams envisions creating a grid map that would show first responders where solar-equipped restaurants are located. This has the additional benefit of guiding the responders themselves to a place where they can get a meal, some cold water, a charge for their phones.

Though only a few months into the job with Feed the Second Line, Williams feels a personal stake in the work, having had more than her share of unpleasant hurricane experiences as a child. She remembers her family gathered together in whichever relative’s house was on highest ground, sweating in the heat, eating canned foods and having only a few candles for light.

“These hubs would relieve a lot of trauma for children,” she commented. “I don’t want my kids to go through what I had to go through.”

William brings useful experience solving problems and making connections from her previous


work. She spent 11 years at the Langston Hughes Academy, where she worked in the classroom, served as an interventionist, and ultimately became a dean of the lower school. Much of work involved building relationships with the students and their families, a valuable skill in the context of working with young people, elderly people, restaurant owners and a wide variety of partners.

Among those partners, Solar Alternatives is the company leading the process of installing the solar apparatus. Also involved is the Louisiana Green Corps, which provides job training for those same young culture-bearers that Feed the Second Line works so hard to support. The training prepares them to work as solar installers, providing full certification in just three months. Like just about every other industry in the country, the solar industry is in need of workers, and this aspect of the program helps to alleviate that.

“We are connecting all the dots,” said Williams. “Nothing and no one is being left behind.”

Of course, the solar installations are not free. In fact, each one costs between $60,000 and $90,000. Given that Feed the Second Line’s initial goal is to equip 300 local restaurants, a huge amount of funding is required. While at some point city funding for decentralized microgrids may become available, at present nothing is underway.

Williams has some solutions for this problem as well.

“First, there are tax credits than can cut the costs in half,” she explained. “Then, each one of these restaurant owners is saving on their utility bills every month. If we ask them to contribute $200 back each month, with 300 restaurants, that would generate $60,000 per month. The program would be completely self-sustaining, and we can expand it not just here, but to other communities that have dealt with repeated natural disasters.”

Still, it’s a big step from starting up to equipping 300 restaurants. The first three are in place: Queen Trini Lisa in Mid-City, Afrodisiac in Gentilly, and the Mosquito Supper Club Uptown. Funding for two more is in hand, all thanks to new and very important partnership with the Levine Impact Lab, a new initiative of the Honnold Foundation.

According to its website, the Levine Impact Lab “powers equitable impact by investing in grassroots leaders and organizations, building their capacity to accelerate positive change.” Key components of its strategy include organization and leadership development, multi-sector and multi-regional networking, and direct financial support.

“The restaurants can be feeding locations and cooling centers in that August heat. You can get ice, water, charge your cell phone. They would create safe spaces in our communities, because not everyone can evacuate, and not everyone can afford to have solar power and batteries in their homes.”

(Right) Solar powered restaurants can serve as neighborhood lifelines in a storm. (Below) At 19, Terrance Williams Jr. is the youngest big chief in New Orleans.

Feed the Second Line is one of four organizations nationally chosen to be part of the initial Levine cohort. From Williams’ perspective, “This aligns with us and our mission, and can help our organization grow.”

A first grant from the Honnold Foundation is funding the initial installations, but the partnership with the Levine Lab entails much more than just financial support. Over the course of three years, Williams will receive ongoing executive training and coaching. Beyond the funding, additional resources in terms of expertise, research and connections with other organizations doing similar work, for shared learning and possibly even collaborations, will be included.

Perhaps most useful of all, Levine will provide introductions to other potential funders, especially in the foundation world. “When different things come up that align with us, they will definitely bring them to us,” was how Williams summed it up.

While the purpose of the Get Lit Stay Lit program is to provide neighborhood micro-hubs, Williams sees a much bigger picture.

“Hurricanes and storms are not going anywhere. Mother Nature seems to love to pick on us,” she observed. “If we are able to do this, it will be a great impact on the entire city. If the restaurants are not functioning, people can’t eat, employees can’t work. It puts everybody in a bad spot. It

sabotages our tourism industry. Obviously we’re doing it for the culture-bearers, but when it comes down to a natural disaster, we’re all affected by it. So each installation we do makes the city better.”

In that context, she added, “I want to let the world know about our work. They can join us and be part of what we’re doing. They can look us up at and be a part of supporting our culture-bearers.

“You’re not going to find masking Indians and Baby Dolls and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs anywhere else,” she continued. “New Orleans is a city of love, and we want everyone to join in and become a part of that.” T


Hot Legal Issues

Issues for 2023

Discrimination based on hair

Becoming the 19th state to do so, Louisiana officially now protects employees, public or private, from discrimination based on cultural hairstyles, according to a new amendment under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law.

The state’s version of the CROWN ACT (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), is one of the most significant changes in employment law for 2023, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

Prior to this amendment, employees in Louisiana would have to use alternative protected avenues such as religion or racial discrimination if they wanted to protect their right to wear certain hairstyles. Under the new amendment, an employer cannot refuse to hire someone because of “natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle,” defined as “afros, dreadlocks, twists, locs braids, cornrow braids, Bantu knots, curls, and hair styled to protect hair texture or for cultural significance.”

New Orleans had a version of this amendment in place, but now the protection reaches statewide. Now, if employers want to contest hairstyles, they must be able to prove a hairstyle is a safety hazard, such as preventing a worker from being able to wear personal protection equipment.

“In general, the regulatory landscape is really difficult right now for employers, because you’re not only tracking the federal law and how its interpreted in my jurisdiction here, but also what is the state law and then what is the local law,” said Dr. Kathlyn Perez of Perez Law LLC on the CROWN ACT bouncing from New Orleans to the state.

Although stalled in the senate, the United States House of Representatives passed its own CROWN Act in March 2022.

Medical marijuana in the workplace

As the use of cannabis increasingly becomes mainstream, states like Louisiana — where only approved medical use is legal — are looking to expand the rights of consumers. This is resulting in changing employment laws.

Although medical marijuana is legal in the state of Louisiana, it is not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), meaning Louisiana employers can still terminate employees who use medical marijuana without violating federal discrimination laws. Louisiana is one of the nation’s 14 at-will employment states, meaning an employee can be terminated at any time without reason.

Regarding medical marijuana in the workplace, Fred Preis, senior partner at Breazeale Sachse & Wilson expressed concern given what he sees as the possibility for ADA guidelines at the state level to change.

“We’re treading lightly in the advice we give,” he said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards responded to this lack of federal protection for medical marijuana users last June by prohibiting state employers from subjecting an employee to negative employment consequences if the employee tests positive for THC, as long as they’re a registered medical cannabis patient with a mari -

From hairstyle discrimination protection and worker classification to medical marijuana’s increasing presence in Louisiana workplaces, there are many legal changes employers and employees need to be aware of in 2023.
Local lawyers share their thoughts on the year’s biggest
changes and issues to watch.

juana recommendation from a licensed physician.

These protections could soon be expanded to Louisiana’s private sector employees because the state is currently discussing and drafting legislation to that end, said Magdalen Blessey Bickford, a New Orleans attorney with McGlinchey Stafford.

Louisiana recently expanded the number of conditions that satisfy the requirement for a medical marijuana recommendation — a technicality that protects doctors since they are only making “recommendations,” not writing prescriptions.

In December, the Employment and Medical Marijuana Task Force approved more than a dozen guidelines to the state Legislature protecting workers who use medical marijuana. On the opposing side, a

member representing the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), Troy Prevot, expressed his discontent with the Legislature’s guidelines in arguments claiming they would cause further confusion on the issue.

Although a slew of state employees are protected against any negative employment consequences “based solely” on a positive drug test for marijuana as long as they have a licensed physician’s recommendation, not all state employees are incorporated into the codification. Excluded from the protection are emergency medical and firefighting services, law enforcement employees, public safety employees and officials, and any state employee of the horse-racing commission.

Viewing this as a “significant first step”

in protecting employee medical marijuana use, Hal Ungar, a labor and employment lawyer with Ogletree Deakins, is expecting similar legislation to come for private employees. He said it also remains to be seen “how the courts will reconcile this protection with the ADA case law declaring ADA protections inapplicable to medical marijuana because it is a federal, schedule I narcotic,” adding, “It appears a reckoning is coming on these issues.”

Independent contractors

Another national employment conversation with an increased local presence is the dispute of worker classification of independent contractors versus an employee.


“It’s very attractive for employers to [label workers as independent contractors],” said Rachel Wisdom, an employment lawyer at Stone Pigman. “[It’s a] very common error.”

Not only is the continual question of worker classification present in New Orleans, but the Department of Labor is also increasingly interested in this form of employer violation that is a “persistent growing problem” as they’re stepping up their enforcement in this arena, according to Wisdom.

The reoccurring problem regarding worker classification is that while most government workers are considered employees, each agency has a different definition of what makes an independent contractor.

“That’s been the issue of the decade,” said Sid Lewis, partner and leader of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Jones Walker. Preis added there is a strong argument at the state level that independent contractors should be treated as employees.

While the classification of workers is relevant to all industries, the healthcare sector especially grapples with the situation due to the workforce shortages sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are desperate to hire workers in this postCOVID era, resulting in the increased use of contractors.

Furthermore, Perez said some nurses and other healthcare workers can often make more money as independent contractors as opposed to being employed full-time by one facility, which exacerbates the healthcare industry’s worker shortage and the strain on many healthcare personnel. Even those not directly employed by the healthcare system are impacted by this, as this scenario has caused the price of health care to rise.

Pregnancy accommodations

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer, Louisiana’s pregnancy accom -

modations law was thrust back into the spotlight, reminding those in the state that although pregnancy isn’t considered a federal disability, it is at the state level, meaning pregnant Louisianians can receive reasonable accommodations to extend their pregnancy leave beyond their maternal/paternal care.

“I haven’t seen much on [Louisiana’s pregnancy accommodations law] yet, but I think we’ll start seeing claims,” said Sid Lewis.

Employee remote work in other states

According to Perez, employers shouldn’t be worried about their employees adopting the trend of “quiet quitting,” but rather “quiet moving,” when employees take advantage of their lax office requirements and work remotely elsewhere.

She said neither employers nor employees fully understand the legal ramifications of having an employee in a different state from a business.

“You as the employer are responsible for complying with laws of where the employees are clocking in and out, even if the business is based where employees are not,” said Phillip Giorlando of Breazeale Sachse & Wilson LLP’s New Orleans office.

Although this is more readily applicable to employers in tech fields, traditional in-person industries like health care are even impacted, too — Perez said telehealth has already made this legal question a thorny issue.

When employees are working remotely in a different state than their employer, the employer may be liable for the employee’s state leave requirements, as well as minimum wage, disclosures and many more provisions. This is one of the reasons behind why some job applications today that claim to be remote nonetheless have a disclosure that they may only hire remote employees based in certain states, of which Louisiana is frequently not included. T


New Orleans 500 Influential, Involved and Inspiring Executives

The New Orleans 500, an annual publication from Biz New Orleans magazine, profiles the business leaders who are driving the greater New Orleans economy today and making decisions that will shape the region’s future. The book is overflowing with details about regional CEOs, presidents, managing partners, entrepreneurs and other executives who are as devoted to their professions as they are to civic affairs. It’s a diverse group that includes fourthand fifth-generation owners of family businesses as well as young, social media-savvy entrepreneurs building their brands one like or follow at a time.





This list is excerpted from the 2022 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, the pre-eminent referral guides to the legal profession in the United States. Published since 1983, Best Lawyers® lists attorneys in 148 specialties, representing all 50 states, who have been chosen through an exhaustive survey in which thousands of the nation’s top lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The 2022 edition of Best Lawyers is based on more than 13 million evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

The method used to compile Best Lawyers remains unchanged since the first edition was compiled 40 years ago. Lawyers are chosen for inclusion based solely on the vote of their peers. Listings cannot be bought, and no purchase is required to be included. In this regard, Best Lawyers remains the gold standard of reliability and integrity in lawyer ratings.

The nomination pool for the 2022 edition consisted of all lawyers whose names appeared in the previous edition of Best Lawyers, lawyers who were nominated since the previous survey and new nominees solicited from listed attorneys. In general, lawyers were asked to vote only on nominees in their own specialty in their own jurisdiction. Lawyers in closely related specialties were asked to vote across specialties, as were lawyers in smaller jurisdictions. Where specialties are national or international in nature, lawyers were asked to vote nationally as well as locally. Voting lawyers were also given an opportunity to offer more detailed comments on nominees. Each year, half of the voting pool receives fax or email ballots; the other half is polled by phone.

Voting lawyers were provided this general guideline for determining if a nominee should be listed among “the best”: “If you had a close friend or relative who needed a real estate lawyer (for example), and you could not handle the case yourself, to whom would you refer them?” All votes and comments were solicited with a guarantee of confidentiality ― a critical factor in the viability and validity of Best Lawyers’ surveys. To ensure the rigor of the selection process, lawyers were urged to use only their highest standards when voting and to evaluate each nominee based only on his or her individual merits. The additional comments were used to make more accurate comparisons between voting patterns and weight votes accordingly. Best Lawyers uses various methodological tools to identify and correct for anomalies in both the nomination and voting process.

Recognition in the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America is based entirely on peer review and employs the same methodology that has made Best Lawyers the gold standard for legal rankings worldwide. These awards are recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States. Our “Ones to Watch” recipients typically have been in practice for 5-9 years.

Ultimately, of course, a lawyer’s inclusion is based on the subjective judgments of his or her fellow attorneys. While it is true that the lists may at times disproportionately reward visibility or popularity, the breadth of the survey, the candor of the respondents and the sophistication of the polling methodology largely correct for any biases.

For all these reasons, Best Lawyers lists continue to represent the most reliable, accurate and useful guide to the best lawyers in the United States available anywhere.


Administrative / Regulatory Law

David A. Marcello

Admiralty and Maritime Law

Conrad S.P. Williams III

Antitrust Law

Alexander M. McIntyre, Jr.

Appellate Practice

Isaac H. Ryan Arbitration

E. Phelps Gay Banking and Finance Law

Susanne Cambre Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

Stephen P. Strohschein

Bet-the-Company Litigation

Mark A. Cunningham Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)

Benjamin Woodruff

Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses


Robert A. Kutcher

Commercial Finance Law

Amy Scafidel

Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Edward T. Suffern Jr.

Construction Law


K. LeMieux


Compliance Law

F. Rivers Lelong, Jr.

Corporate Law

Andrew T. Sullivan

Criminal Defense:


William Gibbens

Elder Law

Rose S. Sher

Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law

Howard Shapiro

Employment LawIndividuals

Robert B. Landry III

Employment LawManagement

Jennifer F. Kogos

Energy Law

Anthony Marino

Energy Regulatory Law

Noel J. Darce

Environmental Law

Bessie Antin


Equipment Finance Law

Robert Paul Thibeaux

Ethics and


Responsibility Law

William E. Wright, Jr.

Family Law

Mark J. Mansfield

Financial Services

Regulation Law

Robin B. Cheatham

Health Care Law

David D. Haynes

Insurance Law

Harold J. Flanagan

Labor Law -


Edward F. Harold

Land Use and Zoning Law

Richard Cortizas

Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants

Carey L. Menasco

Litigation - Antitrust

Richard C. Stanley

Litigation - Banking and Finance

Nancy Scott Degan


Benjamin W. Kadden


Mark W. Frilot


James E. Lapeze

Litigation - ERISA

Howard Shapiro

Litigation - First Amendment

Loretta G. Mince

Litigation - Insurance

John W. Joyce

Litigation -

Intellectual Property

Bryan C. Reuter

Litigation - Labor and Employment

Sarah Voorhies Myers

Litigation - Real


Charles L. Stern, Jr.


Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy)

Edward Hart Bergin

Litigation - Securities

Kirk Reasonover

Litigation - Trusts and Estates

Hirschel T. Abbott, Jr.

Litigation and Controversy - Tax

Jesse R. Adams III

The Best Lawyers in America® and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America are published by BL Rankings, LLC, Augusta, GA. and can be ordered directly from the publisher. For information call 803-648-0300; write 801 Broad Street Suite 950, Augusta GA 30901; email; or visit An online subscription to Best Lawyers® is available at

BL Rankings, LLC has used its best efforts in assembling material for this list but does not warrant that

Mass Tort Litigation

/ Class Actions -


John Jerry Glas

Mass Tort Litigation

/ Class Actions -


Dawn Barrios


H. Bruce Shreves

Medical Malpractice

Law - Defendants

Richard S. Crisler

Medical Malpractice Law - Plaintiffs

Jennifer L. Thornton

Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Maureen Gershanik

Mortgage Banking

Foreclosure Law

G. Wogan Bernard

Natural Resources


Loulan J. Pitre, Jr.

Nonprofit / Charities


Steven I. Klein

Oil and Gas Law

Loulan J. Pitre, Jr.

Personal Injury


Roland M. Vandenweghe, Jr.

Personal Injury

Litigation - Plaintiffs

Stephen J. Herman

Product Liability


Francis Philip Accardo

Product Liability

Litigation - Plaintiffs

Stephen J. Herman

Professional Malpractice Law -


Karen Holland

Project Finance Law

E. Howell Crosby

Railroad Law

Timothy F. Daniels

Real Estate Law

Steven C. Serio

Securities / Capital Markets Law

Maureen Gershanik

Securities Regulation

Albert Saulsbury

Tax Law

Robert L. Perez

Transportation Law

Kenneth M. Klemm

Trusts and Estates

Rose S. Sher

Utilities Law

Alan C. Wolf

Venture Capital Law

Mark A. Fullmer



W. Raley Alford III

Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford


Mark A. Cunningham

Jones Walker


Noel J. Darce

Stone Pigman Walther



Victor J. Franckiewicz, Jr. Butler Snow


David A. Marcello

Sher Garner Cahill

Richter Klein & Hilbert


Leopold Z. Sher

Sher Garner Cahill

Richter Klein & Hilbert



Donald R. Abaunza

Liskow & Lewis


Michael H. Bagot, Jr.

Wagner, Bagot & Rayer


L. Etienne Balart

Jones Walker


William Baldwin

Jones Walker


E. Gregg Barrios

Adams and Reese


Francis J. Barry, Jr.

Deutsch Kerrigan


T. Patrick Baynham

Jones Walker


Jack C. Benjamin, Jr.

Perrier & Lacoste


Richard D. Bertram

Jones Walker


David S. Bland

Bland & Partners


Wilton E. Bland III

Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett


John A. Bolles

Phelps Dunbar


Alan G. Brackett

Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett


the information contained herein is complete or accurate, and does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. All listed attorneys have been verified as being members in good standing with their respective state bar associations as of July 1, 2021, where that information is publicly available. Consumers should contact their state bar association for verification and additional

Philip S. Brooks, Jr.

Brooks Gelpi Haasé


Michael M. Butterworth

Phelps Dunbar


Colin Cambre

Phelps Dunbar


Bertrand M. Cass, Jr.

Deutsch Kerrigan


Charles A. Cerise, Jr. Adams and Reese


Kathleen K. Charvet Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith


Richard A. Chopin

Chopin Law Firm


Miles P. Clements

Phelps Dunbar


Katharine R. Colletta

Phelps Dunbar


Richard Cozad

SBSB Eastham


Christopher O. Davis Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz


Laurence R. DeBuys IV

Patrick Miller


Sidney W. Degan III

Degan, Blanchard & Nash


Scott E. Delacroix

Delacroix Law Firm


Timothy DePaula

Murphy Rogers Sloss

Gambel & Tompkins


Thomas P. Diaz

Liskow & Lewis


Johnny L. Domiano, Jr.

Adams and Reese


J. Kelly Duncan Jones Walker


Michael J. Ecuyer

Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer


John F. Fay, Jr.

Fay Nelson & Fay


information prior to securing legal services of any attorney.

Copyright 2021 by BL Rankings, LLC, Augusta, GA. All rights reserved. This list, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission. No commercial use of this list may be made without permission of BL Rankings, LLC. No fees may be charged, directly or indirectly, for the use of this list without permission.

“The Best Lawyers in America,” “Ones to Watch,” and “Best Lawyers” are registered trademarks of BL Rankings, LLC.




It took a team effort to create Tulane Athletics Department’s new state-of-the-art academics center.




Celebrating a new chocolate bar in 2022, Chocolatier Christopher Nobles loves his work, but a lot more goes into it than you might think.

NEW ORLEANS 500 Monique Doucette, shareholder at Ogletree Deakins


It took a team effort to create Tulane Athletics Department’s new state-of-the-art academics center.

To reimagine and expand the academic services center, now called the Don and Lora Peters Academic Center, Dr. Charvi Greer, deputy athletic director, student services, worked with studioWTA.

One of the many goals of the design team was to create “open, flexible and collaborative study spaces, natural light in staff offices, and comfortable and attractive, modernized study space for student-athletes to study and gather independently or in small groups,” said Julie Babin, studioWTA, partner and architect.

Following the January performance of the Tulane football team’s epic and historic Cotton Bowl win, it’s clear the Tulane athletic department has discovered a winning formula. It’s possible that a slice of the department’s success stems from the major renovation and expansion of the circa-1980s Wilson Center.

To reimagine and expand the academic services center, now called the Don and Lora Peters Academic Center, Dr. Charvi Greer, deputy athletic director, student services, worked with studioWTA. Among many priorities for the project was to “meet the standard of similar universities: University of Houston, Arizona State, Wyoming,” and others, according to Julie Babin, studioWTA, partner and architect.

Recently, Greer, Babin and her studioWTA colleague, architect Christophe Blanchard, shared a few of the project details with Biz New Orleans.

What were the design team’s goals for the design?

Julie Babin: Open, flexible and collaborative study spaces, natural light in staff offices, and comfortable and attractive, modernized study space for student-athletes to study and gather independently or in small groups. [To] utilize borrowed light from exterior walls to allow natural light to filter into large, open student-centered group areas. Upgrade [the] suite to reflect vibrant and energetic school spirit and help aid in recruitment. One study room designated as a “quiet” room has extra layers of soundproofing to accommodate special needs and testing in a quiet environment.

Christophe Blanchard: To make the spaces feel larger and less cramped. The original space had fairly low ceilings in the large, open study areas, so we removed the dropped ceilings and added suspended lighting fixtures below the newly painted-out, exposed mechanical ducts. This

allows the users to experience the full height of the space available while maintaining appropriate lighting levels and reusing the existing mechanical system as much as possible.

What was the biggest design challenge?

Babin: [The project had a] very small footprint with a robust program that also had to incorporate an existing elevator lobby used to access upper floors in the building. [We created a] large multipurpose classroom that can be subdivided into two smaller rooms via a retractable room divider. The classroom is equipped with large whiteboards and TVs on both sides of the room. [We also] created niche seating [and] waiting spaces within a thickened wall at the entrances to all offices.

How do you set yourselves apart?

Charvi Greer: This space is intended to support the academic, personal and professional development of our student-athletes. We now have a collaborative space for the staff to work both individually and collectively with students to reach their goals. Our motto is to set the stan-

dard by which others aspire to achieve, and we focus on providing the best experience possible for our stakeholders.

How do you promote a positive work atmosphere for the staff?

Greer: The Don and Lora Peters Center is an open space that encourages collaboration and staff and student engagement. We empower the staff to be creative in how we utilize the facility and to reimagine what’s possible in the way we do our work.

We are already seeing extremely high usage of our private tutor rooms and classroom. The enclosed spaces are used for group and individual study time and educational meetings. Our students are really enjoying the space, and we are often at capacity.

What goals are you looking to meet in the next 12 months?

Greer: Our goal is to continue to expand the resources available to our student-athletes, coaches and staff in their pursuit of excellence in all its forms. T

(Above) “We are already seeing extremely high usage of our private tutor rooms and classroom,” said Dr. Charvi Greer, deputy athletic director, student services. “The enclosed spaces are used for group and individual study time and educational meetings. Our students are really enjoying the space and we are often at capacity.” (Right) The interior design is by studioWTA, in collaboration with Lindsay Hellwig, design project coordinator at Tulane University. The colorful Tulane University and Green Wave graphics and signage were done by DLR Group.



Opening Date of Renovated Facility Nov. 19, 2021

Square Footage

Total building — 28,200 square feet; renovated area — 4,440 square feet

Number of Employees

10 full-time staff and 4 graduate assistants are housed in the Don and Lora Peters Academic Center

Person in Charge Dr. Charvi Greer, deputy athletic director, student services

Architecture Julie Babin, studioWTA, partner and architect; Christophe Blanchard, studioWTA, architect

Interior design studioWTA in collaboration with Lindsay Hellwig, Design Project Coordinator at Tulane University

Furnishings and art Furnishings, Lindsay Hellwig, Tulane University; graphics and Signage, DLR Group




Christopher Nobles’ specialty drinking chocolate and bonbons salon, Piety and Desire Chocolate, puts a unique spin on the typical New Orleans neighborhood bar.

Local chocolatier Christopher Nobles’ artisan bonbon business, Piety and Desire Chocolate, has become the go-to place for a bar-style drinking chocolate experience and high-end, mindfully made delectable treats, so much so that the fictional candy master himself, Willy Wonka, might even be jealous.

Piety and Desire Chocolate launched its chocolate-making business at a small retail location in Broadmoor in 2017. In April 2022, the company debuted a bar/salon style location

PIETY AND DESIRE CHOCOLATE 2032 Magazine Steet // @PietyDesireChoc
Celebrating a new chocolate bar in 2022, chocolatier Christopher Nobles loves his work, but a lot more goes into it than you might think.

on Magazine Street. Items on the menu include traditional drinking chocolate (think hot chocolate, gone glam and luxurious) on its own or paired with hot or cold coffee, iced mocha, ice cream specials, boxes of bonbons to go and chocolate bars inspired by New Orleans flavors, plus king cakes just in time for Carnival.

The Magazine Street location offers a unique hot chocolate and bonbons sampling experience that may be familiar to New Orleanians accustomed to classic cocktail bar experiences.

“What was the inspiration behind a drinking chocolate bar/bonbon salon? Well, one cannot escape the ‘bar’ set by New Orleans,” said Nobles. “My goal has always been to explore the depths of chocolate on the stage of a café, and while that goal is not yet fully realized, our new café chocolat is a step in that direction.”

Currently, the company’s model has skewed more toward retail, “although we do wholesale our chocolate bars to a list of cafés, gift shops and small grocers too long to print — check our social media for that,” said Nobles. “Beyond simple wholesale, a number of hotels, both big and boutique, also gift our bonbons as amenities, while a number of

Piety and Desire Chocolate embraces ethical global trade regulations, providing living wages for growers, as well as supporting environmentallyfriendly practices internationally and at home.

restaurants utilize our chocolate in their own desserts, including ‘The Grand Dame,’ Commander’s Palace. Our factory is still located in the heart of the city at 2727 S. Broad, and we are a small and mighty and growing staff of eight.”

According to a December 2022 release by “the global chocolate market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 1.9% from 2022 to 2030, reaching 43.5 million tons by 2030. Rising health consciousness among consumers and the health benefits associated with consuming chocolate are expected to fuel demand for premium and dark chocolates in the near future. Moreover, surges in disposable income and changing lifestyles are projected to propel market growth over the forecast period.”

The release goes on to note three major trends: the increased demand for premium chocolate, artisanal chocolate, and sustainable resources and processes, putting Piety and Desire Chocolates on the path to success on multiple market fronts.

“My experience and training in crafting epicurean delights, having been forged in the

New Orleanian, makes for a certain excellence in ‘curating cacao with character,’ a catchphrase I admit to using often,” he said.

While Nobles’ formal education is in music and psychology, his business acumen for the culinary arts has been in the works since high school and beyond.

“My culinary background was chiefly formed by family recipes and working the lines in several restaurants throughout high school and college,” he said. “As far as learning about business, earlier experiences were similarly informal, with stints in bar management and front-of-house management at my beloved final service industry positions at SukhoThai, supplemented by light coursework in business planning and production management upon founding the business.”

culinary experience of being a multigenerational

What’s your favorite Piety and Desire Chocolate item? What I’m eating most of may be something I can answer: probably an 83% blend we’ve made into a yet-tobe-released bar that we’ve dubbed the 80s-Baby Blend... of course, I’ve also been sampling our dangerously-on-tap drinking chocolate more often every day, inspired either by the cold weather or as a coping mechanism for the deluge of holiday business. I don’t care which. Right now, I’m also particularly proud of our Cajun Drinking Chocolate, although I admit it’s too spicy for some, as it should be.

Learning the complex ins and outs of the chocolate business also proved to be both a classroom and a hands-on experience for Nobles.

“Indeed, the process is complex, and given how precisely the process is affected by the engineering of specific equipment, I’d say much of that learning had to happen once I’d already plunged into the depths and debts of my own operation,” he said, adding that “a significant foundation was forged over several years before starting my own business. My learning began on the internet, taking online coursework from Ecole Chocolat.”

Nobles followed his online learning with in-person experiences, starting at the Academia de Chocolate in Nicaragua. From there he moved on to “a small town in the Cuneo region of Italy, Vicoforte, where I learned from the

celebrated pastry chef, chocolatier and chocolate-maker Silvio Bessone in a factory utilizing a bit more space and probably a million dollars more than my own, employing artisan techniques and technologies to craft true chocolate.”

Nobles said making his own chocolate, and how he makes it, set him apart in the industry.

“As curators of cacao with character, our philosophy has much the same impact on our final products as that of a chef working with their purveyors to procure the best of the harvest or the finest ingredients produced in order to craft their dishes,” Nobles said. “In my mind, making our own chocolate is our only choice if we wish to make the best chocolates, a feeling that sets us apart from the vast majority of chocolatiers, even those whom I’d consider top shelf. Very, very few companies make confections from chocolate they have also manufactured.”

He is also proud of the company’s ethical practices.

“More importantly, perhaps, is the importance of a positive global impact, both socially and environmentally,” he said. “From the beginning, we’ve sourced our cacao by paying several times market price for cacao that is several times better than the market majority, as it provides for a more livable wage for those tending to this magical fruit of the tropical belt. Moreover, part of that quality involves a responsible environmental stewardship on the part of growers, as those we support grow utilizing more of a permaculture versus agriculture model, one in which inter-cropping offers a remedy to deforestation throughout the ‘lungs of the earth.’”

Back home in New Orleans, Piety and Desire Chocolates brings flavor profiles that are both familiar and intriguing, along with some seasonal favorites that customers look forward to each year.

“My upbringing ties me not only to the growing seasons of the region but also the cultural seasons of our uniquity,” he said. “We may not truly have all four weather seasons, but my family’s satsuma tree always blessed us in winter, and I always had king cake for my birthday (and to celebrate Carnival, of course). These seasonal feelings are communal and tied to the flavor of our home.”

When asked what’s next, there’s plenty for chocolate fans to be excited about, according to Nobles.

“Short term: the return of our decadent king cakes. Long term: new wholesale products and expanded café offerings.” T


Fair trade (two words) is often used by manufacturers or businesses to refer to many aspects of their product with regard to ethical trade operations. These products may not be certified by the World Fair Trade Organization.

Fairtrade (one word) identify products that have been certified by the World Fair Trade Organization to meet certain “social, economic and environmental standards,” according to Fairtrade products, such as cocoa, ensure farmers are paid a fair minimum price for their goods and services while also promoting good environmental practices and aiming to reduce child labor abuses.

(Fairtrade International)

According to internal market research from the Fairtrade International Corporation, 57% of consumers express a preference for buying Fair Trade certified chocolates over those without a certification.


Piety and Desire Chocolate bonbons and truffles are often inspired by familiar New Orleans flavors such as café au lait, Sazerac cocktails and king cake.

Monique Doucette Shareholder at Ogletree Deakins


In 2009, Doucette cofounded the local office of a labor and employment law firm that now includes more than 1,000 attorneys and 55 offices nationwide. She’s also chair of a practice group specializing in investigations of systemic inequity in the workplace, executive misconduct and unconscious bias.

“I really enjoy helping my clients proactively shape their workplace culture,” she said.

Education: Tulane University (JD), Loyola University New Orleans (BA)

On the Horizon: I’m very excited about leading my firm’s workplace investigation and organizational assessment practice group. Over the last few years, the cultural and political climate has drastically shifted in the workplace.

Advice: Practice gratitude and recognize that happiness is a choice. I’m very intentional about being grateful every day for the great things in my life — both the big things and the small stuff.

Hobby/passion: I’m obsessed with coffee table books and collecting used coffee table books, which often have a great backstory. I also collect vinyl/album covers designed by Andy Warhol from all over the world. While on vacation in Berlin, I found a Rolling Stones album photographed by Warhol, but it’s written entirely in Russian.

Nonprofit Cause: The New Orleans Ballet Association