Lagniappe Magazine Spring 2022

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Spring 2022

3 Letters from the President and Editor 4 Sustainer of the Year

LAGNIAPPE STAFF Editor: Ashley Millet

6 League Talks Q & A

Assistant Editor: Michelle Michler

8 Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking

Photography Editor: Katherine Crawford Andrews Writers: Katherine Crawford Andrews, Natalie Williams, Caroline Young

On the Cover

JLNO BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Shannon Brice President Elect: Holly Paczak Secretary: Elizabeth Hubbard

About Sustainer and Cover

Treasurer: Nene Gianfala

Delana Lynn Photography

Assistant Treasurer: Nancy Kirkeby Business Council Director: Emily Liuzza Communications Council Director: Ashley Millet Community Council Director: Alyse Mouledoux Membership Council Director: Kimberly Allen Planning & Development Council Director: Ashley Llewellyn Ways & Means Council Director: Susan Kliebert Nominating Committee Chair: Ty Salvant Sustaining Advisor to the Board: Katherine Raymond, PhD



Editor: Topher Danial Art Director: Ali Sullivan Production Manager: Rosa Balaguer Production Designer: Meghan Rooney Chief Executive Officer: Todd Matherne



April 16, 2022 Location: TBD


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April 23, 2022 Location: TBD

Letter from the President


elcome to the Spring issue of Lagniappe. Spring is a time for renewal and growth. It is also in the Spring when Junior League of New Orleans honors our Sustainer of the Year. This once-a-year award is the highest honor given by the league. And it is with the utmost excitement that we announce the 2022 Junior League of New Orleans Sustainer of the Year Laura Shields. The Sustainer of the Year award is based upon a lifelong commitment to volunteer service in the community. Laura Shields exemplifies and embodies JLNOs mission to promote volunteerism, develop the potential of women, and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. As you will read, this year’s recipient made a tremendous impact by giving her time and talents to many organizations in the New Orleans area. We are extremely proud of the impact our members make in the community. This impact is seen through our programs such as our partnership with the Abolish movement, WE fellowship and through member experiences shared in the article League Talks. I want to thank the 2021-2022 Board of Directors for all your hard work and dedication. You have led with grace. We have grown together professionally and personally. It is one of my greatest honors that I have had the pleasure of working and learning from each one of you. Lastly, I thank you for your support of JLNO as we continue our legacy of Women Leading for a Greater New Orleans. #makingadifference Thank you,

Photo by: Jessica Bachmann

Shannon Brice, 2022 President

Letter from the Editor


oday marks the first day of women's history month and I am very excited to introduce our readers to the Junior League of New Orleans 2022 Sustainer of the Year Laura Shields. As you will read in our feature article she comes from a long line of not only Junior League of New Orleans members, but also Sustainer of the Year recipients! This honor is a testament to her dedication to JLNO, the community, and family values. Speaking of women's history month, we recognize the efforts of all of the amazing women that have broken barriers, pushed forward to advance our lives, and spoken up for those unable to. Although it may seem difficult to feel like we are making a historical difference in the lives of those around us at the moment, I feel it is important to pause and reflect. As an educator and mother it is sometimes difficult to recognize the long term impact of our day to day actions. The students that I taught years ago that came to me unable to read and some not yet able to communicate are now in high school thriving with the foundational skills learned in Kindergarten. Our collective efforts may not be on the news, but they are life changing for sure. From signing up for a volunteer shift at the JLNO diaper bank to supporting fundraising efforts that further the reach of advancing the wellbeing of women. When women are supported in the community, we all benefit! In this issue we feature a Q & A of ways members can stay active and connected to the league during the age of Zoom. Our membership has a variety of comfort levels and JLNO is happy to provide opportunities for members to participate in person as well as virtually to accommodate the varying needs of our members. For those members who feel disconnected, overwhelmed, or at a standstill, take this as your opportunity to take small steps to reconnect to the league, invest in your community, and lean on your fellow JLNO member. No one person can do the work alone, but if we all work together doing what we can, when we can, in the capacity that we have then we can make large historical impacts. By supporting women, JLNO elevates the entire local community.

Photo by: Delana Lynn Photography

Ashley Millet, 2022 Lagniappe Editor

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Sustainer of the Year 2022 Laura Shields by Lacy McManus | Delana Lynn Photography


or Laura Shields, engaging in the New Orleans community and the Junior League of New Orleans have come naturally. “I grew up in a Junior League household,” says Laura, the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) 2022 Sustainer of the Year. “Volunteerism definitely runs in my family.” As a New Orleans native, Laura followed in her mother's and sister's footsteps when diving into JLNO. It is also fitting that she follows both in receiving the Sustainer of the Year award: her mother, Helen Martin Shaw, was honored in 1972 when Laura was a


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senior in high school, and her sister—former JLNO President Betsy Shaw Nalty—held the title in 1999. Sharing the title of Sustainer of the Year with her younger sister comes as no surprise to Betsy, who says, “Laura’s commitment to voluntarism personifies the mission of the Junior League!” While Laura is proud to continue this impressive family legacy, her Junior League journey has been her own. When Laura joined the League, she was a full time Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and was pregnant with her son. At the time, JLNO lacked much of its current

flexibility for working women. Laura still rose to the occasion, completing all of her provisional requirements at the thrift shop without the benefit of evening shifts. She also quickly discovered a way to marry her profession with her community service, serving as the Treasurer for the Thrift Shop and before spending two years on the JLNO Board as Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer. When reflecting on her time in the League, it is her tenure on the Board that Laura says impacted her the most. “Serving on exec was probably one of the most rewarding experiences,” she says. Given her two year commitment in the treasurer role, she had the opportunity to see firsthand the leadership styles of two different JLNO Presidents and to hone lifelong skills: “The Junior League is such an incredible training ground,” Laura recalls. In addition to facilitating meetings, negotiating group dynamics and mastering the art of compromises, Laura also leveraged her board experience to conquer a fear of public speaking. “I was terrified of public speeches—my knees would shake,” Laura says. “I remember at Junior League, I’d have to get up and give presentations on budgets and things like that.” Laura’s Junior League trainings were only some of the benefits she gleaned from her time in the League. As Laura says, “The other thing about the Junior League was opening my eyes to the needs in the New Orleans community.” Laura was able to replicate the same combination of professional expertise and community passion by serving as treasurer on a host of other boards: from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School to Dress for Success, to the New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation—just to name a few. Former JLNO President and Sustainer of the Year Chair Jennifer Couvillon recognizes this impressive reach across the community, saying, “Over the years, she has dedicated her time, talents and treasure to positively impacting and improving our New Orleans community. As a thoughtful leader, she exemplifies the mission of JLNO by serving others.” Laura’s leadership qualities clearly extend far beyond her accounting acumen. As her sister Betsy says, “Her calm, steady, inclusive, fair and thorough leadership qualities—together with a wonderful sense of humor—have made her a favorite of many!” These qualities have positioned her to serve as an Elder and Clerk of Session at her church, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, on three different occasions, and they led to deep engagement in various neighborhood boards and associations as well. Her civic involvement also reflects her commitment to children and education, having served as an Advisory Board Member for the Cowen Institute, as well as on the Board of the Parenting Center of Children’s Hospital and Voices for Children, amongst other educational and children’s causes. Perhaps Laura’s greatest passion in the New Orleans’ community is her beloved alma mater, the Louise S. McGehee School, where she has served as Chair of the Alumnae Association and Endowment Committee and has been a Board Member since 2006, Board Chair since 2019 and was the receipient of the Distinguished Alumni award.

Though she retired from her fulltime accounting career in 2017, it is easy to believe Laura when she says “I like to stay busy!” Like so many JLNO members today, Laura has spent a lifetime juggling family, work and community activities. “Time management is critical,” Laura emphasizes. She found success in explaining to her family why she was engaging in the projects she undertook, and including them in those activities when she could. As Laura says, “Not only does it help continue the thread of volunteerism in your children and spouse or partner, but it instills pride in them for what you’re doing.” For Laura, having her family support her leadership across the New Orleans community has made those endeavors even more special. Laura has also learned, however, that there are times to lead and times to follow. For JLNO members striving to find balance and stay engaged, Laura advises seeking a supporting role if one’s personal and professional life won’t support a leadership position. The structure of the Junior League is especially conducive to this approach: “The connections you make with people are invaluable,” Laura says. She also remains “absolutely amazed” at all JLNO has done and continues to do through the pandemic. From her perspective, this take both dedicated leaders and members to keep the organization growing and thriving at this level. These days, in addition to her community service, Laura spends her retirement with her husband, Lloyd “Sonny” Shields, and their blended family of five children and seven grandchildren. She is proud to see her and her parents’ legacy of volunteering carried on through her sons’ civic engagements and her McGehee involvement continued by two of her granddaughters. Though Laura says she is “in awe of this [Sustainer of the Year] honor,” it is undoubtedly a fitting accolade for a lifetime spent bettering New Orleans. As Jennifer Couvillon says, “We are grateful to Laura for her dedication and are honored for her to recognize her as the 2022 JLNO Sustainer of the Year.” •

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League Talks By Katherine Crawford Andrews

As we all know, the past two years have looked very different for New Orleans and the members of JLNO. We all went from being easily connected to the city and its people to a mainly virtual world, where we garnered connection and volunteered through a screen. Looking towards a new League year, we asked our members to share advice with the Lagniappe readers and other members on how they can stay more active, meet more people and feel more connected to New Orleans and the League.

Lynn Spearman Active • 6 Years

Lindsey Chapman Active • 8 Years

Did you feel that it was challenging to be as active in JLNO this past League year compared to years past? In some ways yes, but in others no. I think we still have good virtual options. It was challenging to not be able to physically see and interact with other members, and particularly to do volunteer work, but I found that some of the virtual opportunities actually enabled me to interact more directly and personally with members I may not have been able to in a larger space/format.

What activities/volunteer opportunities have made you feel more connected? I was glad to have volunteer opportunities after Hurricane Ida. I don’t have the skills/ability to gut or rebuild houses, so it was great to have extra opportunities with the Diaper Bank and Second Harvest. We all wanted to help out, but we were dealing with the effects of the storm here in New Orleans as well.

What activities/volunteer opportunities have made you feel more connected? I found that virtual committee meetings and council meetings sometimes enabled more connection surprisingly, since it was easier for some members to join and to be able to more easily put names and faces together. What advice would you give members who have only known the virtual years of JLNO and are struggling to feel connected? We have so many fun activities and opportunities in a normal circumstance that we are all excited and hopeful to be able to do it again at some point in the future. Your time in the League is always going to be what you make of it, so do your best to stay engaged however you can. Join clubs that you are interested in, and those will be really helpful to make connections through. The League is so big that I highly recommend finding ways to interact in small groups so that you can make more connections. And stick with it—we will get back to in-person fun one day!


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What advice would you give members who have only known the virtual years of JLNO and are struggling to feel connected? Volunteer! I’ve met so many great women at Second Harvest and Diaper Bank shifts. Go to Esprit events if you can. Everyone is excited to be there and wants to meet you. Do you have any advice for those who are looking to join JLNO this year? If you are looking to spend more time volunteering or becoming a better leader, JLNO is the place for you. It’s overwhelming to choose where to spend your time/ energy in a city like ours. JLNO provides so many opportunities, and you can tailor your experience to your schedule.

Megan Kurtz Active - Transfer from St. Louis 2 years with JLNO 5 years total

Lacy McManus Active • 7 years

Did you feel that it was challenging to be as active in JLNO this past League year compared to years past? A bit, but I enjoyed the opportunity to attend almost all meetings virtually, as I have a 10-month old now. I think having “hybrid” opportunities (virtual and in-person) for members going forward will be important. What activities/volunteer opportunities have made you feel more connected? Diaper Bank sorting or pick up shifts! I always end up meeting lots of great people that have different placements and have great conversations with others that are working these shifts. What advice would you give members who have only known the virtual years of JLNO and are struggling to feel connected? Look at special interest groups to get involved in. Book club, running/exercise groups. Volunteer shifts for me have been some of the best ways to connect with others and meet new people. Do you have any advice for those who are looking to join JLNO this year? Dive right in! If leadership opportunities interest you, pursue them or let a committee lead know. If you’re comfortable, join a front porch Friday event or sign up for another Esprit activity. But definitely think about what you want out of your Junior League experience. For meeting others and getting more connected to the local community, volunteer shifts have been my number one avenue for doing that.

Did you feel that it was challenging to be as active in JLNO this past League year compared to years past? Yes! The virtual world definitely made it difficult to connect with folks and form relationships like I had in past years. What activities/volunteer opportunities have made you feel more connected? Being on the JLNO Board through the pandemic was a very unique experience: on the one hand, I missed the regular convenings with my fellow Board members, but on the other, I think we’ve made more of an effort to get together after our Board experience to make up for what we lost. The last year of our non-Board tenure has actually been a blast! What advice would you give members who have only known the virtual years of JLNO and are struggling to feel connected? Hang in there! Look for ways to get value out of your membership while we’re still navigating the pandemic. Maybe making friendships is a bit harder virtually, but can you tune into more meetings and events virtually instead? Find a path to add value. Do you have any advice for those who are looking to join JLNO this year? It’s still a great time to be a member, and the focus on virtual experiences might actually give you a better chance to ease into League activities.

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“Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking” Spreading Awareness Through Film human trafficking noun

: an unlawful act that uses of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of compelling a person into labor or services, or to induce a commercial sex act, or in which the person induced to perform such a commercial sex act has not attained 18 years of age.


s part of their commitment to educating the public on the issue of human trafficking, Junior League of New Orleans’ ABOLISH Human Trafficking Committee presented an online panel on December 15, 2021 on “Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End SexTrafficking,” a 2017 award-winning film showcasing heroes of the anti-sex-trafficking movement working diligently to raise awareness and provide solutions. Speaking on the panel was director of “Stopping Traffic,” Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, the first North American Jain female-monk, a U.S. Army Iraq-war veteran, an international and TEDx speaker, author and activist. Shree was not familiar with human trafficking before she started working on the film. She says the experience was eye opening and made her realize the severity of the issue. Throughout the filmmaking process, Shree met with survivors of trafficking, nonprofit professionals, government leaders, human rights activists and other movement heroes. “When we first learned about human trafficking, we were shocked, and it caused us an inner pain,” says Shree. “We were inspired to make a film because we wanted to educate our spiritual community. We didn’t realize it would become something bigger.” One of Shree’s biggest takeaways was learning that trafficking can happen in every community, and victims can be of any age, social status, race, gender or nationality. “One misconception that I had was that it was mainly in third-world countries, but I learned quickly it’s everywhere in the United States,” explains Shree.

Due to the coercive nature of human trafficking, it is difficult to pinpoint the reach of the industry. What we do know is that in 2020, 10,583 situations of human trafficking were reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline involving 16,658 individual victims. These statistics barely scratch the surface and are not fully representative, given that most cases are never reported and many victims do not realize they are being trafficked. Human trafficking is a subject that’s hard to talk about, but if we keep having these difficult conversations, we can help prevent traffickers from preying on individuals’ vulnerabilities such as unstable housing, economic hardship and substance abuse. “There is a growing movement,” says Shree. “When people become aware, they talk about it, they report. There is a collective energy that can bring about change, and we’re seeing it.” During the online panel, attended by 70 people, Shree was joined by Sadhvi Anubhuti, assistant director of "Stopping Traffic"; Kara Van de Carr, founder and CEO of Eden House; and Susan Dold, Systems Administrator for Truckers Against Trafficking. A recording of the panel event along with information about ABOLISH and other resources are available at •

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 1(888)373-7888


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