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Jeremy Babers, Attorney, First Judicial District Court of Louisiana
Jeremy C. L. Babers, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, is an Attorney at the First Judicial District Court of Louisiana. He is a recent fellow of the Institute of Politics at Loyola University-New Orleans. Over the last several years, Jeremy has gained an appreciation of the issues affecting residents of the State of Louisiana by doing such things as working in his hometown Office of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu; working in the Office of Cedric B. Glover, Mayor of the City of Shreveport, and by being a member of the local committee tasked with increasing public participation and civic engagement in the 2010 United States Census. Jeremy received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport and his Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center in, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He, in the past, has been a teen journalist for the Shreveport Times as well as a part of the Shreveport Youth Volunteer Board and has worked with Organizing for America and the Democratic Party on a number of campaigns and causes. Jeremy describes himself as an "independent-minded Independent". He is at heart, a pragmatist that puts solutions above ideology and believes wholeheartedly that no party has a monopoly on good ideas for people. He has been a part of roundtable discussions on a number of controversial social issues where he provided a voice of moderation and led the search for common ground. He is committed to a progressive vision of America that is inclusive in its framework and responsive to all segments of the electorate. Aside from the law, politics and public policy, Jeremy enjoys a deep faith; being with family; committing himself to personal and professional growth, and traveling to new places.
Micah Caswell, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Louisiana State University Department of Communication Studies
Currently doing volunteer work with three lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations, Micah Caswell lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a focus in Performance Studies at Louisiana State University. Caswell’s community and advocacy efforts influence and are informed by his research and performance work on gender and identity construction. He has lived in South Louisiana since birth, in both Eunice and Baton Rouge, and is committed to advancing progressive issues in the region and across the state. This interest in community advocacy can be traced to two experiences in his last two years of undergraduate coursework at LSU. First, Caswell had the opportunity to interrogate traditional notions of gender in a Gender and Communication course. It was this course, and the instructor’s methods, that allowed him to explore his own identity. He was also able to begin developing an understanding of how complex gender is and how it can complicate people’s relationships with their own bodies as well as present difficulties when seeking access to particular services. These realizations raised questions that led him to the second experience, Caswell’s campus advocacy through his involvement in Spectrum, LSU’s organization for LGBT students and their allies. He was able to develop skills and methods needed for future advocacy efforts and gain a better understanding of the importance of those efforts. Caswell is a founding Board Member of Louisiana Trans Advocates (LTA), the only statewide transgender advocacy organization in Louisiana. Since holding its first meeting in July 2011, LTA has established four chapters and is working on cultivating more in an effort to serve transgender people in every part of the state. Caswell is also a cofounder of Equality Louisiana (EQLA), the statewide coalition of LGBT and explicitly allied organizations in Louisiana, and currently serves as a representative of LTA to the coalition. EQLA was founded in response to the lack of communication around the state amongst LGBT advocacy organizations and efforts and to address tendencies of statewide organizations to colonize local areas rather than working with already existing local organizations and advocates. Caswell serves as a Board Member and Co-Chair of the Programs and Activities Committee of Capital City Alliance (CCA), the local LGBT organization in Baton Rouge, because he believes in making local communities stronger in order to strengthen statewide efforts. In the future, Caswell plans to pursue a doctoral degree in either Performance Studies or American Studies to continue exploring culture and identity and how community organizing can be both facilitated and challenged by these concepts. After finishing graduate education, he hopes to work with a nonprofit focused on LGBT or disability advocacy to fight the systematic discrimination faced by these communities and ensure members of both communities have access to the services they need.
Anthony Dennis Jr., Teacher, St. Mary Parish School Board
Anthony Dennis attended Louisiana State University, attaining a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Political Science. While attending LSU in Baton Rouge, Anthony volunteered with many local community programs. After LSU, Anthony returned to his high school alma mater to teach Social Studies. He is now proud to facilitate the same enriching experiences for his own community through various initiatives. Anthony serves his community because he knows that there is a wealth of potential in his fellow citizens. As an educator at West St. Mary High School in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, Anthony has sought solutions to the myriad of issues that counter his efforts in the classroom. Anthony recently founded the Teche Parent and Family Network, and celebrated the launch of its first initiative Unlocking Potential Program. TPFN is an outreach organization that enables parents to make West St. Mary Parish a better place to educate children. TPFN works to increase family involvement by offering various resources to create parental advocates for change. Anthony is working diligently to ensure that the Teche Parent and Family Network has a lasting community impact. In 2012, Anthony was elected to represent St. Mary Parish as a Democratic State Central Committee Representative. Anthony organized the Lafayette region of Louisiana as Regional Lead for Obama for America. Anthony believes that the New Leader’s Council Fellowship will teach him how to better bridge the gap between problems and solutions. Anthony works to uplift the often neglected rural parishes because, as a teacher, he understands that an educated community is a better community. Anthony believes that it is of the essence that individuals with demonstrated capacity enrich themselves with an understanding of economy, policy analysis, and public management to better the societies they serve. Anthony is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and avidly served the Baton Rouge community while with the Nu Psi Chapter at Louisiana State University. He also participates in community service as a member of Mt. Pisgah Lodge Number 40, Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons serving Patterson, La. Anthony is a native of Baldwin, Louisiana and currently resides there with his wife Tasha and daughter, Corinne Dennis.
Kwame Floyd, Math Department Chair, Langston Hughes Academy Charter School
Kwame Floyd is the board chairman of the New Orleans Parents Guide (formerly New Orleans Parent Organizing Network) and math department chair at Langston Hughes Academy Charter School. He began his career in education with Teach For America as a founding member of Langston Hughes in 2007. After completing his corps commitment, Kwame worked for Teach For America as a Manager of Teacher Leadership and Development (formerly known as Program Director) where he sought to broaden his impact on student achievement and access through managing and developing 34 teachers across the Greater New Orleans area. Passionate about school accountability, Kwame served on numerous panels throughout the country advocating for school reform, greater accountability, and excellence in public schools. He received his B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Education Leadership at Columbia University. He expects to graduate in 2013. Kwame is also a 2012 Emerging Political Leader Fellow through Leadership for Educational Equity.
Jesse Gilmore, Assistant Director of Philanthropy, Centenary College of Louisiana
Jesse Gilmore is the Assistant Director of Philanthropy for Centenary College of Louisiana, a private four year liberal arts college located in Shreveport, Louisiana. Previously, Jesse worked as a Financial Accountant at the same institution following his graduation in May of 2012. Jesse earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the Frost School of Business at Centenary College. While at Centenary, Jesse served as the president of the Inter Fraternity Council and of the College Democrats, and served as the student envoy to the College’s Economic Policy Committee for three years. While pursuing his degree, Jesse participated in a bilateral exchange program with Denmark's Aarhus School of Business. During his seven months in Denmark, Jesse studied sustainability economics and international management theory, and was generally confused by the Danish language and customs. Born and raised a stone's throw from the Kennedy Compound in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, Jesse now resides full-time in Shreveport, LA. In his spare time Jesse enjoys reading contemporary American literature, and has toiled away at his own manuscript for a few years now. He also has what some may call an unhealthy obsession with sports, and his adopted college football team the LSU Tigers. Jesse remains active in his community by volunteering for the Literacy Volunteers at Centenary College and for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, of which he is a proud alumnus.
Bill Haywood is a native of Baton Rouge where he was raised by public school teachers and entrepreneurs who instilled in him a desire to serve his community. Service experiences through Catholic High School reinforced these lessons, and his dedication to social entrepreneurship was forged by the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, which calls to mind humanity’s responsibility to heal and transform the world. Bill carried this concept to Louisiana Tech University where he began his career with Prism, Tech’s queer-straight student alliance, serving as public relations officer. After graduation, he returned to Baton Rouge where he was appointed to the boards of Louisiana Hemophilia Foundation and Baton Rouge Pride Fest. Shortly thereafter, he became an intern with Louisiana State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs where he assisted the LGBTQ Project and Spectrum create networks of support for students alienated because their gender identity or sexual orientation. Later, Bill was recruited to become Finance and Outreach Director of Capital City Alliance – an organization dedicated to making Baton Rouge better for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Through CCA’s Organizational Development, Support, and Partner Initiative, he cofounded Louisiana Trans Advocates, PFLAG Baton Rouge, and Equality Louisiana. Bill currently serves as Executive Director of Adopt a Landmine – an organization he founded to increase global awareness of the presence and dangers of landmines in developing regions and raise funds for their removal. He also serves as Regional Coordinator of Louisiana Trans Advocates and Treasurer of Acadiana OUTspoken Alliance in Lafayette. Bill Haywood is currently pursuing a certificate in nonprofit management from Louisiana State University and is looking forward to a lifetime career within nonprofits and social benefit corporations.
Racheal Hebert, Executive Director, Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response Center (STAR)
Racheal Hebert is a community organizer and nonprofit manager with experience in a variety of programs, including initiatives involving the women’s health, environmental and local arts communities. Racheal graduated with a degree in Sociology and Women’s & Gender Studies from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2007. During college, she was active in the campus community as the president of two student groups: Women Organizing Women (WOW) and Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood. In addition, she volunteered for the LSU Women’s Center, where she organized outreach and educational programs to raise awareness of gender equality, LGBTQ issues, environmental sustainability, and the intersections of racism, sexism and classism. Racheal has gained experience in the nonprofit sector through her work with Planned Parenthood, The Red Shoes, Capital Area Family Violence Intervention Center, and O’Brien House. Since 2008, she has worked at the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center (STAR) in Baton Rouge. In 2012, she was named executive director, where she now manages a staff of five and a large volunteer base of 60 members. In her current work at STAR, Racheal works to promote gender equality and healthy relationships among youth and adults, while also providing support and advocacy to survivors of gender violence in the Baton Rouge community. In addition to her work in women’s health and violence prevention, Racheal is also dedicated to community work in the environmental and arts communities. In 2008, Racheal joined the Baton Rouge Progressive Network (BRPN), where she served for four years as a Board member, and as the Board Chair from 2011-2012. During her involvement with BRPN, she developed educational materials on local policies issues, organized lobbying workshops, and implemented an initiative to decrease usage of plastic bags in the community. Through her involvement with BRPN, she also led the development of the all-volunteer Baton Rouge Community Radio WHYR 96.9 FM station. Building WHYR 96.9 FM included developing policies to comply with FCC rules and regulations, writing proposals to funders and granting agencies, and reviewing and selecting content for the station. Racheal is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work from LSU, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Stephen Holliday, Special Counsel and Senior Enforcement Agent, Louisiana Public Service Commission
For the past two and a half years Stephen has serviced as Special Counsel, Senior Enforcement Agent, and trusted adviser, speaking truth to power, to Louisiana Public Service Commission and Commissioner Foster Campbell. The Louisiana Public Service Commission is a constitutionally mandated body that touches everybody every day and no one notices. Stephen has had a front row seat to witness the fundamental transformation of how public utilities are regulated and how billions of dollars in public and private monies are spent. At the same time, he manages the front desk and takes constituent calls and complaints and is humbled by the difference a phone call can make to keep the lights on for a sick child, elderly person or struggling young couple. Stephen served the LSU University System as the Associate Director for Alumni Relations for the LSU Law Center and served as Associate Director for the LSU Flores MBA Programs directing placement and corporate relations, He taught courses such as the Legal Environment of Business and developed and implemented the Flores MBA internship programs achieving specialized placements in healthcare, internal audit, human resources, and supply chain and project management and leadership programs. Stephen also served over 10 year as managing partner, senior counsel, and director of human resources for the Holliday Law Firm concentration his practice in the area of Immigration and Naturalization law. Mr. Holliday has served as Counsel to Chairman of the Commerce Committee for the Louisiana State Senate. Stephen was an Internal Auditor For IBM in Armonk, New York, mitigating risk and developing internal controls in the areas of import and export compliance, separation of duties, integrated supply chain, procurement and software royalty valuation. Mr. Holliday served as a law clerk to Judge Pillow and Judge Stringer, and taught law students Computer Legal Research at Tulane Law School, Loyola Law School, Louisiana State University Law School. Stephen is married with a loving wife, two daughters and a one year old son. Stephen is an Eagle Scout.
Makesha Judson, State Director of Program Services and Governmental Affairs, March of Dimes Louisiana Chapter
Makesha Judson is a native of Baton Rouge, LA. She graduated from Southern University having received a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management and a Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in both nonprofit management and public policy. Ms. Judson is known for her nonprofit work with youth programs, such as: the North Baton Rouge Summer Youth Development Program with Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation, the Louisiana Leadership Institute, and the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program. She currently works as the State Director of Program Services and Governmental Affairs for the March of Dimes Louisiana Chapter where she is responsible for managing the March of Dimes' signature NICU Family Support Program, spearheading the organization's mission investments in Maternal and Child Health issues, and leading the agencies statewide governmental affairs and advocacy efforts. Prior to joining March of Dimes, Makesha work as a Legislative Assistant for the Louisiana House of Representatives and a Public Policy Program Assistant for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Durrell Laurent, Owner/Principle Broker, Geaux Group Insurance Advisors
Durrell Laurent is a life-long resident of New Orleans. He graduated from Saint Augustine High School and received his B.B.A. in Finance from Texas Southern University. While in undergrad, Durrell had his first experience as a small business owner when he started Tier One Marketing, LLC, a bookkeeping company that provided other small businesses with bookkeeping services. Upon graduation, he worked with the Department of Defense where he served as a Financial Management Analyst where he managed and executed a more than $10 million budget at Naval Support Activity New Orleans. He currently operates a small business – Geaux Group Insurance Advisors – and operates as a Realtor with Century 21 Richard Berry & Associates. Durrell serves as the Director of Citizens Harboring a New Government Experience, he is the Vice Chairman of the Young Democrats of New Orleans. In addition, he is a member of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce; Young Leadership Council; New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors and the Independent Insurance Agents of Louisiana.
Tera Meerkins, Educator Advocacy Project Manager, Stand for Children Louisiana
Tera is the Educator Advocacy Project Manager for Stand for Children Louisiana. In her role with Stand, she works with educators across the state to advocate for and implement policies to ensure all students regardless of their background, graduate prepared for and with access to a college education. Prior to joining Stand’s team, Tera completed a fellowship with the Public Affairs Research of Louisiana (PAR) analyzing technology use in K-12 education. Tera came to Louisiana in 2010 when she joined Teach For America. She was a founding member of the Louisiana Delta Corps in Madison Parish Louisiana, where she taught special education at an alternative school and then at the elementary level. In between school years, Tera spent the summer in her home state of Wisconsin as an organizer for Organizing for America during state senate recall elections. She graduated from the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 with a Bachelor Of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Gender and Women's studies. Throughout her college years, Tera worked as the volunteer coordinator and then Chair at PAVE, an organization dedicated to preventing sexual assault and dating violence through education and activism. She also volunteered at a center for runaway and homeless youth. Tera is committed to working to achieve social justice in whatever capacity she can have the greatest impact. In her spare time, she enjoys running, being outdoors, traveling, and reading.
Alison Mehr, Director of Development, Crescent City Schools
Alison Mehr has almost 15 years of experience in operations, strategy, management and development. After teaching Biology at Marion Abramson Senior High School for two years through the Teach For America program, Alison began her career in university and non-profit management. Alison has held management and development positions at the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Tulane University, The American Red Cross and Loyola University, overseeing departmental strategy, capital projects and major fundraising campaigns. For two years she ran her own consulting firm working with non-profit and community impact organizations to provide strategic management solutions and capacity and development support. She currently serves as the Director of Development at Crescent City Schools, a charter management organization in New Orleans. In that role she is responsible for overseeing growth strategy and financial capacity to support organizational expansion. Alison has raised over $40 million for the organizations she has worked with. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She has presented and conducted seminars at numerous conferences, including national CASE conferences. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Friends of Music and the Partnership for Youth Development. Alison has a BA and an MBA from Tulane University.
James Moffett III, Senior Business Development Associate, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
James L. Moffett, III, Senior Business Development Associate at GNO, Inc., focuses on the attraction and retention of private sector companies in the southeastern region of Louisiana. Mr. Moffett focuses on job creation efforts within the region’s three foundational sectors; Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, International Trade, as well as diversified sectors such as; Digital Media, BioSciences, and Emerging Environmental Industries. Before joining GNO, Inc., Mr. Moffett practiced law at the law firm Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC, specializing in Public Finance, Governmental Relations, and Economic Development, where he assisted local governments, political subdivisions, and private companies access the capital markets through the execution of Tax Exempt and Taxable Bond transactions, as well as New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) transactions. Prior to law practice, Mr. Moffett was an Analyst at Banc of America Securities where he analyzed company financials and assisted Real Estate Investment Trusts access the capital markets through the execution of public and private corporate equity and debt transactions. Mr. Moffett was also an Analyst at Accenture Consulting where he focused on project management and compliance initiatives at Financial Services Institutions. Mr. Moffett graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, and earned his Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law.
Carla Perez, Faculty Member/Mentor Teacher\PBIS Coordinator, Pelican Educational Foundation
Carla Perez is a 6th grade math teacher at Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School where she has worked for three years. During those three years, she has led her students to increasing academic achievements every year. This year, she is also serving as a mentor teacher and PBIS Coordinator. She moved to Louisiana as Teach For America corps member and just hasn't been able to bring herself to leave. Before moving to Baton Rouge, Carla attended University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated with a BAs in Sociology and Feminist Studies. Her most formative experience at UCSB was when she served as an intern designing and implementing leadership development programs for fellow university students. Carla grew up in the Los Angeles area and strives to one day return and serve the communities in which she grew up.
Troave' Profice, Manager of School Performance, Recovery School District
Troave' is committed to ensuring equity in the country's Public Education system. She desires to empower others and pave a new path in the field of education administration that will transcend all boundaries. She is a former high school teacher, who currently serves as Manager of School Performance with the Recovery School District in New Orleans. She conducts annual reviews for several of the state’s type-5 charter schools, and evaluates schools’ performance across multiple dimensions. She is a graduate of Loyola University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Baruch College's School of Public Affairs, and the National Urban Fellows. Troave' has worked under the tutelage of New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, and assisted in coordinating NYC's first ever Participatory Budgeting process while simultaneously completing her Masters of Public Administration degree. Troave’ is committed to serving the community, and actively volunteers with the Loyola Young Alumni Association, the Alpha Beta Omega Greater New Orleans Educational Foundation, the Esther Chapter #5 of the National Order of the Eastern Star, and the New Orleans Young Leaders Council. She also serves as the public relations chairperson and technology co-chairperson for the Alpha Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Troave’ is also politically involved and serves as the first vice chair for the Young Democrats of New Orleans.
Nikolaus Richard, Transportation Planner, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission
Nik Richard is an Urban Planner and artist from New Orleans, Louisiana, with a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans. As a Transportation Planner for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission it is his responsibility to ensure environmental justice and equity in the spending of federal transportation dollars in the Metro New Orleans area. Since Hurricane Katrina ravaged his city in 2005, Nik has made it his mission to make a lasting impact in New Orleans through his art and urban planning work. His creativity in film has earned him an NAACP Award, AFI Silverdocs Award, and a PBS P.O.V. Award in the 2008 Myspace Film Your Issue contest for his interpretation of disaster tourism in New Orleans' lower 9th ward. In 2009, Nik self published his first book "Love and Water", which was a memoir of Hurricane Katrina, and he is currently getting ready to release his second book, "A Dream for Sale."
David Samuels, Law Student, Tulane University Law School
David Samuels is currently in his second year at Tulane Law School and is a member of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal. Prior to Tulane, David began his legal studies at Suffolk University Law School in Boston where he assumed active leadership roles in the Student Bar Association and other student organizations. While at Suffolk, he was a Marshall-Brennan Teaching Fellow and taught Constitutional Law in an alternative high school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. After receiving bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Political Science from Purdue University, David worked for a prosecuting attorney’s office for several years before entering law school. This experience, combined with years of political and civil rights activism, gave him deep insight into the ways the law attempts to deal with, and often creates, social problems. David hopes to pursue a career combining a commitment to public service with his passion for the law and politics.
Sara Carrigan Wooten, Women's and Gender Studies Graduate Assistant for Programs and Curriculum, Louisiana State University
Sara Carrigan "Carrie" Wooten is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Research at Louisiana State University. Carrie completed her bachelor's degree in Women's Studies at Purdue University, a master's degree in Educational Studies at Tufts University and an additional master's degree in Sociology at Brandeis University prior to beginning her work at LSU. Carrie's academic research is focused on better understanding how violence impacts historically marginalized student populations in higher education, as well as the creation and implementation of educational policies for student crisis intervention. She currently serves as Secretary for Capital City Alliance in Baton Rouge, LA and has worked previously in domestic and sexual violence non-profit work as well as transgender rights advocacy.
Ryan West, Communications and Policy Director, Louisiana Progress
Ryan is the Communications and Policy Director at Louisiana Progress. His work focuses on education, health care and economic development policies in Louisiana. Prior to joining Louisiana Progress, he was an Associate in the Political Department at the American Federation of Teachers. His past work has also focused on researching global and local education reform movements and the impacts of investments in education initiative in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. Ryan earned a B.A. in Sociology from Louisiana State University.
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