Community Comings and Goings

A Launching Luncheon

At noon on a recent Thursday, the 2017 annual luncheon of the Bureau of Governmental Research opened formally with words of welcome from board Chairman Hardy B. Fowler, who later closed the program. Among the approximately 740 attendees were business, community and nonprofit leaders, public officials, and BGR members and supporters. The Marriott New Orleans was the host hotel; Canal Barge and Whitney Bank, the luncheon sponsors; and 69 people or businesses, the table sponsors. The newly renovated Grand Ballroom at the Marriott was packed.

Proceeding with the order of business, while the crowd enjoyed a lunch of red leaf salad, roasted chicken and warm white chocolate bread pudding, was Mark A. Mayer, a former board chairman, who now chairs the Nominating Committee. In addition to Fowler, the officers are Ludovico Feoli, J. Storey Charbonnet, Norma Grace, Nathalie G. Simon and Todd McDonald. Amy L. Glovinsky, president and CEO, heads up a team that includes Stephen Stuart, Selva Riemann, Susan Dudis, Clare Fiasconaro, Jamie Cortez  Parker and Paul Rioux. “With gratitude,” Nicolas Bazan, Caroline Zetzmann Calhoun and Joseph S. Exnicios were cited for the conclusion of their service on the board.

The highlight of the event was the panel discussion, “Meeting the Press in an Era of Fake News, Partisan Politics and High-Stakes Elections.” Betsy Fischer Martin, executive in residence American University, and Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent The New York Times, were the panelists, while Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., moderated. He is also a university professor of history at Tulane University and the acclaimed author of a number of biographies, including the recent “Leonardo da Vinci.”

Noted in the high-profile audience were Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, Councilwoman Susan Guidry, Councilwoman-elect Helena Moreno, Councilman-elect Joe Giarrusso, Ellie Fowler with husband Hardy, retired BGR President and CEO Janet Howard with Scott, and former BGR Chairmen Anne and King Milling and Edgar Chase III. And, Boysie Bollinger, David Kerstein, Joe Exnicios, Bob Merrick, Stephanie Feoli with Ludovico, Dennis Woltering with Carol, Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Ron Forman, Barbara Bush, Frank Stewart Jr., Jimmy Kock, Ruthie Frierson, Dan Shea, John “Johnny” Koerner, Nick Mueller, Alex Gershanik, Peter Kovacs, Julia Bland, Jimmy and Pixie Reiss, Haydee Bazan with Nicolas, Mary Matalin, and Bill Oliver.

Torch of Liberty

Co-chaired by Joe Exnicios, Tim Francis, Rick Haase, Sherry and Alan Leventhal, Hardy Fowler, Jack Sullivan, and Marc Behar, the 2017 A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award Dinner of the Anti-Defamation League amassed hundreds to Le Celestin Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Honored were Robert “Bob” Merrick and Arthur Roger with special honoree Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL’s Southeast Regional director, who remarked, “We dream big…. We all need ADL.” The top sponsors, Flambeau category, were Entergy Corporation, Latter & Blum Companies, Robert Merrick, and Edie and Paul Rosenblum & Weezie and Mark Margolis. In 2016, Walter Isaacson and Carroll Suggs received the prestigious Torch of Liberty Award, which recognizes community and public service, philanthropy and the commitment “to making the world a better place.”

Jonathan M. Lake, ADL Advisory Board chairman, initiated the formalities after an extensive round of cocktails outside the ballroom. He was joined on the podium by Lindsay Baach Friedman, associate regional director, and Ava Cooper, of Belle Chase Academy. Ann Thorpe Thompson is the board's vice chairwoman.

Additional program principals were the Rev. Donald R. Frampton, Rabbi Todd Silverman, ADL Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist, Peter Sperling, Nancy B. Timm, Lacey Conway, the above Leventhals and Messrs. Francis, Behar, Sullivan, Exnicios, Fowler and Haase. Recipients of the 2017 Barney Mintz Leadership Awards were Rachel Kansas Feder and Carrie Bart Marks.

Applause was thunderous for Chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum Inc. Bob Merrick, “a visionary leader, who has helped Louisiana grow,” and Arthur Roger, Arthur Roger Gallery, a leading human rights advocate.

Distaff Power and Prominence

The Marriott New Orleans was the location for an all-day event, when the Louisiana Women Leaders Business and Government Conference and Hall of Fame Awards took place. The activity, which began at the 8 a.m. registration, and concluded, post-lunch, with a reception and award recognition to Elaine Musso, was hosted by the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business and Lafourche Commission on Women. Laura Badeaux, Ph. D., is the center’s executive director. Board members, 501(c)(3), include President Sandra Herman, Vice President Sandy Rosenthal (luncheon honorary co-chairwoman with Felicia Frederick), Secretary Faith Peperone, Diane Hollis and Stephanie Burkes. Forty-two women serve on the advisory board.

Focus sessions included wise words from Linda Thurman, Susan Brennan, Sue Vaccaro, Valerie Grubb, Simone Bruni-Crouere, Sally Rinehart and Carol Neff. Mike Wagenheim, diplomatic media correspondent for i24 NEWS, was slated as the keynote speaker.

Luncheon notables were master of ceremonies Jeff Crouere; keynote speaker Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted for nine grueling months (2002-03) and is now a wife, mother and inspirational speaker; and for the presentation of the awards, Nell Nolan and Russ Herman. Tapped as Hall of Fame honorees were Karen St. Germain, Genny May, Luci Sposito, Eva Shanklin, Kim Sport, Marguerite Knight Erwin, Yvonne LaFleur, Lloyd “Chip” Badeaux and Dr. Raja Talluri. As the recipient of the Lifetme Achievement Award, former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu garnered rapt attention when she spoke.

Latkes with a Twist

“Latkes Delicious!” titled the to-do at Little Gem Saloon, when the Jewish Children’s Regional Service held its fourth annual “Latkes with a Twist” to celebrate the Festival of Lights and Hanukkah’s fried potato pancakes. Michael Friedman and Greg Augarten, co-owners of Pizza Delicious in the Bywater, served the treats and tasty toppings with help from NOCCA culinary students. Specialty drinks were created by the Little Gem team with spirits donated by Sazerac Brands; The Marc Stone 3 music makers drew dancers to the floor; and a silent auction drew the bucks. Sponsors included French Market Cold Brew Coffee for the music and, for the Latke Bar, the law offices of Sher Garner.

Mingling in the crowd of 200-plus were JCRS President Neil Kohlman with Hannah, event co-chairmen Alan Krilov and Rollie Rabin, spouses Rose Sher and Jeremy Soso, Keith Adler and Stephanie, Ellen Balkin and Mark, D.J. and Lisa Romano, Michael and Mariska Morse, JCRS executive director Ned Goldberg with Wendy, Alan and Diane Franco, and Shir Chadash Rabbi Deborah Silver, who led the blessing as they lit the menorah for Hanukkah.