St. Elizabeth’s Guild will hold its 45th annual Volunteer Activists Awards Luncheon at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25, in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal St., New Orleans.
The guild will honor the following 10 community activists at this year’s luncheon: Kathleen Mix Diamond, Elizabeth Brown Dowling, Carolyn G. Escher, David R. Gallo, Patricia Golemi, Sandra Thompson Herman, Betsy Becker Laborde, Thomas J. Morstead, Michael H. Rodrigue and Linda P. Vinsanau.
Mary Jane Becker and Irene Klinger, who have previously been honored as Hall of Fame activists, will be recognized at the luncheon for their continued support of the community.
Highlights of the event will be a fashion show presented by Dillard’s, a performance by The Mystics, a silent auction and a parade of prizes.
St. Elizabeth’s Guild supports children’s programs associated with the Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic Charities. The proceeds from the luncheon will go toward the Independent Living Skills Program, Padua House and St. John the Baptist Head Start.
For ticket information, call Lisa Corcoran at (504) 467-6287. For luncheon information, call Julie Vanderbrook at (504) 442-2622.
Kathleen Mix Diamond is a former vice chancellor at Delgado Community College, where she arranged for more than $60 million in workforce grants. She developed a New Orleans exchange program for Japanese music students and a “Girls On the Go” conference for disadvantaged teenagers. She authored the first Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for Louisiana, introduced computer education training in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish prisons, obtained funds to restore the historic New Orleans streetcars, and was a Special Olympics track coach.
Elizabeth Brown Dowling became a Girl Scout leader at Ursuline Academy shortly after moving to New Orleans. For more than 20 years, she was active in the Coliseum Square Association. She organized its first home tour, served as president for two years and received its Beverly Bryant Award for preservation. Dowling has served as president of the New Orleans Coalition and is most proud of her election to the New Orleans Human Relations Committee under Mayor Moon Landrieu. She is an active eucharistic minister at St. Alphonsus Church and is president of the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association.
Carolyn G. Escher is 2015 president of the Ladies Leukemia League. She is a member of the Cancer Crusaders board and an associate board member of Raintree Children and Family Services. Escher also is a member of St. Elizabeth’s Guild, Elenian Club and Children’s Hospital Guild. She is active in the arts, belonging to the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association and the New Orleans Ballet Association and a past volunteer at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
David R. Gallo is president and CEO of Gallo Mechanical LLC. He is on the board of directors of Magnolia Community Services, which supports adults with developmental disabilities. He is chairman of the board of the Fore!Kids Foundation, which raises money for children’s charities by organizing events such as the Zurich Classic, the Golf Ball Gala and a junior golf tour. Gallo is on the board of directors of Brother Martin High School, where he was 2010 Alumnus of the Year. He previously served as a member of the St. Aloysius Century Foundation board. He is a member of the Catholic business leaders’ organization Legatus.
Patricia Golemi was a teacher for 17 years. A week after Hurricane Katrina, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer with a 60 percent survival rate. After six months of treatment, she was in remission. She has given back through Cancer Crusaders, serving as past co-president and auction co-chair, and presently as a vice president of fundraising. Golemi has twice served as president of Chateau Estates Garden Club and has initiated a drive for home goods for the Living Skills Program of St. Elizabeth’s Guild.
Sandra Thompson Herman formed an oilfield service company after serving 20 years in state government, including positions as secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and director of the Atchafalaya Basin Program. A native of north Louisiana, she lived in Baton Rouge for 39 years before marrying New Orleans lawyer Russ Herman. She is president of the nonprofit board of the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business and was honored with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Government.
Betsy Becker Laborde is on the boards of the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame, the Carrollton Boosters, Girls First and the New Orleans Country Club Ladies Golf Association. In 2007, she was inducted into the Catholic University Sports Hall of Fame. As a volleyball coach at UNO, she was named 1997 Coach of the Year, and while coaching at Tulane University, she received the 2003 Louisiana Coach of the Year Award. She has said that her mother, Mary Jane Becker, has been her role model, mentor and best friend.
Thomas J. Morstead is punter for the New Orleans Saints. Drafted in 2009, he executed an onside kick during his rookie year that contributed to the Saints’ victory in Super Bowl XLIV. In 2014, Morstead and his wife, Lauren, founded the What You Give Will Grow Foundation, which has raised more than $300,000 for children’s charities and cancer initiatives. Morstead was the Saints’ 2014 nominee for NFL Man of the Year.
Michael H. Rodrigue is a graduate of Jesuit High School and Tulane University. He serves on the President’s Advisory Council at Jesuit and on the board of Boys Hope/Girls Hope. He was chairman of the board of Fore!Kids Foundation from 1998-2006. Rodrigue is a member of the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame and also serves on the Jefferson Business Council. He is president of The First Tee of Greater New Orleans, a youth development golf program that reaches 10,000 children with after-school programs and in-school lessons.
Linda P. Vinsanau is an entrepreneur, published author and photographer, Master Gardener and advocate for veterans’ affairs. She has held birthday parties for veterans at the Volunteers of America veterans transition home, provided transportation to disabled veterans for early voting, coordinated a toy and baby clothing drive for Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey and sent Christmas cards to soldiers via the Red Cross/Pitney Bowes Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Her work with veterans’ affairs at Military Advocacy Project of Louisiana earned her an appointment as director of executive and administrative affairs.
Since being honored by St. Elizabeth’s Guild in 1991, Mary Jane Becker has remained involved in the community, serving on the boards of St. Michael Special School, Dominican High School, Catholic Women in Action, the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center, the Archbishop’s Community Appeal, the Willwoods Community, WLAE Television, the Girl Scouts, the New Orleans Conference for Community and Justice, New Orleans chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the President’s Advisory Councils of Jesuit High School and Loyola University.
Irene Klinger has served as president of the Orleans Parish Medical Society, the American Heart Association’s Heart Ambassadors Society, the Institute of Human Understanding, the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians Women’s Auxiliary, Goodwill Industries Auxiliary Volunteer Services and the Woman’s Auxiliary of the New Orleans Power Squadron.
The Louisiana State Medical Society gave her its Flame of Excellence Award, and the New Orleans Opera Guild named her a Grand Dame.