Louisiana Healthcare Connections has named Steven L. Higgs as vice president of network development and contracting; Michael P. Smith as vice president of product development; and Akiko Barrow as director of provider network performance.

Higgs was the director of value-based initiatives for UnitedHealth Group in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Montevallo in Alabama and an MBA from the University of Tennessee. Smith, a New Orleans native, was executive director of the New Orleans market for Peoples Health. He holds a master’s degree in management with health care concentration from Troy University and a bachelor's degree in finance from Loyola University. Barrow was the senior manager of Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ provider consulting team. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Medicaid health plan has more than 475,000 members and offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Covington and Lafayette.

Our Lady of the Lake Foundation has named to its board of directors for three-year terms Kristen Pforr, vice president of operations, chemical intermediates, for BASF; Bonnie Marcantela, director for Postlethwaite & Netterville; and Dr. Michael Perniciaro, a GYN specialist with Louisiana Women’s Healthcare and member of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society and Louisiana State Medical Society.


Mikal Giancola, manager of the comprehensive cancer program of the Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health, has been elected chairman of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Cancer Council for a three-year term.

He also is the statewide co-chairman of the Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalitions. His interests include cancer survivorship and palliative care, the social determinants of health, implementation research and leadership in public health. He graduated from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine with a master's in public health from the Health Systems Management Department in 2011. He is pursuing his doctor of public health degree.

Children’s Hospital has appointed Dr. Raymond G. Watts to the newly created role of pediatrician-in-chief, working with the hospital’s medical staff to drive improvements in hospital operations to increase quality of care and efficiency.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Watts also will serve as the organization’s principal academic officer to ensure that Children’s continues to serve as a primary training site for pediatric health care learners in the region. Watts currently serves as the William H. Stewart MD Chair in Pediatrics at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, where he leads the department of pediatrics, a division composed of over 80 pediatric faculty physicians. He will continue in this role at LSU.

Cambria New Orleans has named Gabe M. Roth as director of food and beverage.

Roth was the catering and convention services manager at the Hilton St. Charles Avenue and has held a number of managerial positions with the Hilton brand over the past several years. The New Orleans native is a graduate of Jesuit High School and earned a bachelor's degree in management from LSU.

Laura Tobin has been named president of Gallinghouse Marketing + Creative in Covington as well as associate publisher at Sophisticated Woman magazine.

Tobin was vice president and has been with the agency for 17 years, overseeing operations in the past.


Barry H. Grodsky, a partner in the New Orleans law firm of Taggart Morton LLC, was installed as the 78th president of the Louisiana State Bar Association.

Other officers are Robert A. Kutcher, managing partner in the Metairie law firm Wagar Richard Kutcher Tygier & Luminais LLP, president-elect; John E. McAuliffe Jr., an attorney in the Metairie office of Frederick A. Miller & Associates, secretary and editor of the Louisiana Bar Journal; Shayna L. Sonnier, a partner in the Lake Charles law firm Hunter, Hunter & Sonnier LLC, treasurer; Dona Kay Renegar, a member in the Lafayette law firm Veazey, Felder & Renegar LLC, immediate past president; and Dylan T. Thriffiley, assistant vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs for Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, chair of the association's Young Lawyers Division.

Members of the board of governors from the area are first district, D. Skylar Rosenbloom, an associate in the New Orleans office of Fishman Haygood LLP and Darryl J. Foster, a partner in the New Orleans office of Bradley Murchison Kelly & Shea LLC; second district, Stephen I. Dwyer, managing partner in the Metairie firm Dwyer, Cambre & Suffern APLC; third district, Shannon Seiler Dartez, an attorney with the Glenn Armentor Law Corp. in Lafayette; fifth district, Edward J. Walters Jr., a partner in the Baton Rouge firm Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens LLC; Valerie T. Schexnayder, an LSBA Distinguished Access to Justice Pro Bono Fellow and mediator in Baton Rouge; at-large members Jermaine Guillory, section chief for the 19th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge, and Lynn Luker, counsel in the New Orleans firm Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford LLC; the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, John M. Church, professor, Baton Rouge; Tulane University Law School, Ronald J. Scalise Jr., civil law professor, New Orleans, Louisiana State Law Institute, L. Kent Breard Jr., an attorney in the Monroe firm Snellings, Breard, Sartor, Inabnett & Trascher LLP. The House of Delegates Liaison committee is chaired by Sandra K. Cosby, an associate in the Metairie office of Frederick A. Miller & Associates.