Cheryl Teamer was a power player in New Orleans. An attorney, business and community advocate and corporate leader, Teamer grew her love for the city and attention to detail while pursuing a vision during her childhood. She carefully selected furnishings as she built doll houses as a girl, paying attention to details the family might find important. She pursued business and community projects the same way as she worked to make the city a regional hub attractive to locals and Louisiana.
Teamer died over the weekend at 58.
Since 2014, she worked as senior vice president for public and community affairs at New Orleans & Company, where her boss described her as having lived with “grace, integrity and passion.” She had many duties, but just recently she organized job fests connecting thousands of job-seekers with employers as a part of a pandemic hospitality recovery.
A graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta and Tulane University's law school, Teamer started her career in the local government committee at the Louisiana state House in Baton Rouge. Future New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial met her there and was impressed. She worked as his chief legislative lobbyist, becoming again a familiar face at the State Capitol, then led intergovernmental affairs. Morial described her as “über-talented and high-energy” with an ability to juggle many needs and get things done.
Teamer was chosen to lead the New Orleans Aviation Board in 2013, making her the first woman to chair the group that oversees the city-owned Louis Armstrong International Airport. She worked with Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Aviation Director Kevin Dolliole to oversee a $1 billion transformation of the airport. Landrieu aide Zach Butterworth worked with Teamer as a new airport was underway. “There were many hard days and tough decisions but Cheryl met each with a big smile,” he wrote in a weekend tweet after Teamer’s untimely death.
Teamer was born to prominent parents, each a larger-than-life individual recognized for their own successes. With their encouragement and example, interests and passions she developed as a youth helped her build a rich career. She loved gardening and growing things with her mother. She served on the Greater New Orleans Foundation board from 2005 to 2019 and she was the board chair from 2015 to 2017. She helped with civic response to Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
With all she had on her plate, she loved New Orleans so much and she knew so much about her beloved city that she made time to become a licensed tour guide and started a tour company. “She had a particular interest in the cultural contributions of Black New Orleanians, which lined up with her career at New Orleans and Company,” said brother Roderic Teamer.
Teamer enjoyed the finer things in life, and she enjoyed doing so with family, friends, fans — and her dogs. Her Maltese, Sophie and Lucie, ate high-end dog food and took walks with Teamer, by stroller. Some relatives jokingly said the dogs enjoyed equal billing with nieces and nephews. Of course, the kinfolk always knew Aunt Cheryl, or Aunt Sweetie, was their biggest cheerleader and fan, showing up for games and recitals.
Throughout her life, Teamer showed up for our culture and the state's largest city in big and small ways. She will be missed, but we’ll always remember her contributions.