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Mayor LaToya Cantrell hugs the captain of Rex during the 33rd annual Lundi Gras at Spanish Plaza in New Orleans, Monday, March 4, 2019. Mayor LaToya Cantrell greeted Rex, the King of Carnival, and King Zulu to celebrate the carnival season.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell hasn’t finished her first year in office, but already she’s developing a high profile elsewhere. Like, in New York.

Cantrell has been chosen as this year’s commencement speaker at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, the school announced this week. She’ll also receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the May 25 ceremony.

LaToya Cantrell to become New Orleans' first female mayor, says 'Let's go get 'em'

While she’s pretty new on the job to receive such in invitation, Cantrell’s actually been on the small liberal arts college’s radar for quite a while now.

After Hurricane Katrina, more than 130 Bard students came to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding. Among their major projects was the creation of a database and GIS map of the Broadmoor neighborhood, which was built from information the students collected in interviews, damage reports, and photographs of every building and lot in the community.

The group’s local partner back then was the Broadmoor Improvement Association, which was headed at the time by a private citizen named LaToya Cantrell. Her leadership of the devastated neighborhood’s spirited comeback would later launch her political career, first on the City Council and now in the mayor’s office.

As for Bard officials, well, they get to boast that they knew her when. 


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.