Allison Albert, 30
CEO and founder, Pet Krewe
Book currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Favorite local band: Dreaming Dingo
What do you do in your off time? Trains her chickens to play musical instruments
Allison Albert's career change is one of a kind. After working as an accountant for years, she moved back to New Orleans in 2015 and was hit by a taxi. When she'd finished recuperating, she traveled to the Amazonian jungle, drank some tea and had a vision: She would start a business making costumes for pets. "I started simply," Albert says, "with a lion mane for dogs and a lion mane for cats."
Today, Pet Krewe has 22 different costumes for dogs and cats — pirates, unicorns, spiders and more. Albert's designs have become top sellers in their category on Amazon.com and are available on more than a dozen websites. (You can find them locally at Petcetera NOLA and Kawaii NOLA.) Ten percent of every purchase made on her website goes to animal shelters, and her "models" come from the Jefferson Parish SPCA. Albert is proud of a 100 percent success rate in adoption. She soon will add 15 more costumes to her line, and her dream is to get Pet Krewe creations into big-box retail outlets. In the meantime, she tends to her own pets at home, which include dogs, a cat and chickens. — KEVIN ALLMAN
Dr. LaKica Amos, 39
Dentist and owner, Dentistry by Design
Book currently reading: The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success by DeVon Franklin and Tim Vandehey
Favorite local band: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
What is your hidden talent? Playing piano
Growing up in rural north Louisiana, LaKica Amos always was interested in health professions, but it wasn't until she shadowed a dentist while a student at Xavier University that she understood how the profession can help people feel better about themselves. Now a dentist with her own practice, Amos also helps spread smiles with a variety of mentorship and outreach programs.
"It wasn't until I was out of college that I began to see minority and female dentists, so that's why I mentor high school and college kids in my office, so they can feel comfortable and a part of this environment," says Amos, who visits areas with little access to dental care and offers free screenings. Earlier this year, she launched Project Smiles to provide free dental care to a local person in need, and this year it went to a local service-industry worker.
"A healthy smile helps in your self-esteem; it helps in your career," she says. "My practice philosophy is to keep it simple and focus on the patient with good, quality care with the awareness that dental health can affect your overall physical and mental health." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Dr. Kiana A. Andrew, 38
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tulane University School of Medicine
Book currently reading: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Dr. Richard Rothstein
What do you do in your off time? Dance, play kickball
What is your hidden talent? As a teen, she was Louisiana State champion double- dutch jumper
Having achieved her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, psychiatrist Kiana Andrew has combined her medical training and public health background to treat patients caught in the combination of criminal justice and mental health systems.
"Part of my job is to work with the mentally ill who are part of the incarcerated population sent to the state psychiatric hospital in Jackson," Andrew says. She deals primarily with women who are facing felony charges and have been deemed incompetent to stand trial, due to reasons ranging from an inability to work with their attorney to not being on proper medication.
"I want to put a human face to a felony charge and help people realize that these patients are human — that there's a life story to the women sent to prison," she says. "They have a life and a family and there's so much more to them than just their charge." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Bradley Bain, 39
Senior software engineer, TurboSquid, @bradleybain
Book currently reading: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Favorite local band: Rebirth Brass Band
What is your hidden talent? Cooking
A strong sense of community and social commitment inspired Bradley Bain and his wife, Daniela, to move back to his native New Orleans from Austin, Texas in 2012 — and continues to inform his high-tech career and myriad civic endeavors.
"The fact that there's a high-tech scene here, creating job opportunities that didn't exist 10 years ago, shows a lot has changed in New Orleans in the last few years," Bain says. In addition to engineering software (mostly for internal analytics) at TurboSquid, he volunteers with education-outreach program Young Audiences of Louisiana and is chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council, a social improvement and advocacy group.
"I hope to continue to develop professionally but also stay engaged in civic pursuits, because I want to create an environment that's great for our children and great for our friends," he says. "You can't do that in a vacuum. You have to give back." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Gabrielle Begue, 35
Co-Founder and Principal, Clio Associates
Book currently reading: Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company and a Century of Progress by Douglas Brinkley
Favorite local restaurant: Turkey and the Wolf
Drink of choice: Greyhound
Having grown up in her family's historic Faubourg Marigny home, Gabrielle Begue's love of New Orleans architecture inspired her departure from a successful publishing career in New York City. She returned home to preserve the city's structures and styles in projects large and small. Begue's efforts have earned her firm awards from the Louisiana Landmarks Society.
"I wanted a reason to come home and I wanted to get my hands dirty," says Begue, who has helped restore landmarks from the Pontchartrain Hotel to Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard storefronts and assisted the City of Gretna in establishing historic district guidelines. "We are helping people, developers and architects preserve buildings in a way that allows New Orleanians to see the practical side of preservation in terms of both meeting the bottom line and preserving the city in a way that makes sense for the future.
"What we do is complicated," she says. "A lot of it is tax-credit consulting, but one fun aspect is digging into the history of these buildings, detective work to uncover layers of history that is both enriching and endlessly exciting." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Gemma R. Birnbaum, 33
Director of the World War II Media and Education Center, National World War II Museum
Book currently reading: This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
Favorite local restaurant: Tal's Hummus
What is your hidden talent? Wiggling her ears when no one's watching
Gemma Birnbaum is spearheading a new center that will bring the National World War II Museum's materials to students around the world.
It isn't scheduled to open until 2019, but Birnbaum (along with two distance-learning educators, a videographer and a historian) already is hard at work on the World War II Media and Education Center housed within the museum's forthcoming Hall of Democracy. The center will have enhanced multimedia production abilities and ambitious distance-learning programs for sharing the museum's holdings with people who might never make it to the facility.
Birnbaum long has been interested in parallels between catastrophic historical events, such as the Holocaust and other genocides. She says sharing those parallels with students — especially those visiting from war-torn countries — helps them make sense of history and perhaps feel less alone.
"I just want every student ... to understand a little bit more about the world and how it became what it is today," she says. "If we're not looking at some of those lessons ... we're missing the point." — KAT STROMQUIST
David Scott Bode, 33
Musician and Director of technology commercialization, New Orleans BioInnovation Center
Book currently reading: Two Years, Eight Months, 28 Nights by Salman Rushdie
Favorite local band: Donald Harrison
What is your hidden talent? Pingpong
By night, you can find David Scott Bode blowing his saxophone in venues across the city in acts such as the New Orleans-flavored reggae of One Love Brass Band. By day, he's busy helping the city advance as a hub for the biotech and environmental industries. Joining the New Orleans BioInnovation Center in 2013, his work in direct-business assistance for area life science, biotechnology, clean energy and health food firms has generated $28 million in investments and 138 jobs.
"Our long-term mission is to put New Orleans on the map as a place where you can build a high-tech business," says Bode, who studied music at Loyola University and the University of New Orleans before earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Tulane University.
"The mindset has changed a lot since Katrina to become more entrepreneurial," he says. "We've long been known as a place for great food and great music. While I want to contribute what I can on the music side, there's also now a lot of excitement about becoming a place for high-tech innovation in these growing industries." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Nathaniel Bossick, 28
Transitional housing program director, NAMI New Orleans,
Book currently reading: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Favorite local restaurant: Lola's
What is your hidden talent? "I bake a lot. I'm really good at bread."
After moving to New Orleans in 2012, Nathaniel Bossick realized there was a disconnect between services provided to help homeless people and their time in shelters. "The cycle wasn't being broken at all," he says. "There was nothing to follow them. Our goal was to ensure recidivism isn't happening."
Bossick, who earned a master's degree in social work from Tulane University, has served as the transitional housing director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness' New Orleans chapter since 2016. The chapter serves at least 120 people a year and offers a gamut of services to help break the cycle of homelessness.
Among unique challenges facing homeless people in New Orleans are the traumas of surviving Hurricane Katrina and gentrification shifts pushing locals into shelters. Bossick says he hopes to see the eradication of stigma surrounding mental health care and changes to requirements for housing assistance.
"We're hoping to move homelessness as a system from a reactionary standpoint to one that's more proactive," he says. — ALEX WOODWARD
Mea Boykins, 28
International Speaker & Consultant
Favorite local artist: PJ Morton
Favorite local restaurant: Munch Factory
What is your hidden talent? Training to be a pilot
Mea Boykins built upon the success she Achieved raising scholarship funds for fellow students at Spelman College in Atlanta to create a multi-faceted, self-determined career track with a goal of empowerment and equality across the globe.
“In December 2015, I partnered with the United Nations in Barcelona and planned a fundraiser benefiting Syrian refugees. Thanks to a successful event, I raised enough to house two Syrian refugee families, which was one of my most proud moments in life,” says Boykins, who went on to earn two international master’s degrees after graduating from Spelman. She and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond recently hosted a successful fundraiser for local educational nonprofit STEM NOLA.
Boykins started her nonprofit about six years ago at the age of 22, and her company Global Management and Marketing offers a fleet of packages, from business development to strategic-partnership consultation. She also delivers speeches on international stages, and is director of strategic relations at Noirbnb, a travel company that provides accommodations and event experiences, creating a better experience for travelers of color.
“I want to continue on the track I’m on to work around the world, helping with everything from homelessness to youth empowerment, and to hopefully one day change official policies.” — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Aron Y. Chang, 33
Urban designer and educator,
Book currently reading: Cityscapes of New Orleans by Richard Campanella
Favorite local restaurant: Stein's Deli
What is your hidden talent? Cooking
After earning a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University, Aron Y. Chang's interest in affordable and sustainable housing issues inspired him to tackle perhaps the greatest threat to housing in New Orleans: reducing the risk and improving the relationship of New Orleans' built environment with the water that surrounds the city.
"I worked with a great team of designers, educators and water experts with the goal to find ways to empower youth and adults to make sure New Orleanians have a meaningful say in what our water infrastructure looks like," Chang, a Tulane faculty member and a founding member of the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative says of his role in helping the Waggonner & Ball architecture firm create the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. Chang also serves on the New Orleans City Council's Environmental Advisory Committee.
"Whether we're talking coastal land loss or urban flooding, our relationship to water is the biggest environmental challenge we face," he says. "Our goal is to ensure that citizens living in the city have the knowledge and the tools to help reshape that relationship to water." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Meredith Cherney, 25
Program manager, StayLocal,
Book currently reading: The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Favorite local band: The Revivalists
What do you do in your off time? Scuba diving
In her efforts to serve the interests of 2,500 local independent businesses as program manager for StayLocal, Meredith Cherney has applied a pragmatic, proactive enthusiasm in creating innovations such as Social Media Boot Camp, SourceNOLA and, in collaboration with the city's Office of Economic Development, a "rapid-response team" to assist businesses affected by road construction. All these initiatives work toward a singular purpose.
"The ultimate goal is to have an economy that works for all New Orleanians," says Cherney, adding that mega-retailers like Amazon.com don't create jobs or revenue in the city, "just a brown box."
"Shopping locally or sourcing locally (means) more jobs and more opportunities in an economy that puts people first," Cherney says. "This is the way for everyone to gain the success they're looking for." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Clint Coleman, 39
Assistant professor, director of STEAM Academy, Delgado Community College
Book currently reading: Atoms Under The Floor-boards by Chris Woodford
Favorite local restaurant: Theo's Neighborhood Pizza
What is your hidden talent? "I spent 12 years playing trombone and played in the Endymion parade in 1994."
An assistant professor of biotechnology at Delgado, Clint Coleman performs a range of duties as an educator and foun- der/director of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Academy at Delgado. The program is designed to increase opportunities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to gain access to education in STEAM subjects.
"I am responsible for every aspect of the program, including logistics, fundraising, community, partnerships with schools and museums, and making sure the young students have fun with the hands-on, applied work they are doing," he says.
STEAM is funded by local philanthropic organizations and has a dedicated team of faculty volunteers, who Coleman says often reach into their own pockets to ensure they have everything needed to make the camp a success.
Coleman says he plans to expland the STEAM Academy and biotechnology programs in the next few years: "There is so much more that we can do." — SARAH RAVITS
Sherwood Collins, 39
Executive director, Tres Doux Foundation and producer, Beignet Fest
Book currently reading: The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World by Michael Lewis
Favorite local band: The Revivalists
What is your hidden talent? Tying a bow tie without looking in a mirror
In a parallel universe, Sherwood Collins would be a global radio personality. The long-time volunteer DJ at WWOZ-FM would be right at home behind the boards in New York or Los Angeles introducing his favorite local talents to a national audience.
But his work at 'OZ and producing the Young Leadership Council's Wednesday at the Square concert series (and his degree in mass communications) made him think about starting his own festival.
When his then-3-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, he created the Tres Doux Foundation ("very sweet" in French), the sponsor of 2016's inaugural Beignet Fest. Collins donates the proceeds from the fest to local programs that provide services for kids with developmental delays such as autism.
"Having a festival just to have a festival wasn't the plan for us," Collins says. "I wanted to have a purpose behind it, and the purpose found me."
The festival raised more than $25,000 last year. Collins is looking for other projects for Tres Doux, like a summer camp. — KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
Nina Compton, 39
Chef and owner, Compere Lapin
Book currently reading: Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen
Favorite local restaurant: Peche, Coquette, Maypop, Paladar 511, Bacchanal Wine
What is your hidden talent: "I'm a practical joker."
Nina Compton came to New Orleans to compete on Bravo's cooking competition TOP CHEF. After reaching the finals of Season 11 and being voted fan favorite, she returned to Miami, where she had worked at Scott Conant's Scarpetta restaurant.
Compton was looking for a city where she could open her own restaurant when an opportunity developed in New Orleans in 2015. She and husband Larry Miller flew to the city to see the space, signed a contract in March and opened in June.
Compton built her menu around dishes she liked, such as a Caribbean-style curry. She combined influences from her native St. Lucia and French and Italian cuisine to open Compere Lapin in the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in the Warehouse District. This year, she was named one of Food & Wine magazine's best new chefs and was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: South. — WILL COVIELLO
Michelle Craig, 39
Owner and managing partner, Transcendent Legal,
Book currently reading: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Favorite local band: Soul Rebels
Favorite local restaurant: Restaurant R'evolution, Shaya, St. James Cheese Company
A former partner with the Adams and Reese law firm, Michelle Craig struck out on her own in 2014 when she created Transcendent Legal, a different sort of firm focused on small- to medium-sized business clients and startups. "I could offer alternative fee arrangements and offer professional assistance to those who need it," she said. "It gave me a lot of flexibility."
Craig, who has been chairwoman of the Orleans Parish Civil Service Commission since 2014, also founded a mentoring organization called Diversi Tea, which connects high school and college-aged women with professionals in fields that interest them. "There were a lot of ... people in the city who wanted to be mentors," she says. "I wanted them to tell the truth about their experiences, to talk about the whole route [to success]. I wanted mentees to have the whole picture. Life gives you a lot of roads, and you make the best decision you can make at the time."
She also hosts Legally Speaking, a program on WBOK radio that discusses topics affecting small businesses. — KEVIN ALLMAN
Jackie Dadakis, 34
Chief Operation Officer, Green Coast Enterprises
Book currently reading: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Favorite local musician: Kristin Diable
What is your hidden talent? "I am an excellent karaoke singer."
As the new chief operating officer at Green Coast Enterprises, Jackie Dadakis brings strong management skills to the company, which is dedicated to energy efficiency and technical assistance for green building. Since its founding a decade ago, the company has helped develop more than $150 million of residential and commercial properties.
Earlier this year, Green Coast's development team opened its largest project to date, The Pythian Apartments. Dadakis praised the City Council for establishing a program through Entergy called Energy Smart.
"This investment in reducing energy usage was a goal of a coalition we have worked with for the last five years [that includes] the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance," Dadakis says.
Green Coast Enterprises plans to develop its first project outside of the New Orleans area soon, with an eye toward further expansion.
"I hope that five years from now both our development company and our green building services have a footprint throughout the Southeast," says Dadakis. — SARAH RAVITS
Amanda Devereux, 38
Owner and founder, Nola Nesting & Best Doula Training
Book currently reading: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Drink of choice: Gin cocktails, especially from Revel
What is your hidden talent? Knitting, playing the saxophone
Being pregnant, Amanda Devereux says, isn't like any other time in your life — you're going to the doctor a lot, but you're not sick. It's not a perfect fit, and that's where a doula comes in.
As a doula, lactation consultant and educator, Devereux has earned accolades from local parenting groups for helping families through one of the most challenging times in their lives. In 2009, she founded the city's first doula agency. Nola Nesting brings together and makes accessible resources surrounding childbirth, such as birthing classes and prenatal yoga.
Devereux also co-founded several other groups supporting mothers and parents, including a popular post-partum group called New Orleans Mom's Club. Her group BEST Doula Training, which helps train new doulas, has been invited to Africa and Ireland next year to teach doulas in the international community about sustainable and ethical childbirth care.
"[As a doula], I get to witness people faced with really hard things and overcome them," she says. "That's really a beautiful thing to see." — KAT STROMQUIST
Aaron Frumin, 33
Founder and executive director, Uncommon Construction
Book currently reading: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Drink of choice: Gin martini, dirty with two olives
What is your hidden talent? "I can solve a Rubik's Cube in about a minute."
As founder and executive director of New Orleans nonprofit unCommon Construction, Aaron Frumin teaches the trade of new construction to high school students who receive school credit and get paid for their work. The organization uses the building process to empower young people in a hands-on, positive learning environment. Through unCommon Construction, students also receive support in job placement and recruitment.
Frumin, a former teacher with Teach for America, established the nonprofit in 2015 and has partnered with five schools, built six houses and employed more than 70 students who earned $60,000 in pay and scholarships. Frumin's goal is to reach 60-70 students annually.
"We've received a lot of interest and inquiries about replicating our model in places with similar education, workforce and housing conditions," he says. "Who knows? The sky is not the limit." — SARAH RAVITS
Lindsay Glatz, 36
Director of marketing and communications, Arts Council New Orleans
Owner, Wild Loves Wonder
Book currently reading: Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon
Favorite local restaurant: The Franklin
What is your hidden talent? Singing and dancing
Lindsay Glatz's career path is closely entwined with her passions for the arts and encouraging New Orleans to shine in a positive light — literally: As the director of marketing and communications for the Arts Council New Orleans, Glatz launched LUNA Fete, the Council's annual festival that incorporates light, art and technology.
Now in its fourth year, the festival has become the longest-running large-scale projection mapping festival in the country, and this year is a signature celebration for the New Orleans Tricentennial. The event is Dec. 6-9 at Lafayette Square and the surrounding area.
Glatz also coordinates editorial and lifestyle photography shoots and wedding photography through her other business, Wild Loves Wonder Photography.
She plans to expand LUNA Fete and use local artists to creatively light the city during the festival.
"Leading the charge to inspire new creative work and transform the streets of the city with magic and wonder is such an honor," she says. — SARAH RAVITS
SarahJane Guidry, 34
Executive director, Forum for Equality
Favorite new album: Rainbow by Kesha
Favorite local band: Landry Walker High School Marching Band
What is your hidden talent? Driving her car past "empty" on the gas gauge
in the 1990s, SarahJane Guidry and her family went to an AIDS walk in support of her uncle, who recently had been diagnosed with the disease. At that event, she saw anti-gay protesters, and for the first time felt called to stand up for a more equal life for LGBT people. "I always wanted to be the person walking forward," she says.
As executive director of the nonpartisan group Forum for Equality, she's lobbied for LGBT rights throughout Louisiana. Through the organization, Guidry has supported marriage equality programs and legal challenges, cultivated relationships with lawmakers and worked on the development of a 2013 Human Rights Ordinance in Shreveport. Recently she's been working to develop Louisiana Equality Means Business, Forum for Equality's project spotlighting LGBT-friendly workplaces and businesses.
"The work that we've done in the past few years has basically moved mountains from where we started, [but] there's a lot more mountains that we still have to climb in Louisiana," she says. — KAT STROMQUIST
Christy Harowski, 36
Attorney and director of special projects, Business Council of New Orleans
Book currently reading: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Favorite local band: Andrew Duhon
Favorite local restaurant: Sylvain
In her many roles as part of various Business Council of New Orleans initiatives, Christy Harowski's work as director of Forward New Orleans, a coalition of 25 community organizations, has an ambitious, focus: to improve the performance of New Orleans municipal government and Orleans Parish public schools.
"We all come together to create issue platforms around our elections — mayoral, city council — to decide, 'What are the biggest issues facing New Orleans right now?'" says Harowsksi, who also teaches trial advocacy at Tulane University and volunteers with legal-issues nonprofit Louisiana Appleseed.
"In-depth research leads to a short list of action items, all with the goal to improve the quality of life for New Orleanians," she says. "We sit down with each candidate, go through our entire platform and publish a scorecard on what they say they will fulfill or attempt to fulfill. After the election, we monitor their progress to hold them accountable. The power of Forward New Orleans is in the coalition, which is incredibly broad-based, and we hope our process will result in good things for the people that live here." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Jessie Schott Haynes, 37
Managing director, The Helis Foundation
Favorite restaurant: Peche
What do you do in your off time? Renovate her mid-century house
What is your hidden talent? "I never forget a face."
Did you know Louisiana residents can visit the New Orleans Museum of Art for free on Wednesdays and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Thursdays?
Making sure the public knows about free museum days is a big part of Jessie Schott Haynes' mission at The Helis Foundation, a group that promotes art in the community through grants, programming and exhibitions. The Poydras Sculpture Corridor Exhibition also is a part of The Helis Foundation's (and Haynes') work.
Haynes is partnering with the Historic New Orleans Collection on a show Helis will present for New Orleans' tricentennial celebration called Art of the City, which will look at contemporary works dating to the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. She's also anticipating new works for the Poydras Corridor project in conjunction with the opening of Prospect.4 in November. — KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
Alanah Odoms Hebert, 36
Director of the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Office, Louisiana Supreme Court
Book currently reading: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Favorite restaurants: La Crepe Nanou and La Thai Uptown
Favorite local band: Brass-A-Holics
Louisiana's recent reform efforts to reduce prison populations "stands to impact a huge part of our community," says attorney Alanah Odoms Hebert, who for four years served as the deputy general counsel for the Louisiana Supreme Court and liaison for the judicial arm of the state's Justice Reinvestment Task Force.
"It feels pretty incredible, not just for me but for the people of Louisiana who will benefit, the returning citizens, their families and children," she says. "For those folks to get their lives back and reunite with families and move forward, that's what makes me feel the happiest about this entire work."
Hebert now directs the court's Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Office and aims to determine the drivers of incarceration and what legislation could help people avoid prison.
Hebert moved to Louisiana from New Jersey in 2010 as a prosecutor, "upholding some of the laws I've now worked to strike down," she says.
"Once I had an opportunity to observe some of the challenges in the system," she says, "it better helped me understand how to make the changes that needed to be made." — ALEX WOODWARD
Mason Hereford, 31
Chef and co-owner, Turkey and the Wolf
Book currently reading: A stack of cookbooks
What do you do with your off time? Dine out and Rollerblade
What is your hidden talent? "I can do the dance move where you grab your foot and jump over it."
Mason Hereford didn't have much kitchen experience when he was hired at Coquette, but he worked his way up to chef de cuisine. By the end of his tenure there, he had envisioned his own restaurant. After working briefly at restaurants in five cities to see how different types of kitchens worked, he returned to New Orleans to open his sandwich shop, Turkey and the Wolf, with his girlfriend, Lauren Holton.
Doing things his way at the Lower Garden District lunchtime spot means serving sandwiches filled with chicken-fried steaks or fried bologna from a local butcher. Hereford's happy to put potato chips in a sandwich or use Duke's Mayonnaise instead of working up a fancy aioli. A collard green melt with pickled pepper cherry dressing impressed editors at Bon Appetit magazine, which named Turkey and the Wolf the nation's Best New Restaurant. The press has helped keep the restaurant busy, and Hereford has opened it for bar nights and pop-ups and on Sundays and Mondays. — WILL COVIELLO
Sky Hyacinthe, 35
Executive director, Elevate New Orleans
Favorite local band: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Favorite local restaurant: Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar
What do you do in your off time? Relax along the river at The Fly
Sky Hyacinthe left behind a big-time marketing job at a leading New York City firm to co-found a nonprofit to coach kids in New Orleans for success on and off the basketball court.
"It's not just a basketball program," Hyacinthe says of Elevate New Orleans. He started the nonprofit after playing pick-up games with youths on a 9th Ward playground while visiting his friend Emeka Okafor, then a player for the Hornets. So far, Elevate has sent 18 out of 18 program participants to college on scholarship, he says.
"We have partnered with Tulane and Loyola universities to focus on academics — [kids are] not allowed on the basketball court without a GPA of 3.0 or higher — and with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide nourishing meals," Hyacinthe says. "Social etiquette is also taught. We want to establish Elevate throughout the United States so kids that come from my background — a situation where there's a lack of financial, family and educational resources — go off to college and obtain high-level success in life." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Jonathan Johnson, 29
Founder and CEO, Rooted School
Book currently reading: Principles by Ray Dalio
Drink of choice: Sparkling rose or an IPA
What is your hidden talent? Predicting the future
Two hundred and twenty-eight. That's the number Jonathan Johnson and his team at Rooted School eat, sleep and breathe.
According to a 2016 report by the Institute for Policy Studies, it's the number of years it would take to bridge the wealth gap between African-American and white families in the U.S. Johnson is betting the job market focus of his Rooted School can close that gap in his lifetime instead of in centuries.
The curriculum at Rooted School is designed to educate students in preparation for attaining jobs in specific local industries that are understaffed, growing quickly and paying above the regional median wage. The concept was three years in the works, and this fall the Uptown school opened, along with a sister school in Indianapolis.
"Once we prove this is possible, based on a lot of our stakeholders who have their eyes on us, the world will be ours," Johnson says. — KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
Doug Keller, 31
Executive director, Big Class
Book currently reading: The Futilitarians by Anne Gisleson
Favorite local restaurant: Boucherie
What do you do in your off time? Watch basketball and movies.
Founded during the 2010-2011 school year in his class of 43 first graders, Doug Keller turned a literal "big class" project into Big Class, a citywide writing and publishing program that served 1,500 students during the last school year. In January 2018, it will serve as the first Southern outpost for 826 National, a national writing project co-founded by author Dave Eggers, and will open a youth writing center in the 7th Ward.
"So much of our work is about supporting young people, but it's also about creating projects people want to read," Keller says. "Students of New Orleans have a lot to say. That's a huge part of what keeps us going and drives the work."
The nonprofit writing and publishing organization will open a new center on St. Bernard Avenue.
"The need is there and also the creativity of our kids is there," he says. "When you know your work is going to be shared with an audience ... it changes the understanding of what the relationship is to putting a pencil to paper in the wider world. That is transformative for kids." — ALEX WOODWARD
Joseph S. Makkos, 38
Archivist and curator, Nola DNA
Favorite local band: King James and the Special Men
Drink of choice: Mezcal or tequila
What do you do in your off time? "[There's] no day off for the self-employed."
In 2013, Joseph Makkos answered the Craigslist ad that would change his life.
Through the ad, he acquired 42 years of New Orleans history in the form of Times-Picayune newspapers, all painstakingly preserved in Mylar and sealed in airtight tubes.
With his Nola DNA project, he wants to digitize this unusually complete archive using state-of-the-art imaging and indexing to create a new resource for preservationists, historians, journalists and scholars. Makkos already has unearthed several finds in the pages, including the first article ever written about Mardi Gras Indians. He also creates products (e.g., 100 percent cotton postcards printed with archival ink) based on images and advertisements found in the newspapers to help subsidize his work. Next year, he'll document road trips based on historic maps and itineraries found in the archive.
"[This archive] will change the face of New Orleans and Louisiana and Gulf scholarship," he says. "It will tell us stuff about our city that we never knew." — KAT STROMQUIST
Reid Martin, 31
CEO, Simple Play Presents and co-founder, Gasa Gasa
Drink of choice: Boulevardier
What do you do in your off time? See live music
What is your hidden talent? "I pace more than anyone known to man when I'm on the phone."
While touring and performing with his college band, Reid Martin discovered his knack for artist management. "That was kind of my grad school, where I made the most mistakes that have helped me now," he says. After a few false starts in different fields, he worked with partners to open Freret Street's live music hub Gasa Gasa, hit the road to manage The Soul Rebels and worked his way up to CEO of New Orleans-based artist management company Simple Play Presents. The company's first name on the roster was breakout band Sweet Crude.
"From there we built up a roster of younger bands that were doing something that's distinctly south Louisiana but had a feel that was new and fresh," Martin says. The company now represents up-and-coming talent like Tank and the Bangas, as well as bounce artist Big Freedia.
"We've got connections in the broader music industry and access to all the talent in New Orleans," he says. "Now we're figuring out how to grow responsibly. ... It's having a New Orleans focus for sure. What we'll probably see is a lot of artists we see right now are going to break out." — ALEX WOODWARD
Davis Martin, 19, and Alex Welsh, 18
Co-founders, Hams for Fams
Book currently reading (Martin): Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes (Welsh): Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Favorite local restaurant (Martin): Acme Oyster House (Welsh): Reginelli's Pizzeria
During fall, many high school seniors are preoccupied with things like homecoming and completing college applications. Davis Martin, Alex Welsh and a group of friends from Jesuit High School also were thinking about ensuring needy families had a full holiday meal with all the trimmings.
So Hams for Fams was born. The organization is a nonprofit with a mission of assembling and delivering food baskets. Martin and Welsh have graduated from Jesuit, but the organization lives on, thanks to a new crop of seniors.
Both college freshmen now, Welsh, Martin and other Hams for Fams members are working to start spinoff programs in other college towns.
"I'd like to continue helping people out as long as I can, however I can," Welsh says.
Martin wants to turn the food drive into a program to move homeless families off the street. "We donate, we give — it helps, but it doesn't really fix the problem," he says. "It may be only one or two people, but if we continue the work, maybe one day we won't have to have the drives at Christmas anymore." — KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
Dr. Marc Matrana, 38
Physician, Ochsner Medical Center
Book currently reading: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Favorite local restaurant: Antoine's Restaurant
What is your hidden talent? Oil painting
Having completed his training in oncology at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Marc Matrana returned to his native New Orleans to help develop and implement the Precision Cancer Therapies Program (PCTP) at Ochsner Medical Center, establishing a potentially life-saving treatment previously unavailable in the Deep South.
"Having grown up near what is called 'Cancer Alley,' this region has been the epicenter of the problem, but now I hope we can become the epicenter of the solution," says Matrana of Ochsner's Precision Cancer Therapies Program, which started in April and is bringing clinical trials to New Orleans based on tests of the genomes of tumors in cancer patients. "Doing this at a genetic level, we can really push the envelope of innovation and say to patients, 'We have a treatment for you.' The bottom line, really, is we want to bring new hope to cancer patients who otherwise may not have had hope." — FRANK ETHERIDGE
Dr. Kimberly Mukerjee, 33
Director of immigrant and refugee health, Tulane University School of Medicine
Book currently reading: Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli
Favorite local restaurant: Boucherie
What is your hidden talent? Salsa dancing
Kimberly Mukerjee grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine, while also attaining a master's degree in public health at the university's School of Public Health. She came to Tulane University's School of Medicine for her residency in pediatrics, and as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, she has become Tulane's first director of immigrant and refugee health.
Mukerjee cares for patients at two clinics and mentors residents in pediatrics. Some of her patients came to the United States with families after fleeing violence in their home countries. Mukerjee treats children suffering from conditions ranging from malnutrition to post-traumatic stress disorder. She also works with patients to secure needed care, ranging from a first eye exam to mental health services. She is fluent in Spanish and is researching barriers to care for immigrants and refugees. — WILL COVIELLO
Mallory Page, 34
Owner, Mallory Page Studio
Book currently reading: The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Favorite local band: Boyfriend
What is your hidden talent? Cajun gumbo
Artist Mallory Page specializes in large-scale, thinly layered monochromatic paintings. Since 2010, she has operated Mallory Page Studio on Julia Street, and she recently debuted her first institutional solo exhibition, which is on view until December at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts in Texas.
A native of Lafayette, Page employs soft color palettes, along with subtle and abstract ways to engage with her heritage. She remains fascinated with the relationship between space and identity. Though she has practiced making art since childhood, Page also pursued an education in design.
She enjoys being part of the artistic community in New Orleans and values the diversity of people who live and visit here.
"I love how New Orleans attracts so many different guests," she says. "I often meet and make great friends here from all over the world that I would have never met elsewhere. Our local friends have a common love of good entertainment and hospitality that is incomparable. New Orleans has the best hosts in the world." — SARAH RAVITS
Alex Reed, 30
Co-founder and CEO, Fluence Analytics
Favorite local band: The Revivalists
Favorite local restaurant: Clancy's
What is your hidden talent? Correctly predicting the end of movies and TV shows
As founder and CEO of Fluence Analytics, New Orleans native Alex Reed helms a company that manufactures industrial and laboratory monitoring systems that produce continuous data streams. Under his leadership, the company has grown from two part-time employees to a team of 18 working with the $1 trillion per year polymer industry and the $160 billion per year biopharmaceutical industry.
Fluence Analytics, which Reed established in 2012 (formerly known as APMT), is made up of a team of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers who get "lab ideas converted into working hardware and software products used by large corporations."
"Constantly adapting to change, learning from mistakes and always striving to get better are the most important things I've learned to do so far," he says.
In the future, Reed plans to work with others in the community to build an innovation-based economy in New Orleans. — SARAH RAVITS
Ting-ting Rivers, 36
Advisor, trepwise and AIM Philanthropy
Book currently reading: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Favorite local band: Soul Sinner (her husband plays drums)
What is your hidden talent? "I am secretly Batman."
As an advisor for trepwise, an impact consulting firm, Ting-ting Rivers is dedicated to improving outcomes for traditionally disenfranchised groups, particularly in the areas of education and affordable housing.
A former CEO for the Louisiana Recovery School District, Rivers also works on AIM Philanthropy, a partnership established in 2016 between trepwise and consulting firm Nexus Research Group. The goal is to increase philanthropy's impact by combining effective organizational practices with grant-making strategies to optimize funds. A current program involves an education technology nonprofit.
"We're helping them evaluate their business model to position themselves for faster growth," she says. "I'm also working on a project where we're helping individual nonprofit affordable housing developers ... find cost savings around things like financial management, marketing and public relations." — SARAH RAVITS
William C. Snowden, 32
Supervising attorney, Orleans Public Defenders' office
Book currently reading: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Favorite local restaurant: Neyow's Creole Cafe
Preferred drink: Whiskey and ginger ale
As an Orleans public defender, William Snowden was concerned that the makeup of jury pools didn't reflect the city at large, he says. "What we're often left with are people on a jury, for example, who say they haven't had a negative experience with the New Orleans Police Department, and that doesn't reflect the city."
He started The Juror Project in January 2016 to "improve people's perspective of jury duty" he says, by presenting and answering questions about the importance of the accused being judged by a jury of their peers.
Snowden grew up in Milwaukee and began working as a law clerk in the public defender's office in 2012. He was offered a job here a year later. In his spare time, he plays electric cello in Junko Beat, a self-described "cosmic funk jamtronic dance band." — KEVIN ALLMAN
Cate Swinburn, 39
Executive director, YouthForce NOLA
www.youthforcenola.org; @cateswin; @YouthForceNOLA
Favorite local band: Lost Bayou Ramblers
Favorite local restaurants: High Hat Cafe and Ancora
Preferred drink: Manhattan
When Cate Swinburn and her husband moved to New Orleans from Washington D.C. in 2012, she already had a background in education as president of the D.C. Public Education Fund, a nonprofit that connected philanthropic and private-sector partnerships with public education, Swinburn says.
Today she's executive director of YouthForce NOLA, a nonprofit that seeks to get Orleans Parish public high school students trained in "high-wage, high-demand fields," she says.
"We're focused on three industry clusters where there's going to be the greatest number of jobs in the next 10 years," she says. Those include technology, health sciences, engineering, architecture and construction.
"Our educational landscape is quite different than the average city," Swinburn says. "What we set out to do ... is ensure that across the city there are high-quality resources [for public school students]." YouthForceNOLA's goal is to provide 20 percent of the class of 2020 with certification training and 10 percent of that class with paid internships. — KEVIN ALLMAN
Sarah Vandergriff, 36
Legal and policy director, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
Book currently reading: The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst
Favorite local band: The Revivalists
Favorite local restaurant: Commander's Palace
As the legal and policy director for the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Sarah Vandergriff enjoys being a problem solver. Her duties include creating resources, guides and toolkits and developing laws and policies that make access to educational opportunities equitable for al.
Recent accomplishments include completing a legal handbook for charter school leaders. She currently is gearing up for the upcoming state legislative session.
"Louisiana is at the center of many national debates about public education and right now I'm really enjoying being a part of the frontline," she says. "I'm constantly asking myself how can I make school leaders' jobs easier. If I can make their jobs easier by getting them the resources they need to do their jobs well, then I've helped clear a path for teachers, students, and our city to succeed." — SARAH RAVITS
Emilie Whelan, 33
Artistic director, Cripple Creek Theatre Company
Book currently reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Favorite new album: Background Music by John Adams
Favorite local band: The Great Glaspy Experience
Since moving to New Orleans and helping establish Cripple Creek Theatre Company, Emilie Whelen has acted in and directed diverse shows, including The Taming of the Shrew, Ragtime and Caligula.
Part of her work with Cripple Creek is to reach broader audiences, which has included free tickets aimed at improving access to theater. This summer, Cripple Creek produced The Taming of the Shrew with the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane. The company also presented the play to audiences at Bridge House, Grace House, the Treme Recreation Community Center and the Dixon Correctional Institute.
"The idea of Shakespeare was to tell a story that worked for the queen — and people who've paid a few pence," Whelan says. "Theater is a forum for people to come together. Can we all come together on the same story?" — WILL COVIELLO