Dedicated to identifying and supporting young entrepreneurs in the Greater New Orleans area, The Idea Village, a nonprofit organization, celebrated its 11th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week with a dinner at Commander’s Palace. The guests were the VIPs and the sponsors for the 2019 event. The Idea Village also welcomed the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University as a production partner.
Within the high-profile pack breaking bread at Commander’s were keynote speaker Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape, Silicon Graphics, myCFO, Healtheon and Commandscape; keynote speaker Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape and founder of The Barksdale Group; Tulane University President Mike Fitts; Katie LeGardeur, managing director of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Private Bank for Louisiana; and Cathy and Hunter Pierson. He is secretary and treasurer of New Orleans Startup Fund and GNO, Inc., and a current investment manager at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Prestigious board positions are held by the above, as well.
Walter and Cathy Isaacson numbered in the dinner assembly. He is the former president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, former chairman and CEO of CNN, and former managing editor of Time. Acclaimed as a biographer of famous men in history, he has scripted the lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Currently, Walter is a history professor at Tulane University. Cathy is the director of the Middle East Investment Initiative and is a board member of The Idea Village, among other boards. Also, noted were former New Orleanian Porter H. Nolan, corporate counsel at Amazon in Seattle; Idea Village board Chairman Patrick Comer, founder and CEO of Lucid; and Jon Atkinson, who answers to CEO of The Idea Village.
After a round of cocktails and chatter, pleasures of the table (and more talk) awaited.
A Salute to Sandy
In a recent Thursday evening (and concurrent with The Idea Village dinner at Commander’s), the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana 2019 Annual Event assembled hundreds to the Audubon Tea Room to honor Saundra “Sandy” Levy, who had just retired from JEF as executive director after 27 years. The event was underwritten in part through the generosity of the Hancock Whitney Bank, Francis L. Fraenkel, the Goldring Family Foundation, and the Jean and Saul A. Mintz Family Supporting Foundation.
Headliners included JEF President Lawrence M. “Larry” Lehmann and wife Dashka, executive director R. Justin “Bobby” Garon and wife Robin Levy, immediate past President Andrea S. Lestelle and husband Terry, and Melinda and Morris Mintz, who’ve been JEF sponsors for more than 15 years. Also Chris Durio, Jeff Charrier and Greg Hodlewsky of top sponsor Hancock Whitney, as well as Kevin Reed and Liz Laufer (and husband Jeff) from Argent Trust.
Among the festive features were music by the Harry Hardin duo; centerpieces of pink flowers, Sandy’s favorite color, made up of roses, tulips and lilies and set in silver bowls; and tasty cuisine. The menu started with a salad and moved on to seared Gulf drum amandine and a crème caramel dessert.
Noted, too, were past JEF presidents — and depicted in the video of past presidents — Charles A. “Rusty” Levy III with Renee, Carole Neff with Dick, Richard Cahn with Vivian, Joe Pasternack Jr. with Sarah, Joyce Pulitzer with Sidney, Leon H. Rittenberg Jr. with Cindy, Linda B. Wiener with Sandy, and Carol Wise. Joyce Pulitzer co-chaired the event along with Patti Lengsfeld, who opened the formalities with a welcome. Rabbi Emeritus Edward P. Cohn followed with the invocation.
Dinner was then served.
Enjoying all the activity were Marianne Cohn, Jennifer and Jack Benjamin, Caroline and Bob Brickman, Diane and Alan Franco, Deena Gerber, Jane Goldring, Carole and Morton Katz, Evie and Keith Katz, Mike Stern, Marilyn Zackin with daughter Suzie, and Harry Lowenburg with mom Anne, sister Ellen, and brother and sister-in-law Tom and Judith.
“Sandy, Otherwise Known as Mom,” was one of the features on the formal program. It was given by the honoree’s adult children, Lauren Levy Neustadter, who flew in from Los Angeles for the occasion with son Michael, and Jonathan Levy. For the “This Is Your Life” presentation for Sandy Levy, Joyce Pulitzer stepped forward.
The honoree recognized and thanked her family; her former staff, saying, “I couldn’t have done what I did without you”; and others. Adding a moment of levity, she added, “I’ve always wondered what it felt like winning an Academy Award. Now I know.”
The Old Metairie home of Wendy and Dane Ciolino was the location for levity concerning the arrival in New Orleans of Marjorie Hass, Ph.D., the new, and 20th, president of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Her tenure at Rhodes began in July 2017. Host Dane is an alumnus of Rhodes, and he and Wendy are parents to Price, who graduated in 2016.
With a lovely, balmy spring evening to the fore, and all the doors of the home open, guests of the New Orleans Chapter of Rhodes College circulated in the beautiful backyard and gardens. Martin Wine Cellar catered and mom-and-pop bakery JCB Creations confected Rhodes-themed black and red cookies. Those colors also figured in the attire of the host couples, the Ciolinos, Sandy and McNeil Kemmerly (parents of John, class of 2020), Jan and Tom Leonhard (parents of Barrett, 2021) and alums Melissa and Marshall Redmon, who are also parents of two alumni.
Notable guests were the above Price Ciolino, Mary Margaret Brewer, Alicia Frank, Kristen and Molly Baumer, Ashton Phelps Jr. (father of alumnus Sanders) and, in from Memphis, alumnus Mike Palazzolo, who is now the senior development officer at Rhodes. They turned an attentive ear as Dr. Hass talked about new and planned construction on the campus and the vision she has for the college.