Emerge Louisiana’s Inaugural Board of Directors Carol Asher - New Orleans
Carol Asher has an extensive background in professional marketing and development for non-profit organizations. She is a highly respected national fundraiser and is most well known for her proven record of accomplishment and specialty of converting non-profit charities into productive and accountable business operations.
Asher worked in Sports Marketing and Development early in her career as Vice President of Marketing & Development for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. After many years in this field, she and Ruth Kullman formed a Non-Profit Consulting Business, Asher & Kullman, LLC. Asher coordinated a successful marketing campaign for the New Orleans Police Foundation and N.O.P.D. to improve public and national perception of crime in New Orleans. She represented the Foundation in implementing Project Exile marketing campaign working with federal and local law enforcement professionals to take illegal weapons off of the streets of New Orleans.
Asher directed “504connect,” an initiative to retain the influx of hundreds of young professionals who arrived in New Orleans with dual aspirations of sparking social change and advancing their careers. She worked as Executive Director of the Legacy Donor Foundation and Executive Director of the Tipitina’s Foundation leading their development and community awareness efforts. She played a leading role in saving and restoring the musical culture of New Orleans post Katrina as well as distinguishing the Tipitina’s Foundation as an organization recognized and respected throughout the world.
Mozella Bell - Campti
Mozella Bell first became interested in politics in 2008 when then Senator Barack Obama was running for President. She helped out in his campaign in Texas. In 2012 she became Secretary of the Louisiana Democratic Party, that same year she was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for President Obama. In 2016 she was elected again to the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for Senator Bernie Sanders. At that convention she was chosen by Senator Sanders campaign to be one of the two delegate whips for Louisiana. Mozella is currently working with the National Federation of Democratic Women to get a state federation started in Louisiana. She is a Graduate of Grambling State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She is currently a full-time graduate student at Johns Hopkins University studying in the Master’s of Government program.
Raegan Carter - Baton Rouge Senior Manager, Louisiana Public Health Institute’s Tobacco Free Living Campaign
Raegan A. Carter recently started her own public health, public policy, and public affairs think tank, The Brainstorm Agency, LLC. Raegan provides consulting services to non-profit organizations on grant writing and strategic planning as well as other technical assistance. The Brainstorm Agency, LLC also provides public health research, advocacy training, advocacy initiatives, lobbying, and political consulting. Raegan is a graduate of Southern University in Baton Rouge where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in
Social Work. She is also a graduate of Tulane University where she obtained both a Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Public Health degree. Raegan has worked on the federal, state, and local levels with adolescent and women’s health programs and serves on multiple statewide coalitions. She has extensive knowledge and experience working with public policy and advocacy related to public health and in particular adolescent and women’s health, rights, and justice. As an adjunct professor Raegan enjoys teaching and training and also has extensive knowledge and experience implementing and conducting professional development and trainings in public health related issues. She has also worked on political campaigns that led to successful elections of candidates. Raegan is passionate about adolescent and women’s health as well as social and racial justice issues and is particularly interested in health disparities impacting communities of color and working to engage faith leaders in public health advocacy. Raegan is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc.
Marjorie Esman, Ph.D. - New Orleans Marjorie R. Esman served as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana since September 2007, after 20 years in the private practice of law. Her law practice focused on copyright and trademark issues, as well as First Amendment litigation concerning the freedom of speech and religion. She was a member of the ACLU of Louisiana board of directors from 1995 and the national ACLU board from 1997. After taking the helm of the ACLU of Louisiana, she increased the staff from four to six and expanded its lobbying presence in Baton Rouge. Working around the state through litigation, public education and outreach, and lobbying, the ACLU of Louisiana focuses on racial equality, LGBT rights, religious freedom, and the rights of the incarcerated, as well as on legislative issues designed to increase equality for all in Louisiana. In addition to her law degree (Tulane 1987), Esman holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Tulane University (1981) and has taught at Tulane, Louisiana State University, and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). She serves on the board of Parkway Partners, a New Orleans organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the green spaces in the City of New Orleans.
Jennifer Greene - New Orleans Greene Law
Jennifer Greene is a co-founder of Emerge Louisiana. She founded Greene Law in 2016 and practices contract law. She graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science. While at Rhodes, Ms. Greene was the President of College Democrats and a Kinney Coordinator. She was recognized as the Outstanding Kinney Coordinator and was a Service Learning Fellow. Ms. Greene graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law in 2003 and was awarded the Dean’s Certificate of Service. Ms. Greene also studied at Tulane University Law School. After law school, Ms. Greene worked for Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman on the Propulsid MDL-1355 Litigation Settlement Program. Ms. Greene moved to Herman, Herman & Katz Law Firm in New Orleans in 2005. She is also active in several non-profit organizations, and currently serves on the Komen New Orleans Board of Directors, Dress for Success New Orleans Board of Directors, as a Liaison to Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans Class of 2014, and as the Sponsor Chair of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Committee. She was also named to City Business Leadership in Law Class of 2012; Louisiana Super Lawyers “Rising Star” 2012, 2013, and 2014; and, New Orleans Magazine “Top Lawyers” 2012 and 2013.
Laura Hennen - Monroe Partner at Hennen & Hennen LLP
Laura Hennen is an attorney at law in Monroe, Louisiana, and a founding member of Hennen & Hennen, LLP. She joins her father and law partner Dennis in the primary practice of plaintiffs’ personal injury, focusing on motor vehicle accidents. Laura was recently appointed to serve on the Adjudicative Committee of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board by the Louisiana Supreme Court, and began her term in January 2016. She is a board member of the Louisiana Association for Justice, and serves as a cochair of the LAJ Women’s Caucus Community Outreach Committee. She is also a member of the American Association for Justice and serves on its Trial Lawyers Care Committee, organizing trial lawyers to work together to volunteer and improve the well-being of members of their communities. Laura received her B.A. in Religion at Baylor University in 2005, her J.D. and Civil Law Certificate at Tulane Law School in 2008, and was admitted in the 5th Circuit and the Western District of Louisiana Federal Court. In her free time, Laura loves to travel. She is also a proud supporter of the local food bank, and of education through DonorsChoose.org.
Jennifer Hoekstra - Alexandria Neblett, Beard & Arsenault
Jennifer M. Hoekstra joined the firm of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault in 2007. A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Ms. Hoekstra boasts an impressive academic and professional record, including graduation from two of the nation’s top schools. Jennifer was inspired to pursue her law degree while working as a Litigation Assistant at a high profile law firm in New York City. She came to Louisiana to attend Tulane Law School in New Orleans, where she earned her J.D. Jennifer has earned a solid reputation as a skilled writer and researcher, and plays an integral role in the firm’s complex litigation section. Jennifer has been central to the successful outcome for bellwether trials in the GM Rice, Actos and DePuy Pinnacle Hip MDLs with more than $11 Billion in trial verdicts resulting from those cases. Jennifer is a founding member and has recently been inducted to the inaugural Board of Directors for Emerge Louisiana. She is married to a fellow lawyer, Srivatsa Gupta, and they have two small children.
Kate Magsamen - New Orleans President, KMM Consulting LLC
Kate Magsamen is a co-founder of Emerge Louisiana. Kate is a seasoned political fundraising consultant who has worked Democratic politics for 13 years. During the 2016 election cycle, Kate served as the Deputy Finance Director for Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to winning the majority of the U.S. Senate. Prior election cycles, Kate served as Finance Director for U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu, Chris Coons and Chris Dodd as well as Governor Martin O'Malley.
Suzanne Mayo, Ph.D. - Grambling President & CEO of Mynette Management, Company
Suzanne Mayo, Ph.D. makes others’ dreams come true through her innovative and strategic fundraising/friendraising techniques. Known around the world as a “dot connector,” Dr. Mayo brings to bear a distinguished career in institutional advancement, public service, and family advocacy to strategize success with organizational leaders. As President and CEO of Mynette Management Company, Dr. Mayo teaches and trains government, business, and educational leaders, church, faith-based and not-for profit organizations on how to beat the competition, craft their uniqueness, and obtain human and capital resources successfully. Mynette Management Company specializes in public relations, marketing, government relations, association management, and event and conference management.
Dr. Suzanne Mayo is a professional fundraiser and has served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Wiley College—Home of The Great Debaters—in Marshall, Texas. Prior to her tenure at Wiley College, Dr. Mayo worked in the development field at Bowie State University, the Kansas State University Foundation, and Southern University at New Orleans. She is the author of two books on fundraising: 1) The Do’s and Don’ts of Fundraising and 2) The Do’s and Don’ts of Diversity Fundraising. Dr. Mayo spent more than 19 years on Capitol Hill working as a professional staffer, intern, and page in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, The Congressional Black Caucus and The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Throughout her career, Dr. Suzanne Mayo has been an advocate for families. She previously served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Studies in the College of Education and Human Development at Southern University at New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Mayo’s passion and research are centered on families impacted by interruptions—particularly military families and children who have parents that are incarcerated. Currently, she serves as the Louisiana Volunteer Coordinator of a statewide effort to reinstate the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Program—a Girl Scouts initiative that helps girls with mothers in jails and prison—in 23 Louisiana parishes. Dr. Mayo is the author of three books focused on the family: 1) Learning and Healing from Bad Relationships: Solutions for Survival and Success; 2)A Journey of PEACE: Winning at Life after 40 Years of Grief; and 3) Cancer and Families: Up Close and Personal, which presents her tips on how family members and friends can live and strive while surviving cancer. A survivor herself, Dr. Mayo commands an audience with her sensitive and enlightening stories about cancer and families affected by this disease. A trained law enforcement advocate, Dr. Suzanne Mayo received her Ph.D. from Kansas State University in Family Studies and Human Development; M.A. from The University of the District of Columbia in Urban and Regional Planning; and her B.A. and A.S. with honors from Grambling State University in Louisiana in Political Science and Criminal Justice, respectively. She recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in Community and Educational Relations from Bethesda Biblical College in Metairie, Louisiana. Dr. Suzanne Mayo is Volunteer Director of Louisiana Saves and a member of the National America Saves Team, which encourages individuals to save, reduce debt and build wealth, under America Saves USA. She is on the governing board of several national, regional and local community organizations. Above all, Dr. Mayo is a Christian woman who believes in using her talents to uplift God in everything she does. Her motto is: “I put my heart into everything I do.” Her philosophy on life is to always be a “Transformational Leader with a Servant Spirit.”
Rheneisha Robertson - Slidell Chief Program Officer, The Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies
Rheneisha Robertson joined her current organization, IWES, in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and became the Executive Director of the organization in 2007. Prior to this, she served as Director of Care Services for a local HIV/ AIDS serving non-profit organization, providing oversight of HIV/AIDS primary medical care and case management services, and as lead counselor with the Teen Parent Services program, an Illinois Department of Health program to assist teen parents through the provision of social services and support. Rheneisha has prior experience with IWES, serving as a Program Coordinator of adolescent health programs from 2000-2002. She received a Master of Public Health in Health Education/ Communication and Maternal Child Health from the Tulane University School of Public Health (2001) and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana (1999). Rheneisha returned to New Orleans postKatrina with a commitment to engage in community-centered and driven recovery efforts that reflect and address issues impacting women and youth, particularly among women and youth of color and
disenfranchised communities. She is a proud native of New Orleans, wife, and mother of two.
Kea Sherman - New Orleans Founder, Sherman Law Firm, LLC
Mrs. Kea Sherman is a co-founder of Emerge Louisiana, who along with the help of Jennifer Greene and Kate Magsamen worked for over a year and a half to bring the organization to Louisiana. Prior to working on Emerge, Kea studied civil law at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and she received her law degree in 2004 from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Her legal career began defending healthcare and professional negligence claims. Kea later joined an insurance defense firm, which offered her the opportunity to expand her areas of practice. During her time as defense counsel, Kea represented numerous insurance companies, which provided her with valuable insight into the insurance claims process. This was an eye opening experience that deeply affected Kea and it ultimately altered the course of her practice. In 2009, Kea founded the Sherman Law Firm where she tirelessly fights for the rights of individuals and small businesses. In her spare time, Kea proudly serves on the board of directors for Dress for Success New Orleans, and sits on the Board of Governors for the Louisiana Association for Justice. Her professional memberships include the Louisiana State Bar Association, the Louisiana Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Kea Sherman to serve on the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission. She has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Louisiana Rising Star in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Kea is also a past fellow of the Institute of Politics at Loyola University, New Orleans.
Latanja Silvester - New Orleans President of SEIU Local 21 Louisiana
With significant experience in political campaigns and government relations, LaTanja Silvester is a veteran activist who has dedicated her career to defending the rights and improving the lives of Louisianans. Silvester is well known for her ability to organize and develop grassroots campaigns with a particular focus on Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. She has led campaigns for voting rights, equal pay for women, equitable education and fair wages. She has worked to register voters, ensuring that their voices are heard and increasing her client's chances of success. As the lead strategist for the “Power Coalition,” Ms. Silvester developed and executed the plan to create a statewide coalition of non-profit and political organizations across Louisiana, synchronizing common political efforts for efficiency and effectiveness. With her leadership, the Coalition helped increase voter turnout in target districts throughout the State of Louisiana. In addition to her political consulting activities, Ms. Silvester is the President of the 5,000 member Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 21-Louisiana. As President, she has been a constant voice and advocate for the needs of Louisiana’s working families. Under Ms. Silvester's leadership, SEIU of Louisiana successfully implemented the AFLCIO's GOTV's efforts from 2013 to present. In the Louisiana Legislature, Ms. Silvester has advanced legislation supporting access to healthcare, living wages and economic empowerment, and she has worked to broaden and deepen opportunities for local and minority owned business across Louisiana. Ms. Silvester earned her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and her Master's Degree in Criminal Justice. She has been President of SEIU from 2013 to present.
Eileen Velez, MD - Shreveport Medical Consultant and Pathologist
Dr. Eileen Velez received her medical doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She did her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology in Buffalo, NY. She did a fellowship in Surgical Pathology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. She completed a Cytopathology fellowship at LSUHSC in Shreveport. She spent 3 years as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pathology at LSUHSC in Shreveport and was the Laboratory Director for Regional Urology in Shreveport. She volunteered as a staff physician at the PC Wellness Center at the Philadelphia Center in Shreveport for 2 and a half years. She is lifetime board certified in Anatomic Pathology and Cytopathology. She is private medical consultant for a local medical group. Devoted wife and mother, Dr. Velez currently serves as the 2nd Vice-Chair on the Caddo Democratic Parish Executive Committee and is the President of the Women’s Democratic Club of Northwest Louisiana.
Mary Leach Werner - Lafayette Director and Vice President of The Sweet Lake Land & Oil Company
Mary Leach Werner is a Director and Vice President of The Sweet Lake Land & Oil Company and The North American Land Company. Family-founded and owned, these 125 year old companies are based in Lake Charles, Louisiana and engage in land management, oil and gas, farming, ranching, wildlife and real estate operations. Mary is also a Director of CKX Lands Inc., a public land management company based in Lake Charles, and has served as a Member of the Committee of 100 Louisiana, dedicated to the state’s longterm economic growth and development. Community service has been instilled in Mary since she was a small child, and she is proud to have served on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society (Calcasieu Area), Art Associates of Lake Charles, Education and Treatment Council/Harbor House, Louisiana Preservation Alliance, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Lake Charles Civic Ballet, Children's Museum of Southwest Louisiana, Imperial Calcasieu Museum and the Louisiana Center for Women in Government. She was also a founding Director of the Family Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, supporting the Family and Youth Counseling Agency in Lake Charles. Mary is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana and Second Harvest Food Bank. Mary is also very involved with her children’s schools, volunteering in several capacities. She served as a Trustee, Board Chair and Capital and Annual Fund Campaign Chair for Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Currently, she is a Trustee of Ascension Episcopal School in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she has served as Board Vice-Chair and Chair. Mary grew up in Leesville, Louisiana, where she graduated from Leesville High School. After attending Birmingham Southern College, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Brenau Women's College in Georgia. She has been married twenty-five years to Joel W. Werner and they are the proud parents of three children.
Arlanda Williams - Houma Terrebonne Parish Council District 2 Representative & Health Claims Administrator for GILSBAR INC.
Arlanda Williams is serving her second full term as the elected representative of District 2 on the Terrebonne Parish Council and has been re-elected to serve her 3rd term on the Terrebonne Parish Council. Ms. Williams was the first female elected to serve as chair of the Terrebonne Parish Council and has served three times as chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council. She is active in numerous local, state, and federal organizations.
Ms. Williams is currently President of the National Association of Democratic Officials, in her third term on the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee as the 2nd Vice President. She is also an executive member of the Democratic National Committee and will serve as a super delegate for the 2016 Presidential election. Ms. Williams was recently appointed to represent local government officials on the FEMA Mitigation Leadership Group and more recently joined Governor John Bel Edwards’ transition team for the Department of Economic Development. She serves as Parliamentarian for Junior Auxiliary of Houma; Vice President of South Central Planning and Regional Development Commission; secretary of the Terrebonne General Foundation Board; treasurer of the National Organization of Black County Officials and is an executive board member of the Louisiana Police Jury Association. Ms. Williams is also a member of J.J. Clement Order of the Eastern Stars. She is an active member of Plymouth Rock Baptist Church, where she serves as chairperson of the Women’s Day Committee. Ms. Williams is a graduate of Southern University at New Orleans, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is also 2014 graduate Southern University Baton Rouge with an Executive Masters of Public Administration. She was named one of the 2011 MacDonnell Children Services Volunteer Activist Award recipients, and the recipient of the 2008 Athena Award by the Houma Women’s Business Alliance. Ms. Williams more recently received one of the National Association of University Women’s Phenomenal Women Awards. She is also a 1989 graduate of Terrebonne High School and Leadership Terrebonne 2007. Ms. Williams is the proud of mother of Joshua and Jeré Williams.
Melanie Oubre - Executive Director of Emerge Louisiana
Melanie Oubre brings over eight years of experience in non-profits and political campaigns to her new role as Executive Director. She has a track record of working to elect women candidates and pushing progressive policies in the Deep South. Most recently, she served as Deputy Finance Director on Caroline Fayard’s United States Senate campaign and Development Director for New Leaders Council, a non-profit devoted to equipping young progressives with the tools they need to enact real change in their communities. She looks forward to utilizing her fundraising expertise to build a strong Emerge chapter in Louisiana. Previously, Melanie ran a grassroots activism department at a DC-based non-profit before returning to her home state. Melanie holds a B.A. in Political Communication from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Leadership at the University of New Orleans. She is an active member of the Democratic Party of Louisiana, the Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee, the Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) of New Orleans and the Junior League of New Orleans.