Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top Women Leaders of Louisiana for 2024. In addition to being an amazing place for anyone who appreciates fine dining, lively entertainment, and all things outdoors, Louisiana’s diverse economy also offers ample opportunities for business leaders in a wide variety of fields. The state is home to many traditional industries, like energy and manufacturing, as well as emerging sectors, including technology, science, and aerospace. Plus, being ranked one of the top 10 most fun states in the US, the entertainment industry in Louisiana is also booming.

In the emerging industries of technology and science, this year’s honorees include Anne Foundas. As Managing Director of the Brain Institute of Louisiana, Foundas is focused on developing innovative treatment programs to enhance speech function, language learning, and memory in brain-injured patients.

Within the realm of manufacturing, we also honor the CEO of Aerowest International, Maria Bhacca. AeroWest International has been a trusted manufacturer and service provider for over 140 years, and Bhacca brings over 30 years of executive experience to this leadership role.

Finally, we acknowledge the accomplishments of honoree Kristi Satterla, an HR leader for Sasol, a global chemicals and energy company, where she brings her extensive professional experience in labor relations to Sasol’s global workforce. 

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top Women Leaders of Louisiana for 2024.

Christine Albert
Chief Experience Officer, LCMC Health

Christine Albert is the Chief Experience Officer for LCMC Health and its nine-hospital system. She provides strategic leadership for marketing planning and employee experience across the entire LCMC network. Her commitment to their system and their city’s residents has helped them build a powerful reputation for the brand. Established in 2009, LCMC Health is a Louisiana-based, not-for-profit hospital system serving the healthcare needs of the Gulf Coast region.

Before her current role, Albert served LCMC Health as the VP of marketing, the SVP of marketing and communications, and the chief marketing and experience officer. Before that, she was an associate VP of marketing communications at Touro Infirmary. She was promoted from director of marketing communications to implement a comprehensive digital marketing strategy and expand community outreach.

Albert has also worked in public affairs positions for the Department of the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Albert graduated from George Washington University with an MPP, from LSU Shreveport with an MBA in business administration and management, and from Loyola University New Orleans with an undergraduate degree in communications and public relations and French.

Vicky Romero
Chief Information Officer, SCP Health

Victoria Romero brings more than 18 years of experience in healthcare IT, mergers and acquisitions, finance, strategy, and leadership. In her role as Chief Information Officer for SCP Health, she is responsible for directing the overall technology strategy, including mobile, web, and enterprise application development, infrastructure, and security. 

Romero maintains both a professional interest and personal passion for providing high-value interactive solutions to healthcare providers, patients, and clients. SCP Health (SCP) is a healthcare solutions company. At their core, they work to bring hospitals and healers together in the pursuit of clinical effectiveness, always focusing on delivering exceptional patient care. With a portfolio of over 8 million patients, 7500 providers, 30 states, and 400 healthcare facilities, SCP Health is a leader in clinical practice management spanning the entire continuum of care, including emergency and hospital medicine, critical care, wellness, telemedicine, and ambulatory care.

Romero first got her start in 2002 as a systems analyst at Stuller, Inc. From there, she eventually moved to Acadian Ambulance as a developer, her most recent position prior to joining SCP Health. Romero graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with an undergraduate degree in management information systems.

Deborah Ford
Chief Nursing Officer & VP of Quality, Ochsner Health

Deborah Ford is the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Quality of Ochsner Health, the leading not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Gulf South, delivering expert care at its 46 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers. 

Ford is an accomplished and proven senior executive with a solid history of achievement. She is a motivated, innovative leader with strong organizational and prioritization skills and the ability to roll out multi-million dollar healthcare projects to include major construction and team member engagement strategies. Ford has achieved the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet status at more than one organization. 

Previously, Ford was a chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Our Lady of the Lake. Before that, she was a vice president of nursing and chief nursing officer at Lafayette General Health. Earlier in her career, she worked with Rapides General Hospital as a staff registered nurse. Ford earned an MA in nursing administration from Northwestern State University and an undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Annette Dowdle
Senior Vice President, HUB International Gulf South

Annette Dowdle is the Senior Vice President for HUB International Gulf South, a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, and investment and risk management products and services.

With a desire to help people, Dowdle’s career in the insurance industry began over 20 years ago. When working with Dowdle, clients gain her years of experience and wealth of knowledge. Her mission is to fervently bolster client company culture by personalizing employee-centric benefits and mitigating risk with the goal of contributing to a thriving and profitable organization. Her vision is to help clients navigate cost containment and mitigate risk while improving culture, today, and tomorrow.

Dowdle completed Loyola Women’s Leadership Academy and was Co-Chair for the 2022 American Heart Association Northshore Heart Walk. She is a member of the National Women in Construction and serves on HUB’s National Best Practices Task Force. She is a graduate of Leadership St. Tammany and Leadership Louisiana.

Eugenie Guillot
Vice President, Lockton Companies

Eugenie Guillot is the Vice President of Lockton Companies, the world's largest independent insurance brokerage providing customized solutions. Guillot joined Lockton in the fall of 2015 after spending nine years working in the health insurance industry. She started as an assistant vice president and was promoted to VP the following year. 

Starting her career in the insurance industry on the property casualty side, Guillot moved to healthcare in 2006. She held a senior leadership role for Coventry Health Care and Aetna as the leader of the sales and service teams for Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Her extensive knowledge of healthcare cost management and healthcare reform makes her uniquely qualified to help business owners develop effective strategies for their employee benefit plans and communications.

Guillot has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she was a Merit Scholarship Recipient, a TOPS Scholarship Recipient, a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon Honor Society, and a member of the Beacon Club, a student organization at whose mission is to work together to help eliminate barriers that students with disabilities must surmount in order to obtain their fullest physical, mental, social, vocational, and economic potential.

Jodi Conachen
Chief Operating Officer, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

Jodi Conachen is the Chief Operating Officer for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Louisiana’s largest cancer care organization that’s been leading the fight against cancer for more than 50 years. From early detection through their innovative Prevention on the Go screening and education program, to diagnosis, treatment, and life after cancer, Mary Bird Perkins offers a wide array of individualized support services to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.

Conachen previously served Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center as vice president of marketing and communications and has been a member of the senior management team for almost four years. Conachen is an experienced healthcare leader and has operated in an executive leadership capacity. In her marketing and communications role, Conachen had taken on many operational challenges over the last few years and was successful in creating and implementing innovative solutions. 

She received her Master’s degree in Business Administration from LSU in Shreveport and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Mass Communications from Louisiana State University.

Tammi Griffin-Major
Chief Operating Officer, lgiers Charter School Association

Tamara Griffin-Major is the Chief Operating Officer at lgiers Charter School Association. She is an experienced educator, leader, strategist, and community relations expert with a proven track record of setting and achieving systems’ goals, working with community organizations and agencies to formulate mutually beneficial partnerships, and developing relationships among groups that formulate a powerful collective/collaborative. 

Griffin-Major is single-minded in her efforts to benefit the children of the City of New Orleans while having the uncanny ability to foresee and understand how seemingly extraneous factions interconnect. Her vision and passion have led her from the classroom, where she taught mathematics, to her current role.

Griffin-Major earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics education from Southern University of New Orleans, a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Xavier University of New Orleans, and a Doctorate of Education in Executive Leadership at the University of Holy Cross. Born, raised, and educated in the City of New Orleans, Griffin-Major is a devoted wife and mother who wants the same incredible education she received for every child and works tirelessly to build the substructure from which every child can soar.

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Cynthia DiCarlo
Professor, Louisiana State University

Cynthia DiCarlo holds the Diane Toups Goyette Professorship in Early Childhood Education and is the Executive Director of the Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool at Louisiana State University (LSU). DiCarlo also serves as the coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Teacher Education Program, and her research focuses on interventions to improve outcomes for young children and clarification and innovations in recommended practices in early childhood.

Prior to joining LSU, Cynthia was a clinical assistant professor at LSU’s Health Sciences Center. She has been recognized for her research, teaching, and service. Her research on children's attention during whole group instruction received the 2012 Research Paper of the Year from the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, and she was recognized for excellence in teaching receiving the Tiger Athletic Foundation Teaching Award (2010). Additionally, she has received recognition for her service, receiving the College of Human Sciences and Education Faculty Service Award and the Louisiana Champions of Service Volunteer of the Year: Plantation Region.

DiCarlo has incorporated her passion for research into the courses she teaches and her work in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. Since its inception in 2014, DiCarlo has mentored 67 undergraduate students who have subsequently presented at LSU Discover Day. She currently serves on the editorial boards for Infants & Young Children, the Journal of Teacher Action Research, and Beyond Behavior.

Jeanne Goedecke
VP of Loan Syndications, Hancock Whitney

Jeanne Goedecke is a Vice President of Hancock Whitney Bank. For more than 100 years, Hancock Whitney has served the Gulf South as an institution anchored in values, reinforced with resilience, and focused on opportunity as one of America’s strongest, safest banks.

Goedecke has been in finance for over 12 years, with her most recent role being a foundational member of the Loan Syndications department. Established in 2019, the loan syndications team provides debt capital to financially sound businesses in the form of multi-bank commercial loans in amounts over $25 million. She has been a key player in the department’s success and expansion with the current portfolio boasting over 20 clients managed by a small team of associates. Her passion for service and uplifting women inspires her to participate in various committees, including the Junior League of New Orleans, Safe Sitter, and the CFA Society of Louisiana. 

Jeanne graduated from the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University with a major in Finance in May 2012 and earned her CFA charter in April 2023.

Eboni Buchanan
SVP of Physician Services, Woman's Hospital

Eboni Buchanan is the Senior Vice President of Physician Services of Woman's Hospital, one of the first women's specialty hospitals in the nation, and is currently one of the largest in the United States. Since its opening in 1968, Woman's has welcomed more than 375,000 babies, making it one of the largest delivery services in the country and the largest in Louisiana. 

Buchanan is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of women’s physician practices and the continued advancement of clinical services. A healthcare executive with over a decade of progressive leadership experience, Buchanan has expertise in clinical operations, physician management, finance, business development, and program implementation. She is a demonstrated leader and innovative thinker, able to address business challenges through strategic planning, financial initiatives, and physician/provider/staff involvement.

Previously, Buchanan was a senior director at MedStar Health. Before that, she was a manager of physician practice at Holy Cross Health. Earlier in her career, she worked with the Louisiana Department of Health as a nutrition services and WIC program specialist. Buchanan earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of New Orleans and her Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the National Association of Health Service Executives.

Maria Bhacca
CEO, AeroWest International

Maria Bhacca is the CEO of AeroWest International, a trusted manufacturer and service provider of odor control, air freshening, and hygiene solutions. She brings more than 30 years of executive experience to the company and her belief that administration and customer satisfaction are at the base of any successful business.

Bhacca, a native of Italy, came to the US, while she was working on her Doctorate in Foreign Languages and Literatures. She started her own company, Accent Travel, in 1984, a pre-internet corporate travel agency taking care of companies with multimillion-dollar travel budgets. From there, Bhacca was appointed CEO and president of West Industries, where she was responsible for the total operations of the company, including the service division, product sales division, and manufacturing division. 

Bhacca is a former member of Rotary International, a Charter Member of ACTE, and a member of SITE. She was one of 100 American travel executives invited by The Department of Tourism of Israel to visit their country as their guest and one of 200 worldwide travel executives invited by the Hong Kong Tourist Office to visit Hong Kong after the transfer back to China in 1997.

Carmen Randolph
Founding President & CEO, Women's Foundation of the South

Carmen Randolph is the Founding President and CEO of the Women's Foundation of the South (WFS). WFS is an organization for women and girls of color in the South, led by the same, and founded on the principle that solutions are often held by those closest to the problem. WFS raises funds for active programs, services, and resources for women and girls of color and their families to stimulate building health, wealth, and power and serves women of color in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

In August 2021, Randolph was thrilled to take on the role of Founding President and CEO of a ground-breaking new foundation. Over the course of her 25-year career in philanthropy, she has worked hard to successfully galvanize funders, donors, policymakers, and grassroots activists to forever change lives, systems, and communities for good. She is particularly passionate about building prosperity for women and girls of color and firmly believes in the ineffable power a sisterhood holds to support, nurture, and amplify one another. 

Randolph is presently a fellow in the Aspen Institute and the Neighborhood Funder’s Group Philanthropy Forward initiative, and she was recently invited to join Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Membership. Randolph graduated from American University with an undergraduate degree in American studies.

Marjorie Briley
VP of Business Development, Ascend Math

Marjorie Briley is the VP of Business Development of Ascend Math. Ascend Math is written to Common Core and rigorous state standards. Instruction is delivered in a logical math sequence and students move ahead at their own pace and track their own progress. Ascend Math is currently used by hundreds of schools and districts serving tens of thousands of students throughout the US and Canada. 

Briley has twenty years of experience in educational technology and consulting with school districts, ranging from 1,000 to 120,000 students. She has focused predominantly on working with administrators on strategies to accelerate learning so that students at risk of passing high-stakes tests will succeed. 

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is very fond of working with schools to improve student success. Briley has presented at NCTM, NCSM, ASCD, and TCEA and is currently authoring a blog series on equity in education with a focus on coaching teachers to help students discover a math identity.

Deb Grant
President & CEO, Corporate Playbook

Deborah (Deb) Grant, a visionary leader, is an independent director at SoundThinking SSTI (NASDAQ), where she chairs the Human Capital and Compensation Committee, and at DJE Holdings (Edelman), one of the largest PR firms in the world. She is the Executive Vice Chairwoman at CNEXT, a highly diverse global community for the advancement of high-impact leaders. 

Additionally, Grant is CEO of Corporate Playbook, a firm with an impressive global client list that provides senior executives with strategic direction to elevate leadership, inclusion, and culture. Grant is also the creator of Dining with Deb, an innovative experience built by women, for women, celebrating women. Her work is informed by many years of success, as GE’s first black female corporate officer and President of the GE Foundation. She led global philanthropic efforts, deploying a $130 million budget to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. 

Grant has received numerous accolades, including the 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy from Inside Philanthropy, the Women of Excellence Legacy Award from the National Association for Female Executives, the Women of Power Award from the National Urban League, Keeper of the Dream Award from the National Action Network, and the NCAA’s Legacy in Leadership Award. She holds a BA from LSU, an MPA from Southern University, and an Honorary Doctor of Science from Clarkson University. She and her husband reside in New Orleans.

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Veronica Gillispie-Bell
Medical Director, Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative & Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review, Louisiana Department of Health

Veronica Gillispie-Bell is also the Medical Director of the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative and Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review for the Louisiana Department of Health. In this role, she leads initiatives in the state of Louisiana to improve birth outcomes for all birthing persons in Louisiana and eliminate the Black-white disparity gap. Gillispie-Bell has testified before Congress and led Congressional briefings to inform on the drivers of maternal mortality and legislative policy to improve maternal outcomes. She was an invited speaker at The White House Maternal Health Day of Action.  

Gillispie-Bell is a Board-Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Associate Professor for Ochsner Health in New Orleans, Louisiana. She serves as the Senior Site Lead and Section Head of Women’s Services at Ochsner Kenner. Additionally, she serves as the Director of Quality for Women’s Services for the Ochsner Health System and is the Medical Director of the Minimally Invasive Center for the Treatment of Uterine Fibroids. She has served in several other local and national leadership roles, has been quoted in and published in several local and national publications, and was featured in the 1619 Project Docuseries. 

She earned her medical degree from Meharry Medical College and completed her residency training at Ochsner Health System. She has a Master of Applied Science in Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has received certification in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University. Gillispie-Bell also performs advanced laparoscopic and robotic-assisted laparoscopic procedures and is known nationally for her expertise in the management of heavy menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids.

Dolfinette Martin
Housing Director, Operation Restoration

Dolfinette Martin is the Housing Director at Operation Restoration, a nonprofit that supports women and girls impacted by incarceration, where she manages all housing programming provided by Operation Restoration and supervises staff, interns, and volunteers working for Hope House NOLA. Martin was appointed to New Orleans’ first female mayor Latoya Cantrell’s transition team, and in 2019, she was appointed to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo Board of Commissioners. She was a founding member and former president of the New Orleans chapter of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. She is a recipient of the John Thompson Leadership for Change Award and a Freedom Fighter Award.

Martin is an equal partner in Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum’s (Per)Sister exhibition and an equal partner in the latest iteration of the exhibition Unthinkable Imagination. She was instrumental in creating the first Women’s Gathering Fellowship for women of color with the Center for Community Change and was one of the first ten cohorts. She also contributed her expertise to help create The Power Coalitions-SheLeads Fellowship, which also focuses on women of color doing on-the-ground organizing. Based on her legislative advocacy, Governor John Bel Edwards appointed her to sit on the Louisiana Women’s Incarceration Task Force in 2018, and in 2021, after the unanimous passage of SCR 45, she became a member of the Survivor Informed Task Force. 

Martin earned a college degree in 2015 after her release from prison in 2012. She is frequently asked to contribute her expertise and wisdom to panels and media. She serves on the Formerly Incarcerated Transitional Clinic Advisory Board, where she also has co-authored, a publication titled Healthcare in Louisiana Prisons-Women. She is a panelist on the Criminal Background Check Review Board for the Housing Authority of New Orleans and a fierce advocate of safe and affordable housing for people touched by the criminal legal system.

Anne Fuselier
Interim Managing Director of Advancement, Undergraduate Schools, Tulane University

Anne Elizabeth Fuselier is the Assistant Dean of Advancement for the School of Science and Engineering and Interim- Managing Director of Advancement for Undergraduate Schools at Tulane University. She is also the Executive Director of Marsalis Harmony Park Partners, in New Orleans and assists with Theodent, a “born in New Orleans” innovative oral care company.

In her distinguished career at Tulane University, Anne has not only excelled in elevating the institution's fundraising initiatives but has also played a critical role in its major transitions and capital projects.  Prior to joining the Tulane team, Anne provided decade-long philanthropic leadership to Start The Adventure In Reading, STAIR; a not-for-profit children’s literacy program whose mission is to improve the self-esteem and reading skills of lower elementary public school children.

Beyond her professional achievements, Anne's commitment to community betterment is evident through her co-founding of Marsalis Harmony Park Partners; a not-for-profit organization that works to maintain and improve the 5.6-acre family-friendly park and playground that had been devastated after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Anne has displayed an admirable duality in her career, masterfully intertwining the high-paced realm of major strategic philanthropy and a selfless drive for local positive social impact. Anne’s dedication to community betterment, particularly through STAIR and Marsalis Harmony Park Partners, highlights her commitment to enhancing Louisiana’s educational and social fabric, making her an exemplary member of Louisiana's Top 50 Women.

Tamara Jackson Wyre
SVP & Director of Talent & Diversity, Hancock Whitney

Tamara Wyre is a true champion of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the finance industry. As the leader of Talent and Diversity functions at Hancock Whitney, Tamara integrates DEIB strategy with talent management and learning operating models to build teams that serve the diverse needs of clients and communities. Her innovative approach to DEIB has made her a thought leader in the industry. She leads a team focused on attracting, developing, and retaining a talented and diverse workforce while enriching the company's culture, business growth, and community engagement. With her passion for promoting equity and creating pathways to leadership, Tamara is truly making a difference.

Wyre joined Hancock Whitney in 2018 as part of the Capital One Asset Management LLC acquisition as the  Director and Senior Portfolio Manager, spearheading the company’s first socially responsible investment strategy called the SRI-Diversity Leaders Investment Equity Strategy, which invests in companies that demonstrate inclusive practices around gender and equality. With over 25 years of experience in wealth and asset management, Wyre has a strong track record of creating equity strategies that mirror the belief systems of those who own them. Prior to joining Hancock Whitney, Wyre was a Portfolio Relationship Manager with U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management in Atlanta, GA.

Tamara earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Hampton University College, an MBA from Tulane University, a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA ®) Certification from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate from the University of South Florida.

Tamara is a true force for education and economic empowerment, actively serving on multiple boards and committees. Her passion for promoting financial literacy and career readiness shines through in her work facilitating workshops for youth and young adults. Tamara's dedication to introducing girls to careers in finance is especially noteworthy through her involvement with Rock the Street Wall Street. Her hard work and achievements have not gone unnoticed, as she has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2022 Woman of Achievement Corporate Award and being selected as a "Top Women in Asset Management" by Money Management Executives.

Imanni Sheppard
Director of Medical Education & Social Scientific Research, The Medical Humanities and Health Disparities Institute

Imanni Sheppard is an alumnus of the University of New Orleans and the University of Houston, where she received her undergraduate degree in biological anthropology and her Master’s degree in Medical Anthropology, respectively. Thereafter, she continued her education at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where upon graduation she became the first African American in the United States with a PhD in the medical humanities. 

Her academic journey afforded her the opportunity to later become the Director of Medical Education and Social Scientific Research at the Medical Humanities and Health Disparities Institute, where she works with private companies, community organizations, and any interested stakeholders to help build medical educational materials and develop health and wellness programming to address health disparities and medical inequities. Sheppard is also the co-director of the bioethics and medical humanities curriculum thread, an assistant professor, and a medical education facilitator at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign-Carle College of Medicine, touted as the first engineering-based medical school in the world.

Sheppard is a member of Xavier University’s community advisory board for the College of Pharmacy’s Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education, an op-ed fellow, and a newly appointed ambassador for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Collaborative for Health Equity: to Act, Research, and Generate Evidence (CHARGE). Over the last ten years, she has authored Health, Healing, and Hurricane Katrina: A Critical Analysis of Psychosomatic Illness in Survivors (sold globally); authored “Embodied Trauma and the Dissociation of the Self” in Dark Denials and Domestic Violence, was supplemental author of Anthropology textbook, What Does it Mean to be Human; and has written numerous encyclopedia articles and several poems in Kaiser Permanente Journal. Her latest book is The Parallax of Medical “Progress.” Finally, Sheppard is the recent recipient of the Osmosis Faculty Raise the Line Award.

Leigh Ann Ripka
Senior Director of Culture & Marketing, Rudick Construction Group

Leigh Ann Ripka is the Senior Director of Culture and Marketing for Rudick Construction Group, a growing operation across Louisiana and Texas. In this role, Ripka has a heavy hand in anything that's publicly visible throughout the company. She also leads the company's internal organizational and talent development efforts, which has been a brand new arena for her and she's loving every minute.

In addition to her position at Rudick Construction Group, Ripka founded and leads Let's Vibe, LLC, an organization that supports women and female interests, particularly in areas of fundraising for special causes and elevating women. She is also actively involved in One Acadiana, LIA, and KOK’s Advisory Board. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Ripka graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she earned her undergraduate degree in public relations.

Jené Liggins
Director of Talent and People Development, Pahara Institute

Jené Liggins serves as the Pahara Institute’s Director of Talent and People Development. In this role, she builds organizational culture for and through people, creating rituals, processes, and systems that support the talent management lifecycle across Pahara. Liggins’s work facilitates opportunities for their internal team to thrive in their roles while doing work that is aligned with their professional goals and Pahara’s organizational legacy. The Pahara Institute seeks to strengthen the movement for educational excellence and equity by developing and sustaining values-driven leaders.

Before joining Pahara, Liggins first got her start in 2006 as a legislative assistant at the Louisiana House of Representatives. From there, she went on to First City Court for Orleans Parish, before eventually rising to director of policy and chief of staff at New Schools for New Orleans. Her work in education began in charter school operations. 

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Liggins earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management, with a minor in music, from Loyola University New Orleans. She earned her JD from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Liggins lives in the Greater New Orleans area.

View the complete list of awardees