By Claire Byun
Friends of Lafitte Greenway’s Board of Directors elected four new faces for the new year and recognized three outgoing members, bringing the total number of board members to 20.
The organization held their annual membership meeting Monday night to elect new board members, review 2016 accomplishments and establish goals for the new year. Jeffrey Thomas, board chair, recognized three outgoing board members – Amy Boyle Collins, Laila Fox and Emily Valentino – before voting in new ones.
“We’re always looking for skill set and expertise to bring to the team who can help up, who can professionalize us,” Thomas said. “We’ve been blessed with a great board every year.”
The four newest members have a range of experience in health services, commercial real estate, public affairs and aerospace engineering, respectively. The new members include:
1. Dawn Anuskiewicz: Chief Executive Officer of Ochner Baptist with a Master of Health Services Administration from the George Washington University School of Business. Anuskiewicz was recognized by New Orleans CityBusiness as a Woman of the Year Class of 2016 Honoree.
2. Seth Levine: partner in the New Orleans office of Jones Walker LLP with a Louisiana real estate broker license. Levine works with the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources division in his law firm and has experience in project financing, land acquisitions, servitude acquisitions and all other real estate matters.
3. Demetric Mercadel: Senior Customer Service Specialist for Entergy New Orleans with more than 35 years of experience in accounting, finance and planning fields. She currently serves as the president of the French Market Corporation’s Board of Directors and the Upper Pontalba Building Association, as well as the president of the Corpus Christi-Epiphany Catholic Church Pastoral Council.
4. Darby Shields: member of Friends of the Lafitte Greenway since 2015 and an avid biker and user of the greenspace. Shields started an aerospace engineering company in 1982, sold the business and moved to New Orleans in 2015. He’s served on boards for the Boys and Girls Club and High Street Theater Foundation in California.
Mercadel told the board she has friends and family who live near the Greenway and hopes to use all her board experience to grow Friends of Lafitte Greenway’s impact.
“I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you guys,” she said.
Shields said he spent a day talking with business owners and developers of properties along the Greenway to expand interaction with those closes to the greenspace, and said all were receptive to working alongside the organization.
“There’s a lot to be pulled from the guys along here, we just have to figure out how to do that,” he said.
Five current board members were re-elected to their seats Monday evening, which brings the board to a full 20 members. The re-elected board members – whose bios can be read on the Greenway’s website – are:
1. Susannah Burley: founder of Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL) and served as program director at Parkway Partners from 2012-16.
2. Antonia Keller: Directos of Operations for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation who joined Friends of Lafitte Greenway in 2006 to help the recovery of New Orleans.
3. Mary Matthews: Executive Director of 504ward with prior expereince promoting and preserving New Orleans’ Francophone culture through the Alliance Francaise de la Nouvelle-Orleans.
4. Andreanecia Morris: Executive Director for HousingNOLA who was named one of the Top 10 influiencers in real estate and urban conservancy by BIZ New Orleans Magazine.
5. Rev. Dr. Dwight Webster: Senior and Founding Pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church who has served on faculties of Tulane University, Loyola University and Xavier University’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies.
Morris told the board she’s thankful for the time spent serving the board and will work to improve and expand the Greenway as much as possible.
” In order to get to the next phase of the Greenway, we have to work together to fix what is missing,” Morris said. “We’re not just going to remain the same, we’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Thomas, board chair, said Friends of Lafitte Greenway now has a proven staff, board and goals, and will continue to work to expand its offered programs and events for the community. Staff has a Master Plan to guide them through an expanded vision of the greenspace, Thomas said, and the board has plenty of support to continue its work as a community-based asset.
“Now the organization is transforming from being an advocate to a true steward of the community,” Thomas said.