Our Team

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Sophie HarrisExecutive Director
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Sophie Harris has served as the Executive Director of Friends of Lafitte Greenway since 2014, a nonprofit organization that works to build, program, and promote New Orleans' Lafitte Greenway—opened in November of 2015—as a great public space. She leads the organization’s strategic direction and operations, implementation of community health programs and events, and spearhead’s the organization’s development initiatives. Prior to working with Friends of Lafitte Greenway, Sophie managed the NEWCITY Neighborhood Partnership, a coalition of 100 organizations promoting community economic development in New Orleans’ Tremé and Mid-City neighborhoods. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Urban Studies and Political Science, Sophie won a Post-Graduate Robert A. Fox Leadership Fellowship in service. Sophie serves on the Board of Director of Broad Community Connections and is a member of the ReFresh Collaborative.

 

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Nellie Catzen, Program Coordinator
A big believer in the power of community, Nellie Catzen joined the Friends of Lafitte Greenway team as Program Coordinator in 2015. Nellie brings professional experience in public health, youth empowerment, racial justice, and environmental education. Before joining the Friends of Lafitte Greenway team, she worked as Special Projects Coordinator for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, where she focused on strengthening the agency’s services to refugees and immigrants. She holds a degree in Environmental Health from the University of Pennsylvania, and is passionate about healthy food, community organizing, and swing dancing.

 

sydney.jpgSydney Doyle, Americorps VISTA Development & Community Outreach Associate
Sydney Graduated in May of 2012 from Guilford College in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Community Justice and Policy Studies. After graduation, Sydney worked for AmeriCorps, serving the local refugee community until she moved to Wilmington, North Carolina later that year. While residing in Wilmington, Sydney worked for Great Outdoor Provision Company and Atlantic Neurosurgical & Spine Specialists. During this time she attended graduate school online at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville, NC. She graduated in May of 2015 with a Master of Arts in Teaching and a second teaching certificate for secondary education. Sydney aims to help revitalize the community by building programs that increase the health, education, and use of the Lafitte Greenway.

 

Board of Directors

   
Dawn J. Anuszkiewicz
Board Term: Jan 2017 - Jan 2020
Dawn is Chief Executive Officer of Ochsner Baptist. She holds a Master of Health Services Administration from the George Washington University School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University, Douglass College. Prior to joining Ochsner, Dawn served as Chief Operating Officer, Saint Louis University Hospital. In 2016, New Orleans CityBusiness – recognized Dawn as a Women of the Year Class of 2016 Honoree. She was the recipient of the Emergency Nurses Association – Greater St. Louis Chapter 2012 Community Service Award.

 

Charles Barclay
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Charles is Asset Manager for Stirling Properties on a variety of retail and office properties in the Greater New Orleans area, including Mid-City Market along the Lafitte Greenway. A native of Washington D.C., Charles moved to New Orleans to participate in the area’s rapidly evolving real estate industry. Charles previously worked for CW Capital Asset Management in Bethesda, Maryland where he was involved in the management of over $500 million of REO multifamily assets across the United States. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2009 where earned a degree in history.

   

Clarence A. Becknell, Sr.
Board Term: Jan 2015 – Jan 2018
Clarence is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana who joined the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure, Club Inc. May 1981. He is a Retired Elementary School Principal of the New Orleans Public School System. Clarence has been a very active member in Zulu since he joined. He has served on several committees simultaneously as a Chairman and Officer. He has been a part of Zulu’s growth beginning in the 1980s and continuing today. He instituted Zulu Community Programs, (Appearances, Displays, Guest Speaker) that positively impacted Zulu’s notoriety, respect, appreciation and awareness. His involvement in Zulu is evidenced by the numerous committees and positions held and continues to serve. Clarence currently serves as Zulu's Historian, Chairman of the Souvenir Booklet Committee, Director of Public Relations, and Zulu Newsletter Chairman.   

 

Susannah Burley
Board Term: Jan 2017 – Jan 2020
Susannah Burley lives in Mid-City off of Broad Street with her husband and son. She is an Atlanta native, spent eight years in Los Angeles film industry, and is proud to call New Orleans home for the second and final time. Burley is trained as a landscape architect, worked as program director from 2012-16 at Parkway Partners, and founded Sustaining Our Urban Landscape (SOUL) in June of 2016.  She is thrilled to be working with the Greenway board on this incredible project, and hopes to bring her skills and passions to her position, as well as her experience utilizing similar green spaces in other cities.

 

Kevin P. Centanni, Vice-Chair of the Board
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Kevin is an entrepreneur, inventor, and hobbyist. For over 25 years, Kevin and his company, Controlled Entropy, have designed and produced hundreds of interactive experiences, museum exhibits, tradeshow displays, and electronic gadgets for clients worldwide. Kevin grew up in Metairie but lived in New York City for most of his adult life. He returned to New Orleans in 2010 and now lives next to the Lafitte Greenway. In 2014, Kevin bought the historic but abandoned 10th Precinct Police Station located on the Greenway. He is currently working with Susan Spicer to open a restaurant in the space. Kevin's personal interests include industrial archaeology, New Orleans history, pinball, trains, and infrastructure.
 

   

Foster Duncan, Fund Development Committee Chair
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Foster has more than 30 years of senior corporate, private equity, and investment banking experience. Mr. Duncan is an Operating Partner of Bernhard Capital Partners, a private equity fund focused on investing in industrialized energy services. Mr. Duncan also serves as a Senior Advisor to EHS Partners in New York, a management consulting firm focused on improving operational effectiveness, earnings, and growth. Previously, Mr. Duncan was a Managing Director at Advantage Capital, Managing Member of KD Capital L.L.C., Executive Vice President and CFO of Cinergy Corporation, Chairman of Cinergy’s Investment Committee, and CEO and President of Cinergy’s Commercial Business. Foster has also held senior management positions with LG&E Energy Corp., Freeport- McMoRan Copper & Gold, Howard Weil, and Edison Electric Institute. He graduated with Distinction from the University of Virginia and later received his MBA degree from the A. B. Freeman Graduate School of Business at Tulane University. Foster serves on the Boards of Directors of Atlantic Power Corporation (NYSE:AT) in Boston, Massachusetts and Greentech Capital Advisors in New York, a firm focused on M&A services and general strategic advisory services for Sustainable Infrastructure companies and projects. Mr. Duncan is active in a number of civic organizations including in New Orleans the Board of Directors of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital Foundation, The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, and Parks for All and in Charlottesville, Virginia the National Advisory Board and Selection Committee of the University of Virginia Jefferson Scholars Program and Co-Chairman of the Jefferson Circle, which promotes the preservation of the Rotunda and historic Grounds.

   

John Hopper
Board Term: Jan 2015 – Jan 2018
Hopper has over twenty-five years of non-profit management experience, ran an operating foundation at the American Red Cross National Headquarters with a $93 million endowment, served as the Executive Director of the Young Leadership Council for seven years, and has overseen the successful implementation of scores of grants. He presently serves as the Chief Development Officer and Director of Public Affairs at New Orleans City Park and has been instrumental in raising over $108 million for the park since Hurricane Katrina. He has a B.S. in Management with a Specialization in Spanish and an MBA. He served in the United States Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He has and continues to serve on a number of non-profit boards. 

   

Eric Van Hoven
Board Term: Jan 2015 – Jan 2018
Eric serves as the Branch Manager and Lender for Gulf Coast Bank & Trust in the Mid-City area, and has worked in community banking since 2009. He has experience in mergers and acquisition, and worked for HSBC, a large global bank, for 8 years. Eric has a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Souther Mississippi, an MBA from Loyola University, and is currently working on a graduate degree in banking at LSU. He serves as the Vice President of the Greater Mid-City Business Association. He was born and raised in the New Orleans area and lives in Lakeview with his wife and two children. His interests include traveling with family and friends, sporting events, and fishing.

   

Ernest Johnson
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Ernest is a community leader, an advocate for youth and families, and a respected local organizer. For the past 6 years, he worked as a community organizer for Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), fighting to bring the voices of families and communities into discussions concerning juvenile incarceration and other social matters. In addition to his work at FFLIC, Ernest is President of the Treme/Lehmann Booster club, a former board member of Safe Streets Strong Communities, and a current national board member of Equal Voice Action. He is also co-chair and member of the advisory committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) and worked on the 2015 electoral campaign of State Representative John Bagneris. He has spoken on issues of equity and incarceration, and the importance of centering parents and families, at Tulane University, the Joan Mitchell Center, on WBOK, and in two interviews with the New Orleans Times Picayune. He was born in the 6th Ward in the Lafitte Housing Development and the Lafitte area has been home to him through all the changes and revitalization it has experienced over the decades. Recently, he organized the First Lafitte Family Reunion, which was attended by over 500 former and present Lafitte neighborhood residents. His passion is connecting community members to each other and to opportunities in the city and he is excited to continue that work with Friends of the Lafitte Greenway.

   

Antonia Keller
Board Term: Jan 2017 – Jan 2020
Antonia Keller serves as Director of Operations for Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which supports educational initiatives for children in the areas of nutrition, life skills development and cultural enrichment. She joined the foundation in 2006 to participate in the recovery of her native New Orleans, and previously she worked in the special events industry in Dallas, Las Vegas and New Orleans. Antonia is a past member of the advisory board for Special Events Magazine. A graduate of LSU, she is a Mid-City resident and enjoys bike riding for recreation.

 

Seth Levine 
Board Term: Jan 2017 - Jan 2020
Seth is a business lawyer, with a degree in finance, and licensed Louisiana real estate broker with a decade of experience guiding clients through commercial transactions that are often complex and crucial to a company’s success. A partner in the New Orleans office of Jones Walker LLP, Levine works with exploration and production, hospitality, real estate development, and manufacturing companies as well as national and local lenders. A member of the Energy, Environment & Natural Resources practice in the firm's New Orleans office, his practice involves a wide range of energy matters and he has extensive experience in project financing, land acquisitions, servitude acquisitions and all other real estate matters, including all aspects of real estate due diligence and title matters, hydrocarbon processing, handling and transportation agreements, master service contracts for offshore and onshore oilfield services and equipment, and energy infrastructure projects, including LNG facilities, pipelines, storage facilities and floating production systems.

   

Mary Matthews, Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair
Board Term: Jan 2017 – Jan 2020
Mary serves as Executive Director of 504ward, a collaborative initiative (housed at the New Orleans Business Alliance) to retain talented young professionals in New Orleans by providing access to jobs, leadership, social connectivity, and opportunities of all shapes and colors. After attending Sewanee in Tennessee for her undergraduate degree and University of Grenoble in France for a master’s degree in International Development, Mary returned to New Orleans to contribute to the development of a more sustainable and equitable city. She was inspired by projects like the Lafitte Greenway and resurgence of the French language in New Orleans. Previously, As the marketing and development director of the Alliance Francaise de la Nouvelle-Orléans, a nonprofit French language and cultural center, Mary worked to promote the appreciation and preservation of New Orleans' unique Francophone culture. Mary is an advocate of bikeable and walkable communities, foreign language education and the preservation of her neighborhood, the historic French Quarter.

 

Demetric M. Mercadel 
Board Term: Jan 2017 - Jan 2020
Demetric has several passions, but her top three include family, community service and political activism. Demetric has more than 35 years of experience in the accounting, finance and planning fields with responsibilities ranging from basic operations, administrative accounting, preparing variance analysis reports and special projects. Demetric currently is public affairs, senior customer service specialist, for Entergy New Orleans, Inc. In this post, she develops working relationships with the City of New Orleans and with the New Orleans delegation of the state legislators and supports strategic regulatory, energy efficiency and energy policy initiatives. Demetric is a proud New Orleanian–born and raised in the 7th Ward–who works with numerous community organizations such as president of the board of directors of the French Market Corporation and of the Upper Pontalba Building Association, president of the Corpus Christi-Epiphany Catholic Church Pastoral Council and recently completed the coordination and development of the Corpus Christi- Epiphany Neighborhood Community Center in the 7th Ward; past president of the board of directors of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.; former president and now vice-president of the board of directors of St. Augustine High School, currently serving as board secretary; board member of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and much more.

 

Natalie Mitchell, Community Engagement Committee Chair
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Natalie is an attorney specializing in public policy research and advocacy. She currently works for the Business Council of New Orleans managing Forward New Orleans, a coalition of local business, civic, and neighborhood organizations who came together after Hurricane Katrina to advocate for improvements in city governance. Natalie previously worked for the New Orleans City Council as a staffer for Council President Jackie Clarkson. She is a native of Waveland, Mississippi and moved to New Orleans in 2006 to attend Tulane Law School. Natalie has lived near the Greenway for the past three years. During that time she has grown to appreciate the positive impact the Greenway is having in connecting and improving adjacent neighborhoods and is eager to do her part to make sure we get the most out of this amazing community asset.

   

Andreanecia Morris, Planning & Design Committee Chair, Greenway Soirée Committee Chair
Board Term: Jan 2014 – Jan 2017
Andreanecia serves as the Executive Director for HousingNOLA, is a 10-year public private partnership working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis. The 10-year Strategy and Implementation Plan, released in 2015, indicates the need for 33,600 additional housing opportunities by 2025. Morris has worked to create affordable housing opportunities in the Greater New Orleans Area in both the public and private sector--creating opportunities for approximately 500 families to become first time homebuyers after Hurricane Katrina. She was lead organizer for the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) when it started in 2007 as collaborative coalition of non-profit housing builders and community development corporations. In 2016, UNITY of Greater New Orleans named Morris Outstanding Advocate for Affordable Housing, BIZ New Orleans Magazine named Morris one of the Top 10 Influencers in Real Estate and Urban Conservancy and Stay Local named her to its 2016 Urban Heroes Class.

 

Darby Shields
Board Term: Jan 2017 - Jan 2020
Darby is an avid biker and regular user of the Lafitte Greenway Bikeway. He is a member of the Friends of the Lafitte Greenway since 2015 and has supported many activities. Mr. Shields started an aerospace engineering company in 1982, sold the business and moved to New Orleans in 2015. He has served on boards for the Boys and Girls Club and the High Street Theater Foundation in California, with experience as President and Treasurer and raising funds for 501c organizations. He has a special interest in expanding the bike path to City Park and insuring safety on the cross streets.

 

Leonetta Terrell
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Leonetta was a founding Board member of Friends of Lafitte Greenway and remains an active member of the Community Engagement Committee. A longtime residents of the Tremé neighborhood, Leonetta  got involved with the Greenway to be a voice for Tremé. She works professionally as social worker. Leonetta is an active member of St. Peter Claver Church.

   

Jeffrey J. Thomas, Chair of the Board
Board Term: Jan 2016 – Jan 2019
Jeffrey Thomas is principal of Thomas Strategies, LLC, a strategic planning firm that facilitates public-private financing, policy, and partnership solutions to spur resilient community and economic development. Jeffrey has over fifteen years of legal, public administration, and community development experience, including public- and private-sector projects aimed at increasing community investment in environmental quality, sustainable public infrastructure, neighborhood-scale economic revitalization, renewable energy solutions, and public access and participation in governmental decision-making.

   

Rev. Dr. Dwight Webster
Board Term: Jan 2017 – Jan 2020
Born in Philadelphia, PA, Dwight Webster has been the Senior and Founding Pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana for more than twenty-two years. While living in and commuting from the San Francisco Bay Area, he worked with Lutheran Social Services of Northern California and was under watchcare at Allen Temple Baptist Church. In 2005 Rev. Webster formed with Civil Rights veteran, C.T. Vivian, Churches Supporting Churches, a post-Katrina long-term recovery organization for pastors, churches and community in New Orleans. Currently, he serves as Executive Director. He also co-founded the Jeremiah Group, a broad-based, faith-based ecumenical organization, affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation that “seeks the welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7) of New Orleans. Rev. Webster has served on the faculties of Tulane University, Loyola University and its Institute of Ministry, Xavier University’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies and Delgado Community College in New Orleans. He served as the Director of the Southern University at New Orleans Center for African and African American Studies for seven years. His first New Orleans appointment was University Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Religion at Dillard University. Rev. Webster was the Interim Director and Interim Dean of the Program of Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York. He also taught at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

   

Jared Zeller
Board Term: Jan 2015 – Jan 2018
Jared Zeller has split most of his professional career between the arts and industrial distribution, with a short time spent abroad in South Korea while enlisted with the U.S. Army. Currently in the industrial arena, he is employed by MSC Industrial Supply as a metalworking specialist in the oil patch of Louisiana. In the artistic realm, Zeller is the founder and executive officer of the MotherShip Foundation, host of the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo, and has spent the last fifteen years promoting and producing entertainment events in the New Orleans area, as a career and hobby. After receiving a BS in Business Management form the University of New Orleans in 2006, he became an adjunct professor at Delgado Community College teaching Introduction to Music Business and Music Entrepreneurship. Following Hurricane Katrina, Zeller founded the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival in 2006 as a way to revitalize a neighborhood in peril. This grassroots community festival has become one of New Orleans signature events, drawing thousands of locals and visitors to a once devastated neighborhood.