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Eugenie Ardoin

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Dr. Ardoin earned a bachelor’s of business administration from NLU in 1988, a Master of Business Administration from NLU in 1989 and a doctorate in business administration from Louisiana Tech University in 2009.

Dr. Ardoin is an assistant professor of finance in the College of Business and Social Sciences. She joined the University of Louisiana at Monroe's faculty in January of 2013 and teaches finance courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Before joining the full-time faculty, Ardoin taught as an adjunct faculty member and worked as a part-time business consultant with the Small Business Development Center at ULM.

Dr. Ardoin has prior professional experience as a Bank Examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a Loan Review Officer with a multi-bank holding company, and a Senior Business Development Officer with a private, non-profit, economic development, lending institution. Dr. Ardoin also owned and operated her own business consulting firm before returning to school to pursue her doctorate.

Dr. Ardoin is active in both academic and community services. Academically she serves as Secretary and Treasurer for the Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and is an active member of several academic associations. As to community service, she serves on several different community Boards and is active in various community organizations. Dr. Ardoin also serves as the faculty advisor for Financial Management Association, a student lead organization designed to enhance learning through interaction with community leaders and businesses.

Dr. Ardoin's research interests include small business finance, international finance, IPOs, mergers, and general corporate finance. She has published in six referred journals and has over 20 conference proceedings.

Renee Arrington

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Renee Arrington has been around the Internet block. Interacting in the social climate from AOL Dial-Up to having Tom be her first friend on Myspace to current platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and beyond, Renee is a Social Media Strategist who believes businesses should leverage the power of social media channels if they want to not only survive, but thrive. Social media is growing at warp speed, and she has a track record of helping brands build a strong presence across a number of platforms.

Renee has worked in the Marketing industry for 15 years, gaining experience at WillStaff Corporate in Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising, before moving on to Marketing Director at S. E. Huey Co., a local civil engineering firm. She conducts trainings to make social media marketing easy to understand and implement has directly impacted the bottom line of several companies through her training and one-on-one consulting.

Currently she works with Great Minds Communications as their Social Media Consultant and she manages digital marketing strategies for churches, restaurants, and insurance agencies, just to name a few. Certified in Google Analytics, by day she curates content, analyzes post performances, and creates effective ad campaigns as she navigates the greatest communication shift in generations, and by night she’s expanding to an amateur videographer.

Mary Barrios

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Mary Barrios is currently employed by The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana as their Healthy Living Coordinator. She serves as the Project coordinator for UACT(Union Parish Alliance for Community Transformation) that focuses on reducing underage drinking and non medical use of prescription drugs. She also oversees the Youth Safety Initiative,a grant funded by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

Ms. Barrios began her work with the Children’s Coalition for NELA in 2010 as Bilingual LACHIP Coordinator as well as Region 8 Child Safety Coordinator, and the Safe and Healthy Kids Project Coordinator. During this time, she was one of two Louisiana residents selected as a Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD of the National Institutes of Health Safe to Sleep Champion due to her work in the area of Safe Sleep. She also founded Dia de la Familia Family Fun Day that has grown to an annual event celebrating and advocating for the Latino Community in Union parish with over 400 attendees annually.

Ms. Barrios is a board member of The Wellspring and an advisory committee member and mentor for Teach 1 to Lead 1. She is the treasurer for the Union Black Heritage Committee and serves on various other committees and teams.

She is a graduate of Baylor university and resident of Farmerville, LA.

Kemper Block Baugh

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Graduating from the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2014, she made no delay in pursuing her lifelong goal of working in the fashion industry.

Kemper became the stylist assistant for the prominent TV series “Duck Dynasty” within weeks of receiving her diploma. Although her degree states Bachelors of Arts and Sciences, her heart led her in a different direction.

“Although I may never use my biology degree, the degree at which I grew as an individual through my college experience is a substantial part of my journey.”

After a year of operating on the film set, she discovered a deeper desire to express herself through fashion and she started to explore her opportunities in the area. It was then that Kemper decided to create a blog.

She and her husband, Jo, developed the blog as a simple hobby, but is now Kemper’s full time job. They now share their journey with over 113,000 followers.

Much of the content Kemper creates features partnerships with some of the leading fashion companies in the industry including Forever21, Urban Outfitters, Nike, Express & American Eagle.

Angie O'Pry Blades

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Angie O’Pry Blades is owner of Fiesta Nutrition Center in Monroe. Angie graduated in 1983 from NLU with a degree in Home Economics. She has been in the retail natural foods industry for 41 years. In 2016 Angie was named as one of three Inspirational Women in the Natural Foods Industry by the National Natural Products Expo . She has served as President of the Natural Products Association (Southwest Region) as well as the National Board. Locally, she is on the KEDM Public Radio Advisory Board, the Educational Arts Initiative Board President, and is active in many fundraisers including the Louisiana Opera based at ULM. Angie and her husband Jerry reside in Monroe.


Twainna Calhoun

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Twainna Fortner Calhoun is a 1991 graduate of Ouachita Parish High School. She graduated from Grambling State University Magna Cum Laude in December of 1995 with a degree in elementary education. While at Grambling, Twainna participated in many activities including the Earl Lester Cole’s Honor College and Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society, and Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Through the Southern Education Foundation, she had the privilege of studying at Harvard University in 1994. She earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Northeast Louisiana University in 1999. Additionally, Mrs. Calhoun has obtained thirty plus graduate hours from University of Louisiana at Monroe. Finally, Twainna has completed fifteen doctoral hours from Louisiana Education Consortium (LEC) a collaborative effort of Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, and University of Louisiana at Monroe.

As a second generation educator, Twainna began her twenty-three year career in the Ouachita Parish School System. She has served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and her current position as principal of Good Hope Middle School where she boasts high academic standards. She has maintained this position for over twelve years. Some of her certifications include the National Institute for School Leadership and Louisiana Principals' Induction Program. Twainna was honored as teacher of the year for A. L. Smith Elementary and Quota Club Woman of the Year finalist. In 2017, she was a finalist for Louisiana State Principal of the Year. Mrs. Calhoun is a member of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Association Principals where she represents thirteen parishes.

Mrs. Calhoun is a member of the Pleasant Green Baptist Church serving as a Sunday school teacher, a vacation bible school teacher, and a member of the children’s ministry. Her favorite scripture comes from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.”

Her community service includes general membership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Twainna is a sustainer of the Monroe Junior League where she served as the education chairperson. She has served as Monroe Symphony’s Book Fair Volunteer; Big Brother/ Big Sister Advisory Committee; and was also nominated as the Quota Club Woman of the Year.

Of all things achieved in her life thus far, she considers her greatest accomplishments to be her eighteen year marriage to Abram Calhoun Jr., and mother to her three daughters; Lauren, age fourteen, and six year old twins, Layla and Ava. Her family enjoys traveling, reading, and enjoying the little things in life!


Allison Jones Chapman

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Allison Jones Chapman has been in the wholesale convenience store distribution business most of her life. A native of Monroe, she worked in her family’s business, Ouachita Distributing Co., for twenty years. Upon her father’s death in 2008, the decision was made to sell their company to Lyons Specialty Co., based in Port Allen, LA. Allison remained on board with Lyons where she currently oversees the territories of North Louisiana and Southeast Arkansas, managing 128 accounts, generating $34 million in annual sales. A graduate of Ole Miss and River Oaks School, she is married and has two children. She is a board member of the YMCA of NELA, a member of the Monroe Garden Club, a sustaining member of the Monroe Junior League and a member of Forsythe Ave. Church of Christ, where she leads a teen girls’ ministry focused on college and career choices. She is a graduate of Leadership Ouachita, Leadership LA and a 2016 recipient of the Delta Style Magazine’s “Women Who Shape the Delta.” This is her second year as a panelist in the ULM Women’s Symposium.


Judge Aisha Clark

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Assistant City Prosecutor. She is the newest and youngest elected Judge for the Monroe City Court. Judge Clark was a partner in the Lawyers’ Group of LA, but later decided to close her practice to focus on her career with the City of Monroe.

Judge Clark is a member of the American Judges Association, Louisiana City Judges Association, NBA Association, and host of others. Judge Clark received the W.L. “Jack” Howard Public Service Award from the mayor of Monroe in recognition of her Annual Hair-Los from the Heart Cancer Benefit. Also, she recently received the Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals Award just to name a few.

Judge Clark graduated from Ouachita Parish High School and went on to graduate from Grambling State University earning degrees in Political Science and Mass Communication. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

In her spare time, she enjoys, reading, shopping, and spending time with family and friends.


Ashley Ellis

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Ashley Ellis is a native of northeast Louisiana. Her work as an educator began in 2002 when she accepted her first teaching position as a fifth grade teacher in San Antonio, TX. Ellis received a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in administration and supervision and has worked as an educator for over 15 years. She has served in education with positions as an elementary, middle school, and high school educator. In fact while teaching in Ouachita Parish, Ellis was named the Middle School Teacher of the Year for the Northeast Region and went on to compete for the State Teacher of the Year.

Her passion for education is infectious, and her charisma as a teacher captures students and empowers colleagues. Most of her career she has worked with at-risk students in poverty communities. She believes that being a great educator is about building relationships with students.

“Without trust and relationships we are nobody to our students. If they don’t believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message. And we have far too much to share and teach for us to take that chance.”
Upon graduation with her Master’s in Administration, Ellis was recruited to a school district in Missouri where she worked as the district Curriculum and Public Relations Director. She decided to return home to be closer to family and began working for the Louisiana Department of Education as a Regional Accountability Coach serving six school districts across Northeast Louisiana. She currently works for the Monroe City School District as the Assistant Principal of Neville High School.

“I am so blessed to be back home and serving right her in my community. I absolutely love my new Neville family and can’t wait to see what’s in store for our students and our community!”
Ellis’s philanthropic heart drives her to volunteer with charities both local and abroad. She serves as an Ambassador for Noonday Collection, helps raise funds and organize house parties for Sole Hope, as well as work summer camps with the Big Brother, Big Sister organization. Two years ago, she began working with the Department of Child and Family Services to foster a child who she and her husband later adopted. She also served on the planning committee for The Center for Children and Families Black and White Ball fundraiser which raises most of the operational funds for the center. She serves on various committees at Neville High School as well as church outreach events in the community.

“I have to mention how much I enjoyed my time as a student at ULM as well as working for Recruitment and Admissions as the Orientation Coordinator for PREP. That job was hands-down one of my favorites and of course, working with Lisa Miller!”

Dr. Paula Griswold

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Dr. Paula Griswold is an Assistant Dean in the College of Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Dr. Griswold joined the faculty of ULM in 2007. She received both her B.S. in Medical Technology and her M.S. in Life Sciences (Microbiology) from Louisiana Tech University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Toxicology from Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM). She is a registered Medical Technologist through the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and a certified Medical Coder through the American Association of Professional Coders.

Dr. Griswold has developed and taught (online and face-to-face) courses in the Health Studies Program since she joined ULM. She developed a health studies practicum whereby working closely with healthcare facilities in the community.

Dr. Griswold serves as a Quality Matters Master Reviewer of online courses for ULM and other universities. She has presented many papers at conferences and is well published. She serves on several university and college committees.

Dr. Griswold is active in community organizations which work to benefit the elderly in our community.

Jennifer Haneline

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Jennifer Haneline, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker with over twenty years of practical experience working in non-profit and clinical settings. Jennifer is the northeast Louisiana Regional Manager with The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois in Chicago (IL) in 1996, her Master’s degree in Social Work from Aurora University (IL) in 2000; she obtained her Clinical Social Work license in 2002 and achieved a fellowship in Infant Mental Health from Tulane University (LA) in 2009. In 2015 Jennifer began her first term as an elected official on the Monroe City School Board. During her career, Jennifer has had the opportunity to work with individuals of all ages and backgrounds including hearing impaired and deaf individuals, urban youth, abused and neglected children and individuals coping with Alzheimer’s disease. She has worked in inpatient psychiatric hospitals, residential facilities, several community based mental health programs, a police social work department, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and a national non-profit organization. Jennifer has found a true calling advocating for persons of disparate populations who are not finding equal access to care and services that other segments of the population find.


Meredith Hayes

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Meredith Hayes is Senior Counsel and the Director of Ethics and Compliance and Corporate Investigations at CenturyLink, Inc., a Fortune 150 company and the second largest U.S. communications provider to global enterprise customers. Meredith’s position includes oversight of the Company’s Corporate Ethics and Compliance Program, which includes administration of the Company’s global whistleblower hotline. Her team of compliance analysts, attorneys, and corporate investigators is responsible for reviewing and investigating allegations of misconduct received through the corporate hotline, including allegations of harassment and discrimination. Meredith is a native of Baton Rouge and a 2002 graduate of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where she earned both a Juris Doctorate and a Bachelor of Civil Law. Prior to joining CenturyLink in 2013, Meredith spent eleven years in the Labor and Employment and Commercial Litigation practice groups at New Orleans defense firm, Deutsch, Kerrigan and Stiles, where she defended clients faced with claims under both state and federal law. She is AV Preeminent rated under Martindale Hubbell Peer Review standards for professional skills and high ethical standards.


Janet Haedicke

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Janet V. Haedicke is a Professor of English and Graduate Coordinator at ULM, where she has served as President of the Faculty Senate, Director of the University Performing Arts Series, and Editor of the Tennessee Williams Literary Journal. Dr. Haedicke’s service also includes the Presidency of the David Mamet Society and the Boards of Directors of the American Theatre and Drama Society, Southern Repertory Theatre, the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society, the Louisiana Women’s Policy and Research Commission, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and the Louisiana State Museum. Her work on modern and contemporary American drama has appeared in major journals as well as in numerous critical anthologies and reference volumes, with essays in Modern Drama and American Drama recognized as distinguished contributions to the field.

Currently a Director and Executive Committee member of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. Haedicke was instrumental in the recent awarding of a $5 million federal grant for assumption of the Headstart program in Ouachita Parish. Service on the local level also includes Presidency of The Center for Children and Families and the founding of the Black and White Ball to support its Children Advocacy Center. A former Board member of the Twin City Art Foundation and the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council as well as current member of the Monroe Capital Infrastructure Commission, she was awarded the first recognition by the Monroe City Council for Distinguished Service to the Community, by the March of Dimes as their annual Honoree for Service, by Delta Style as a Women of Influence, and by Bayou Life as a Bayou Icon.


Debbie Horstmann

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Despite her youthful appearance, Debbie has over 40 years of Human Resource experience of which 20 years are at St. Francis Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Group, an affiliate of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, when combined includes approximately 1,400 team members in Monroe.  Her previous experience was with Mercy Regional Medical Center, an affiliate of Sisters of Mercy Health System in St. Louis, Missouri.  While at Mercy she served in various Human Resources and Administrative roles.  She is a certified HR professional as both a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) as well as a Senior Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  Debbie has a Bachelor’s degree from University of Southern Mississippi and MBA from Mississippi College.  In addition, she has three kids – 2 grown sons and a husband!  She is a member of the local SHRM Chapter and her church.  Debbie loves working in our faith based organization at St. Francis.


Natalie Ingle

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Natalie exemplifies tenacity. During her time at ULM, she began working as an intern at P&S Surgical Hospital. Immediately following her internship, she started working full-time at the hospital while completing a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies Management Marketing. She initially served as the hospital's Administrative Specialist and within three years was promoted three times: Implementation Specialist, Implementation Coordinator, and Implementation Manager. In May 2017, she was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Business Development & Implementation at Specialty Management Services of Ouachita. In February 2017, Natalie began working for The Woman's Clinic of Monroe as Director of Operations.

She consistently tackles each new challenge with determination and confidence. She excels in project management, conflict resolution, negotiation, informational technology implementation, healthcare consulting, and more. She mentors her staff and works collaboratively with her colleagues to ensure each endeavor is a success.

Natalie, who was named one of Northeast Louisiana’s Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals in 2014, is active in United Way and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Natalie has chaired SMSO’s United Way Fundraising Initiative and SMSO’s participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She has also volunteered for United Way's Dollars & Sense program and has served on United Way's Community Investment Committee. Natalie belongs to Christ Church. She is committed to making an impact both in her professional environment and in her community.

Natalie earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies Management Marketing from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She began working at P&S Surgical Hospital as an intern. Following her internship, she began working full-time while finishing her undergraduate degree. She served as the hospital's Administrative Specialist and within three years was promoted three times: Implementation Specialist, Implementation Coordinator, and Implementation Manager. In May 2017, she was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Business Development & Implementation at SMSO. In February 2018, Natalie began working for The Woman's Clinic of Monroe as Director of Operations.

During Natalie's tenure with SMSO, she consistently tackled each new challenge with tenacity and determination. She remained eager to learn new technology and share that knowledge with clients and colleagues so they might benefit from her expertise. She mentored her staff and worked collaboratively with her coworkers to ensure each endeavor was a success.

Natalie was named one of the Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals for Northeast Louisiana, and she was also accepted into the Ouachita Leadership program. Natalie belongs to Christ Church, where she has volunteered for various initiatives. She is also active in United Way and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Natalie has chaired SMSO’s United Way Fundraising Initiative and SMSO’s participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She has also volunteered for United Way's Dollars & Sense program and has served on United Way's Community Investment Committee.


Joneal Kirby

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For twenty years, Dr. Joneal Kirby worked in education, as a teacher, a school guidance counselor and then, principal. She left this career in 2001 to earn a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from ULM. During her preparing for licensure as a mental health professional, she built a private counseling practice. In addition, she developed a counseling center within her church which provided services for clients from a four-state region.

In 2003, she created Heartfelt Ministries, which focuses on Biblical discipline programs for women. Dr. Kirby is a speaker and author and has spoken at conferences and workshops all over the country. She is also a radio and television presenter on women and family issues. Her own yearly conference, The Heartfelt Experience, is attended by thousands of women. Dr. Kirby hosts a daily radio program with a current listening audience of over 100,000 listeners. She also co-wrote and co-hosted a television Bible Study and Christian lifestyle program for Legacy Network. Her most recent ministry effort has been developing the Deep Bible Study Conference. The first one was held at Christ Church, in West Monroe, in September of 2016. Two others were produced in Bossier City and Ruston with thousands of women attending these in 2017. A new Women’s Conference, Battle, is currently being planned for the fall of 2018.

Dr. Kirby is the author of several books and Bible studies. Heartfelt, a Woman’s Guide to Creating Meaningful Friendships, The Heartfelt Friends Training Manual, Heart of a Family for Mom: Common Sense Parenting with Wisdom from the Word, and Hope for Your Family: A Parent’s Guide, and numerous articles for a variety of publications. She has written Bible studies for women’s ministry, including Be the Woman, A Study of Proverbs 31, Living the Gospel, and Parables of Purpose, Nine Stories Jesus Told. Her latest study is Truth: Words of Jesus for Today’s Woman.

Dr. Kirby travels extensively, speaking at conferences and churches about the roles of women’s ministry. She trains churches on how to develop spiritually meaningful relationships in the church and how to use the Bible in the spiritual development of women.

She and her husband, Randy, will celebrate 43 years of marriage in July. They met in college and married soon after. They have three children who have blessed them with their spouses and five grandboys. They have lived and worked in the Monroe/West Monroe area since 1986. They are involved leaders at WFR Church in West Monroe.


Cassie Livingston

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Cassie Livingston, a Rayville native, is publisher and founder of BayouLife magazine. Cassie graduated from ULM with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in 2001. After serving as an intern at DeltaStyle Magazine during college, she worked at the magazine full time post-graduation, commuting every two weeks from Austin, Texas. She married Trent Livingston in 2005, and sought employment locally in Austin, first with Austin American Statesman newspaper, then as marketing director for a client, and finally in advertising sales for Austin Business Journal. In 2008, Cassie and Trent returned to the area, and Cassie became publisher of DeltaStyle. In 2012, shortly after giving birth to her first daughter Stella, Cassie launched her own magazine, BayouLife, because she knew the area deserved a better product. With enough for one month of expenses and Trent’s encouragement, Cassie made the leap and branched out on her own.

A personal tragedy in Cassie’s early twenties taught her to appreciate life, to take risks, to live out loud. She says, “Failure to me is not what it would be to someone else. Business doesn’t scare me.” She also believes in giving back. She serves on the NELA Arts Council, art being a passion of hers. She is also a sustainer of the Junior League of Monroe where she served on the Education Task Force, Families Can’t Wait and was the marketing and PR chair. She is a past member of the Twin City Ballet Board, and Mobile Loaves and Fishes - a nonprofit in downtown Austin for the homeless. She has volunteered for the March of Dimes, PAWS pet parade and Cinderella Project, among others. She was chosen as one of the Top 20 Under 40 by the Young Professionals Group. Cassie and Trent are also members of Rayville United Methodist Church. Through BayouLife, Cassie can focus on sponsoring nonprofits and promoting the visual and performing arts in our community.


Kelsea McCrary

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Kelsea McCrary is dedicated to promoting the transformative power of the arts and is enthralled by storytelling.

McCrary, a graduate of the University of Louisiana Monroe with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual and Performing Arts, is currently working in digital media, branding and social media for CenturyLink.

Prior to joining the Fortune 200 company, she served as Director of Marketing and as an out-of-state recruiter for ULM, transitioning to a branding and communications leadership role for a private sector company based in Dallas.
A leader in the movement to revitalize Monroe/West Monroe and bring the community together, she is president of the Downtown Arts Alliance which is the host of the Downtown Gallery Crawl, Vice President of the Monroe Renaissance, and actively serves the Twin City Art Foundation, the Ouachita Business Alliance and North Monroe Baptist Church.

Classically trained, Kelsea teaches and coaches at area dance studios and high schools. Committed to promoting both the visual and performing arts, her involvement centers on creating access to the arts for all.

She's been nominated three times for Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals in Northeast Louisiana, and was also nominated for Volunteer of the Year for the 2016 Northeast Louisiana Arts Council ArtWorks Awards. A former host of the ULM TedX series, she also is a frequent speaker for Louisiana Tech's College of Business Career Prep classes and symposiums along with other area conferences and events, the Louisiana Association of Colleges and Employers, and even led a session at a recent conference where Oprah was the keynote speaker. She may have fan-girled a bit.
A big fan of the Oxford comma and her mini Aussie, Murphy, and still trying to find a green smoothie recipe that is palatable, Kelsea is a storyteller at heart. In that order.


Dr. Jaya McSharma

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Dr. Jaya McSharma is a native of Alexandria, La and a graduate of Louisiana College, where she double majored in Biology and English. She completed her medical degree and residency training in Family Medicine at LSU Shreveport.
Jaya practiced as a hospitalist at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe for five years and is now practicing at Christus Highland in Shreveport. She is eternally grateful for the time she spent here in Monroe, not only because of the wonderful friends and Enoch’s burgers she encountered, but because she met her musician husband while he was performing at Live Oak!

After years of practicing medicine, Jaya has finally started using her English degree to become a writer, actress, and online media personality to tackle subjects from politics to entertainment. She has been featured as a live storyteller in the podcast “All Y’all”; is a regular writer and vlogger for online magazine Heliopolis: Shreveport News and Culture; has written for SB Magazine and been featured in Country Roads magazine; writes and hosts two webseries called “Gimme A Minute!” and “Couch Sessions with Dr. McSharma,” respectively; and was named one of the top doctors in Shreveport last year by SB Magazine. She also serves as the medical director of the Philadelphia Center in Shreveport, which seeks to “empower those affected by HIV/AIDS & STDS through education and service,” particularly the LGBTQ community and the underserved.

The arts are her first love, and equality and diversity both in the community and the workplace are at the top of her list of passions. Her husband, Jacob, who very coolly combined his maiden name with hers to form “McSharma,” provides the directing and editing for her videos when not writing original music. He and her three ridiculously amazing cats – Rose, Neo, and Wally – keep her going when the flame of social and cultural justice seems to momentarily wither.


Sue Nicholson

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The daughter of an Army officer, Sue and her family traveled extensively during her youth. She grew up in ten different states and countries, including Korea and Germany. One of her father’s final assignments was at Ft. Polk, which is what brought her to Louisiana. Following high school, she moved to Ruston to attend Louisiana Tech University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History graduating Suma Cum Laude. She has also done extensive work towards a Master degree in history.

Following graduation, she went to work for the Ruston/Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, serving as the director of marketing for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 1995, she was hired by the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce to serve as their President, a position she held until 2004 when Jim Cofer, ULM President recruited her to serve on his cabinet as the Associate VP of External Affairs. In late 2005, she was recruited for the position of President and CEO for the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. Sue is the first person to serve as president of both the West Monroe and Monroe Chamber’s of Commerce and the first female to serve as president of the Monroe Chamber.

Sue has completed Economic Development Institute, Institute for Organization Management and Community Development Institute, where she earned her Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED) certification. She serves on the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, as Chairman of the Ouachita Workforce Investment Board, on the board of the Ouachita Business Alliance and the Monroe Air Industrial Park Advisory Committee. She was appointed by Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the statewide Small Business Development Council and by Governor Bobby Jindal to serve on the Ouachita Port Commission. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Ouachita Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America and the 4th Judicial Youth Services Board. She has served on the boards of ARCO, Volunteers of America and on the vestry of St. Albans Episcopal Church in Monroe.

In 1989, she was recognized as the Lincoln Parish Outstanding Young Woman. She has also been honored as an Outstanding Woman of Ouachita Parish and as one of the 2012 Northeast Louisiana Sweet 16 Outstanding Women. In 2013, she was named the Humanitarian of the Year by the Ad Club of Northeast Louisiana.

She and her husband Tom Nicholson (CEO for Strauss Interests) live in Monroe. They have three children; Tom’s son Conner and Sue’s daughters Sarah Warren and Jennifer Parker. They also have seven grandchildren.


 Dr. Sherry Peveto

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Dr. Sherry Peveto, DNP, WHNP is a native of West Monroe. She completed her doctorate of nursing practice degree at Frontier Nursing University.

Sherry has practiced in the community for 20 years. She has served as a women’s health nurse practitioner at The Woman’s Clinic of Monroe for the past 13 years.

She presently serves as the Interim Associate Director of Undergraduate programs at the Kitty Degree School of Nursing.

Dr. Peveto and her husband Keith are enthusiastic supporters of college baseball. They have two adult children.

Marla Simmons

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Marla Simmons has been a Wealth Advisor with Regions Bank’s Private Wealth Management Division since 2005. Prior to joining Wealth Management she served as an Institutional Trust Officer at Regions Bank for six years where she managed retirement plans for small to mid-size business clients. Marla obtained her Certified Wealth Strategist® designation from Cannon Financial Services in 2013.


Georgia Street

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Georgia Street is well-known in Monroe and the surrounding area as the Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House. A position she has held since 1989, after serving on the founding Board of Directors. Georgia is also known for her civic and community service serving on many boards of non-profit groups. She says it’s her passion for her community that leads her to volunteer for so many organizations.

A NLU (now ULM) graduate, Georgia has served as president of the Junior League of Monroe, the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Friends of the Civic Center, Quota International of Monroe, St. Paul’s United Methodist Women, and the United Way Interagency Council. She has served on the boards of KEDM, the Youth House of Ouachita, Inc., the NLU Foundation Board, the Founding Board of Crime Stoppers of Ouachita (now serving as secretary), the Strauss Theatre, Monroe Symphony Orchestra, Miss Louisiana Pageant, Princess Theater Foundation Board and Ashram 12.

Because of her involvement and service to her community, she has received many honors and awards which include the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council’s Mary Lee Milam Award, the Monroe Junior League’s Louise Seymour Community Impact Award, the Ouachita Parish Woman of the Year, St. Paul’s Woman of the Year, the Quotarian of the Year, the Monroe Symphony Volunteer of the Year, the News Star Southern Belle Award, and the Inaugural Delta Style Sweet Sixteen Award.

Georgia is married to Bill Street, has two sons and daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.


Ashley West

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Ashley King West, a Monroe native, serves as Vice President, Private Banking Relationship Manager for Progressive Bank. In her role she manages all facets of commercial and personal relationships. She provides banking solutions including deposit and loan accounts, as well as commercial cash management and mobile banking services, that meet and support the unique financial needs of private banking clients.

Ashley is a graduate of Ouachita Christian School (1998) and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science (2002) from the University of Mississippi. After graduating from Ole Miss, she moved home to Monroe and began her association with Progressive Bank. In her career at Progressive Bank, she has served in various roles, including Marketing Officer and Assistant Vice-President/Community Relations, leading to her current position as Vice President/Private Banking. Ashley has been recognized by the Independent Community Bankers Association as a Certified Commercial Loan Officer and a Certified Community Bank Compliance Officer. She has also earned a Marketing Diploma through the American Bankers Association (2006).

Ashley is a strong advocate for her community. She is an active member and Past President of the Junior League of Monroe, an organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities. A lover and supporter of the arts, she serves as Administrative Vice Chair for the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council where she has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2014. Ashley has supported the United Way of Northeast Louisiana for more than 15 years volunteering most recently as a 2017 Regional Campaign Team Leader. She is also the Communications Chairman for the Lexington School PTO. Over her career she has also dedicated her time to the American Heart Association, The Children’s Advocacy Center, The Monroe Chamber of Commerce, and The Northeast Louisiana American Red Cross.

In 2014, Ashley was awarded the James M. Shipp, Jr. Memorial Young Business Leader Award and was recognized as a Northeast Louisiana Top 20 under 40 Young Professional. She was recognized as a Sweet 16 (DeltaStyle Magazine’s 16 Most Influential Women of the Delta) in 2012 and graduated from Leadership Ouachita in 2007.
Ashley is married to Frederick West, a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and they have two sons, Hayes (6) and Andrew (2). Ashley is a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and the Monroe Garden Club. Her favorite activity is spending time with her family, and her hobbies include entertaining, cooking, sports, and anything and everything Ole Miss.


Tina Williams

picture of Tina Williams

Tina Williams-Houston is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas.  She earned both her Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Master’s of Business Administration and got her start in technology with ALLTEL Communications.  She then relocated to Monroe for an amazing opportunity with CenturyLink in 2000.  She spent several years working in Marketing and then transitioned to Human Resources in 2011.  Tina is responsible for driving recruiting efforts for North America Operations and Consumer Field Sales.  She also leads Diversity & Inclusion and Recruitment Marketing efforts for the company.  These two functions go hand in hand in that it helps to ensure that the company’s commitment to diversity & inclusion is woven throughout our external messaging, marketing tactics and various candidate touchpoints.  As of a result of a recent acquisition, the company has now expanded to have ten employee resource groups (ERG’s).  In 2017 alone, there was a 25% increase in ERG membership.  Going forward our goal is to further strengthen the impact of our ERG’s both domestically and globally.  As an evolving technology company, we face significant competition in our space; however, the diverse mix of our employees (both inherent and acquired) will give us a differential advantage.   


Caroline Youngblood

picture of Caroline Youngblood

Julia Caroline Youngblood grew up surrounded by cotton fields on Breston Plantation, located in Riverton, Louisiana. She attended Louisiana State University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Youngblood pursued graduate work at Syracuse University, New York, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Louisiana Tech University with a concentration in Drawing and Painting. Youngblood completed her 200-hour RYT training at Shrimath Yoga (Bihar School) near Bangalore, India and has received First and Second Degree attunement into Usui Reiki.

Youngblood has teaching experience as an instructor of record for beginning watercolor and teaching assistant in numerous courses at the college level. She completed a residency at Centre d’Art, Marnay sur Seine, France (CAMAC), funded by an Artist’s Career Advancement Grant awarded by Louisiana Division of the Arts.

Most recently, her work was featured in the LPB’S “North Delta Ramble” and “ArtRocks!”. Caroline’s “Scenes from Riverton, 1937” (2012), “Louisiana Oyster” (2015), and “Carrie Jo Eating Fried Chicken with Group Seated in front of Cotton Field” (2017) have been featured at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans as part of the “Louisiana Contemporary” exhibit. She has frequently been a participant in The Art Melt, a state-wide juried competition in Baton Rouge at The Louisiana State Museum.

Caroline’s solo exhibitions are a multi-sensory experience including a blend of Southern Art, Food, and Music to reinforce the content of her work. She recently was awarded her second Artist Career Advancement Grant to fund, “Riverton, 1937: Part Two”, a multi-media installation which premiered at the 2015 North Delta Food and Wine Festival (Monroe, Louisiana).