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Panel Track 1
Financial Stability: Cultivating Your Own Path 1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

When we think about health, we initially think about our bodies, followed by our mental and spiritual well-being. But it’s important not to underestimate the vital role financial health plays in our long-term success. Despite how much money we make, planning and saving for the future requires discipline, knowledge, and foresight. Lifestyle choices are shifting. Women are choosing to marry later in life, have kids later in life, or even forego marriage and children altogether. With these changes comes more agency over our financial lives and more responsibility for our financial futures. Whether we share household expenses or shoulder the burden alone, getting advice to best prepare ourselves is the first step in solidifying financial stability. Our panel of financial experts will address your financial questions. 

Raya Boyte-Starnes
Jenni Hastings Hammett
Jamie Sheridan

Raya Starnes

Community Impact Associate

United Way of Northeast Louisiana

Raya Boyte-Starnes is a dedicated professional committed to making a positive impact in her community. As the Community Impact Associate and BankOn Fellow at United Way of Northeast Louisiana, Raya’s primary role in enhancing financial well-being and accessibility for underserved populations. 

Raya earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She also is an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC), showcasing her expertise in financial counseling. 

Raya spearheads the BankOn of Northeast Louisiana Coalition, a vital initiative aimed at fostering financial inclusion. The coalition strives to provide secure and affordable banking solutions, products, and financial education to the unbanked and underbanked members of the community. She also provides both group and one-on-one financial counseling services, ensuring that individuals have the knowledge and tools needed to navigate their financial journey successfully.

Jenni Hastings Hammett

Financial Advisor

LPL Financial

Jenni is a graduate of University of Louisiana at Monroe, with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She is a Financial Advisor with LPL Financial, with multiple securities licenses and over 20 years of experience. Beginning her career in banking during college, she proceeded to get securities licensed and move into the role of investment advisor. Starting her career at a Fortune 500 company, she earned multiple awards for sales and service, including the prestigious Rookie of the Year Award in 2009. Jenni’s passion for helping others extends into the community as well. She has volunteered with local charities including United Way and the Junior League of Monroe. While currently a sustaining member in the league, she served as chair of several committees in her active years. Married a bit later in life, Jenni is happy to now call herself a loving wife and continue the title of doting mom of a spoiled fur baby. Additionally, she is an active member of St. Paul’s Methodist Church.

Jamie Sheridan 


Hulsey Harwood & Sheridan, LLC

For more than two decades, Jamie has been in the business of helping individuals and businesses with everything money-related – taxes, planning, consulting, financial statements, you name it. She's not just a numbers person; she's a partner at the local CPA firm Hulsey Harwood & Sheridan, LLC, where she's been making financial magic happen.

An Aggie through and through, Jamie started at Texas A&M University in '94, initially chasing dreams in Veterinary Science before landing in the world of Accounting. After making her way to Northeast Louisiana in '99, she quickly rooted herself in the community. Needing a few more credits to tackle the CPA exam, she took some extra classes at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Fast forward to 2003, and she officially became a licensed CPA. By 2008, she was rocking the partner title at Hulsey, Harwood & Sheridan, LLC.

Jamie loves the chaos and excitement of public accounting. Every day is a new adventure, and planning a day? Well, that's a rare sight. She likens accounting to a jigsaw puzzle, where success means seeing both the big picture and the tiny details simultaneously. And turning tax laws into plain English? She's got that down to an art.

But hey, life isn't just about numbers. Over the years, Jamie has shared her financial wisdom by getting involved with various boards for professional and civic groups.

Outside of work, you'll catch Jamie and her husband, Phillip, juggling the chaos of raising three daughters – soccer games, sleepovers, laundry, the whole deal. And when they need a break, you'll find her digging in the flower beds or deep into the latest binge-worthy Netflix series.



Mind, Body, and Soul: Nurturing Women's Holistic Well-Being  2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Stay attuned to our physical, mental, and spiritual well being is a tall order. We all lead busy lives with ever-expanding to-do lists. Being constantly pulled in so many directions, taking time to check in with ourselves can sometimes feel like just another thing on the list. Our lives are overstimulated to the point that any unnecessary sound feels like a personal intrusion. While the stigma around therapy is diminishing every day, taking the time to talk to someone or convincing a partner to attend therapy with you can feel awkward or even accusatory. Making time to take care of our physical selves often takes a back seat to everyone around us, not to mention our spiritual lives. And when we inevitably experience loss, should we lean into these practices even more? Our panel experts will answer your questions about personal well-being. 

Toshia Lang



Dr Avius Caroll


Lyndsay Henderson

Toshia Lang


Toshia Hyatt Laing was born & raised in West Monroe and graduated from West Monroe High School as a valedictorian. She represented her high school for Leadership 2000, Literary Rally, Louisiana Girls State, and Honor Choir. She is also a proud two-time graduate of the University of Louisiana Monroe, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2008 and Master of Science in Psychology in 2012. 

Over the past decade, Toshia has developed her career in public service, working for Ascent as a Wraparound Facilitator, for Louisiana Easterseals as the Regional EarlySteps SPOE Program Director, and now for the Office of Public Health as the Region 8 Health Disparities Strategist. In her current role, she uses Social Vulnerability Index data and COVID-19 vaccination rates to help the various public health programs target the areas within NELA that need the most outreach efforts. The goals are to reduce health disparities related to severe COVID-19 health outcomes, to improve health equity overall, and to create trusting partnerships with community based and faith based organizations throughout the region. She wants the citizens of NELA feel empowered to take charge of their healthcare, go to their annual wellness visits, get preventive screenings completed on schedule, and know how to access the health services available to them in their communities. 

Toshia is passionate about helping people and serving her community and Northeast Louisiana, and especially loves connecting people to others who can help them reach their goals. She is an active member on over 20 coalitions throughout the region, and she has completed volunteer work with Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter, LSU AgCenter (Ouachita), Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana, Farmerville Lions Club, and Robinson Williams Community Center in Bastrop. She has a strong appreciation for the arts, music, and film culture in our area and currently serves on the NELA Music Awards planning committee. 

Dr. Avius Carroll


Dr. Carroll oversees regional programs aimed at reducing social determinants to healthcare, health disparities, and promotes better health outcomes through our innovative integrated healthcare network and services. She implements & creates programs to support collaborative efforts across our 12-parish region. She currently serves as the Prevention & Wellness Director for Northeast Delta Human Services Authority.

Dr. Carroll is a received her certification for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Cornell  University, an ACE certified educator, certified yoga instructor. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Carroll Group for Health Equity, Advocacy and Research (HEAR), a nonprofit organization aimed to make a positive impact on community health factors in south Monroe. Dr. Carroll’s professional experiences include substance abuse prevention, research and development management and compliance.

Dr. Avius Carroll holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana Tech University and a Master of Arts degree from Grambling State University. She received her doctorate in Public Health at Jackson State University.


Lyndsay Henderson


From an early age, Lyndsay has always had a passion for health and wellness.  In her young adult years, she worked as a personal trainer and Zumba instructor. After becoming a mother, she transitioned into a full-time teaching career.  With the vision she has found for Pure Drip, she is excited to serve her community! Her mission for PURE DRIP is believing health and wellness can be achieved in multiple ways. Pure Drip offers a unique way of helping clients achieve their health goals through detox and purification by utilizing the benefits of infrared saunas, IV therapy and cold plunge. Located on North 7th Street in West Monroe, Pure Drip has become a collaborative environment for those seeking better overall health. 



Imposter Syndrome: Overcoming Self-Doubt and Embracing Success 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

Living involves entering new spaces and stepping outside of the comfortable and familiar. Change is inevitable and forces us to grow. Inhabiting those new spaces and navigating those changes often comes with self-doubt. Sometimes we initiate the big moves, such as changing careers or ending personal relationships that are no longer healthy. Sometimes life throws us unwanted changes that are complicated by sadness or fear or both. While society still insists women and girls should keep emotions contained, life throws us curve balls that bring big feelings to the surface. Our panel of experts will share how they overcame personal obstacles in times of change, how they defeated imposter syndrome, and how it feels on the other side of self-doubt. 


Dr. Alicia Jones


Dee Dee Wednesday Cindy Foust

Dr. Alicia Jones


Dr. Alicia Jones, a native of Opelousas, Louisiana, was born into a family deeply rooted in education, with two grandparents who were elementary educators. Driven by a passion for the sciences, she pursued a BS in Biological Sciences at Southern University and A & M College, earning her degree in 2012. Building on her foundation, Dr. Jones furthered her education with a BS in Clinical Lab Sciences from Our Lady of the Lake, a master’s in Biology from the University of Louisiana Monroe, and finally her doctorate of education from ULM in 2022


With a solid background in the sciences, Dr. Jones made a pivotal shift to the K-12 education sector. Her journey in education began at Caldwell Parish High School and Carroll high School, where she taught Biology and ACT Prep classes. Recognized for her outstanding contributions, she was awarded Teacher of the Year at Carroll in 2020.


In 2022, Dr. Jones took her wealth of experience to higher education, joining the ULM Career Center and eventually became program director of the medical lab technician program at Louisiana Delta Community College. Beyond her roles in traditional education, Dr. Alicia Jones is a dedicated community servant. She serves as the Director of Curriculum for the Literacy and Art Bus mobile classroom, a project designed to bring art and literacy programming to underserved communities. Her multifaceted career reflects a commitment to education, positive community impact, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge.


DeeDee Wednesday


DeeDee Wednesday is an experienced licensed therapist and researcher. Mrs. Wednesday has devoted her career the wellness and healing of the Black community through advocacy, research, and clinical practice. As a member and advocate to the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities DeeDee publicly and enthusiastically brings awareness to the importance of affluence in affirmative mental health.

DeeDee works to profoundly change the practices of mental health professionals by challenging and shifting the biases present in the foundations of mental health practices. With a present focus on imposter syndrome among Black professionals and students she aims to reduce negative stereotypes and biased expectations that create increased tension amongst Black individuals in healthcare. 

Aside from counseling DeeDee works with employers through consultation to transform their organizations by pivoting established beliefs that do not serve their employees. With extensive skills in assessment, and DEI DeeDee provides valuable training and wellness sessions to create a safe space for personnel and managers.

With her experience in social media DeeDee uses her influence and platform to educate the public on mental health and empowers her supporters to value and practice self-advocacy through providing resources and opportunities for radical healing and growth. 

Apart from her clinical practices, DeeDee leans into enjoying her family, practising yoga, and cooking, and is an enthusiastic poet. She spends her time filling her mind with information through reading and creating art to feed the souls of the community.



Cindy Foust


Always a writer, Cindy Foust began writing as a coping mechanism after the loss of her 2-year-old son, Samuel, which served as the catalyst for starting a publishing company, Alpha-kidZ. Within 3 years the company gained traction and began to grow though the help of industry giants like Wal-Mart, and the company found themselves in 187 stores. However, tragedy struck again, and the company office flooded in 2011. In 2012, Cindy found out she had breast cancer, and the company would be forced to take a backseat during the recovery process. Years later, the dream continues, as Cindy has relaunched the business with a blog and plans to finish the alphabet-based series. She is currently a Development Officer with the ULM Foundation, a job that brings her great joy and pride as she gets to work with alumni, community and business leaders to honor their wishes to give back to the University. Because higher education has become so meaningful to her, Cindy also pursued her master's degree and in 2023, received her MPA from her beloved university, ULM. As a busy mother to three children (including her daughter-in-love), Cindy has a passion for cooking, writing and hosting friends and family in her home as often as possible. She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first grandchild in April, 2024, a little girl, Britton Scott.