Downtown Baton Rouge was buzzing the night of June 8 as several hundred partygoers turned out for the Capitol Park Museum’s annual fundraiser. It was one of several fun events both here and in New Orleans that filled my social calendar last week.
“Night at the Museum” has turned into a much-anticipated summer event that brings to life the very interesting exhibits housed in the Capitol Park Museum. Those who visited the exhibits to learn about such things as Pushmataha, Louis Armstrong’s slide cornet, Civil Rights in Louisiana, jazz funerals, Cajun instruments and the Louisiana dance hall got their passports stamped and had a chance to win a $100 gift card to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse.
Of course, you can’t have an event without music and dancing, and this year’s committee kicked things up a notch. With a little nudging from Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Grammy Award-winner Chubby Carrier, “Zydeco Junkie,” was persuaded to come help celebrate the “Year of Music” in Louisiana and perform with his Bayou Swamp Band. They had the place hopping right up until quitting time.
Check out the online photo gallery to see who all was having fun.
The day before, nine women joined the ranks of Influential Women in Business at Business Report’s annual luncheon at the Crowne Plaza. Keynote speaker for the event was Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
The honorees included Lori Bertman, president of the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation; Nancy Crawford, senior vice president of medical staff services, Woman’s Hospital; LaRonda Daigle, executive senior sales director, Mary Kay; Karen Deville, senior director, office of advancement, LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business; Dr. Evelyn Hayes, interim CEO, Baton Rouge General Medical Center; Carolyn McKnight, superintendent BREC; Phyllis Perron, founder/president Phyllis Perron & Associates; Jane Shank, CEO Volunteers of America; and Allison Young, senior vice president, benefits administration division, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.
Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center showed off progress on its new nine-story, 330,000-square-foot Heart & Vascular Tower at a “Cocktails with a View” reception for physicians and board members June 6. That’s the building under construction we’ve all been watching the past few years as we travel Essen Lane. Even though it’s not complete, what is finished is quite impressive.
The facility features 21 pre-operative and post-operative rooms, an auditorium that seats 75-80 for resident and graduate medical education training, 48 new critical care rooms and universal patient rooms.
After a quick tour of the tower, I headed to New Orleans for a late evening cruise aboard the Natchez Steamboat with 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans. “Jammin’ on the River” was a little late getting underway, as the riverboat didn’t dock with its previous cruise until 9 p.m. and the staff had to regroup for us, but it was worth the wait. Mainly because I got to meet some interesting new people.
First there was Robert Mitchell Jr., who serves as parliamentarian of the 100. He was most gracious in welcoming me as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive and made sure I met President Kevin Hill. I also had fun visiting with President-elect Patrick Anderson, wife Sandra and their friends, Adele and Cade London. Then I was fortunate enough to meet Dotti Belletto, of New Orleans Convention Co., which manages the Bayou Classic, and her staff members, Valerie Huntley and Susan Landry. They were kind enough to let me sit with them on the dinner cruise, and I feel like I came away with three new friends.
I was back in New Orleans June 9 for the city’s Links chapter’s 55th anniversary. At this special dinner-dance celebration at The Westin, the chapter honored Louisiana State Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson and alumnae member Violet Bowers, Leah Chase, Millie Charles, Blanche Francis, Viola King, Rhesa McDonald, Sybil Morial, Catherine Packer, Miriam Ortique, Olga Pierre, Bettye Powell, Louadrian Reed and Bettye Scott.
If you’re not familiar with The Links, it’s a group of go-getter women addressing issues affecting the African-American community. The New Orleans chapter was chartered Nov. 20, 1957, and its major initiatives include co-sponsoring the local competition for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, a partnership with Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, and Law Day, in which Bethune students are trained in legal proceedings and participate in a mock trial. Members remain committed to being on the cutting edge of educational, civic and international issues, such as anti-bullying and Haiti relief.
Chapter officers include President Verdie Richburg, Vice President Vonda Flentroy-Rice, Recording Secretary Chimene Grant Connor, Corresponding Secretary Angelique Reed, Treasurer Alexis Robinson, Financial Secretary Michelle Dejoie Manning, Immediate Past President Edna Moore, Program Chairwoman Christine Guillory and Parliamentarian Rachael Johnson.
Baton Rouge Gallery teamed up 24 of its artist members with one of its mentors, students or contemporaries for a rather unique exhibit titled, “Under the Influence,” which opened with a reception the evening of June 5. The artists invited to participate in the show, which runs through June 27, include artists whose work has appeared in some of the most respected institutions in the world, such as the Guggenheim and Whitney (Paul Caponigro, paired with Eleanor Owen Kerr), Photographers Gallery in London (Walt Cotton, paired with Matt Morris) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Barse Miller, paired with Judi Betts).
Also participating in the exhibit are Amy James and Thomas Neff, Kathleen Lemoine and Janice Sachse, Ross Jahnke and Violette Jahnke, Mary Claire Delony and Denyce Celentano, Craig McCullen and Tom Ladousa, Lisa Qualls and Ya La’Ford, Michaelene Walsh and Wade Tullier, Kelli Scott Kelley and Maysey Craddock, Michael W. Howes and Arthur Oakes, Paul Dean and Jim Kellough, Mary Ann Caffery and Dennis Sipiorski, Tom Richard and Scott Lykens, Frankie Gould and John Michael Byrd, James Burke and Joseph O’Connell, Reni Zietz and Jim Zietz, Randell Henry and Taufeeq Muhammad, Scott Finch and George Marks, Mary Lee Eggart and William L. Moreland, Phyllis Lear and Terry Girouard, Brian Kelly and David Driesbach, and Charles Barbier and Rancy Boyd-Snee.
“Phenomenal” is word “Dancing for Big Buddy” chairman and board President Rock Rockenbaugh used to describe this year’s event. And after he announced how much money the fundraiser netted it was hard to argue with that apt adjective — $170,000 — almost double last year’s earnings.
The announcement came at a thank-you luncheon for the Star Dancers, their professional dancers, sponsors and others involved in the seventh annual event. The luncheon was hosted by the Dunham School and Star Dancer Michelle Pricer June 4.
Handing out the dancers’ official photos was dancer liaison Terri LeBlanc, who will co-chair next year’s event with this year’s co-chairman, Reid Bateman. Besides Pricer, Star Dancers included Shelly Beall, Nikki Caldwell, Rosa Flores, Scott Kaiser, Nanette McCann, Kelli and Dr. Doug Mendoza, Heather Kleinpeter Savoy, Ob Soonthornsima, Ralph Stephens, Wayne Talbot, John Tyler, Jim Urdiales and Dr. Ann Zedlitz.
Professional dance studios were Team Leonard/The Dancers’ Workshop, Courtney Black’s Ballroom Dance, TC Dance Club International, Cangelosi Dance Project, Renée Chatelain/Manship Theatre and Powell Moïse School of Dance.
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