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Luncheon Speakers

Paula Madison

Television executive and journalist Paula Williams Madison was born in Harlem, New York in 1952 to Elrick Williams and Nell Lowe Williams. She attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. Initially, Madison wanted to become an educator and spent her summers teaching inner-city youth about African American history. After high school, she received a scholarship to Vassar College and graduated with her B.A. degree in 1974. 

Madison then moved to Syracuse, New York, where she became a graduate student at Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications and was hired as a reporter at the Syracuse Herald Journal. Her early career was spent as a newspaper reporter in New York and Texas, and as a television news manager and executive in Dallas, Tulsa, and Houston. Madison then returned to New York City as assistant news director at NBC4, and became the station’s vice president and news director in March of 1996. Shortly after, she took on a second role as senior vice president of diversity for NBC. In 2000, Madison was promoted to president and general manager of KNBC, making her the first African American woman to become a general manager of a top news network. She then stepped down from the diversity leadership role. When NBC purchased Telemundo, a Spanish-language network, Madison assumed responsibility for the newly acquired Telemundo stations in Los Angeles, California. In 2007, Madison was appointed executive vice president and chief diversity officer of NBC Universal. The parent company, GE, named her a company officer and vice president.

Madison has served in many organizations during her career. In addition to being named chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles Sparks, she also became a member of the WNBA Board of Governors. Madison is a board member of Greater Los Angeles United Way, a past chairman of the California Science Center Foundation, vice chair of National Medical Fellowships and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and chair of The Nell Williams Family Foundation. In 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed her a commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department. 

Madison has received many awards, including the Ida B. Wells award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1998, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations in 1999, and the First Amendment Service Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation in 2000. In 2005, Madison was named one of the “75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine and was included in the Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100.” In 2010, she received the NABJ Legacy Award, was named to Ebony magazine’s 2013 Power 100 List, and received the Pinnacle Award from the Houston Association of Black Journalists. 

Madison and her husband, Roosevelt Madison, live in Los Angeles, California.

Roland Martin

Over the course of a journalistic career that has seen him interview multiple U.S. presidents to the top athletes and entertainers in Hollywood, Roland S. Martin is a journalist who has always maintained a clear sense of his calling in this world.

Martin is the host and managing editor of #RolandMartinUnfiltered, the first daily online show in history focused on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an explicitly African American perspective.

Since 2008, Martin has been a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, where his daily segment is heard on more than 100 stations and 8 million people daily.

He is the author of three books: Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith; Speak, Brother! A Black Man’s View of America; and The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.

He has contributed to several others, including Paradox of Loyalty: An African American Response to the War on Terrorism by Julianne Malveaux; Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama by Sophia Nelson; Faivish Pewzner New York and Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge by Etan Thomas and Nick Chiles.

He has been named four times by Ebony Magazine as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the United States.

When Jet Magazine readers voted in 2012 for who is “King of the Hill” in terms of who they turn to on issues of concern to African Americans, Martin came on top, ahead of the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton and Donna Brazile. named as the number one Black pundit in the country; and he has been named several times to The Root 100, their annual list of influential African Americans.

In his career, Martin has been showered with more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence, including being named the Journalist of the Year in 2013 by the National Association of Black Journalists for his extensive focus on voter suppression and other issues of concern to African Americans during the 2012 election.

Martin was also awarded the 2008 President’s Award by the National Association of Black Journalists for his work in multiple media platforms. In 2008, he was also inducted into the Texas A&M University Journalism Hall of Honor.

He is a four-time NAACP Image Award winner, including named Best Host for the last two years.

Martin spent six years as a contributor for CNN, appearing on numerous shows and earning accolades near and far for his no-holds honesty, conviction and perspective on various issues. In 2009, CNN was awarded the Peabody Award for its outstanding 2008 election coverage, of which Martin was a member of the Best Political Team on Television.

Martin has been named one of the top 50 political pundits by the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom, and has appeared numerous times on a variety of American networks, as well as media outlets in Canada, Columbia, Italy, Australia and South Africa.

From October 2005 to October 2008, he served as a radio talk show for WVON-AM in Chicago, first as mid-day host and later as morning drive host.

He is the former executive editor/general manager of the Chicago Defender, the nation’s most historic Black newspaper. A digital media pioneer, Martin launched the first Black news source audio and video podcast in 2005 and 2006 at the Defender.

He is the former founding news editor for Savoy Magazine under the team of New York-based Vanguarde Media, and the former founding editor of

He previously served as owner/publisher of Dallas-Fort Worth Heritage, a Christian monthly newspaper. He also has worked as managing editor of the Houston Defender and the Dallas Weekly, which he led to a number of local, state and national journalism awards. Mr. Martin has worked as morning drive reporter for KRLD/1080 AM; news director and morning anchor at KKDA-AM in Dallas; city hall reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; and county government and neighbors reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. He has also written pieces for Ebony and Essence magazines.

Mr. Martin is a life member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc..

He is a 1987 graduate of Jack Yates High School-Magnet School of Communications, and a 1991 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism.

He has been awarded honorary degrees from Florida Memorial University; University of Maryland-University College; Lemoyne-Owen College; Lane College; and South Carolina State University.

He is married to the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin, author of “Fulfilled! The Art and Joy of Balanced Living,” and “Wedded Bliss: A 52-Week Devotional to Balanced Living” and the children’s book series, “Hannah’s Heart.”

They reside in Washington, D.C. area.

Leadership Course Instructors

Managing Generations in the Workplace

Introduction to Lean & Six Sigma:  Improving Customer Satisfaction and Efficiency In Your Organization

Debra McFadden-Bryant​

Ms. Debra McFadden-Bryant is a management consultant with domestic and international expertise in strategic planning, transformational leadership, organizational renewals, and High-Performance Work System cultures in start-up and growth companies, non-profit organizations, and municipalities.  She has over 24 years of experience with a Fortune 50 company in Consumer Manufacturing and Organizational Leadership.  She has certifications in Human Resources Management, Executive Coaching, Organizational Transformations, Total Quality Management, and Organizational Culture Assessment.  She holds a Black Belt as a Lean Six Sigma Quality Assurance Professional and is currently the Business Process Improvement Specialist for the City of Albany, Georgia focused on Lean/process improvements across all  city operations.


Debra has a B.S. degree from Bennett College and a Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina.  She is an alumni 0f Leadership Albany (Ga.), a life member of Girls Scouts of America, , volunteer business coach for  start-up businesses, board member of Girls, Inc, and a Diamond Life member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.  Ms. McFadden-Bryant has two adult children and is a native of South Carolina.

Developing Logic Models

Deirdre Johnson Burel

Deirdre Johnson Burel is a program officer for the New Orleans team with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.


In this role, she helps develop programming priorities; reviews and recommends proposals for funding; maintains strong relationships with grant seekers and grantees, provides leadership and oversight for on-the-ground execution of program efforts, and designs and implements national grant initiatives, place-based work and multi-year projects that affect systematic change and program strategy in New Orleans.  


Prior to joining the foundation, Johnson Burel was the executive director at Orleans Public

Education Network in New Orleans where she effectively developed organizational structure and built the capacity of the organization to serve as a leading voice for authentic community engagement and influence in New Orleans education reform. Prior to this, she served as the director of education and community investment at the Greater New Orleans Foundation; director of programs for Urban League of Greater New Orleans; and director of policy and research for Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education in Atlanta. She also served worked on policy issues in state government for the State of Georgia.


Johnson Burel is a former W.K. Kellogg Community Leadership fellow in the inaugural cohort. She has held a number of board positions including board chair for Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools; advisory board member of the Education Research Alliance at Tulane University; advisory board member of National Transforming Early Childhood Community Systems (TECCS); founding board member of Crescent City Schools; founding board member of Orleans Public Education Network; and advisory board member for Breakthrough New Orleans.


Johnson Burel obtained her MPA with a focus in public policy and non-profit management from New York University, Robert F. Wagner, Graduate School of Public Service. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. She begins the doctoral study at the University of Pennsylvania in Summer 2019.

Grant Writing 1

Thelma Harris French

Thelma Harris French is the President/CEO of Total Community Action, Inc., in New Orleans,
the city’s federally designated anti-poverty agency. An experienced grants developer and grants
administrator. She has served as the Grant Administrator for the City of New Orleans, Mayor’s
Office of Federal and State Programs, and Grant Architect and Administrator for Covenant
House New Orleans.
Ms. French has a long and extensive background in community development, youth and workforce
development programming, professional development, and technical assistance. She has served as
workforce trainer, consultant, and national task force member. She has participated in several
national demonstration grant training teams, and presented at numerous state, regional and
national conferences in the areas of organizational and performance management, sustainability, and team building.

Grant Writing 2

Ebony Turner

Dr. Ebony Turner is the CEO of Intel Resources, LLC, an organizational development and logistics company.  For over 20 years, Dr. Turner has developed and managed programs, funded by The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Labor, and Environmental Protection Agency just to name a few. Dr. Turner has developed and managed multiple grant programs totaling more than a million dollars annually funded by the federal government and private foundations. She was instrumental in preparing grant proposals worth over 22 million dollars. She currently serves as a grants reviewer for several agencies including the National Institute of Health, Department of Labor, National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.


Dr. Turner, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1996.  In 1998, she graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics. In 2006, she received her Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education Administration after successfully defending her dissertation entitled “An Analysis of Preparedness of College Seniors for the Workforce” for the Executive Ph.D. program at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. She is certified in Effective Teaching Practices with a concentration in Career Guidance and Readiness Issued by ACUE.  Dr. Turner is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the New Orleans Delta Foundation working with various community service projects.

Leisure Course  Instructors

Line Dancing

Linda Simms

Ms. Linda Simms, the now celebrated “Who Dat Teacher” of New Orleans, Louisiana renowned aerobics instructor, and private personal trainer found her groove in the form of cardio line dancing. She currently teaches Monday through Thursday at the Iris Hall in New Orleans East. In late 2009, she added choreographer to her many titles.  She has created and collaborated to create several line dances including the “We Are One” which was nationally recognized by the line dance community.   And for those of you who can’t get to New Orleans to experience the “Who Dat”, teacher in person – no worries you can learn the dances on the  Linda Simms YouTube  teaching channel which has 22,000 subscribers and Facebook (Let's Mess It Up Soul Line Dance) which has 20,000 followers.  Her subscribers are national as well as international as far as Japan, Brazil, Korea, and Germany. Her instructional videos have reached over 5.8 million views.  In addition, she maintains a busy travel schedule responding to requests from across the country to come and teach.   In the summer of 2017 in the heart of Historic New Orleans, Linda Simms and her group, LMIU, hosted its 1st Line Dance Convention, The NOLA Southern Experience, complete with varied workshops, featuring line dance instructors from around the country. The inaugural event was three days long and hosted over 500 individuals in over 22 states.    
The next event in 2019 is slated to expand to over 750 participants.  Ms. Simms has led the charge to give back to the community with several volunteer and community activities at Thanksgiving and Christmas but the yearly fundraising activity closest to her heart is Party with a Pink Purpose in support of breast cancer awareness, prevention, and support of breast cancer survivors. 

New Orleans Style Cooking Class

Byron Bradley

Chef Byron is a seasoned chef working in New Orleans as a Chef Instructor for the Mardi Gras School of Cooking. There he teaches locals and tourist several New Orleans style dishes including Shrimp and Grits, Bread Pudding and many more. Chef Byron has been featured on Food Networks, Chopped and other competition platforms. He currently works with local non profits, teaching the youth about food and participating in competitions with the students. He received his training in New York at the International Culinary Center and has worked at several of New York and New Orleans Best restaurants.

Continuing Legal Education  Instructors

Ethics and Fairness in the Workplace: Do They Work Together in the Area of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation?

Cherrilynne Washington Thomas, Esq.

Cherrilynne Washington Thomas is a licensed attorney and has over 15 years of experience in the area of Child Welfare. Ms. Thomas is also a trained mediator and diversity facilitator. Ms. Thomas is currently employed with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, Child Support Enforcement as an Attorney with the Access and Visitation Program. Ms. Thomas has been employed as a Staff Attorney with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services and as an Assistant District Attorney in Orleans Parish. Ms. Thomas has also been employed as attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders Office, the City of New Orleans Law Department as a part of the Legislative Team and the Department of Finance. Ms. Thomas has supplemented her employment with additional service and activities in the legal community. Ms. Thomas recently authored the article, “Am I a Mandatory Reporter?”, which was published in the August/September, 2018, Louisiana Bar Journal. She served as Co-Chairperson of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA), Children’s Law Committee (2010-2016); Member of the LSBA Diversity Committee, and Past Member of Louisiana Children’s Task Force. Ms. Thomas has also provided service to our community and its children in many capacities. She is currently serving as Vice President of Programs, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., New Orleans Alumnae Chapter, and has served as Chairperson of the EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence) Committee (2013-2015), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, New Orleans Alumnae Chapter; Board Member of Innovators in Milestone (Charter School); Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD), Fellow (2017). Ms. Thomas has also served as an instructor and facilitator with the University of Phoenix and several legal and social services organizations. Ms. Thomas was honored for her service by receiving the 2018 Children’s Law Award, presented by the Louisiana State Bar Association. She has also provided volunteer services for American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. Ms. Thomas received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Loyola University in New Orleans and her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, LA. She is currently a Child Welfare Specialist as certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children, a trained diversity facilitator with the AntiDefamation League, and serves as a Sunday School teacher at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. Her current memberships include: Louisiana State Bar Association, National Association of Counsel for Children, GNO Louis A. Martinet Legal Society (President, 1997-98), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., New Orleans Alumnae Chapter, and Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity

Criminal Justice Reform: Impact on Communities, Families, Crime Prevention, and Recidivism

Sarah Omojola

Sarah Omojola serves as Director of the Welcoming Project. She is a New Orleanian who is committed to social and racial justice work. After graduating from Louisiana State University in 2007, Sarah worked in the Recovery School District as a high school English teacher. Driven to do more to improve the educational and life outcomes of her students, she attended Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law and co-founded Stand Up for Each Other, an organization that provides advocacy services for K-12 students facing suspension and expulsion. In 2012, following law school graduation, Sarah moved to California where she spent four years advocating for educational equity, fighting inhumane juvenile justice practices, and training educators to implement supportive school climate frameworks.


In 2016, she returned home to New Orleans to become the Policy Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center. There, she spent two legislative sessions conducting statewide and local policy advocacy regarding children's rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, economic justice and LGBT rights.


Sarah also serves as board member of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and as a Commissioner with the Juvenile Justice Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Commission. Sarah is so happy to be working for justice in her community, even if she does frequently complain about the heat, humidity, and dearth of appropriately priced avocados and plantains. She gets through this with the support of her amazing partner and their two cuddly cats, Kevin and Earl.

Honorable Keva Landrum-Johnson

The Honorable Keva Landrum-Johnson serves as Judge at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, Section E, where she presides over criminal felony and misdemeanor cases.  Judge Landrum-Johnson was first elected to serve at criminal court in 2008, and was re-elected to a second term in 2015. In both instances, she was elected without opposition.  


In January 2018, Judge Landrum-Johnson was appointed Chief Judge at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court criminal court and made history as the first African American woman to serve in the court’s highest office.  As Chief Judge, she oversees the administrative functions of the court and serves as an ex officio member on each committee of the court.


Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson is an astute judge who has been recognized for operating her courtroom efficiently and with fairness and attentiveness.  She presides with more than 20 years of experience in law and criminal justice. 


 Prior to being elected to the bench, Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson made history as the first female district attorney for the State of Louisiana when she served as Orleans Parish District Attorney from October 2007 until her election as judge.  In all, Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson served a 10-year tenure with the district attorney's office, providing leadership as an assistant district attorney, a homicide and sex crimes screener, chief of the juvenile division, chief of the screening division and interim first assistant district attorney, respectively.  She also taught criminal law at Southern University at New Orleans.


During the early stages of her professional and educational development, Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson served as a law clerk for Carter and Cates Law Firm in New Orleans.  She also volunteered with the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender program and worked as a legal intern for a firm in St. Louis, Missouri.  She served as appellate chair for Tulane Law School’s Moot Court and has won moot court championships with the Jessup International Law Appellate Team (Southern Region) and the Federal Bar Association’s Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.


In 2011, Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Drug Enforcement Administration.  She is also recipient of the:  Grace House Leadership in Law Enforcement Award (2008); New Orleans City Business Leadership in Law Award (2008); Victims and Citizens Against Crime Outstanding Prosecutor Award (2008); and the YWCA Role Model Award (2002).


In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Chief Judge Landrum-Johnson delivers various keynote addresses and presentations at community and professional events.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and serves on the board of directors for Café Reconcile. 


Chief Judge Keva Judge Landrum-Johnson is a New Orleans native. She attended Ursuline Academy and later received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  She earned a juris doctorate from Tulane Law School in New Orleans.

Syrita Steib-Martin

Syrita Steib-Martin is the Executive Director of Operation Restoration. She has an unrelenting passion to help women successfully reenter into society after incarceration. At the age of 19, she was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. After serving 110 months, she earned her B.S. from LSUHSC in New Orleans and became a nationally certified and licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist. Syrita is the founder and Executive Director of Operation Restoration (OR). Syrita successfully drafted and passed Louisiana Act 276 which prohibits public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana from asking questions relating to criminal history for purposes of admissions, making Louisiana the first to pass this type of legislation. She is a consultant on the national Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign and regularly speaks at conferences across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women. In 2018 she was on New Orleans Mayor Cantrell’s transition team and was a panelist on the Empowerment stage at Essence Festival. She was appointed to the Justice Reinvestment oversight council for the state of Louisiana, and chairs the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration.

Flozell Daniels, Jr.

Flozell Daniels, Jr., CEO & President of Foundation for Louisiana (formerly the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation), is a public policy and community engagement strategist with expertise in community development, resilience building, legislative strategy, and leadership development. With a focus on building successful coalitions that increase success in expanding economic opportunity for all, Flozell is accomplished in expanding capacity and outcomes in areas that include community development finance, criminal justice reform, coastal/environmental policy, transit equity, and asset development. Flozell has led more than $60 million of award-winning community investment strategies while at the Foundation. Prior to his appointment at the Foundation, Flozell served as Tulane University’s Assistant VicePresident & Executive Director of State and Local Affairs for nine years. Before that, he cut his public policy and community engagement teeth as an Urban Policy Specialist & Administrative Assistant in the Office of the Mayor, Division of Federal and State Programs for the City of New Orleans. In his civic capacity, Flozell currently serves as Policy Committee Chair of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans Board of Directors, where he was honored with the first-ever Distinguished Service Award for board leadership after serving five years as the post-Katrina Chair leading critical recovery efforts. Flozell is also chair of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority; a founding member and Board Chairman of the Orleans Public Education Network;; the Supreme Court Chief Justice appointee to the Louisiana Public Defender Board; a founding member of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network; Flozell was commissioner of the Mayor’s Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform in New Orleans that led to historic reductions in jail size. While serving as Governor Jon Bel Edwards’ appointee on the Justice Reinvestment Task Force, Flozell was instrumental in helping create the most sweeping criminal justice reform in the history of Louisiana. Most recently, Flozell is a founding member of the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank dedicated to advancing solutions for justice and safety for all. Flozell is a 2013 graduate of University of Oxford Said Business School’s Impact Investing Programme, 2011 Fellow of the Opportunity Agenda Communications Institute, a life Fellow of the Louisiana Effective Leadership Program, an alumnus of Leadership Louisiana and a graduate of the Metropolitan Leadership Forum. Flozell has an MBA from the A.B. Freeman School of Tulane University, a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of New Orleans, and spent six years doing materials research for the USDA. A New Orleans native who was raised in the Freret neighborhood, Flozell has a daughter, and spends free time brunching with his daughter, enjoying second lines, festivals, and other celebrations of Louisiana’s amazing culture.

Legal Implication of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Access in the Classroom 

Jaimme’ A. Collins, ESQ. 

Honored by many national and regional organizations for both her service to clients and diversity work, Jaimmé Collins counsels clients on corporate governance, contractual and general business matters and government regulatory compliance issues. Jaimmé investigates internal allegations for companies, drawing on years of experience in quickly assessing risks and managing the response, with clients, by working with investigating governmental authorities, the media and outside consultants.

As a commercial litigator, Jaimmé has also represented clients entangled in disputes involving breach of contract, property, insurance coverage and products liability and helped resolve conflicts between corporate directors and shareholders. Her commercial litigation experience enhances her transactional work for clients, for example by enabling her to identify certain clauses in a business contract that may pose litigation risks in the future.

Before becoming a lawyer, Jaimmé worked in the Clinton Administration in the Office of Political Affairs. She later worked as a staff member for United States Senator Mary Landrieu. Her work in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill informs the service she delivers to her clients, particularly with corporate governance and compliance issues. She maintains the relationships she cultivated during her political career, which also benefits clients.

Jaimme received her Bachelor of Arts from Emory University, and her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University-New Orleans, School of Law. She has received acknowledgments from several organizations, such as the Urban League Empowerment Award, National Urban League, Women of the Year, New Orleans City Business, The Glass Ceiling Award, National Diversity Council, and Louisiana Super Lawyers (by Thomson Reuters) Business Litigation

Jaimme’s memberships and affiliations include membership in the Louisiana State Bar Association, GNO Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Young Leadership Council of New Orleans, Louisiana Association of Black Women Attorneys; Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, Board Member 2010-Present, Chair, 2011-2016; University Medical Center, Board Member, 2013-present, Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute, Fellow, 2013.

Raynard Sanders, Ed.D

Raynard Sanders has extensive experience in teaching, educational administration, and economic and community development. As a principal of a New Orleans high school, he developed the first high school DNA lab in the state of Louisiana and created the Creole Cottage Project, an innovative workforce development program where his students built and renovate houses in the school’s community. Dr. Sanders also served as the Executive Director of The National Faculty at New Orleans, a professional development agency designed to improve the quality of teaching in poor performing schools throughout the Mississippi Delta, Director of the Urban Education Graduate Program at Southern University at New Orleans. He serves as a consultant to several agencies including Mississippi NAACP, Southern Initiative Algebra Project and Total Community Action. Dr. Sanders has conducted numerous seminars and workshops across the country and written numerous articles most recently on the market-based education reforms sweeping the country. He hosts a weekly radio show on public education in New Orleans (The New Orleans Imperative) and recently authored two books, Twenty -First Century Jim Crow Schools: the Impact of Charters on Public and Education and The Coup D'état of the New Orleans Public School District: Money Power and the Illegal Takeover of a Public School System. Dr. Sanders received his B.A. from Dillard University in New Orleans, a M. Ed. from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his Doctorate of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University Teachers in New York City.

James Williams

James Williams is a nationally recognized trial attorney who has litigated cases in 15 different states and Milan, Italy. He has been named one of the “Top 100 High Stakes Litigators” by the organization that rates America’s top 100 attorneys. He is one of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” of attorneys according to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He has been named a “Super lawyer” by the rating service that recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers in each state. He has also been selected to the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, a society to which only one half of one percent (0.5%) of American lawyers are invited to belong. In addition, Williams has been certified as one of the “Top Trial Lawyers in America” by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Williams has an unprecedented record of success as a litigator. He has collected more than $150 million for individual plaintiffs (excluding class actions). He has obtained a litany of multi-million dollar jury verdicts and judgments including a recent victory of $49.8 million in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has also collected countless million and multi-million dollar settlements for his plaintiff clients. Often referred to as “rescue counsel”, Williams is frequently hired as trial counsel to be implanted alongside existing counsel into ongoing high stakes and high-value litigation. His litigation success for businesses caused him to be one of only seven lawyers inducted into the inaugural class of the CityBusiness magazine “Hall of Fame” at the young age of 33 years old. New Orleans Magazine, in their 2017 annual review of the city’s top lawyers, made Williams their pick for “Bet - the - Company Litigations.” In 2009-2010, Mr. Williams took a leave of absence from practicing law to serve as the judge (pro tempore) presiding over Division “J” of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. He was unanimously appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to fill a vacancy on the court. Williams was only 35 years old at the time, making him the youngest judge in the State of Louisiana. Mr. Williams also has a reputation for handling high profile litigation in a tasteful and effective way. He has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to achieve legal victories in these cases while strategically working to preserve positive public perception. In 2012, he was lead counsel for Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson in a civil rights lawsuit she filed when the State of Louisiana attempted to block her ascension to Chief Justice. He argued and won her case before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and she became the first African-American Chief Justice in the 200-year history of the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 2014, Williams represented Dorian Johnson who was with Michael Brown when he was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. That same year, he successfully represented then-United States Senator Mary Landrieu in a challenge to her residency. In 2016, he represented Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman in Federal Court against the United States Department of Justice and averted a federal takeover of the Orleans Parish jails. Williams currently represents David Palpus in a highly publicized “freedom of speech” lawsuit in Washington, D.C. because the high school student’s contest-winning artwork was removed from its display in the Capitol by a Congressman who disagreed with the content. Mr. Williams’ professional success is matched by his community involvement. Mr. Williams is the Chairman of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors, having been unanimously elected by his fellow board members to that position. In 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, pursuant to the authority in Article VIII Section 7 of the Louisiana Constitution, appointed Williams to a six-year term on the LSU Board of Supervisors. His subsequent election as Chairman made him the first African-American LSU alum to serve in this role. Also in 2016, Congressman Cedric Richmond selected Williams to become the youngest person to ever reign as King of the prestigious Krewe of Louisianans “Washington Mardi Gras.” Past Kings have included the legendary Congressman Hon. Hale Boggs (1946), New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (1989), famed “Blue Dog” artist George Rodrigue (1994), and shipping magnate Boysie Bollinger (1992 & 2007). In 2008, he donated $50,000 to the National Bar Association local affiliate chapter, Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, to commemorate its 50th anniversary. He is also a past president of the Martinet Society. He funds the Louise Halper Award, an annual award in the memory of a dear deceased professor at his alma mater, Washington & Lee University School of Law. The award recognizes a student who publishes a scholarly article in the area of civil rights and social justice. Williams also funded an $80,000 scholarship for a student at “The Good Shepherd School,” a privately funded New Orleans school for children living below the poverty line. Williams sponsors a teacher in the “Teach for America” program in New Orleans. He has also been a little league basketball coach and a Sunday school teacher at Tulane Memorial Baptist Church. He served as chapter advisor to the Rho Iota Chapter at Tulane University of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, General Counsel to the New Orleans alumni chapter (Sigma Lambda) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and was an adjunct professor at Tulane University teaching Legal Aspects of Sports. Mr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University and his juris doctor degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. In his third year at Washington & Lee, he was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice. As a third year law student, he collaborated with United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on a law journal publication entitled “Civility.” And as a second year student, he published a journal article analyzing the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of the federal sentencing guidelines’ disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. In his second year, he was also president of the Black Law Students Association. After law school, Williams served as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson.

Jade Brown-Russell

Jade Brown-Russell, 40, is a proud native of New Orleans. Jade is Principal of JD Russell Consulting, LLC ("JDR"), a full service consulting firm focusing on regulatory compliance, legal counsel, corporate turnaround/workout services and governmental relations. Jade began her professional career at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, Illinois, where she gained experience in mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, corporate governance and securities related transactions. Prior to launching her own firm, Jade previously served as Regional General Counsel at Caesars Entertainment, where she addressed litigation, gaming, corporate regulatory matters and compliance issues for the company’s properties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio. Under Jade's leadership, JD Russell Consulting has grown from a "solo shop" to a team of ten (10) professionals who focus on providing results-driven strategies and outcomes for their clients. The JDR team works collaboratively with several public and private agency clients on governmental relations, lobbying, strategic planning, equity, diversity, inclusion, policy development and other business solutions. JDR has provided local, legislative and executive level lobbying/governmental relations services to public and private entities, including: Caesars Entertainment, Harrah's New Orleans, City of New Orleans, Louis Armstrong International Airport, Regional Transit Authority, National Fried Chicken Festival and China Power. JDR has provided equity and inclusion services to non-profit, public and quasi-public agencies, including: Morial Convention Center, Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, SMG, Greater New Orleans Foundation, The Junior League of New Orleans and others. Jade's team also provides key turnaround services to public and private clients. In November 2017, the City of New Orleans engaged JDR to serve as a part of Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu's interim legal management team following city-wide flooding that prompted a mass exit of its water utility's executive leadership. As part of this project, Jade served as Interim General Counsel for the City's Sewerage and Water Board with a specific focus on implementing reformative strategies for the S&WB's Legal Department, Board of Directors and Executive Team. During this engagement, Mayor Latoya Cantrell tapped Jade to serve as the acting Executive Director and charged her with leading the selection process for permanent leadership. Likewise, JDR was engaged in 2016 to provide interim management services at the French Market Corporation where Jade and her team provided key turnaround services for the quasi-governmental agency, managing an $11 million budget and overseeing operations of the City-owned commercial and residential properties. Jade remains civically involved in several organizations. She was the Co-Chair of the City of New Orleans' 2018 Tricentennial Commission's Community Engagement Committee. She currently serves as Chairman-Elect of the Urban League of Louisiana and is a Board member of the Downtown Development District, Ashe Cultural Arts Center and the Arts Council of New Orleans. Jade is a Past Chairman of the Downtown Development District and the past Co-Chair of the Solo and Small Practitioner's Section of the New Orleans Bar Association. She is also a founding member and the inaugural President of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans Young Professionals and the former General Counsel and Secretary of the Young Leadership Council, the City of New Orleans' two premier young professionals organizations. Jade is co-author of the Amazon Best Seller, "Champions Never Tell", and she co-hosts two radio shows: Pumps, Pearls and Politics on WBOK 1230 AM (New Orleans) and Momentum Mondays WQSW 100.5FM (Indianapolis). In 2012, Jade was honored by New Orleans CityBusiness in its Leadership in Law class. In 2008 and 2013, she was honored as a New Orleans CityBusiness Woman of the Year, and in 2009 and 2011 she received the Urban League’s Rising Star Award for her professional and civic accomplishments. Jade earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in Political Science from Howard University, where she was named a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow. She earned her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Southern University Law Center where she served on the Student Bar Association as President of the Senior Class, and was Vice Chairman of Moot Court. Jade is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and The Links Incorporated. She is a wife and the proud mother of 13 yearold daughter, Jadon, and 6 year-old son, Dorsett.

Legal Issues in Higher Education: Title IX, Discipline, Diversity/Inclusion and More

Winston DeCuir, Jr.

Winston DeCuir, Jr. Winston is a partner in the firm of DeCuir, Clark & Adams, LLP. His practice includes advising public universities. For the past fifteen years, he has served as counsel to both the Southern University System and University of Louisiana system. His experience in higher education involves handling litigation in the state and federal courts as well as providing advice in areas of labor and employment, procurement, public meetings, teacher tenure, and civil service. In addition to higher education, Winston also advises three local charter schools and one public school system. In addition to practicing law, Winston has served as the Chair the Board of Governors of the Bar Association of the U.S. Fifth Circuit (2015-2017). He has also serves as an adjunct professor of labor and employment law at the Southern University Law center. He served as chairman of the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge’s charter school, Capitol High Academy in 2010-11. He has been the recipient of: the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge Outstanding Achievement Award (2010); the Baton Rouge Business Report 40 Under 40 Award (2010); and the Louisiana State Bar Association President’s Award (2006). Winston attended Amherst College where he graduated cum laude with degrees in economics and history. He is a 1998 graduate of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University, where he was an associate member of the Louisiana Law Review.

Attorney Deidre Deculus Robert

Building upon her legal career in public service, Deidre Deculus Robert is the general counsel for Southern University and A&M College System, a five campus system in Louisiana. A native of Mamou, Louisiana and graduate of Louisiana State University and Southern University Law Center, her legal career began as an assistant city prosecutor in the Parish Attorney’s Office of the City of Baton Rouge-Parish of East Baton Rouge. During her eleven years with the City-Parish, she rose through the ranks to become the first female African-American section chief, serving as the personnel section chief where she represented and defended the City-Parish in all personnel, labor and employment matters. Thereafter, she served for six and a half years as an assistant attorney general with the Louisiana Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General as deputy director of the Public Protection Division, deputy director of the Litigation Division and special counsel assigned to defend the Louisiana Judiciary. During her career, Deidre maintained a parttime private law practice specializing in personal injury, maritime, workers’ compensation and employment law claims. Aa a servant leader at heart, Deidre has always been active in her local, state, and national legal and civic communities. She started early as a founding member of the AfricanAmerican Students Alliance at LSU Eunice in 1993. Since beginning the practice of law in 2001, she has been heavily involved in the Louisiana State Bar Association. She currently serves as co-chair of the Diversity Committee and a representative of the 18th Judicial District in the House of Delegates. Deidre also serves as the LSBA liaison to the Louisiana Bar Foundation where she is co-chair of the Foundation’s Annual Gala. In her service to the LSBA, she has served on the Access to Justice Commission, Louisiana State Law Institute, Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, Corporate Counsel and Government Lawyers Task Force Co-Chair. Deidre is also active with the Baton Rouge Bar Association, American Bar Association, , Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Baton Rouge Association of Women Attorney’s, American Inns of Court - Southern Inn, and National Bar Association, where she currently serves as the Associate Vice Chair for Region V. As a civic-minded professional, Deidre has volunteered countless hours in her community with, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Junior League of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge Bar Association Pro Bono Project, Baton Rouge Bar Association Law Day Program, Louisiana State Bar Association Professionalism Seminar, Volunteers of America, Greater Baton Rouge, as a Diocese of Baton Rouge School Board member, the founder of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society’s “Reading from the Start” program, a judge for Moot Court Competition and Mock Trial Competition at Southern University Law Center, and by mentoring young attorneys. When she is not working or serving the greater community, Deidre enjoys her time spent time with her husband James, Jr. and sons James, III and Jude Michael. Deidre has a large extended family and close friends that she credits, along with her immediate family, as her source of strength, courage and determination.

Denise Wallace

Denise Wallace joined Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, in 2013 as Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel.  Prior to joining Dillard, she served as General Counsel for Palm Beach State College,  Assistant City Attorney, City of Miami; Assistant Attorney General, Illinois; Sr. Assistant Attorney General, Florida; Assistant School Board Attorney, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Director of Policy and Legislation for the City of Miami Mayor’s office.  She also gained extensive experience as a commercial litigator with the Miami law firm of Steel Hector & Davis.  


She has represented state colleges and universities in labor and employment matters. She has presented workshops at regional and national educational conferences on First Amendment, student code of conduct and diversity issues. Denise is a skilled "train the trainer" in the areas of diversity leadership, conflict resolution and gender equity and disability issues. She received her B.A. degree in Journalism/English from the University of Massachusetts –Amherst, and her M.A. degree in Intercultural Leadership & Management from the School for International Training, Brattleboro, VT. Her J.D. is from Southern University Law Center, Baton Rouge, LA, where she graduated cum laude. She received her Masters of Laws (LLM) from St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens, FL, graduating summa cum laude and valedictorian. In November 2012, she successfully defended her dissertation for her J.S.D. degree in Intercultural Human Rights/International Law at St. Thomas, focusing on human rights and transnational corporation, graduating magna cum laude.

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