Inaugural Community Collaborative Cohort
The Community Collaborative's inaugral cohort is composed of highly motivated Louisiana residents with a passion for creating change in their communities. Each member has been trained to assess community needs, identify solutions, and utilize resources to address local challenges.
Training sessions were led by the Reilly Center's 2021 Public Policy Fellow, Dr. Katie Knobloch. At the end of the trainings, cohort members submitted grant applications aimed at implementing public projects in Louisiana. Four participants were selected to receive $5,000 to implement their projects. For more information about the grantees, click here Inaugural Cohort Grantees. .
Billy Anderson is a proud Shreveport, Louisiana native and millennial who is passionate about ensuring that all have equal access to nonprofit organizations' support and alternative forms of education. Billy has lobbied local officials to support minimum wage increases and has canvassed for unanimous juries. Currently, Billy serves as the Executive Director for the Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce. Billy sits on the board of New Leaders Council-Louisiana, a six-month fellowship that focuses on skills building such as entrepreneurial goal setting, strategic communications, digital organizing, finance and fundraising, coalition building, public policy, and equity and inclusion. He is also a member of the Highland Area Partnership, which plans the annual Highland Jazz and Blues Festival. Billy is also a member of the Shreveport NAACP.
Thomas "Drake" Brignac
Drake Brignac is a senior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana pursuing dual degrees in mass communication with a concentration in political communication and political science with a concentration in public policy. He is a Stamps Scholar, Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) Scholar, and student in the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College. Drake is also an officer in Tiger Prison Project, a member of Geaux Vote, and a former student senator for the Manship School of Mass Communication. Keenly interested in criminal justice and public policy, Drake is an intern at the East Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender and volunteers with the Louisiana Parole Project. He previously worked on Beverly Brooks Thompson's campaign for Louisiana State Senate and served as a junior conference advisor for the YMCA Youth and Government program. Drake hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in indigent defense.
Lynn Bryan is the Executive Director for Keep Bossier Beautiful and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Centenary College of Louisiana. Prior to her time at Keep Bossier Beautiful, she served 20 years at Community Renewal International as the Director of Community Engagement. Lynn has performed numerous service projects crossing cultural divides and building relational bridges and believes community members willing to share ideas and leverage resources can overcome common challenges together.
Brooks Bryan is a Louisiana State University senior pursuing a degree in Finance. He enjoys dedicating his time to organizations on campus such as Student Government, Student Philanthropy Council, and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. Brooks is a motivated individual who is passionate about giving back to the community in any way he can and enjoys empowering others to make a difference.
Angelina Cantelli is a rising senior pursuing a dual degree in Psychology and English. She is the co-founder and co-president of Tigers Against Sexual Assault, which she founded in January of 2020. Angelina is interested in trauma and anxiety disorders. Her research includes gender differences of anxiety among children, how different school types impact anxiety, trauma after the Great Flood of 2016, and how lifetime trauma equipped individuals to cope with COVID-19. She has also done research about racial makeup of students at LSU and speech patterns of Hispanic students in Baton Rouge. Additionally, she is a development intern at Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR).
Paul Cassisa is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of VR Preservation. Paul is a past Fellow of the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, Co-Founded the LSU Student Philanthropy Council, served as the student president of the LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business. Paul initially got his start working with virtual reality at a real estate brokerage and then later with Louisiana Preservation Through Virtual Reality. He is currently pursing a Bachelor of Science Honors degrees from Louisiana State University in Finance.
Carol Chin currently works as a research and development chemist in private industry. She previously taught courses in chemistry, geology, and oceanography at several academic institutions. As an oceanographer, she spent many months at sea on US and foreign research vessels, which allowed her to travel to a variety of relatively remote locations around the world. She has also devoted time to volunteer work land use, historic preservation, community education, and access to local food; however, the overarching theme of her volunteer work is sustainability. Carol received her doctoral degree in marine geochemistry from Oregon State University.
Geraldine Clinton is a Procurement professional with over 25 years of experience in the field of Procurement and currently works as an Analyst for the State of Louisiana with a focus in Request for Proposals (RFPs). After spending many years in the area of customer service, Geraldine developed a heart and passion for service in her community. As a young single mother many years ago, she found herself in a seemingly hopeless situation and needed to know that in spite of the challenges she faced, she could still have a bright future.
Geraldine has served in various areas of ministry for many years, but her heart continues to long for single-parent families. Geraldine has written and self-published two books: Welcome to Deliverance – Breaking Covenant with Myself and The Enemy and Katallasso – The Ministry of Reconciliation. Geraldine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from Louisiana State University – Shreveport.
Jennifer Dewey is a long-time supporter of the arts assisting on a community project to support local art. She served as the former Executive Director of the St. Tammany Art Association and the former Development Director for Baton Rouge Gallery center for contemporary art. Dewey is currently attending LSU as a Mass Communication- Political Communication major with the intent to pursue law post graduation.
Liam Doyle is a longtime advocate and disability rights expert based in Lafayette, and the founder and CEO of Accessibility In Motion, a company that focuses on disability equity, ADA compliance, and inclusion. His journey began in 2015 when he joined the Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities. In 2017 Doyle became the first Disability Awareness Coordinator to serve the city of Lafayette, LA in Lafayette Consolidated Government history. During that time in 2019, he became a nationally certified ADA Coordinator through the Great Plains ADA Center. As a public speaker Doyle has given a TEDx Talk on disability life and the importance and impact of advocacy in 2016 as well as presented at the 35th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability & Diversity in 2020. In May of 2021, he graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Kelley Faucheux was born and raised in Baton Rouge. She graduated from Louisiana State University in elementary education and is currently a retired National Board Certified teacher of 31 years. Kelley started a nonprofit 5 years ago to work with people on an individualized basis who want to get out of poverty by connecting them to available resources, developing life skills, job skills, and educational goals. Kelley’s desire is that every human being reach their maximum potential in life.
Brady Fields is the current Program Director of The United Hands Youth Center in Ferriday, Louisiana. Fields is a retired school teacher with an unwavering dedication to his community. He also has an overwhelming love for children and serves as a Youth Minister at the Sunflower Community Church. Fields says that his love for his community explains his concerns for community health and creating a healthier tomorrow for the community’s children.
Dr. Murelle G. Harrison has served as the executive director of the Gardere Initiative since 2013. The Gardere Initiative is a faith-based coalition with the vision “Gardere is a safe and healthy community for all its residents”. The 3.3sq mile area was once a hot bed for violence, but has been transformed through a collaboration of churches, BREC, South Burbank Crime Prevention & Development District, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, and other partners and volunteers. The $350,000 renovation of the 12-acre Hartley/Vey Park is central to the children, youth and families’ activities with its regulation-sized basketball court, two soccer fields, raised garden, pavilions, playground and a quarter-mile walking trail. Dr. Harrison is a licensed industrial/organizational psychologist and licensed prevention professional. She officially retired from Southern University as Chair of the Department of Psychology and continues to volunteer teaching a prevention course that prepares students to become prevention professionals.
James Steele Howard is a medical doctor based in New Orleans. After completing medical school, he opted to pursue a career in public health with the goal of working with larger populations than would have been possible as a practicing physician. He was accepted by Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice as part of the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program with a concentration in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness (BSDP). In the BSDP program, he is pursuing a self-made sub-concentration in geographic information systems (GIS) public health disaster preparedness. This interest was prompted by the ecological change seen in Southern Louisiana and its effect on the local populations caused by climate change. Currently, James works part-time as a Program Coordinator for The Skin You’re In, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Tulane University, acting as a program coordinator for monitoring and evaluating public health initiatives and health disparities for African American communities in New Orleans.
Xavier Kent is from Marrero, Louisiana. He is rising junior at LSU majoring in marketing. Xavier is involved in LSU’s Student Government as the Chief of College Councils. Through this position, Xavier hopes to establish a trustworthy relationship with all students and their deans for the upcoming school year. He also serves as the Political Action Chair for Louisiana's NAACP Youth and College Division. Xavier has been able to ensure that more youth in the state of Louisiana are knowledgeable on political issues that affect all groups of people. He also is a consistent volunteer with the local nonprofit the Bridge Agency and assists the Bridge Agency in community building projects.
Johanna R. Landreneau is a Baton Rouge native and a law partner in the law firm of Landreneau & Associates, LLC. She has practiced law in Baton Rouge for 28 years representing clients in a broad range of complex, civil litigation matters including construction litigation, commercial litigation, insurance defense, and successions. Johanna obtained her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge and her law degree from Paul M. Hebert School of Law (LSU).
Johanna has been an active volunteer her entire life serving in her church and neighborhood associations including serving as the Director of Childhood Ministries at First Presbyterian Church, Tara Club President and Chief Operating Officer of HOPE Ministries of Baton Rouge. Johanna is currently the Executive Director of Clean Pelican, Inc. a Louisiana nonprofit working to create and maintain a clean, beautiful community where businesses and families want to stay, work and play.
Sara Martin is a Louisiana State University sophomore from Watson, Louisiana. Sara is studying political science with a concentration in public policy and sociology. In the future, Sara would like to get a doctorate in education and/or public policy. Sara’s goal in life is to change the education system to be more equitable between socioeconomic groups and create a better learning environment for all students.
Madalyn Mouton is going into her junior year studying civil and environmental engineering. She comes from Lafayette, Louisiana and is interested in coastal restoration and community resilience to disasters. She works at the Center for River Studies and is a LASAL scholar to achieve this goal. She is a part of ASCE and Society of Peer Mentors in pursuing her interest in mentoring and teaching STEAM. She is a part of the Community Council for ECA to plan community events to connect students. She is passionate about helping communities through adversity from climate change. She plans to get her master’s degree in coastal and ecological engineering and work for the Engineer Research and Development Center after she finishes her undergraduate degree.
Kathleen Stewart Richey began her career as an attorney representing children in child dependency and delinquency matters, and she has been the Director of Louisiana CASA since May 2015. In 1991, she became the first Juvenile Judge in East Baton Rouge Parish, where she served until 2015. During her 24 years on the bench, she was instrumental in establishing Capital Area CASA and was named Louisiana CASA Judge of the year in 1997. Additionally, she was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to the Court Improvement Program Advisory Committee at its inception in 1994 and has remained active with the Court Improvement Program to the present time. Judge Richey is a member of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, serving as president of the Council in 2001 and chairman of the Liaison Committee with the Department of Children and Family Services from 2001-2008. Judge Richey has been honored by receiving the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, the Louisiana CASA Judge of the Year Award, the LSBA Children’s Law Award, the Baton Rouge Children’s Coalition For the Love of Children Award, and the Catherine D. Kimball Award for Advancement of the Administration of Justice.
Bridget Seghers is a second-year student in the College of Agriculture and Ogden Honors College majoring in Animal Sciences and minoring in Wildlife Ecology and Linguistics. Bridget has conducted wetland outreach events since high school and has presented to audiences ranging from 4th graders to US Representatives. She is a member of the Honors College’s Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) program, which prepares students to become leaders in Louisiana in areas of social justice, environmental sustainability, and public service. Through the Community Collaborative program, she hopes to put her goals for a more environmentally literate Louisiana into action. Bridget wants every Louisianan high school student to graduate with adequate knowledge for understanding relevant environmental issues and policies in the state. When she’s not in work mode, Bridget can be found hanging out with her goats, studying Swahili (Jambo!), and kayaking around Louisiana’s beautiful wetlands with her friends.
Kennedy Simon is a senior from Beaumont, Texas double majoring in psychology and sociology. On campus she is a member of the Ogden Honors College and involved in Black Women's Empowerment Initiative, Psychology Club, and Student Philanthropy Council.
Romell Smith, a native son of Louisiana's River Parishes, is an award-winning educator, entrepreneur, and community activist. Over the past two years, Smith has led E-NOLA Rising, an organization dedicated to the revitalization and economic growth of Eastern New Orleans. Through E-NOLA Rising, Smith is the lead co-host of Wake Up District E!, a show dedicated to responding to issues plaguing the District. Before E-NOLA Rising, Smith began his career as an educator, serving as a Biology instructor at Dillard University, then transitioning to the K-12 school system serving at O. Perry Walker High School, where he fine-tuned his purpose in serving his community through education. Smith graduated Cum Laude from Dillard University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. He later attended the University of New Orleans and earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching/Level 3 Certification for Secondary Ed. in Biology and Chemistry.
Candace Square is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She attended the University of Virginia where she earned Bachelors of Arts degrees in Sociology and Government, with a specialization in American Politics. She recently earned a Juris Doctor and Graduate Diploma in Comparative Law from the Paul M. Hebert, Louisiana State University Law Center. Among the leadership positions she held at LSU Law, Candace served as the President of their chapter of the American Constitution Society from 2018-2020. She was also selected from a nation-wide pool of candidates to serve as a Next Generation Leader for the organization. She has demonstrated a passion for serving her community through pro-bono legal work as a law student, participating in and developing policy initiatives, and being involved community organizing. She now continues her path of public service as Director of Staff for Councilwoman Chauna Banks.
Victor L. Thomas is an entrepreneur, community organizer, and US Army Veteran from Shreveport, Louisiana. He currently serves as the Service Engagement Coordinator at Southern University at Shreveport and is a member of the Shreveport Commission on Race & Cultural Diversity. As the Community Outreach Director for Loving Little Ones, Inc., he works to eradicate homelessness, sheltered poverty, violence, and increasing access to STEM programming and community participation in the political and legislative process. Victor has a passion for advocacy and allocating, mobilizing, and effectively managing resources that help to improve the quality of life for those low-income and at-risk populations.
Morgan Washington is a graphic designer and marketer based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has a background in community outreach, public relations, marketing, and graphic design with seven years of experience working alongside non-profits and media companies. She is currently the Director of Community Outreach at Louisiana CASA, a non-profit dedicated to advocating for Louisiana’s abused and neglected children. Morgan is inspired daily by her 5-year-old son, River. In her free time, Morgan likes to read, paint, and explore the outdoors with her son.
Emily Wood is a rising senior pursuing a dual honors degree in mass communication and political science. She is from Bossier City, Louisiana. Emily is the Charman of the Board and the CEO of America Lives Digital, a nonprofit dedicated to combating the lack of digital literacy in rural communities. Emily is currently a legislative reporter for the Manship School Statehouse Bureau, where she first became interested in how the lack of broadband in rural communities will affect America. She plans to attend law school after graduation.