Register here and Make sure to select “I would like to attend the breakout sessions” when you register to receive the link to join!



Closing the Digital Divide: The Bridge to the Future:
Even before the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, there was a huge gap between those with and without high-speed internet access as well as those who have access but can’t afford to connect. The gaps are still present, but the Infrastructure Act provides an opportunity for states and cities to build actionable plans that prioritize connectivity and affordable access in rural and urban areas. This panel will discuss what’s possible, what’s probable, and what families can do to ensure their connectivity to the future.

  • Veneeth Iyengar- Louisiana State Executive Director, Broadband Development & Connectivity
  • Kimberly W. LaGrue – Chief Information Officer, City of New Orleans
  • Tess Zaretsky – Manager, Strategic Partnerships, EducationSuperHighway
  • Telley Madina – President, Madina Group, Moderator

If Not Now, When? Advancing Health Equity and a Healthy State with Ochsner:
Ochsner Health is committed to working with valued partners and community members to build a healthier region to live and thrive in. Healthy State by 2030 is driven by a comprehensive strategy to enhance healthcare access, improve health equity and health outcomes. In this dynamic panel, topics of health, equity, race and opportunity converge as moderator Dr. Leonardo Seoane, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Ochsner Health, engages the voices of Ochsner experts and community members in the quest to help build a roadmap to a healthier state.

  • Kevin Green – Vice President – Community Health Centers, Ochsner Health
  • Deborah Grimes, RN, JD, MSHQS – Chief Diversity Officer, Ochsner Health
  • Dr. Eboni Price-Haywood M.D., MPH, Medical Director, Ochsner Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research
  • Dr. Yvens Laborde – Medical Director, Global Health Education, Ochsner Health System Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Dr. Victoria Smith – Associate Medical Director, St. Charles Parish Hospital and Primary Care-River Region
  • Dr. Leonardo Seoane – Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Ochsner Health, Moderator

Centering Equity in Education In the Midst of COVID-19 Recovery:
Staff shortages, resource gaps, and the emergence of the virtual classroom during the Covid-19 pandemic have strained public education across the country. As we push toward a ‘new normal,’ what can communities do to improve educational outcomes? What is most critical to focus on in this moment? Find out as we hear from different professionals across the education community and preview a new report documenting the pandemic’s impact on education in Louisiana.

  • Dr. Jawan Brown-Alexander, Educational Consultant and Former Chief of Schools, New Schools for New Orleans
  • Betty Ward Cooper, Former Board President, Monroe City Schools
  • Dr. Tia T. Mills, President, Louisiana Association of Educators
  • Debra Vaughan, Owner and Consultant, D Vaughan Consulting LLC
  • Cathy Washington, Executive Vice President, Urban League of Louisiana; Moderator

Expungement Access: An Opportunity for Justice:
In 2021, Louisiana lawmakers had the opportunity to pass a bill that would have helped thousands of Louisiana residents wipe out criminal records that can prevent them from getting better-paying jobs. It costs at least $550 in fees for people seeking to expunge their arrest or conviction records, not to mention the arduous process. Last year’s bill failed to pass, but what opportunities exist moving forward?

  • Ames Grawert – Senior Counsel, Brennan Center
  • Dolfinette Martin – Housing Director, Operation Restoration
  • Vanessa Spinazola – Executive Director, Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana
  • Troy Glover – New Orleans Director, Center for Employment Opportunities, Moderator

Building Cultural Infrastructure: Using Art & Culture to Advance Economic Equity:
There is a well-known saying that “culture bubbles up from the sidewalks” in New Orleans. It is a mythical statement which proclaims the abundance of our cultural production and intimates its role as a natural resource, for the almost magical ease with which it is created. This 60-minute panel will explore the architecture behind the magic, what are the basic systems that undergird cultural production and cultural economy? And what happens when the sidewalks are cracked, faulty, or altogether missing? As experts in these undergirding systems, our panelists will examine the ways in which structural failures have created vast disparities that disadvantage not only the most apparent victims of said disparity, but the economy and quality of life of our city and state as a whole. We will investigate solutions that imagine new systems, capable of undergirding a just economy, and highlight the transformative power of art and culture to bring about the changes we seek.

  • Gina Charbonnet, Cultural Producer and Owner, GeChar Productions
  • Nesby Phipps, Artist/Culturebearer, Muralist, Philosopher
  • Oliver Thomas, Councilmember, District E, New Orleans
  • Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, CEO, Ashé Cultural Arts Center; Moderator

ROUND TWO CONCURRENT SESSIONS (Wednesday, March 16; 2:05PM-3:05PM CT)

Health Is Wealth AND Infrastructure:
For years, our community has been plagued by poor health outcomes, with a significant racial gap on nearly every marker of good health and well-being. The drivers of these health inequities are largely not individual medical factors, but are social and economic determinants that also negatively affect our economic progress and prosperity. This session will highlight priorities of the New Orleans Health Department’s recently released Community Health Improvement Plan, the work of partners and health care systems to address these challenges, and how economic development and health must work together to rectify generational and systemic inequities that affect our community on multiple levels. Health is wealth, and both are the foundation of a thriving region.

  • Charlotte Parent – Vice President Of Business Development, University Medical Center New Orleans
  • Jeff Schwartz – Director of Economic Development, City of New Orleans
  • Dr. Jennifer Avegno, MD – Director, City of New Orleans Health Department, Moderator

Mental Health: How Are We Doing?:
In 2019, we hosted a panel called Mental Health: The Stigma That Stops Us. Now, in 2022, after two years of enduring the stress, loss, and tremendous challenges of a global pandemic, we need to stop and ask ourselves how are we doing? Has the way we talk about mental health changed in the last couple years as a result of the collective trauma we have experienced? This panel will help shed light on what the discussion around mental health is in Louisiana today, especially for youth and children.

  •  Dr. Denese Shervington, MD, MPH – Founder & CEO, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies Chair of Psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University
  •  LaShonda Williams, JD – Executive Director, NAMI Louisiana
  •  Leon C. Winters, LCSW-BACS – CEO and Lead Therapist, Winters Mental Health and Consulting

Southern Communities Initiative: Connecting Corporate to Community to Advance Racial Equity:
After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, corporate America made pledges of more than $65B to combat racial equity, But how do pledges become a reality and make it to the communities that have been impacted the most by inequitable policies and practices? Learn about a national effort to create an ecosystem to move corporate pledges to communities to create a cycle of economic justice long overdue. (Hint: Robert F. Smith is leading the charge)

  • Fabrice Coles – Senior Manager, Global Public Policy, PayPal
  • Joe Davis – Managing Director and Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group
  • Kim Davis – Senior Advisor, Walton Family Foundation
  • Ami Desai – Division Office of the CEO, Vista Equity Partners
  • Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO, Urban League of Louisiana, Moderator

How We Teach History:
At the end of February, the State Department of Education finished the second round of public comment for new Social Studies standards. In the 2021 legislative session, bills like HB 564 sparked great debate about what should or should not be taught in schools, including an attempt to ban K-12 schools and colleges from teaching critical race theory. What can school board members, advocates, and parents do to help ensure youth learn and preserve the history not being taught in schools?

  • Ciara Hart – History Teacher and Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, Kenilworth Science and Technology School
  • Tramelle Howard – Louisiana Director, The Education Trust
  • Adrinda Kelly – Executive Director, Black Education For New Orleans (BE NOLA)
  • Omari Kenner – Student, Kenilworth Science and Technology
  • Olin Parker – President, Orleans Parish School Board
  • Nicole Jolly – Vice President of Strategy and Engagement, Urban League of Louisiana, Moderator

Black and Latinx Entrepreneurship and Business Ownership:
With the #BuyBlack movement gaining traction, we take a look at the state of Black and Latinx-owned businesses. The economy is growing but has that growth been equally distributed? What can local, state and federal governments–along with the private sector–do to further encourage and support entrepreneurship and market growth? Join us as we hear from professionals on the trajectory of Black and Latinx business ownership.

  • Lindsay Navarro, Executive Director, El Centro
  • Mayra Pineda, President & CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana
  • Jon Renthrope, CEO & Brewmaster, Cajun Fire Brewing Company
  • Klassi Duncan, Vice President, Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Urban League of Louisiana; Moderator


Transportation Equity:
With the recent passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, roads, bridges and public transportation systems across the country are set to be revamped over the coming years. Subsequently, renewed talks about ensuring increased access to these systems for those who need it most are taking center stage. Thought leaders and experts across the state will weigh in on what to expect from the transportation and infrastructure of tomorrow.

  • Antonio Carriere, Sr. Transportation Planner, Atlas Technical Consultants
  • Amy Stelly, Urban Planner
  • Dorothy Wiley, President, AllendaleStrong
  • Rep. Cedric Glover, LA House of Representatives, District 4; Moderator

Ask The Dr.:
Mask mandates are being lifted, vaccine requirements are being challenged in courts and Louisianans are wondering what’s next in the fight against Covid-19. This panel will feature medical doctors and experts answering the tough questions. What does the medical community know about future variants and vaccines? In what ways is the medical field responding to patients’ needs? Join us as we Ask the Dr.

  • Dr. Kristi L. Anderson – Assistant Professor of Research, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center, Lafayette LA Campus
  • Dr. Corey Hebert – Physician, Chief Medical Editor for NBC WDSU-TV and BNC
  • Sharonda Williams, J.D. – General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, Loyola University, Moderator

Early Childhood Education: A Solution for Workforce and Wealth Building:
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector has been hit very hard by the pandemic, and it is an industry that is primarily led by women of color. For years, many have fought for increased investment in ECE and for the formalization of the sector. This panel will talk about the great opportunity that a strong ECE sector offers for wealth building, entrepreneurship, and workforce development, including efforts happening in Louisiana.

  • Rhonda Broussard – CEO, Beloved Community
  • Kristi Givens – Executive Director, Kids of Excellence
  • Rochelle Wilcox – CEO/Founder, Wilcox’s Academy of Early Learning and For Providers By Providers
  • Arnel Cosey, Ph.D. – Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Services, Kingsley House, Moderator

Wealth Creation Through Homeownership:
Homeownership is one of the most common modes Americans utilize to build generational wealth. Nevertheless, homeownership rates among African Americans are declining–hitting levels not seen since the 1960s. How can potential homeowners educate themselves on the process while being financially prepared? Are there policy opportunities to close this persistent gap?

  • Fred Johnson – CEO, Neighborhood Development Foundation
  • Bonnie Moore – Director, Department of Community Development, City of Shreveport
  • Ricardo Thomas – President, Thomas-Waddell & Associates, Inc.
  • Charles E. West II – President, Square Button, Moderator

Achieving Equity in Workforce and Wages:
By 2050, Metro New Orleans stands to realize a $43 billion gain in economic output by closing the racial equity gap. Closing that gap means full engagement in the workforce – which Louisiana currently does not have. In every indicator assessing the educational and economic status of major racial and ethnic groups in Louisiana, African Americans rank at the bottom – in educational achievement and attainment, employment, and livable wages. This panel will discuss some of the ways we can address these disparities and create systems level changes for workforce and pay equity that all residents can rally behind to create a stronger state. This session will share some of the findings and recommendations of a policy brief that will soon be released by the Urban League of Louisiana.

  • Cherie LaCour-Duckworth, Vice President, Office of Workforce Development Urban League of Louisiana
  • Lamar Gardere, Executive Director, The Data Center
  • Jan Moller, Executive Director, Louisiana Budget Project
  • John Warner Smith, Education Policy Director, Urban League of Louisiana
  • Patrick Young, Director, Office of Gun Violence Prevention, Office of Mayor Cantrell
  • Nicole Jolly, Vice President, Strategy and Engagement, Urban League of Louisiana; Moderator