Juan LaFonta Manchild in the Promise Land
Edwin Buggage | 8/8/2016, 5:02 p.m. | Updated on 8/8/2016, 5:02 p.m.
This month’s Trailblazer is a man whose face is emblazoned on billboards, featured in television commercials and known as an Attorney and Public Servant. Juan LaFonta, is a life-long and die-hard advocate for the City of New Orleans. Describing himself he says, “I am a community oriented guy with a huge heart. I’ve spent much of my life in the 7th Ward going to school on Elysian Fields Avenue at St. Raphael, Brother Martin and the University of New Orleans (UNO) and now my law office is located there. Speaking of his community and its impact on his life he says, “Throughout my life I’ve honored all those people who have helped shape me into the person I am today; and long ago I made a promise to myself to remain in my community and influence the lives of the people around me.”
His work of serving others extends in many areas, but is centered on the youth. Something he feels is important is expanding their horizons and encouraging them to dream big and know that with hard work it can become a reality. “I do a lot of things with the kids in my neighborhood and around the City,” says LaFonta. “I sometimes rent a suite for the New Orleans Pelicans basketball games and take kids from the neighborhood. I’ve done back to school events giving away school supplies and many other things for the youth of our City. My goal is giving them experiences that can enrich their lives.”
LaFonta once served as an elected official as a Louisiana State Representative in District 96, while he still has a love for politics he is involved with it in a different way. Today as opposed to voting on bills in Baton Rouge, he’s merged his political and business skills into empowering citizens in addition to small businesses in New Orleans. “I enjoyed my time in politics serving my community, but I think I grew up from politics to a full-time law practice and in my role now as a private citizen I can help more people out. I feel in this way I can impact more people lives positively without constraints.”
As he looks ahead, he envisions himself growing in his capacity to give back. “I want to continue working to impact the community and redevelop the neighborhood I grew up in as well as other neighborhoods around the City restoring homes and getting them back in the market and get families in them. I also want to help connect people to resources. And it helps to have been in politics to have the ear of people on a local, state and national level and those who care about rebuilding New Orleans.”
This spirit of serving comes from witnessing a family dedicated to service and hard work. His mother is part of the Bagneris family, one who’s contributed to the City in government and the arts and his father’s family instilled in him the value of hard work. “I grew up around people who are making a difference and always stressed the importance of God, family and community.”