Real Black Girl Magic: Women driving change and ensuring our future

Bambi Hall Data News Weekly Contributor

As we near the end of Women’s History Month, we’d like to take a moment to introduce you to women in New Orleans who are diligently engaged on multiple fronts and driving forces behind some of the most important industries and organizations in the city. Not only are they considered some of the best and brightest in their respective fields, but they have made significant impacts in and on our community, and they serve people with a passion for the culture. Let’s meet the women ensuring the future of New Orleans.

GOVERNMENT: Meet Candace N. Newell, Esq. – State Representative, Louisiana District 99
Candace Newell, a former teacher, has been a practicing attorney for five years and has represented District 99 for the last four. When the much-debated issue of Black women’s hair became a national conversation/obsession, Newell led the charge to pass the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or CROWN Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on hairstyles and hair textures historically associated with race. With Governor John Bel Edwards signature, it capped a two-year effort and made Louisiana the first Southern state to pass a law protecting against hair discrimination.

EDUCATION: Meet Adrinda “Drin” Kelly – Executive Director, BE NOLA
New Orleans raised and Harvard trained, Adrinda Kelly embodies the words, “Be the change you want to see.” As Executive Director of Black Education for New Orleans, whose mission is to support Black educators and Black-led schools to provide a quality education to New Orleans children; Kelly has overseen the delivery of high-impact programs to more than 1,000 Black educators, quadrupled BE NOLA’s base of actively engaged supporters, and launched several new funding strategies, successfully adding more than $2M to the organization’s budget. Kelly has earned numerous awards for her work as a nonprofit leader. Most recently, in February, she was selected for the 2023 Black Changemakers Program by the PepsiCo Foundation and Doritos SOLID BLACK, which included a $50,000 grant and leadership development training.

HEALTHCARE: Meet Dr. Lauren Teverbaugh – Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Tulane School of Medicine
Dr. Lauren Teverbaugh wears many hats. Triple board certified in Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry, she currently serves as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Tulane School of Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Psychiatrist at both Children’s Hospital and Community Health Center, JeffCare, and supervises clinical services provided by trainees in Jefferson and Orleans Parish school-based health clinics. When she’s not cultivating the next generation of medical professionals, Dr. Teverbaugh – who’s also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics – provides clinical direction as part of emPOWER NOLA, a group comprised of fellow New Orleans Community healthcare workers who are Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars. Their project, “Training Community Leadership of Naturally Occurring Social Networks to Improve Access of Children Suffering from Trauma to Mental Health Services;” trains New Orleans’ culture bearers on how to recognize trauma-affected children, and links them to trauma informed care to support youth who have lived through profoundly traumatic events.

LAW: Meet Judge Rachael Johnson – Division D, Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit
Judge Rachael Johnson was first elected as Judge of Civil District Court, Division B in Orleans Parish, from 2017 to 2022, and now serves as Judge for Division D of the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit. Judge Johnson attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she received a B.A. in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s in Social Work from Smith College in Northampton, MA, and she practiced clinical and adoption social work in Atlanta before returning to New Orleans to attend Tulane Law School. Her education and experience, including 12 years as a lawyer, make her a uniquely qualified jurist in a unique and, sometimes, complex legal system. Judge Johnson’s ability to discern situations and interpret Louisiana and U.S. Constitutional Law helped her to be re-elected without opposition to Civil District Court, in 2020, and win election for the 1st District Judge of the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal outright in last November’s primary. In 2022, Judge Johnson received the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society’s prestigious Ernest N. Morial Award – the top award for those who have been pacesetters in the judicial ranks and the bar.

SPORTS: Meet Risa Hall – Senior Director, Administration & Major Events – Allstate Sugar Bowl
Risa Hall is a name you should know. She has either led or been involved in some of the biggest sporting events in the country, including the NFL Super Bowl, NBA All-Star, and NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Fours. As the Senior Director for Administration and major events for the third longest-running bowl game, the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Hall is responsible for managing internal operations and communication for a staff of 11, and producing large-scale sporting events, including the College Football Playoff. She also directs logistics and budget forecasting, arranges transportation/lodging for 300 athletes and associates, and works with local and state entities to accommodate 100,000 visitors and fans, annually. Hall, who previously held positions with the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and Houston Texans, earned degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana (Bachelor’s) and the University of North Texas (Master’s), and completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, “The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports,” in June 2022.

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