Anne began her career in Nigeria, collaborating with local communities to address oil companies’ destruction of the Niger Delta. She returned to Louisiana in 2000 and collaborated with women along Cancer Alley to found the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Anne was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana where many people made their fortunes from the oil industry. She has seen the wealth and the poverty created by oil production and seeks a phase out of fossil fuels in her lifetime. She has a Masters in International Development from Tulane and has twice testified before Congress. Her work has been recognized by local and national awards, including the Jane Bagley Lehman Award for Public Advocacy and the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award.
Hope has 20 years of service in the non-profit community as a Program Manager. Her experience has been primarily with grants and financial management of small nonprofits, as well as assisting small businesses to establish and maintain their financial records system. Hope manages the books and works with our community partners to develop their capacity for financial management. She enjoys working behind the scenes in order to ensure that the vision and purpose of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is fulfilled. She has been with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade since 2008.
Lenora is utilizing her many years of conducting family history research in south Louisiana to assist River Road community members in building out their ancestral ties to the parishes along the Mississippi River. Historically, African American families have been pushed aside in the name of progress and economic growth. To this end, former plantations along the Mississippi River in St. James and other parishes which encompass African American communities and burial sites of former enslaved people have been bought out, plowed under, built upon or ignored by the purchasers of the land. African American families with deep ties to these former plantations are fighting to reclaim the history of their ancestors. This requires historical documentation to recreate families and their connections to the land, which can be a daunting task for most African Americans with formerly enslaved ancestors. We recognize this history will be a powerful tool in taking on the petrochemical industry. To help community members uncover this documentation and reconstruct their families the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is utilizing Lenora’s skills as our in-house expert in genealogy and family history research.
Susan (she/her/hers) writes grants for our community partners and for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. She joins the organization with over 15 years of experience raising funds for transformational community organizations in sectors as varied as urban agriculture, arts and culture, racial justice, and youth development. A New Orleans resident since 2013, she is a founding member of Cooperation New Orleans, a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to developing a more just and cooperative economy; a member of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee; and part-time operations manager with Schmelly’s Dirt Farm, a local compost collection and delivery company. Playing brass music, getting her hands in the dirt, and learning to be an anti-racist parent round out Susan’s daily practices.
Dana Blandin, a Florida native, brings over 10 years of experience working with organizations to develop and manage operational processes. She manages the operation and administrative tasks for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Dana moved to New Orleans in 2017 after being drawn to the passion and potential of the New Orleans entrepreneurial community and has played a role in supporting growing businesses ever since. She is a founding member of Growhaus Studio, where she also holds the title of Director of Business Operations. Dana holds a BA in Organizational Management and Business Law, from the University of Miami, School of Business. She spends her time enjoying the outdoors, cooking for friends, and streaming anything binge-worthy.
A New Orleans native, born and bred, Sheila holds an intense love for her city and state. She has an intimate understanding of how racial and environmental injustices throughout Louisiana’s history have shaped uneven geographies across the state, and how the petrochemical industry has helped perpetuate these divisions that have led to such stark disparities in terms of health, wealth, and opportunity. After graduating with a B.A. in English, Sheila taught abroad and traveled extensively before completing her M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology. She has returned to her first love, Louisiana, and is honored to be a part of the LABB team, working towards saving her home from further environmental degradation. She is eager to share her passion about Louisiana with others on the bike ride she leads through the river parishes, as well as introduce our community partners along the way in order for them to share their own unique stories. Sheila likes animals, reading, and Mardi Gras.
Lou is a native New Orleanian with 20 years’ experience as a CPA and valuation/forensic accountant with a firm in the Washington DC area, and then with her own company, Hobson Analytical LLC. She graduated from the M.B.A. program at Rice University in Houston, Texas and received a Masters in Accounting at American University in Washington DC. Lou returned to New Orleans in 2015 and learned about the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the important work being done to stand up against petrochemical companies that are polluting our air and water. She was delighted to join the Bucket Brigade to align her education and experience with her lifelong personal goal to help protect and save the environment.
Shreyas Vasudevan (he/him) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020 he began working for the Americorp VISTA program at a Pittsburgh-based community development non-profit. During these years, Shreyas built his experience by canvassing for political campaigns in Pennsylvania, organizing and engaging in direct action to pressure fossil-fuel divestment, and helping neighborhood community development organizations better affect environmental justice conditions in the areas they serve. Since joining the Bucket Brigade in 2022, Shreyas conducts research on Louisiana’s petrochemical industry to provide information that arms our fight to protect and improve environmental conditions and the well-being of our residents. In his free time, Shreyas enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring the city of New Orleans.
Proud to be from the New Orleans West Bank, Rene brings 15 years of experience working in faith-based and secular non-profit administration with the last 10 years focused on fundraising and development. After spending the first part of her career in corporate sales, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where through her Jesuit parish, immersed herself in immigrant justice work and volunteered with the Catholic Worker that serviced immigrant families and the unhoused community. From there, Rene completed a Masters of Theology degree which further inspired her interest in the connection of faith and justice with a thesis project entitled, Coming to Terms with Racism: the Call to Conversion for White Christians. She holds a BA in Communications from Loyola University where she also holds the free-throw shooting percentage record as a former member of the Women’s Basketball team. Rene returned to New Orleans in 2017 where she is now raising her son to be socially conscious, anti-racist, and West Bank proud. Her ideas of fun are cooking for her family, gardening, and reading up on her passion for the intersectionality of spirituality and social justice.
Lori Cooke is a fifth-generation resident of Southwest Louisiana, descended from farmers, school teachers and oilfield workers who all shared a devotion to the land and protecting its beauty and the unique culture that has risen up within it. After studying journalism at LSU, she worked as a local news reporter in Lake Charles and Dallas, then went on to become a broadcast journalism professor in Texas, upstate New York, Toronto, and at McNeese, specializing in new media practices. Lori also has published work as a journalist and academic on police/community relations. Returning to Louisiana after the destruction of Hurricane Rita, she took some time out to care for aging relatives while starting her own successful business as an artist, specializing in Louisiana-themed subjects. As the Southwest Louisiana Program Coordinator, Lori is enthusiastically committed to spreading the word about the natural beauty and rich history of the region to all who share the vision of a healthy and prosperous environment for future generations. Lori enjoys spending time with her two exceptionally gifted offspring, two dogs and one very determined cat.
Pastor Harry Joseph leads our Down by the River bike ride and provides technical assistance to our economic development program. Pastor Joseph is a native of Donaldsonville, Louisiana and has lived in St. James Parish for eight years. For the last decade, he has been the pastor of Mt. Triumph Baptist Church. He cares for his community by giving out masks, taking care of the elderly and families in need. Pastor Joseph is the proud father of four children and raised two others. He is retired from his work as a heavy equipment operator. Pastor Joseph loves chocolate.
Justin Kray is a cartographer and open data advocate, committed to challenging bad decisions in government and building a more equitable and inclusive world. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans while Justin was working towards a Masters Degree in urban planning at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY – and the city’s recovery became the subject of Justin’s passionate interest in community development. Work was hard to find, so he returned to NYC to join the Pratt Center to lead their data and map based (GIS) advocacy efforts around affordable housing. Justin eventually found his way back to New Orleans and landed a position in Mayor Landrieu’s administration to organize the BlightStat program of public meetings, which won Harvard’s Kennedy Innovation award for civic data analytics and contributed to the City’s rapid housing recovery. Through his years of advocacy, Justin has always retained a keen interest in the power of maps to clearly tell powerful stories with data, so he is delighted to now be working with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, RISE St James, and the Center for Constitutional Rights to investigate and empower community groups in St James and neighboring parishes in Cancer Alley.
Clare Giesen is sociology instructor at Delgado Community College. She served as Executive Director of the National Women’s Political Caucus, where she was successful in significantly contributing to the increase of the number of women in federal office. As a member of the Clinton Administration, Clare held a number of positions, including White House Liaison for the Department of Energy and Special Assistant for the DOE’s utility restructuring and deployment of renewable energy technologies. At the USDA, she was Senior Advisor in the Office of Rural Utilities and successfully developed a loan program to deploy renewable energy on rural electric cooperatives. Clare’s organizing, fundraising and experience with the energy sector are vital to her role as a board member of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
Holly has 15 years of experience working to grow, develop, and cultivate meaningful communities of people working to change the world. Prior to founding DevelopWell, Holly wais the Deputy Operations Director at UltraViolet, a national women’s rights group based in DC. Holly worked at MoveOn.org as a lead organizer on the field team. She managed staff and created programs that trained MoveOn members across the country as organizers, and helped them build council structures to carry out various strategies in the field. Before MoveOn, Holly was an internal organizer with the Service Employees International Union in San Francisco, CA, and Portland, OR. Holly began her organizing career in New Orleans, with the Bucket Brigade after Hurricane Katrina, and is excited to be a part of the organization again. Holly currently lives in New Orleans with her partner Dustin and a herd of animals. In her free time, you’ll find her doing yoga, spending time outdoors in her garden, and traveling as much as possible.
Lisa Flanagan is an independent creative scholar and a content developer for GP Strategies Corporation. She has a B.A. in philosophy
from the University of Texas, Austin; and also holds an M.A. in speech communication and a PhD in communication studies from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge with a concentration in performance studies. Her creative scholarship centers on stage and film directing, visual and material culture, community engagement, the poetics of place, alternative tourism, and storytelling as tools for social justice and
Jo Banner’s love for Louisiana was sparked in large part by her grandparents who often spoke of the colorful and wild folktales of their rural community. Utilizing a BA in Mass Communications from Louisiana State University and MA in Communications from Southeastern Louisiana State University, Jo has shaped her area’s unique tourism industry throughout the last 20 years working with regional, state, and international agencies to increase tourism and awareness. Her perspective as a descendant, particularly from those enslaved to the nearby plantations, sparked Jo to create The Descendants Project, a nonprofit organization that fights for more ethical, culturally sensitive, and community-engaged representation, especially in the area of tourism. Jo expanded the mission of The Descendants Project to include Environmental Justice in order to protect the descendant community she belongs to from the threats of heavy industry while preserving culturally significant spaces such as the unmarked burial grounds of the enslaved.