Gambit's 18th annual 40 Under 40 Awards pay homage to some of the brightest and most innovative young people in a range of areas, including health care, crime, literature, education, art, law and more.
Christine Albert, 38
Associate vice president of marketing, Touro Infirmary
Book currently reading: Please Forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans after Katrina, edited by Cynthia Joyce
Favorite new album: The Phosphorescent Blues by Punch Brothers
Favorite Twitter account: @wwoz_neworleans
Favorite local band: Lost Bayou Ramblers
Favorite restaurant: Patois
What do you do in your off time? Travel and play tennis
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails
Sometimes a success story sounds as if the desired result was inevitable. Over the past nine years, Christine Albert has made it appear Touro Infirmary's successful longevity was predestined. It was anything but.
Albert joined Touro in 2006, when the city's public health system was still in crisis following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Despite a long legacy of service in New Orleans, Touro needed to rebrand and reposition itself. As the senior manager of marketing, Albert led the effort.
She doubled Touro's outreach efforts, hosting twice as many health fairs and other events and drawing double the number of attendees. The hospital also improved its digital presence, reverberating its messages across several social media channels and expanding the audience for Touro's website.
Albert doesn't rest on pass successes; she says she still has a lot to do. "The role of marketing, within Touro and within health care in general, is a really powerful one," she says. "We want to be sure that we're continuing to be that resource for people, meeting them where they are, when they need us, giving them the information they need." — Cate Root
Jeff Asher, 32
Senior analyst, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office; author, The New Orleans Advocate's Behind the Numbers blog; CEO, Jeff Asher Consulting
Book currently reading: The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan
Favorite Twitter account: @ScottDKushner
Favorite local band: Rebirth Brass Band
Favorite restaurant: Coquette
What do you doin your off time? I throw the ball with the dog, play softball, watch sports, read and watch HGTV and ridiculous Real Housewives shows with my wife.
Cocktails or beer? Beer, definitely beer.
In a metropolitan area area traumatized by violence, Jeff Asher analyzes crime data to discover solutions that will have a measurable impact on public safety.
Asher returned to his native New Orleans recently after spending 10 years in Washington, D.C., where he earned a master's degree in security policy studies from George Washington University and worked in counterintelligence for the CIA.
In his role as a senior crime analyst for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, Asher now performs tactical analysis: identifying criminal hot spots, mapping the social networks of gangs and using data to solve crimes. He also writes a blog for The New Orleans Advocate called Behind the Numbers, where he charts larger trends in violence and discusses the efficacy of crime prevention policies. Through Jeff Asher Consulting, he helps businesses analyze problems and craft workable solutions.
"My business goal is to be able to provide analytical support to all types of organizations that don't typically analyze their problem set," Asher says. "From a New Orleanian's standpoint, I want to use analysis as a force multiplier to help solve any number of civic problems." — Dena Marks
Ryan Ballard, 37
Co-owner, Castillo Blanco Art Studios; co-founder, Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus www.artgobang.com; www.facebook.com/chewbaccacabra; @kreweofchew
Book currently reading: Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson
Favorite new album: With a Little Help From My Fwends by The Flaming Lips
Favorite Twitter account: @AlYankovic
Favorite local band: Ballzack and Odoms
Favorite restaurant: Palace Cafe
What do you do in your off time? I spend time in the ocean or on the beach. I love to spear fish and fly trick kites and kayak and play with my dogs.
Cocktails or beer? Depends on the situation… mostly on whether I’m wearing a costume, a suit or flip flops. I’m usually either a dirty vodka martini guy or a cheap beer guy
Ryan Ballard takes the stereotype of a lone tortured artist and turns it on its head. He’s a conceptual artist who believes art is a collaborative process and works hard to help others unleash their imaginations — as evidenced by his co-founding of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus and co-ownership of Castillo Blanco Art Studios. Chewbacchus is a sci-fi themed Mardi Gras parade of 80 or 90 groups that Ballard refers to as a “nerd mafia.” He says his job is to help the various groups achieve their vision, do amazing things within an organic structure (that he says he runs like a benevolent dictatorship) and let things skate to the edge of chaos — a line he says he loves to push and has gotten very good at straddling. Castillo Blanco is where Ballard creates art, but it’s also a space for other artists and activities associated with Chewbaccus and Ballard’s other collaborative art projects. As for why he chose to settle in New Orleans, this adventure-loving world traveler said it’s because the city’s “not entirely civilized” and is the “weirdest, wildest place in the United States” where he can be himself and thrive. “In life, you really only get to choose between love and fear,” Ballard says. “You can choose to shrink in a shell or you can do what you love. And choosing what I love has worked for me every time.” — Laura Ricks
Amy Sneed Barrios, 39
Owner, Multimedia Solutions
www.mmsnola.com; www.facebook.com/amy.barrios; @amysneedbarrios
Book currently reading: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Favorite Twitter account: @andylassner
Favorite local band: Vivaz
Favorite restaurant: Jacques-Imo's
What do you do in your off time? Hang out with my kiddos.
In a decision many would consider professional suicide, Amy Sneed Barrios voluntarily walked away from a high-level television career in order to create a media consulting and PR business that takes advantage of her media experience, allows her to work for causes in which she believes and provides the more balanced work and home life she was seeking.
Sneed Barrios believes in getting things done, a drive that others recognized early when she was offered a job as an associate producer at a Baton Rouge television station while still in college. From there she went to Dallas to work but was lured back to New Orleans to be the executive producer at WDSU-TV. It was a job she loved, until her eldest son reached kindergarten and her late-night hours meant less time with him. Barrios decided to walk away from the job, a decision she says was easy to make and one in which she had complete confidence.
Sneed Barrios now uses her television experience to help clients tell their stories, and she's particularly passionate about causes involving children. Everything she has done, from her 17 years in television to becoming a mom, positioned her perfectly to do the work she now does, she says.
"I feel really good that I can take what I have learned and use it to help people," she says. "And I feel fortunate that I can do this on my own terms. I'm exactly where I am supposed to be." — Laura Ricks
Sonya L. Brown, 29
Community Engagement Connector, Boys Town Louisiana
Book currently reading: Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry
Favorite new album: To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Favorite local band: Tank & the Bangas
Favorite restaurant: Katie's Restaurant
What do you do in your off time? Sing, write songs, paint, and craft — anything artsy.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails
Sonya L. Brown is a community leader who advocates locally and nationally for foster children and works as a community engagement connector at Boys Town Louisiana, a nonprofit that provides interventions such as parenting education, safe shelter, and mental therapy to at-risk family members. Motivated by her own experiences in foster care and in Boys Town programs as a teenager, Brown seeks financial and community support for adolescents raised in foster homes. In June, she testified before the U.S. Congress about the large number of foster children placed in the juvenile justice system for minor infractions. She has worked with the Louisiana HCR 168 Task Force, which is studying ways to change public policy to provide financial and other resources for children leaving the foster care system and entering adulthood. She also is helping organize a Louisiana chapter of the Foster Care Alumni of America, which connects former foster-care children with each other so they can share what they've learned and lend support. Brown says she plans to expand her work with foster children.
"I am currently working towards getting my [licensed clinical social worker] certification," she says, "and will continue working with young people who have aged out of foster care, but more so on the mental health side of things." — Dena Marks
Katherine Hall Burlison, 37
Curator of Decorative Arts, Louisiana State Museum
Book currently reading: For work, I've just finished reading a few about female education in the 19th century. At home, I'm reading Ann Lamott's Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith.
Favorite new album: Something More Than Free by Jason Isbell
Favorite local band: New Orleans Suspects
Favorite restaurant: Shaya or Herbsaint
What do you do in your off time? I go see live music, travel and spend time with my husband and two dogs.
Cocktails or beer? Cathead honeysuckle vodka and soda, or wine
Katherine Hall Burlison is working to preserve and share the rich history of Louisiana through her position as curator of decorative arts at the Louisiana State Museum. Though she grew up in Mobile, Alabama, Burlison says part of her passion for Louisiana culture and history stems from her own heritage as the descendant of French immigrants who arrived in Louisiana in the 18th century.
As curator, Burlison is in charge of the care and exhibition of more than 5,000 objects for the state museum. She acquires new artifacts, and works with curatorial and exhibition staff to provide information about the artifacts and exhibits for the public.
Burlison developed the only permanent exhibit of Newcomb pottery in New Orleans at Madame John's Legacy Museum in the French Quarter. She also was instrumental in the recent donation to the museum of an armoire from Rosedown Plantation by M.S. Rau Antiques.
Outside her job, Burlison expands upon her role as historical ambassador by staying involved in the community as a member of the Junior League of New Orleans and the Newcomb Archives Committee at Tulane University. — Kate Watson
Carlo Carino, 17
Jesuit High School student
Book currently reading: Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Favorite new album: Surf by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
Favorite Twitter account: @thefirstteenola
Favorite local band: Neutral Snap
Favorite restaurant: Commander's Palace
What do you do in your off time? Play golf and piano
Cocktails or beer? Neither; I'm 17
Jesuit High School student Carlo Carino has parlayed an early exposure to golf into an opportunity to travel, play with professionals, earn college scholarships and lead young people in anti-bullying efforts.
Making a birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, California while playing with former U.S. Open Champion Tom Lehman would be the culmination of a dream for many. For Carino, that's something he checked off his bucket list at 16. Thanks to First Tee, an organization that gives kids an opportunity to play golf, he started at 7 and has been recognized not only for his skills on the course, but also his leadership qualities.
Having lost a friend to suicide due to bullying and as part of his work with First Tee, Carino created a program where he educates young people about the dangers of bullying and teaches them ways to provide positive reinforcement to others. Carino has a 4.43 GPA and is a former student at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He chose golf over piano because of the time commitment but still plays piano to relax.
He plans to study medicine in the future.
"My mom came from a poor family in the Phillipines, where my grandmother barely made enough to support her and her siblings, so she really wanted me to be successful," he says. "And as the first generation (of my family) in America, I want to make a difference." — Laura Ricks
Bo Dollis Jr., 34
Big Chief; band leader of the Wild Magnolias
Favorite new album: All of Anthony Hamilton's music
Favorite local band: Tank and the Bangas
Favorite restaurant: Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
What do you do in your off time? Spend time with my family.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktail — Crown apple
Bo Dollis Jr. has been masking for more than 20 years. As Big Chief and leader of the Wild Magnolias tribe, which also performs as a band, he is an authority on Mardi Gras Indians' tradition and music.
Dollis says his goal is to uphold the tradition, while also keeping it fresh: "More people are getting into it," he says. "Back in the older days, like when I first started, we had the same people. ... Nowadays, you have all races come out to the second line with you. It's bigger and better than ever."
Dollis took over as leader for Wild Magnolias when his father, the late Bo Dollis Sr., became ill. He brings an inclusive, modern edge to the once-secretive tradition of masking and performing.
"I just kept it going," Dollis says. "I want a little blues, I want a little hip-hop, I want a little reggae, a little bit of everything that everybody listens to, but still have the Mardi Gras Indian feel."
Dollis' 2016 Mardi Gras suit will pay tribute to his father, who died in January. He's planning a festival called Bo Fest for mid-April. Beyond preserving the New Orleans Indian tradition and moving it forward, his goal is both simple and grand: to earn a "Grammy or get a big-time award." — Cate Root
Brad Cashio, 37
Attorney, Cashio Law Firm
Book currently reading: Redshirts by John Scalzi
Favorite new album: The Tomb of Nick Cage by The Tomb of Nick Cage
Favorite local band: Marina Orchestra
Favorite restaurant: Pizza Delicious
What do you do in your off time? Support live local music.
Cocktails or beer? Beer
Brad Cashio is an accomplished lawyer who serves the community by making legal services accessible, volunteering at local prisons and mentoring young professionals in his field.
A native of the New Orleans area, Cashio attended Loyola University School of Law, where he earned three awards for legal excellence. After graduating at 23, he founded Cashio Law Firm, a private practice that specializes in personal injury law. In addition to mentoring young attorneys about ethics in personal injury law, he offers pro bono and discounted legal services for low-income individuals, nonprofit organizations, small businesses and churches.
Cashio spearheaded an initiative to provide affordable estate planning to older musicians through the Preservation Hall Foundation's Legacy program. For another project, he leads Bible studies at Orleans Parish correctional facilities and Jefferson Parish juvenile detention centers.
A dedicated public servant, Cashio searches for new opportunities to contribute to the community.
"My primary goal is not to grow my business, but simply to find more ways to help people whenever possible." — Dena Marks
Elizabeth Elizardi, 38
Head of Early Childhood Education, Isidore Newman School; director, Green Trees Early Childhood Village
Book currently reading: The Diary of Laura: Perspectives on a Reggio Emilia Diary, Carolyn Edwards and Carlina Rinaldi, editors
Favorite local band: Sweet Crude
Favorite restaurant: Apolline
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails
Elizabeth Elizardi's marriage to a New Orleans native and her studies under researchers in positive psychology — the study of happiness and human flourishing — combined in creating the Green Trees Early Childhood Village at Isidore Newman School. With guiding principals of connection, community learning and constant learning, Green Trees has reached full enrollment of 155 students (ages 6 weeks to 4 years), just three months into its first year.
Elizardi's background includes earning a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree at the University of Pennsylvania, the first school in the world to offer such a degree. She also writes about positive psychology for Psychology Today online and Positive Psychology News Daily, and contributed writings to the book Character Strengths Matter.
She finds her inspiration in helping young people understand the world.
"These children are learning about their impact on the world around them," Elizardi says. "Just knowing that this is the prime time for their brain development, and how we can execute a vision toward human flourishing for them and their community, excites me." — Frank Etheridge
Matt Estrade, 39
Research administrator & chief mentor, Care Partner Mentoring
Book currently reading: Contented Dementia by Oliver James
Favorite local band: Paul Sanchez
Favorite restaurant: Arnaud's
What do you do in your off time? Spend time with my beautiful wife and three kids; volunteer with the Cub Scouts
Cocktails or beer? Local beer
Matt Estrade is a father of three who works full time as a research administrator at a hospital, is earning a master's degree in gerontology and is devoted to lessening the burden of Alzheimer's disease and dementia through support groups for patients and caregivers.
Estrade was in college when his grandfather developed Alzheimer's, and he watched as the disease took an enormous toll on his mother as a caregiver. A few years later Estrade started working in gerontology.
Though dealing with Alzheimer's patients is complicated and has many limitations, Estrade believes small things can make an enormous difference for patients as well as their caregivers, family and friends and he counsels those dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia on ways to provide care and support while still treating the patient like an individual who has history, stories, feelings and moments of awareness.
"I am driven because I really think that I can make a difference," Estrade says. "I've seen it in my support groups. I can educate and empower people, give people a nudge and really change things for them and the person with dementia and Alzheimer's." — Laura Ricks