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Gambit’s 40 Under 40 (2015) 

The class of 2015: 40 New Orleanians you need to know

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Dr. L'Issa L. Gates, 33
Physician & partner, Westside Clinics AMC

Book currently reading: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Favorite local band: Jeremy Davenport
Favorite restaurant: Clancy's
What do you do in your off time? I love to spend time with family and friends.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails

  L'Issa Gates first identified her natural aptitude for science in high school and has combined her knowledge as a physician with her passion for public service to advocate for children and abuse prevention. She also became the first African-American to become a partner at Westside Clinics AMC in Marrero, where she is a primary care pediatrician and participates in the AMA Doctor's Back to School Program, in which minority doctors and medical students introduce children to professional role models.
  Gates says her grand-father was an early inspir- ation for her career in medicine. His position as a minister taught her to value using the art and power of developing relationships and using a personal gift to touch others. The Louisiana State University graduate has a passion for connecting with people and showing a genuine interest in improving their lives. In both her professional and private life she looks for opportunities to have a positive impact on people's health and their lives, volunteering regularly at her church and in the community.
  "Careerwise, I'd like to continue with primary care pediatrics," Gates says. "But I'd also like to become more involved with the community and link with the doctor sector to help young people who may be interested in a career in medicine realize their goals." — Andrea Blumenstein


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Nicole DeAbate Fraser, 39
Owner, Nurture Nannies; founder, Nurture Change;;; @nurturenannies

Book currently reading:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Favorite new album: Florasongs by The Decemberists
Favorite local band: Rebirth Brass Band
Favorite restaurant: Shaya, Lilly's, Milkfish
What do you do in your off time? My off time is spent with my family. ... We love spending time outside or working on my 5-year-old Jude's inventions and crafts. Even just sitting on our yard swing talking to him is pure happiness.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails

  A few years ago Nicole DeAbate Fraser was in a situation common to many new mothers: trying to secure reliable, thoughtful child care so she could return to work full time. Her experience led her to come up with a her own solution and she founded Nurture Nannies, an individualized service for finding nannies and baby sitters.
  "I really, genuinely created the service that I wanted as a mom who needed a nanny," Fraser says. Nurture Nannies takes each family's preferences and lifestyles into account, whether it's attachment parenting, breastfeeding or dietary needs. Her focus is to deliver superior child care to her clients, and match nannies to environments where they are valued, respected and happy in their work.
  As part of Fraser's community outreach, Nurture Nannies hosts two weekly in-store events at Whole Foods Market Arabella Station: story time at 10 a.m. Thursday and a craft time at 11 a.m. Saturday.
  Fraser is passionate about giving back to the community. She has worked with Dress for Success to provide free child care so unemployed parents can attend job interviews. She also founded Nurture Change, a nonprofit that teaches children about social responsibility and environmental activism. The mission is personal: "My son is 5," Fraser says. "I want him to to grow up seeing problems and understanding there is a solution that he can implement." — Cate Root


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Alexander John Glustrom, 29
Filmmaker, photographer & artist

Book currently reading:

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux
Favorite new album: To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Favorite Twitter account:
@NatGeo and @melontao
Favorite local band: Mama Ray, The Quickening
Favorite restaurant: Shaya
What do you do in your off time? Ride my bike, train jiu jitsu and hang out in the park with Liza Jane (his dog)
Cocktails or beer? Beer

  For five years Alexander Glustrom worked tirelessly with a team to gather first-person interviews and video footage to create the award-winning documentary Big Charity: The Death of America's Oldest Hospital, which premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival in 2014 and was named 2015 Documentary of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
  While attending Tulane University, Glustrom founded the student service organization TUCAN, which works with the Boys and Girls Club. He later served as director of the Boys and Girls Club of The Iberville public housing development. He says it was during time he spent at Iberville, both working with the Boys and Girls Club and filming a music video, that his focus turned specifically to Charity Hospital, a looming structure visible from the basketball court at the housing development.
  Big Charity is the result of asking questions and "an amazing story unfolded in front of me," Glustrom says. He currently is working on a documentary about a small town in southwest Louisiana. He was recognized by the city for his contribution to ExhibitBE, a legal space where graffiti artists can create artworks, and Glustrom's art can be seen in murals at Nola Brewing Company and for the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.
  He's not done yet. "I'd like to keep telling stories and continue to generate and inspire change through art and film," Glustrom says. — Andrea Blumenstein


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Johanna Gilligan, 35
Founder and executive director, Grow Dat Youth Farm;, @GrowDatNOLA

Book currently reading:

A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
Favorite new album: Jimmy Lee Williams
Favorite local band: Lost Bayou Ramblers
Favorite restaurant: My favorite dining experience is the prix fixe lunch at Restaurant August
What do you do in your off time? Spend time at home with friends and family
Cocktails or beer? One fancy cocktail a day is my idea of heaven.

  It's yet another bountiful harvest for the Grow Dat Youth Farm in City Park this fall. The 7-acre, nonprofit operation has launched its first-ever autumn Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program filled with fresh produce such as beets, carrots, kale, collard greens and Grow Dat's signature seven-variety lettuce mix as part of an expected 20,000-pound crop yield for 2015, an increase from 17,000 pounds last year.
  Working as an educator in downtown public high schools before Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, Johanna Gilligan saw her students stuck with fast food chains as sources for both meals and jobs. Thus, the idea for Grow Dat — an initiative to provide nutrition, employment and positive experiences for area high-school students — was born.
  "I believe we are doing something very crucial at this moment in time, with the problems of unemployment levels for young black males in the city, the disconnect from nature, and the lack of access to healthy foods," Gilligan says. "It's exciting to see how much can be done by young people if we give them the right directions and opportunities." — Frank Etheridge


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Jennifer Hale, 37
Sports reporter, FOX Sports; founder, Sideline Pass nonprofit;; @jenhale504; @sideline_pass

Book currently reading:
Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II by Jerry E. Strahan
Favorite new album: Starting Something by Lena Prima
Favorite Twitter account: @GoldenRetriever
Favorite local band: Lena Prima, Robin Barnes
What do you do in your off time? Exercise, cook, volunteer
Cocktails or beer? Kir Royale and red zinfandel

  Jennifer Hale appreciates a good story, and that's not just because she's living one. The sideline reporter for FOX Sports also has worked as an investigative and political reporter and a morning show host at WVUE in New Orleans and has racked up awards for both sports and news reporting. She also puts effort into the greater good as a women's health spokesperson for Thibodaux Regional Medical Center and as founder of the nonprofit Sideline Pass.
  What ties together Hale's career? "Storytelling," she says. "You have to be able to tell a good, concise story. ... Don't waste people's time. Tell them what they need to know and what they want to know."
  Hale launched Sideline Pass earlier this year with a goal of fostering one-on-one interactions between girls and women who have established professional careers. To build her roster of mentors, Hale looked to her circle of friends: "I have made so many awesome, amazing girlfriends here in New Orleans. ... They're the total package. They bring so much to the table."
  Hale, who wrote a book on Alabama plantations in 2009, keeps one eye toward the future: "I seem to keep reinventing myself," she says. "I definitely want to grow Sideline Pass. ... I'd love to do [more] features. ... I love doing stories ... that show why sports is bigger than just the game on the field or on the court." Oh, and also, "I'd like to write another book." — Cate Root


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Angelica Harris, 17
Student, Golfer

Book currently reading:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Favorite new album: 1989 by Taylor Swift
Favorite restaurant: Sake Cafe
What do you do in your off time? Volunteer at inner-city schools

  Angelica Harris is an award-winning scholar and golfer who founded Angelica's Angels to teach golf and life skills at the Chartwell Center, a school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  Despite her own difficulties with dyslexia, the Harvey native became a National Honor Society Scholar and Beta Club member. She attended Louise S. McGehee School from nursery school to 10th grade before deciding to be homeschooled in order to dedicate more time to her life-long passion: golf.
  A golfer since the age of 4, Harris was named the 2013 | The Times-Picayune All Metro Golfer and the 2014 First Tee of Greater New Orleans Player of the Year. She currently competes on the United States Specialty Sports Association, Arrowhead and Kelly Gibson Junior Tours. Between the putting green and her books, Harris teaches weekly classes on golf, character, education and healthy habits to autistic children at the Chartwell Center.
  She plans to continue studying, playing golf and performing community service.
  "My ultimate goal is to finish college and to help kids who struggle with learning disabilities like I did," she says. — Dena Marks


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Megan Holt, 34
Postdoctoral teaching fellow, Tulane University

Book currently reading:

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Favorite new album: Viper's Drag by Henry Butler
Favorite local band: The Radiators
Favorite restaurant: Crabby Jack's and Clancy's
What do you do in your off time? Hang out with my 2-year-old son Jefferson.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails

  Megan Holt spearheads community literacy programs in New Orleans. When she got her doctorate in English in 2013, she realized she could use the degree to improve quality of life for illiterate New Orleanians.
  "I got involved with community literacy projects, and that led me to get on the board of the Young Leadership Council's (YLC) One Book One New Orleans project and the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans," says Holt, a native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Under her leadership, One Book One New Orleans won YLC Project of the Year, and Holt won YLC Volunteer of the Year. She also serves as a board member for the Lower 9th Ward Street Library.
  "Literacy skills help lower crime and poverty rates, ensure a greater voter turnout — everything we struggle with in our city is in some way tied to literacy," Holt says. "The power to read can change your life."
  She has a clear-cut goal: "I would love to see New Orleans' functional illiteracy rate drop by 5 percent in the next 10 years." — Missy Wilkinson


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Benjamin Marcovitz, 36
Chief executive officer, Collegiate Academies;

Book currently reading:
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Favorite new album: Hit n Run by Prince
Favorite local band: Allen Toussaint
Favorite restaurant: The Galley
What do you do in your off time? Engage with my family and children.
Cocktails or beer? Beer

  With experience as a teacher at St. Mary's Academy and training from the Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Benjamin Marcovitz returned to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina to a shattered education system. In 2008 he helped establish New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy and lead it as principal to quick, dramatic success.
  In 2012, Marcovitz took the helm of Collegiate Academies, a network of New Orleans open-admission charter high schools credited with sending 98 percent of its graduates to college and 71 percent of its students with disabilities to college — double the state average.
  "A huge motivator for me is my first child, my daughter with significant special needs," Marcovitz says. "What I want to see is for her to be treated with the same expectations and demands as someone without special needs.
  "My ultimate goal is to show everyone who doubts that any human being can radically transform their world. In fact, it is possible, it is an imperative and the greatest joy I have in life is being able to talk about that fact with children." — Frank Etheridge


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Ashley Howard, 34
Assistant professor of history, director of African and African-American Studies Program, Loyola University New Orleans

Book currently reading:
All God's Children by Fox Butterfield
Favorite Twitter account: @jelani9, @Loyola_NOLA
Favorite local band: Tank & the Bangas
Favorite restaurant: Dreamy Weenies, High Hat Cafe
What do you do in your off time? Hang out with friends, explore the city, garden
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails

  Scholar Ashley Howard has a unique perspective on African-American history and a commitment to engaging the public in conversations about race, violence and historical perspectives.
  Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Howard devoured books about African-Americans, but found few about her part of the country.
  "The thing that drew me to the history that I study was that the stuff in the history book was very distinct from the history I was interested in," she says. Now director of African and African-American studies at Loyola University New Orleans, Howard calls herself "a scholar of racial violence," specializing in the Midwest. She considers it her duty to teach beyond academia and says she relishes speaking to community groups.
  Harris says incidents like the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri and the Black Lives Matter movement make her work more relevant than ever. "It's an honor to be able to speak about these things, but they're such heinous events to make your research relevant in the present," she says. She's currently working on Prairie Fires, a book about 1960s urban unrest in cities like Omaha, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
  "My ultimate goal is to keep on the path that I'm on, to instruct students to be thoughtful and engaged global citizens, to continue to research issues that inspire me and that make a difference in the world," she says. — Anna Gaca


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Beomjune Kim, 39
Oral and maxillofacial surgeon, LSU Health Sciences Center and University Medical Center

Book currently reading:
Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King
Favorite restaurant: Luke
What do you do in your off time? Play tennis and piano, travel
Cocktails or beer? Beer

  Imagine the list of specialists needed to combat an aggressive case of cancer in the head or neck. A medical doctor who can chart a treatment plan. A dentist who can manipulate your jaw, teeth and gums. A microvascular surgeon skilled in reconstruction and restoring patients to full function. In New Orleans, you can find all that experience in one man, Dr. Beomjune Kim.
  Kim is a congenial and curious doctor. His intense specialization allows him to offer comprehensive care to patients. "My main interest is head and neck cancer and head and neck reconstruction," Kim says. "I don't only focus on taking cancer out, but also I'd like to reconstruct the patients to where they were before surgery, before they had cancer."
  Louisiana has a high rate of oral cancer, and overall, more than 60 percent of patients with head or neck cancer survive. "They deserve to have a better quality of life," Kim says. "The level of satisfaction is greater because eventually they get to look like what they looked like before surgery."
  Kim embraces new technology, such as virtual surgical planning and medical modeling, while hoping for advancements such as tissue engineering. Kim says his ultimate goal is "to develop not only as a surgeon but also a good researcher and good doctor." — Cate Root


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Eric J. Mark, 39
Chef, assistant professor, Delgado Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program

Book currently reading:
Cuisine & Culture: A History of Food and People by Linda Civitello
Favorite new album: Tin Star by Lindi Ortega
Favorite local band: Anders Osborne
Favorite restaurant: Brigtsen's Restaurant
What do you do in your off time? I love to get outdoors and go kayaking and things like that.
Cocktails or beer? Czechvar beer

  As the youngest faculty member of Delgado Community College's culinary arts program, Eric J. Mark teaches core classes and serves as mentor to aspiring young chefs in cooking competitions.
  Mark learned the restaurant business by washing dishes as a 14-year-old and working his way to new positions. After stints in renowned restaurants such as Prejean's Restaurant in Lafayette, Mark attained a culinary degree at Delgado Community College and soon was hired to join its faculty.
  As an instructor, he combines his restaurant and classroom experiences to help students learn the cooking and business sides of restaurants. Mark developed the curriculum for the Culinary Arts Certificate Program of the Louisiana Technical College system. He mentors Delgado students in cooking competitions and works with youth at the nonprofit job-training program at Cafe Reconcile as well as special education students in Jefferson Parish.
  "I'd like to continue my education and focus on teaching," he says. — Will Coviello



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