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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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Michael Schachtman, 32
Attorney, Louisiana State Bar Association; founder and president, New Orleans Bulldog Rescue;

Book currently reading:

Bienville's Dilemma by Richard Campanella
Favorite local band: Anders Osborne
Favorite restaurant: Hank's Super Market
What do you do in your off time? Camping at the beach or lakefront
Cocktails or beer? Typically Tito's vodka with a splash of ginger ale

  Minnesota native Michael Schachtman moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University's College of Law, drawn to the program's distinguished history of training activist attorneys. After graduating and making a home for himself in the city, Schachtman worked toward his current role in the Access to Justice Department of the Louisiana State Bar Association, where he helped initiate the Lawyers in Libraries program, bringing free legal assistance through public libraries in every parish.
  A dog lover, he established the New Orleans Bulldog Rescue five years ago to keep canines out of shelters, and also to help victims of domestic violence deal with family dogs as the survivors transitions into a new situation. The group recently added an new initiative, the Bully Care Brigade, which brings dogs to visit residents in nursing homes.
 "What keeps me motivated is that I feel very lucky to have the ability to go to school for law," Schachtman says. "Now I have to pay it forward and have discovered a natural source of energy and enthusiasm, both personally and professionally, to devote my time and energy to things I care about." — Frank Etheridge


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Jeffrey Schwartz, 33
Founder & executive director, Broad Community Connections

Book currently reading:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Favorite new album: Gasa Gasa Live by Lost Bayou Ramblers
Favorite Twitter account: @CityLab
Favorite local band: Sweet Crude
Favorite restaurant: Shaya
What do you do in your off time? Lately I've been building bookshelves and renovating my house.
Cocktails or beer? Sour beers and tiki drinks

  Jeffrey Schwarz created Broad Community Connections to help develop a 15-block commercial and residential corridor in Mid-City with an eye toward improving the whole community.
  A New Orleans native, Schwartz examin- ed development on Broad Street as part of a practicum requirement while attaining a master's degree in urban planning at MIT, and compiled a report on the Broad Street corridor while on a New Orleans City Hall Mayoral Fellowship in the Office of Economic Development.
  In 2008, he founded Broad Community Connections to develop the corridor. Rather than focusing on a single initiative such as health or food access, the nonprofit organization takes a holistic approach to development. Schwartz sits on the board of the ReFresh Project, which brings together a diverse range of businesses and organizations at 300 N. Broad St. including Whole Foods Market, Tulane University's Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, FirstLine Schools' central offices and Liberty's Kitchen, a restaurant that offers job training to at-risk youth, and a teaching farm.
  "I'd like to continue to develop a model of real estate development that enables long-term community development programming," Schwartz says. "I'd also love to continue to work on new infrastructure and resiliency projects, such as improving the transit system in the city and region and playing a role in having the city adopt the Urban Water Plan." — Will Coviello


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Erin Seidemann, 35
Author, airplane pilot, supervisory analyst for Raymond James & Associates

Book currently reading:

The Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Piper Seneca
Favorite local band: Anything with lots of brass
Favorite restaurant: K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen
What do you do in your off time? Mostly, I fly. When I can't fly, I run, read and enjoy the lakefront where I live.
Cocktails or beer? Fruity cocktails

  After more than a decade among the small percentage of female aviators worldwide, Erin Seidemann chronicled her triumphs and challenges as a woman in a male-dominated field with her debut memoir, Postcards from the Sky: Adventures of an Aviatrix, being released this month.
  As a licensed pilot flying Orion, her Cessna 172SP, Seidemann encountered many struggles during her adventures as a female pilot. A lover of travel, Seidemann got a thrill seeing various landscapes from the perspective of a private plane, a feeling that helped propel her past nay-sayers and chauvinists and ultimately drove her to write a book about it to inspire other women to join her in her passion.
  Seidemann appreciates how much can be seen from the altitude of a small plane and how different it is from the limited visuals a passenger sees during a commercial flight. She supports programs such as the Civil Air Patrol that have youth programs in which kids can join as cadets and get introduced to aviation for free. When she's not working, Seidemann is an avid runner, blogger and globe trotter.
  She recently upgraded her aircraft to a Piper Seneca. "The thing about flying is it's about getting a bigger airplane," she says. "You always want the next thing. It is a lifelong addiction." — Andrea Blumenstein


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Amy Sins, 38
Chef and proprietor, Langlois; managing partner, New Orleans Jazz Quarters; @CookbookNOLA ; @LangloisNOLA

Book currently reading:
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
Favorite Twitter account: @tatephoto
Favorite local band: Jeremy Davenport, St. Augustine High School's Marching 100 band
Favorite restaurant: Meauxbar
What do you do in your off time? I'm teaching myself to paint, but my real hobby is work, because I love my jobs.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails

  Renaissance woman Amy Sins is a business owner, chef, farmer and radio host.
  After Hurricane Katrina, Sins seized a chance to follow a longtime dream. She left a sales career to open Langlois, a "dinner party-meets-restaurant," where guests socialize and learn to cook alongside staff in the kitchen. The format, she says, was inspired by childhood memories of her parents' dinner parties at their cattle farm in Ascension Parish.
  In the past year, Sins has gotten in touch with another kind of roots by creating an urban farm in the 9th Ward. Sins shares staff between operations and says it cultivates a team atmosphere.
  "When my guests come in and they're having collard greens, I can say that myself, my waitress, my dishwasher — we grew this. It makes the food even more personal," she says.
  Sins also co-owns the New Orleans Jazz Quarters bed and breakfast and hosts WRBH's New Orleans By Mouth, a weekly radio show about food in New Orleans. — Anna Gaca


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Scott Sternberg, 31
Media and public affairs attorney, Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer

Book currently reading:
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge
Favorite Twitter account: @beingNOLA, @skooks
Favorite local band: Robin Barnes, Flow Tribe
Favorite restaurant: La Boca
What do you do in your off time? Volunteer with YLC, go to the zoo with 2-year-old son George, watch New Orleans Pelicans games

  As general counsel for the Louisiana Press Association and an attorney who has represented news organizations like The Lens and The Advocate, Scott Sternberg has found a "niche practice."
  "I call it media and open government," he says.
  Sternberg — a a 2006 graduate of Louisiana State University and a 2010 graduate of LSU's Law School — is an attorney for Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer and also teaches First Amendment and media law at Loyola.
  "Government accountability, the idea of libel and privacy, open records, open government — those are things I deal with in my practice and in the classroom," he says. "The cases I really enjoy are the cases that are somewhat high-profile, in that we're helping people. ... It feels good, No. 1, because we're helping the client, but we've also done something good for community — open government is good government. ... I think people trust the government more when they know what's going on."
  Sternberg became interested in law while working at LSU's Reveille newspaper and at a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. where he did legal work for students and become interested in students' rights and open government issues. He also serves on the board of directors for the Young Leadership Council and often represents people working in politics.
  "My third favorite day is the close of qualifying for the Louisiana election," he says. "That's when you get to see who's running for what and start speculating."
  He also is active on Twitter (@slslsu) and praises the New Orleans' Twitter-verse for its watchdog eye on government. "A Twitter community that cares about government accountability," he says. "I like when those people give me a hard time."
  The Louisiana State Bar Association awarded Sternberg the 2015 Stephen T. Victory Memorial Award, and he serves on the Louisiana State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division Council and the Federal Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division Board. — Alex Woodward


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Isabella Tancredi aka DJ Bella, 16
DJ, model and actress

Book currently reading:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite Twitter account: @porterrobinson
Favorite restaurant: Rock-n-Sake
What do you do in your off time? Sketching, traveling and seeking out new music

  Isabella Tancredi, aka DJ Bella, began spinning at 13 and books gigs from New Orleans throughout the Gulf Coast, Alabama and Florida while expanding her creative talents to include modeling and acting. Next summer, she's taking her DJ set to Europe.
  After assisting a DJ in Mississippi, Tancredi was inspired to acquire her own equipment and blossomed into her music personality: DJ Bella.
  Tancredi began performing theater and Irish dance at the age of 5 and attributes her developing stage presence to these early performances. She made her film debut in Impact Earth with Tom Berenger and looks forward to continuing to seek out new creative roles.
  The DJ spends her free time watching YouTube and listening to SoundCloud and other music websites, and she also draws and sketches. Recently Tancredi began modeling and mixing music for runway shows.
  Though her talents create some career options, Tancredi says she plans to attend college, where she is considering studying music production, international business or illustration and animation. "I want to be happy with what I do," she says. "I love sharing my talent with people." — Andrea Blumenstein


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Christine Vinson, 39
President, Vinson Guard Service

Book currently reading:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Favorite new album: Songs of God and Whiskey by the Airborne Toxic Event
Favorite local band: Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs
Favorite restaurant: Commander's Palace
What do you do in your off time? Spend as much time with my family as possible and fish with my brother.
Cocktails or beer? Cocktails after work and beers for the game.

 Christine Vinson serves as the newly elected president of Vinson Guard Service, one of the largest privately owned security companies in the United States. Vinson made her way through the ranks of the company her grandfather founded in 1963 and first served at Vinson Guard's Baton Rouge branch. But she missed New Orleans and transferred to the city's offices in 2001, working alongside her father, company President Joseph D. Vinson Jr.
  In August, the company's board of directors elected Christine, a security officer licensed by the state of Louisiana, as president. She says she will continue to promote the guard service within the community and emphasizes that the company's employees are crucial to its continued success.
  Christine is a member of the Junior League of New Orleans, is on the board of directors for Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans and serves on the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners.
  "I really think it's important for local business owners to have crime awareness," she says. — Kate Watson


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Kent Wascom, 29
Writer, instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University;; @kentwascom

Book currently reading:
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
Favorite new album: The Duke of Burgundy by Cat's Eyes
Favorite Twitter account: @nolacampanella
Favorite local band: Helen Gillet
Favorite restaurant: Meauxbar
What do you do in your off time? Read, cook, rant.
Cocktails or beer? NOLA Blonde, bourbon, red wine, daiquiris, Pernod, Herbsaint

  Kent Wascom is writing a six-book set of historical novels that cover the time period from the Louisiana Purchase to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The first in the series — and his debut novel — The Blood of Heaven, won the 2012 fiction prize from the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and found its way to many notable publications' best-of-2013 lists. His 2015 follow-up, Secessia, received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly and The Washington Post.
  Wascom is humble about being an acclaimed novelist. Paraphrasing Barry Hannah, he says, "If the team is Southern Letters, then I'm very happy to be there." Juxtaposing icons such as Richard Wright and Flannery O'Connor with contemporary writers like David Armand and Jesmyn Ward, Wascom says, "One can't help but feel anything but pride to be a part of all of this. ... It's something that's worth preserving, that actually is an identity, and that we're really lucky in that way to have that identity."
  Displaying the sort of ambition you'd expect from someone planning a six-novel cycle, Wascom says, "From here I want to keep working. I want to finish this project that I set out to do, and to do some justice to the history of the Gulf Coast." — Cate Root


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LJ Young, 24
Quality assurance manager, Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

Book currently reading:
You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner by Joel Osteen
Favorite Twitter account: @BenjaminSWatson
Favorite restaurant: Commander's Palace 
What do you do in your off time? Spend time with my family

 LJ Young went beyond his job description to be a mentor for men re-entering the community after their incarceration.
  As quality assurance manager at the sheriff's office, Young is responsible for budgeting, auditing and compliance. But he felt he could do more for inmates in the re-entry program, so he helped them learn trades and line up jobs upon their release.
  "I see a lot of people my age in here that are doing the exact opposite of what I'm doing," he says. "It's not because they're bad people, they just made bad decisions. I had one guy who said he wanted to be an engineer, but he hadn't even received a high school diploma. It would have been easy to laugh at him. ... He ended up going to Delgado; he just enrolled in Tulane."
  Outside the sheriff's office, Young operates his own consulting business, Crescent City Business Solutions. He finds spiritual relief by playing piano as minister of music at Hosanna Fellowship Church.
  "My ultimate long-term goal is to help people in urban communities receive better quality education in New Orleans," Young says. "Research shows the better the education, the better the outcome." — Anna Gaca


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