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30-Minute Mentor Program

The 30-Minute Mentor Program at the Women’s Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for short, but intentional, interactions among small groups of conference attendees and respected community leaders. Hear from community leaders about their journey, and ask questions to guide your own path toward leadership.

30-Minute Mentor sessions will be held Tuesday & Wednesday, March 2 & 3, from 3:30-4:30pm.

Meet the Mentors

Tuesday, March 2, 3:30pm

Carlee Alm-LaBar

Carlee Alm-LaBar serves as President/CEO of the United Way of Acadiana. She assumes this role after a run for Mayor-President of Lafayette Parish in 2019. She was most recently the Director of Traditional Neighborhood Developments for Southern Lifestyle Development, a position she held for about a year. Carlee worked for Lafayette Consolidated Government for eight years, first as the Assistant to City-Parish President, then serving as the Chief Development Officer, and finally serving as the Development and Planning Director. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University in Illinois and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from LSU.

She is a past chair and current board member of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana and was a participant in the Leadership Louisiana class of 2018. She is a longtime member of the Junior League of Lafayette and its current community Vice President. She has won several community awards including the 2015 Women Who Mean Business Award.

Anita Begnaud

As the leader of DDA and DLU, Anita works with Downtown stakeholders, developers, government representatives, and community leaders to create a stronger and more dynamic Downtown for Lafayette. Before joining Downtown Lafayette, Anita worked as the Senior Vice President of Communications and Governmental Affairs with One Acadiana, and she has been actively involved in Lafayette leadership organizations like Leadership Institute of Acadiana and the 705. She currently serves as a board member of South Louisiana Community College Foundation and CASA of SoLA. Anita understands the regional importance of a vibrant urban core and she works to provide a strategic vision for leaders in Lafayette to utilize and grow Downtown as a flagship district for culture and commerce in Acadiana.

Ruben Henderson

Mr. Ruben Henderson is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Recruitment at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Legal Studies from the B.I. Moody III College of Business and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ruben is the advisor of the Black Male Leadership Association (BMLA) and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. Ruben also serves on the Board of Directors for Miles Perret Cancer Services, the Lafayette Education Foundation and the Hilliard Art Museum. He is a graduate of Leadership Lafayette Class XXIX (29). He also serves as the President-Elect for the Black Faculty Staff Association and the Vice President for the Christiana Smith African-American Alumni Chapter. His achievements include the 2019 Carreathers-Scott Innovative Advisor Award at the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, 2019 Tribute to Excellence Award with the National Association of University Women, 2019 Southwest Champion of Service Award with Volunteer Louisiana, 2019 Sunbelt Conference Faculty of the Year Award and the 2019 Outstanding Graduate and Professional Student Award with the Louisiana Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators. Ruben was recently selected to serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2020 Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade. This was the first formally organized African American Mardi Gras krewe in the city.

Ruben has a passion for working with students; his professional experience includes serving as an Assistant Director with the University Program Council in the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, Assistant Director of Marketing and Leadership in the Office of the Student Union and Enrollment Counselor/High School recruiter for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, Greater New Orleans area, for UL. Ruben has a strong ardor for diversity and inclusion.

Angela Morrison

Angela Morrison serves as the Community Development Manager for Meritus Credit Union. In this role, she is responsible for developing high impact community outreach programs, events and communication materials that promote the credit union’s partnership with the community. Angela is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

Angela brings to her present role a 30-year history of working in community development and public relations. She is a trustee for the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, a board member for Inclusiv’s (formerly known as the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions) national board, the One Acadiana Board and the Hospice of Acadiana’s Foundation Board. She has served on the UL Lafayette Alumni Association’s executive board for seven years, and she was the first African American woman to serve as President. She served on: Women’s and Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees; boards of United Way of Acadiana; Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Junior League of Lafayette Acadiana Youth; Workforce Investment (LA District 40); Acadiana Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster and the City of Lafayette Commission on the Needs of Women (Past-President). Angela is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a Class XV graduate of Leadership Lafayette.

Dr. Shanea M. Nelson

Shaneá Morrison Nelson, Ph.D. is an advocate for maternal and child health equity. Dr. Nelson is a two-time preeclampsia survivor, which prompted the premature births and NICU stays of both of her daughters. This lived experience has fueled Dr. Nelson’s passion for supporting expectant mothers and NICU families by sharing her experience, connecting them to helpful community resources, and simply offering a listening ear. Dr. Nelson currently serves as Peer Mentor for NICU families for Saul’s Light Foundation. She is also a board member for the Family Tree of Acadiana and is actively involved in the efforts of the Healthy Start Program serving the Acadiana area, particularly focused on maternal mortality and premature births. Dr. Nelson has also worked closely with the March of Dimes as a March for Babies Team Captain and as a member of the March of Dimes Southwest Region Advocacy and Government Relations Advisory Council. Dr. Nelson is the Director for Workforce Development Services at South Louisiana Community College. Dr. Nelson is a graduate of the Community Development Institute, the Daily Advertiser/705 Top 20 under 40 Leadership Award, graduate of the 30th Leadership Lafayette Class, and member of the Hancock Whitney Bank Community Development Advisory Council. She is married to her wonderful husband, Terry Nelson, Jr. (T.J.) and they are the parents of two beautiful daughters, Mary Grace Elizabeth, who was born two months prematurely and Emerie Frances born three months prematurely.

Dr. Harmony Rochon

Harmony Rochon, M.S., Ed.D. is a native of Cecilia, Louisiana. Harmony completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology at Louisiana State University, her Master’s in Psychology at The Pennsylvania State University, and recently finished her Doctor of Education degree at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Harmony recently completed her studies as an Emergency Medical Technician and is the Assistant Dean of Allied Health at South Louisiana Community College. Harmony leads the following departments: Medical Assistants, Medical Lab Sciences, and Paramedics. Harmony is a former LSU Golden Girl and New Orleans Saintsation. She is married to cardiologist and philanthropist Dr. Brent Rochon. They live in Lafayette, LA with their son Lloyd and their dog Luna.

Lawana Stokes

Lawana Stokes is an educator and leader with 30+ years of varied experience working with diverse student populations. She is currently the Director of South Louisiana Community College at the Gulf Area Campus in Abbeville, Louisiana and also serves as an Adjunct Professor. While at South Louisiana Community College, Ms. Stokes has served in many capacities over the past 9 years. She has served as an Academic Advisor, Adjunct Professor, Admissions Counselor, Student Activity Coordinator, Interim Campus Director for 3 of the outer campuses and Outreach Coordinator.

Ms. Stokes holds a bachelor’s degree from the former University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) which is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. She was a member of the Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball Team and currently serves as a mentor and Commentator for the team. Ms. Stokes served as an educator and coach in the Iberia Parish School System prior to her transition to South Louisiana Community College. She coached high school girls’ basketball at New Iberia Senior High and Anderson Middle School. In addition to basketball coaching at Anderson, she was also a teacher and the head cheerleading coach for nearly 25 years.

 

Wednesday, March 3, 3:30pm

Tonya Bolden-Ball

Tonya Bolden-Ball is the regional director of diversity and inclusion at Ochsner Lafayette General. She previously served as program manager of the Center for Minority Excellence at South Louisiana Community College. She holds a Master of Science in Leadership from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Tonya also completed the Graduate Certificate program in Life Coaching from Grand Canyon University, and she earned a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University.

Her community and volunteer involvement spans over 15 years. She serves as the mentor for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Black Women Leadership Association as well as one of the mentors for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Women's Basketball Team. Her leadership involvement includes serving as the Louisiana Chair of Cluster 3 for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She served as the Immediate Past President for the Faith House Inc. Board of Directors. Tonya currently serves as the President of the Christiana Smith Alumni Chapter at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she previously served as Vice-President of the Academic Affairs Committee. She is a graduate of the Leadership Institute of Lafayette and the Leadership Louisiana programs. Tonya is also a two-time appointee to the Louisiana Women's Policy and Research Commission.

Ruben Henderson

Mr. Ruben Henderson is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Recruitment at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Legal Studies from the B.I. Moody III College of Business and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ruben is the advisor of the Black Male Leadership Association (BMLA) and is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. Ruben also serves on the Board of Directors for Miles Perret Cancer Services, the Lafayette Education Foundation and the Hilliard Art Museum. He is a graduate of Leadership Lafayette Class XXIX (29). He also serves as the President-Elect for the Black Faculty Staff Association and the Vice President for the Christiana Smith African-American Alumni Chapter. His achievements include the 2019 Carreathers-Scott Innovative Advisor Award at the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, 2019 Tribute to Excellence Award with the National Association of University Women, 2019 Southwest Champion of Service Award with Volunteer Louisiana, 2019 Sunbelt Conference Faculty of the Year Award and the 2019 Outstanding Graduate and Professional Student Award with the Louisiana Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators. Ruben was recently selected to serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2020 Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade. This was the first formally organized African American Mardi Gras krewe in the city.

Ruben has a passion for working with students; his professional experience includes serving as an Assistant Director with the University Program Council in the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, Assistant Director of Marketing and Leadership in the Office of the Student Union and Enrollment Counselor/High School recruiter for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, Greater New Orleans area, for UL. Ruben has a strong ardor for diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Holly Howat

Dr. Holly Howat is the Founder and Executive Director of Beacon Community Connections, a non-profit committed to bridging gaps in care and support through non-clinical case management. Dr. Howat has had a long and varied career path, beginning her professional career as a speech-language therapist. She also worked as a Project Director at the Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning, conducing action research and program evaluation on topics such as juvenile justice, literacy, and coordinated school health. More recently, Dr. Howat served as the Executive Director of the Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and continues to facilitate multiple community workgroups including the Justice and Health Collaborative and the Lafayette Reentry Coalition. Dr. Howat is a Leadership Lafayette Class XXX graduate and is serving on the Leadership Institute of Acadiana board of directors as VP of Programs.

Ashley Mudd

A South Louisiana native, Ashley Mudd earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Upon graduation, Ashley joined the team at Girl Scouts of Louisiana—Pines to the Gulf, leading their recruitment and retention efforts to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. During her tenure with United Way of Acadiana, she piloted the Adopt-a-School program, connecting resources from private businesses to public schools. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana, a non-profit designed to convene, build, and activate leaders in the Acadiana community.

Mechelle Roberthon

Mechelle Roberthon is a Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) through the Association of Talent Development. She serves as the Vice President/Director of Talent Development for Home Bank, which has 40 locations across 2 states. Mechelle is the 2021 president of the ATD Baton Rouge chapter and was a 2020 20 under 40 recipient, an award for young leaders in Acadiana. Her background includes training delivery, performance improvement, managing learning programs, and interpersonal/business/personal skills. Currently, she is pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University. She holds a Masters of Science in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Mechelle is also an experienced career and professional development instructor. She has taught over 500 corporate courses with her evaluations consistently rating above average. Her dynamic teaching style has become a favorite amongst learners.

Lawana Stokes

Lawana Stokes is an educator and leader with 30+ years of varied experience working with diverse student populations. She is currently the Director of South Louisiana Community College at the Gulf Area Campus in Abbeville, Louisiana and also serves as an Adjunct Professor. While at South Louisiana Community College, Ms. Stokes has served in many capacities over the past 9 years. She has served as an Academic Advisor, Adjunct Professor, Admissions Counselor, Student Activity Coordinator, Interim Campus Director for 3 of the outer campuses and Outreach Coordinator.

Ms. Stokes holds a bachelor’s degree from the former University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) which is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. She was a member of the Ragin’ Cajuns Women’s Basketball Team and currently serves as a mentor and Commentator for the team. Ms. Stokes served as an educator and coach in the Iberia Parish School System prior to her transition to South Louisiana Community College. She coached high school girls’ basketball at New Iberia Senior High and Anderson Middle School. In addition to basketball coaching at Anderson, she was also a teacher and the head cheerleading coach for nearly 25 years.