Interactive Culinary Experience
  • Wake Up With Val with Continental Breakfast
  • Creating Your Path to Success: A Conversation with Sheba Turk and Monica Pierre
  • #YouToo: Personal & Professional Challenges in Today's World
  • Let Me Hear Your Body Talk: Caring for the Mind, Body & Spirit
  • Designing Your Success: The Business of Fashion
  • Empowering Tricentennial Keynote Luncheon
  • FestiTalks
  • Step Up Pre-Party
  • Step Up Second-Line Parade
  • After-Glow Party
  • Timeless Treasures Breakfast & Tour
  • Lunch On Your Own
  • Vieux Carre Tour by Two Chicks Walking Tours
  • Steamboat Natchez Cruise
  • Dinner With Poppy Tooker
  • Gospel Brunch at House of Blues
A la Carte
Schedule At A Glance
Linda Alvarado, Co-Owner Colorado Rockies &
President/CEO Alvarado Construction

Linda Alvarado is President and Chief Executive Officer of Alvarado Construction, Inc., a LEED certified commercial general contractor, construction manager, development, design/build, and property management firm. Based in Denver, the company has offices in several cities. Alvarado Construction has successfully developed and constructed projects across the United States and internationally.

Linda started her “unplanned career” working as a laborer for a landscaping company in college. Then using only her initials instead of first name on the application, she got a job with a development company.

While it seemed crazy and very high risk for a girl, in 1976 she started a company installing curb and sidewalks. The first structures built were small shelters for people waiting for the bus. Alvarado provides the full range of construction services utilizing advanced technology software from project concept through budget models, design phase estimates, value engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and completion... READ MORE HERE

See her list of awards HERE.

Amy Davis, Registered Dietitian at SWEGS Kitchen

Amy was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and has always been a lover of comfort food! Throughout her upbringing in the South, Amy had a fascination with great food, but also its profound effect on health and wellbeing. These passions lead her to a career as a dietitian, where she works to bridge the gap between food and wellness. Amy’s areas of expertise include recipe and menu development, nutrition analysis, nutritious food preparation, nutrition counseling for weight loss, food allergies, and improving one’s relationship with food.  She is delighted to be a part of the SWEGS Kitchen team, providing wholesome comfort food to the Greater New Orleans community. Amy is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Angela Grittman, Wayward Owl Brewery

Angela Grittman moved to New Orleans in 2012 from Minnesota. She has her Cicerone® Beer Server Certification, and is well on her way to achieving her Cicerone® title. She has earned two certificates from the world renowned Siebel Institute of Technology; Master of Beer Styles and Evaluation and the Draught Master. Angela also attended the Intensive Brewing Sciences program at UC Davis to further develop her understanding of brewing. Her latest achievement has been starting a local chapter with the Pink Boots Society-an international non-profit organization that exists to assist, inspire and encourage women in the beer industry though education.


She has had the good fortune of spending three years with NOLA Brewing Company as a server and manager. She also spent the summer working for Polly Watts, the owner of The Avenue Pub-the craft beer mecca of the city. This came with the priceless opportunity to take the staff beer trip to Belgium. Currently you can find her at The Wayward Owl Brewery behind the bar, managing the tasting room, or working in the brew house.

April Dupré, Wellness Coach and Founder of Footprints to Fitness

April Dupré is the founder of Footprints To Fitness, a health and wellness company whose mission is to change the perception of what it means to be healthy in the Big Easy. She is a lover of animals, music, dance, corny puns, and a true New Orleans native. Her favorite meal is 5 lbs of crawfish, a sno-ball, and an order of beignets! It doesn't get more NOLA than dat! Born and raised in Gentilly with a serious passion for health and wellness and her city, April has 14 years of experience in the industry. April has been passionate about wellness her entire life starting as a dancer and athlete and later transitioning into teaching dance, fitness, Health and Physical Education. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of New Orleans and is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer, and CPR instructor. She was also a member of the New Orleans Saintsations. April's devoted her entire life to educating others on taking charge of their lives and finding a healthy mind and body balance.

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Caitlin Cain, CEO, World Trade Center of New Orleans

Caitlin Cain is a certified Economic Developer and Urban Planner. She has over 15 years of experience in governmental/organizational leadership and in working with non-profits and public-private partnerships on a variety of policy, economic development and complex project management initiatives. Caitlin currently serves as the CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans, where she works to champion international trade and economic development initiatives throughout the State of Louisiana. Her previous experience includes a federal appointed term as the Regional Advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, covering Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Throughout this tenure, Caitlin worked to amplify the voice of small businesses and advocate for policy and regulatory change to federal agencies and the White House; she also works on forging numerous public-private partnerships in a variety of economic sectors. Read more...

Camille Whitworth, Media Professional, Owner: Media by Design, Victory Nola & New Orleans Drink Lab

Camille Whitworth is a media professional is every sense of the word.  Currently she is an entrepreneur, public and motivational speaker, crisis consultant, media pro and community servant.  Her last television job was at WDSU as co-anchor of WDSU News in New Orleans at 4pm and 6pm, and a Special Assignment Reporter.  She spent 13 years with the station.

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Crystal McDonald, Founder and CEO Acrew

Crystal McDonald is the Founder and CEO of Acrew, a platform that connects employers and job seekers using brief first impression videos. Crystal Graduated from Dillard University with a degree in Economics and Finance and received her Masters in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She currently serves as the President of the Women's Professional Council, is a board member of the Louisiana Children's Museum and received the first Ada Lovelace Woman of the Year in GNO Tech award in 2015. 

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Dawn Anuszkiewicz, Chief Executive Officer, Ochsner Baptist

Dawn graduated from Rutgers University with her Bachelor of Art in Psychology. She then went on to George Washington University where she obtained her Master of Health Service’s Administration.  Her healthcare career began in 1993 when she served as a group home manager for The ARC Mercer in Ewing, NJ,  providing residential housing for dually diagnosed adults.  Over the next 20 years Dawn held various leadership roles in business development, medical education, academics, service line administration, ambulatory services, and operations.  


Prior to joining Ochsner Baptist in 2013, Dawn served as the Chief Operating Officer for St. Louis University Hospital for five years.

Dr. Elizabeth Lapeyre, Board Certified OB/GYN, Ochsner Baptist

Dr. Elizabeth Lapeyre is a Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist. After completing her undergraduate education at the University of Virgina, Dr. Lapeyre obtained her medical degree at Tulane Medical School. She then went on to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Ochsner Health System in 2003. She has been on the faculty at Ochsner since 2003 and served as both the Associate Program Director and the Program Director for the OB/GYN Residency Training Program.

Dr. Lapeyre is an active member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She has served in leadership roles at both the Louisiana Section level and District VII level, currently serving as Vice- Chair. She has been on numerous committees including Obstetrics Practice Bulletins, Nominations, Scientific Program, Continuing Medical Education, and CREOG (Council on Resident Education in OB/GYN). She is a Diplomate of the American Board of OB/GYN and serves as an oral board examiner.

Dr. Lapeyre has many years of experience in caring for women with low and moderate risk pregnancies and sees gynecology patients of all ages. She has a special interest in adolescent gynecology, menopause, cancer survivorship, preventive healthcare for women and patient safety. She performs gynecologic surgery including total laparoscopic hysterectomies, hysteroscopic procedures and in office surgical procedures.

Jamie Erickson, Chafunkta Brewing

Jamie Erickson studied at the University of Southern Mississippi where she received her degree in Biological Sciences. At Southern Miss, she met her husband, Josh Erickson with whom she has four children. As their boys became older, Josh became interested in Home Brewing, which intrigued Jamie because the process reminded her of science experiments. Jamie and her husband went on to open Chafunkta Brewing Company, the 7th craft brewery to open up in Louisiana. As they look towards the future, they hope to have continued success and help beer craft grow even more in Louisiana.

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Jennifer Raybaud, Owner & Chief Creative Officer, The Serendipitous Soul

Jennifer comes to us from St. Clair Shores, MI and has been married to her husband, Edward for 28 years.  She is also the mother of two young adults - Katherine (25) and Matthew (21).   Jennifer has been a self-motivated, self-employed little spitfire for over 26 years.  Most of those years in a leadership position within the direct sales industry.  During her career, Jennifer amassed numerous accolades and equally as many opportunities to author and present her own training’s.  Fast-forward to today and you’ll find Jennifer writing and presenting training’s for her business “The Serendipitous Soul” where she takes her commitment to, passion for and love of Mindfulness and meditation to the masses. Her “Bad Ass Class” will share just a few of the things she intentionally did to “get her BAD on so she could get her BEST on!” 

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Kate Armstrong, Intentional Kate

Kate Armstrong began her love affair with assisting women-owned businesses when she became the executive director of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South in 2003.  Her time in New Orleans ended abruptly when, like most of the region, she lost her home, in Hurricane Katrina.  Following the disaster, she helped galvanize the donations of many corporate members and women’s business enterprises from around the US, for a Back2Business campaign for the women-owned businesses in the Katrina affected areas. Since then, Kate has lived in many different cities and has worked for several corporations in different supplier diversity, sustainability and marketing roles. Corporate diversity professionals are the voice for diversity inside their organizations, and many of them advocate for diversity outside the four walls of their organizations.  But Kate’s dedication to using women-owned suppliers in the most important business unit to her - - - her life - - - is something from which we all can learn.

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Kate Gremillion, CEO and Founder, Mavenly & Co

Kate Gremillion is CEO & Founder of Mavenly + Co., a community providing tools and resources for women to have honest conversations about creating career with purpose. She has worked with young women across the country through group workshops, corporate trainings, and private coaching to equip them with the resources and mindset they need to pursue work that works for them. She is the host of the award-winning Women, Work, and Worth podcast on iTunes, and her insight and advice has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider,, and HerAgenda. 

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Kim Boyle, Phelps & Dunbar, LLC

Kim Boyle practices in the areas of labor and employment, civil rights, constitutional law, commercial, tort and general litigation. Her employment practice includes representing employers in employment related claims, such as retaliation and discrimination claims as well as workplace harassment. She also handles EEOC charges and other administrative complaints through the administrative and judicial process. Her practice also includes the representation of public and private clients in a variety of commercial disputes, including breach of contract, business torts, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair trade practices and class actions, as well as representation of a number of governmental entities on an array of legal issues. Ms. Boyle is known for her persuasive oral argument skills in both trial and appellate courts, and for her ability to take a matter from inception through verdict at trial by jury or judge. Many of the matters Ms. Boyle handles have been resolved through trial, and she has completed a number of oral arguments before state and federal appellate courts. She speaks often on employment-related topics, litigation and issues of procedure, as well as ethics and professionalism issues. Read more...

Kristen Essig, Chef/Co-Owner of Coquette

Chef Kristen Essig was born and raised in Florida, where, from an early age she developed a passion for food and cooking while working in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. After graduating from the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in 1998, Kristen worked with James Beard award winning chefs, Chef Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad and Chef Louis Osteen of Louis’ Charleston Grill. Twelve years ago, Kristen made New Orleans her home, kicking off her Crescent City culinary career with Chef Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s, followed by a five-year turn with Chef and mentor Anne Kearney at the famed New Orleans Restaurant, Peristyle. Kristen has had the privilege of working with Chef Susan Spicer (Bayona Restaurant), Chef Corbin Evans (Lulu’s), and Chef Greg Sonnier (Gabrielle), before taking a job with the Crescent City Farmers Market as market manager where she cultivated strong relationships with local farmers, producers and vendors. She’s been a Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine “Chef to Watch” (2005), a sought-after private chef, and in April, 2013 Kristen returned full time to the restaurant kitchen when she joined Sainte Marie Brasserie’s team as Executive Chef. In May 2014, Sainte Marie (with the entire team) moved to the French Quarter and re-branded as Meauxbar.

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, New Orleans City Council

As a community leader and elected official, Cantrell is committed to always lending an ear to neighborhood concerns. In 2015, Cantrell championed an ordinance to prohibit smoking in bars, casinos, and most public spaces throughout the City of New Orleans. One of her more recent accomplishments is the Welcoming Cities resolution, which lists action steps for the city to take in order to become more inclusive of all diversities. One of Cantrell's priorities for the city pertains to housing affordability and equity in New Orleans, as rent and homeownership costs have dramatically increased for all demographics over the years. She currently chairs the New Orleans City Council's Committee on Community Development. Cantrell is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, earning a BA degree in Sociology and completed executive management training at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Read More...

Lauren Fink, Owner of Cherry Espresso Bar

Lauren Fink found her love of coffee when she moved to Portland, OR in 2006 and started working in specialty coffee. She moved to New Orleans in 2011 and there wasn’t anywhere to work with standards she wanted to uphold and so she created her own. She opened Cherry Coffee as a pop up inside Stein's Deli. She was the workhorse of the company and after 3 years her hard work paid off resulting in a small business loan so she could move into their brick and mortar location. Within the first year, she launched a successful Kickstarter to start her own roasting operation and met her goal of $25,000. She hopes to be making a switch from multi roaster program to roasting their own beans within the year. She didn’t stop there. They will be opening their second location by October.

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Leslie T. Snadowsky, Business News Editor & Reporter

At Biz New Orleans, Snadowsky is an award-winning Managing Associate Multimedia News Editor, business news reporter, video blogcaster and WWL/WUPL-TV Biz liaison who appears in a weekly business news segment on Eyewitness News at 6:30p.m. She's contributed to Bloomberg News, Reuters, The Times-Picayune, The New York Post and The Dallas Morning News, and appeared on CNN's "Nancy Grace," "Jane Velez Mitchell" and Fox News' "Fox & Friends." Snadowsky earned her BA from Newcomb College at Tulane University and her MS in Journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. As an exhibited and published rock photographer (Rolling Stone, GQ), Snadowsky enjoys live music and the eclectic culture of New Orleans.

Lillian Derouen, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana

Derouen, with her unmatched commitment to operational and service excellence, has built durable customer relationships and winning results throughout her 21 year career at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and currently holds the title of Director of Sales Operations. She has become an expert in presenting complex information in an easy-to-grasp manner to secure buy-in, while leading teams to achieve challenging service, quality, and career advancement goals. She is a trust and confidence builder, but above all, a master problem-solver.

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Lorin Gaudin, Writer & Author

Lorin Gaudin has passion for all things food and drink. With a Bachelor's degree in Theatre from Loyola University of New Orleans, and a culinary diploma from The Ritz-Escoffier in Paris, she parlayed her education to become a Food Editor/Reporter for national, regional and local publications as well as local television and radio stations. Lorin is the author of two cookbooks: "New Orleans Chefs Table" and "86 Recipes," and is a contributing editor/writer for Where Magazine New Orleans, Country Roads, and Thrillist. She has written for, The New York Post, New Orleans Magazine, Avenue, Louisiana Cookin', and more. Currently, Lorin is an adjunct instructor at Delgado Community College's Culinary program, teaching Food Writing and Social Media. She is the creator-founder of FiveOhFork, specializing in food journalism and culinary social media/web content for the food and hospitality industry. Typically, a cocktail is in her hand when a Po-Boy isn't. Lorin can be followed on Instagram and Facebook where she posts delicious raves and the occasional rant...

Marguerite Oestreicher, Chief Advancement Officer, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

Marguerite is best known for her years in the art world and as a Julia Street gallerist. When Katrina compelled a move and a new life direction, she went back to school to learn more about how nonprofits really work. She presently serves as Chief Advancement Officer for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. In this role, she leads a busy department responsible for fundraising, marketing, advocacy, PR and IT.

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May Hemmer, The Cocoa Barbie

May Hemmer is a burlesque performer that is known as "The Sassiest Thing in New Orleans" and has been dubbed the "Cocoa Barbie".  This lady has a larger than life personality and has been gracing the stages with nerdlesque, neo burlesque, and much more since 2011.  A member of the Storyville Starlettes and The Bluestockings, she performs regularly at Burlesque Ballroom,Big Deal Burlesque, and many more independent shows and private events around NOLA. She was recognized in 2015, as the Master of Tassels in the Louisiana Regional Burlypicks and is both the 2016 Shimmy Showdown Siobhan Atomica Brown Noser and Jeez Loueez Boo Bitch Bye award winner.

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Megan Forman, Chef & Owner of Gracious Bakery

After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in English and French, Megan Roen Forman decided to pursue her passion and enroll in the New England Culinary Institute. While there, she worked in some of the top kitchens in Manhattan. In 2001, Megan returned to her native New Orleans to accept the pastry chef position at Susan Spicer's acclaimed restaurant Bayona in the French Quarter. While there she gained increasing recognition in both trade and consumer magazines and in 2004 Megan was honored with a Starchefs Rising Star Chef award. In 2007 Megan joined Sucre as the executive assistant pastry chef as part of its startup team. From its initial location she helped it to grow into a commissary and additional retail stores. Finally, in 2011, she was ready to do her own thing. Megan and her husband Jay opened Gracious Bakery + Cafe in 2012, realizing their dream of being business owners. In the past five years, Gracious Bakery has grown from one retail store into three retail outlets. 

Michelle Johnston, Associate Professor of Management

Michelle Johnston is an Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at Loyola University New Orleans, where she teaches managerial communication classes to MBA and undergraduate students.

Dr. Johnston has received several research and teaching awards in the field of communication. Recently she was named one of Gambit’s ”40 under 40” and has appeared on Ch. 6 News and The Business Report as a communication expert. She is an active presenter at international and national conventions, and has published various articles for research journals. Her recent research has found a positive link between a Team’s Listening Environment (TLE) and financial performance.

In addition, Michelle has worked with organizations such as Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Entergy, The City of New Orleans, YPO, Peter Mayer Advertising, and McGlinchey Stafford Law Firm delivering team communication, listening, and presentation skills workshops.

She recently developed the Communication Preference Profile, a quick and easy inventory that identifies four habitual communication styles: People, Action, Content, and Technology. This inventory helps organizations and individuals improve performance through more effective communication.

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Nina Bozak, Library Cataloger and former Shim Shamettes Performer

Nina Bozak is dancer and choreographer as well as a cataloger at The Historic New Orleans Collection.  She was the assistant director and choreographer for the Shim Shamettes, founded in 1999, and the Shim Sham Revue and has spoken on the history of burlesque in New Orleans for the Louisiana Historical Association, the Tulane Educational Conference, and the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.  Bozak has also demonstrated late 19th- and early 20-century dances for The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Tennessee Williams Festival and lectured on early jazz dance in New Orleans.

Nora McGunnigle, Beer & Food Writer

Nora McGunnigle is a freelance writer based in New Orleans. Although her first love and greatest inspiration is beer, she also writes about food and booze for a variety of publications including Thrillist, Eater,, Beer Advocate, Where Magazine, and The Gambit, where she's written the city's only weekly beer column for the past four years. You can keep up with her on her website,

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Polly Watts, Owner Avenue Pub

Polly is the owner of the Avenue Pub in New Orleans. After Katrina, she came home to New Orleans with plans to sell her father’s bar.  Under her care, The Pub has grown from a 24-hour, 365 days a week, neighborhood bar into a state-of-the-art national beer and whiskey destination. Now Watts can talk about beer for an hour and still have more to say.

Sally Asher, Author

Sally Asher is the author of Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names, Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans, and contributed chapters to two upcoming books on New Orleans' tricentennial. She holds two master’s degrees from Tulane University and has been the public relations photographer since 2008. Asher frequently lectures on New Orleans history through the Louisiana State Museum and is currently working on a book about Prohibition in New Orleans to be published by LSU Press in 2018. 

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Trixie Minx, New Orleans Burlesque Producer, Performer & Healthcare Advocate

At the forefront of the New Orleans Burlesque Revival, Trixie is a leader in the preservation & innovation of the art of tease. As a performer she is best known for her classic yet playful style of dance, she is also recognized as the premiere burlesque producer with four New Orleans-based shows (Fleur de Tease, Burgundy Burlesque, Burlesque Ballroom, Bourbon Boylesque) in addition to several custom-created productions for special events and parties through her company Trixie Minx Productions. She is known as New Orleans' own Burlesque Beauty and Comedy Cutie. Trixie also proudly works New Orleans Musicians Clinic as an advocate for affordable performer healthcare. For more details on this lovely lady, upcoming shows, or talent options for parties & corporate events visit or 



FestiGals is a 501(c)3 organization that inspires, connects and celebrates women while supporting causes important to their well-being.



FestiGals is produced by Diane Lyons & ACCENT New Orleans, a DMC Network Company.





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