Who We Are


Melanie Lawrence



Saphira Contreras


Saphira Contreras is a New Orleans-based holistic natural hair care specialist. Her daily work supports her deep passion for community building and pushing all who she encounters to chase their dreams. Through her alignment with Awesome, Saphira hopes to provide the necessary financial launching pad to help make these dreams a reality.

Megan Hargroder


Megan Hargroder developed Conversations, LLC in 2010 to pursue her passion: helping startups create social media strategies that work, and empowering them to build an online buzz around their badass brands!

She works exclusively with companies and individuals that she loves, believes in and wants to see thrive. Megan’s background is in broadcast journalism, video production and non-profit communications.

Besides the internet, she loves yoga, exploring the city, cooking healthy food and reading at the park. Follow her on Twitter: @heyitsmegan


David T. Baker


Scott Eustis


Scott Eustis, M.S., Environmental Science

New Orleans, born and raised.
I am the Coastal Wetland Specialist for Gulf Restoration Network, and I watch out for the wetlands. We fight for the wetlands that shelter us, and advocate for their restoration so that New Orleans and can continue, and the Gulf of Mexico can continue to be so fertile.
I am on the executive staff at WTUL News and Views, and am on the air alternative Fridays at 8am on 91.5fm. I am a passionate bike rider and have helped organize the New Orleans Critical Mass in the past, as well as the NOLA to Angola prisoner solidarity bike ride, which raises funds for prisoner visitation across the state.
I am also an organizer with PublicLab, working to build inexpensive tools for environmental monitoring in response to the BP disaster.

Ray Nichols


Michael Schachtman


Though New Orleans is home, Michael travels all over Louisiana as an attorney with the Louisiana State Bar Association working with courts to establish services for self-represented litigants. He also provides representation to the New Orleans cultural community and serves as counsel for several community organizations. Michael is the founder of New Orleans Bulldog Rescue, an all-breed dog rescue and canine advocacy organization, and spends much of his free time rehabilitating dogs and campaigning for animal welfare. On Sunday nights, Michael hosts a local music and community radio show on Crescent City Radio.


Tung Ly


Jadi Mwendo


Lauren Teverbaugh


Shannon Dosemagen 


Co-Founder; President & Director of Outreach and Partnerships at Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science



Jonel Daphnis and Emily Nichols (co-chairs)

Jonel Daphnis

Jonel Daphnis

Dr. Daphnis received his Bachelor in Science in Development Sociology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1998, his Master of Public Health from the Division of Population and Family Health of Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, New York in 2000 and his Doctor of Medicine from State University of New York School of Medicine in Stony Brook, New York, in 2007.  He completed his Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine Combined Residency at the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, in 2012.

Emily Nichols

Emily Nichols

Dr. Nichols received her doctor of medicine from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York in 2006.  She completed her Emergency Medicine Residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York in 2010 and was Chief Resident in her last year.  She then completed her Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2012.  Dr. Nichols  is board eligible by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and by ABEM – Pediatric Emergency Medicine.


Julia Stewart


Programs & Business Manager, Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation
From one city of black and gold to another — born in Pittsburgh, living in New Orleans.
Julia feels fortunate to be situated on the front lines of social innovation, helping New Orleans’ entrepreneurs transform their ideas into reality. Julia received a B.A. in International Relations from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has been fortunate to travel to 28 different countries and to have spent two years living abroad, one year in Hong Kong and another in Switzerland. In the past, Julia has worked on organic farms, and has written for several environmental publications including The Bear Deluxe, Table Magazine and Edible Vineyard.

Gerard Cox


Westley Bayas III


Elizabeth Lew and Ada McMahon (co-chairs)



Elizabeth Lew

I grew up in northern California, and have lived in New Orleans for the past 14 years.  In my spare time, I volunteer with Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners (lab2p.com), and Nola to Angola (nolatoangola.org).


Brice White


Jenga Mwendo


Jenga Mwendo, a Lower 9th Ward native, is a community organizer who lives and works in the Lower 9th Ward. She is the founder and director of the Backyard Gardeners Network. She also organizes around increasing access to quality food in the Lower 9th Ward with the Lower Ninth Ward Food Access Coalition.

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