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Thursday, February 1, 2018                                         For Immediate Release
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Leah Chase Named 2018 LEH Humanist of the Year

Leah Chase - a Liberty customer
Leah Chase
The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, has selected culinary giant and civil rights icon Leah Chase as its 2018 Humanist of the Year.  

The award is given annually by the state's humanities council as part of its efforts to recognize the individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana.

Mrs. Chase will be honored on May 10 at the 2018 LEH Bright Lights Awards Dinner in New Orleans.

Known as the "Queen of Creole Cuisine," Leah Chase is a culinary giant and a civil rights icon. As Executive Chef of Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orleans, she has fed presidents and young activists, world leaders and famous musicians. The restaurant served as a hive of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and remains a landmark for visiting dignitaries. She has testified before Congress to lobby for greater funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and authored several popular cookbooks. Chase has received many awards, including multiple awards from the NAACP, the New Orleans Times-Picayune 1997 Loving Cup Award, the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Outstanding Woman Award from the National Council of Negro Women.

"Leah Chase is a true Louisiana treasure," said LEH Executive Director Miranda Restovic. "Her life accomplishments certainly make her deserving of this recognition, but it is also her compassion and generosity, her humanity, which is instantly felt by all who are lucky enough to be in her presence, that make her such a perfect choice in 2018."

Join the LEH and Master of Ceremonies Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser for the 2018 Bright Lights Awards Dinner and Celebration hosted at the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain on Thursday, May 10, at 6pm. Tickets begin at $150. Table sponsorships are available to interested parties. For more information, contact Mike Bourg at 504.620.2482 or [email protected], or visit

In addition to Chase, the LEH named these individuals and organizations as 2018 awardees:

Chair's Institutional Award
Rosemary and Randy Ewing are pillars of long-term support for the humanities in Louisiana. Rosemary served on the Board of the LEH for more than two decades and Randy served in the state legislature from 1988-2000, the last four years as the President of the Senate. Not only generous with their time, effort, and advocacy, the Ewings have been staunch financial supporters of numerous charities, including major support for the LEH.

Champion of Culture Award
Roger Ogden has made a monumental mark on the cultural landscape of Louisiana. Among his major efforts are the construction of the Aquarium of the Americas and the Woldenberg Park; the restoration of the state Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in the French Quarter; and establishment of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art as well as the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College at LSU.

Humanities Books Award
The LEH recognizes two outstanding works of history as 2018 Books of the Year.  Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in White and Black (Harper) by Michael Tisserand masterfully traces Herriman's remarkable rise as a comic genius. The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike (The History Press) by John DeSantis uses correspondence, interviews and federal records to detail this harrowing true story.

Humanities Documentary Film Award
Produced by Christina Melton and Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Deeply Rooted: John Coykendall's Journey to Save our Seeds and Stories presents the story of a renowned heirloom seed saver and his passion for preserving the seeds and stories of a small Louisiana farming community in Washington Parish.

Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography
A dedicated and accomplished photographer, LSU Professor Jeremiah Ariaz's work reflects an artist profoundly committed to an authentic vision, one influenced by and, in many ways, led by the indigenous power of Louisiana's distinct cultural and historical attributes.

Museum Exhibition of the Year
Storyville: Madams and Music, an exhibition of The Historic New Orleans Collection, revives the sights and sounds of New Orleans's former red-light district a century after its closing. The exhibition encourages a better understanding of the music, people, and businesses that shaped the complicated legacies of Storyville. This is the inaugural Museum of the Year award.

Light Up for Literacy Award, presented in partnership with the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana and the Library of Congress  
Sisters of the Holy Family (Mother House on Chef Menteur Ave. in New Orleans)  have dedicated themselves to educating under-served and under-privileged populations since the order's inception 175 years ago.

Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities (two awardees)
Mary Lou Christovich was a tireless preservationist, author, historian and philanthropist who played a leading role in founding and nurturing many local preservation groups.   Ben Sandmel is one of our nation's leading journalists on music and culture. He has written and consulted for radio, television, and film, and has been published in numerous leading magazines and journals, both popular and academic. 

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Acrew Weekly:  
How Startups Beyond Silicon Valley Land Funding

William Terdoslavich
January 24, 2018

NEW ORLEANS - A good venture capitalist can spot promising "under the radar" companies that need funding. With Silicon Valley and New York City saturated with well-funded startups, these venture capitalists have begun seeking opportunity in further-flung cities not traditionally regarded as "tech hubs."

For example, venture-capital firm Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund is finding and funding ventures in places such as Green Bay, WI, or Nashville, TN. "There are a lot of really great companies taking advantage of sector expertise or existing industries that are unique to locations outside of the coasts." said David Hall, a partner with Revolution, which boasts former AOL CEO Steve Case and bestselling author J.D. Vance among its executives. "Industries like healthcare, agriculture and transportation do not generally have their foundation in Silicon Valley."

Revolution prefers a "road show" approach, selecting five or six smaller cities and having executives travel there by bus to check out local prospects. "We are generally looking for cities with an emerging or growing startup hub that has a unique story or vision," Hall said. "Sometimes, the cities lobby us."

The team will spend the day touring the local tech scene, checking out accelerators and incubators in addition to local companies. At the end of the day, local companies get to make their pitches, much like the contestants on "Shark Tank." About eight to ten companies, selected from a local pool about ten times that size, will compete to make the best pitch; the winner gets a $100,000 investment.

And the Funding Winner Is...

One such recipient is Rapport, a consulting firm offering analytical and tracking tools for small businesses eager to improve their sustainability. Based in Portland, ME, Rapport finds itself at the nexus of the tech industry and local sentiments that "place value on natural resources and the environment," said Justin Jaffe, Rapport's co-founder.

Back in 2015, Rapport competed against dozens of applicants for Revolution funding; it walked away with a $100,000 investment. That attracted subsequent investments totalling $500,000.

Rapport only has five employees in the US, Jaffe said. The company outsources web development work to another firm in Belarus. The CTO is in Washington, DC, while the chief scientist is in Hawaii, all working remotely.

Crystal McDonald
Crystal McDonald, Founder / CEO
Acrew is another success story. Located in New Orleans, the firm created a video-interview system that companies can use as a substitute for first-round phone interviews when hiring. Revolution's visit coincided with New Orleans' Entrepreneur Week 2015. Acrew won the business pitch competition, snaring the $100,000 check. Since then, company founder Crystal McDonald has raised another $750,000.

There are some differences between Rise of the Rest investments and typical venture clients. "Companies in 'Rise of the Rest' regions are often further along in their business model (because investment capital hasn't been as accessible) and more capital-efficient (they aren't paying NYC or SF rents)," Hall pointed out.

The firms that receive funding also tend to be small. "We're only six people," said Acrew's Karns. The big fish in the New Orleans tech pond is General Electric, he added, so most tech hires go there. Acrew makes do with local outsourcing for its tech needs, having no engineers on its staff.

There is No Place Like Home

Acrew and Rapport have no desire to pull up stakes for greener tech pastures elsewhere. "I don't feel we are limited being located here in Portland, Maine," said Rapport's Jaffe. "I feel Rapport belongs to Portland."

Likewise, Acrew has no inclination to leave New Orleans, Karns added. There is a sense of wanting to stay and help the local economy grow.

Rise of the Rest's approach to localities is varied. "Revolution has always believed that great companies really can start and scale anywhere." Hall said. "Usually we have great on-the-ground networks that help us understand what is happening in the city and what companies are trending, and best represent the various dimensions of that particular region's startup ecosystem."

Rise of the Rest's funding totals $150 million, and completed its sixth road show this past October (Central PA; Ann Arbor, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Columbus, OH; and Green Bay, WI), with a Spring 2018 tour in the offing.


Black-Owned Line of Premium Hair Care Products Signs Deal with Target
Koils By Nature coming to a Target store near you
Pamela Booker, founder of Koils By Nature
Pamela Booker, founder of Koils By Nature
 ATLANTA, GA -  Koils By Nature, a hair and skincare brand that blends the essence of beauty with the purest of nature, will now be available at select Target stores beginning Jan. 28.

"The natural hair care industry is extremely competitive, so we're proud that we're able to continue growing our footprint," said Chief Executive Officer Pamela Booker. "While we're currently in 600 beauty supply stores and customers can buy online, we're excited to offer another, convenient way for them to get the products they love at their local Target store."

Booker, a U.S. Army veteran and former network engineer, founded Koils by Nature in 2009. Discouraged by the lack of affordable, all-natural products for her hair, she created her own mixtures. She has steadily grown the brand from her basement to a thriving manufacturing facility. The Koils by Nature brand includes an array of conditioners, cleansers, butters, oil treatments, styling gels, accessories and recently added a line of men's grooming products.

"We've been very intentional about our growth and our assortment of products. Nature is in our name, because we carefully select ingredients you can actually find in nature. It's not just a tagline," added Booker. "We are a vegan certified and cruelty-free company."

As the natural hair care industry continues to boom, and experience rapid change, Koils by Nature's approach reflects the desires of its customers. According to a recent Nielsen report, the number of Black women "going natural" is increasing and 46 percent of them use natural or organic beauty products often. This milestone by Koils by Nature is a testament to the brand's high quality products and loyal fans.

"I love these products," swoons one YouTuber about her recent purchase. Her video is one of many raving about the line, pointing to Koils by Nature's commitment to keeping customers satisfied. Now, millions more women will have access to the moisture-rich cleansers, conditioners and styling products inspired by nature.

Across the U.S., 49 Target Stores will carry some of Koils by Nature's most popular products including:

Moisturizing Shealoe Leave-In Conditioner: This herbal-infused creamy conditioner and detangler smooths the cuticle and removes knots, snarls and tangles.

Refreshing Anti-Dandruff Tea Tree Mint Cleanser: Its effect is all in the name. This sulfate-free foaming cleanser soothes, purifies and stimulates, while removing dandruff.

Herbal Curl Defining Gel: Whether flaunting a two-strand twist or smooth edges, this nourishing, alcohol-free gel provides excellent hold and soft, lustrous definition.

Ultra-Moisturizing CocoAloe Deep Conditioner: For those who color and/or apply heat to their hair, this conditioner helps retain moisture, prevent breakage all while adding luster, body and manageability.

To learn more about Koils by Nature or to check the availability at your local Target store, visit our store locator or


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