Each year, the American Heart Association invites a diverse group of volunteers to serve on the Louisiana Advocacy Committee, which is the advisory board to volunteers and staff on state and local public advocacy issues. With the leadership of our subcommittee, we create a state public policy agenda that advances the mission of the AHA to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We also conduct grassroots and lobbying activities to educate the public and policymakers about the need for policy change.
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Recently, the Louisiana State Advocacy Committee named its Chair and Vice-Chair for the fiscal year: Anna Schexnayder and George “G.P” Becnel!
Anna Schexnayder is the Business Development and Marketing Director at Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP. She is responsible for developing business strategies focused on financial gain and client satisfaction, conducting research to identify new markets and client needs, promotion of HTB’s products, services and objectives, maintaining revenue records, and building market position by locating, developing, defining, negotiating, and closing business relationships. Anna is an honoree of the Boys & Girls Club 2020/2021 Great Futures Gala Honoree Class, and a past honoree of the 2020 WCW Awards, hosted by Tiffany Dickerson.
George Becnel is a Business Account Executive for AT&T. He also owns Becnel Media, which produces Highly Opinionated and The Reserve Man Podcasts. George is a huge sports fan and does sports radio every week. He’s involved in the AHA, because his mom has heart issues. Advocacy allows George to make a difference by supporting the AHA.
2020-2021 Louisiana State Advocacy Committee Members:
Tiffany Dickerson is president of Four Brands, One Woman. She is an award-winning communications and public relations professional with more than two decades of experience. She is a comedian, motivational speaker, actress, model, and former dancer. She is proud two-time Southern University graduate. She is heavily involved in philanthropic endeavors. Dickerson lost her maternal grandparents to heart disease and stroke within days apart.
Kay Eddleman has been a volunteer for the American Heart Association for over 35 years. She manages the Ochsner Community Training Center, is an AHA BLS Instructor and serves as Faculty for the AHA. Kay has served on many various AHA state and regional committees. Kay lives in New Orleans and worked on the Smoke Free Orleans Parish ordinance. She currently serves on the AHA Emergency Cardiovascular Care Education sub-committee for the Southeast Region. She has been on the State Advocacy Committee for many years and served as Chair. Each year, Kay and her staff attend Lobby Day to promote health initiatives for the AHA. When I was Chair of the Advocacy Committee, I was asked what my #1 goal was. Without hesitation I answered a Statewide Smoke Free bill. That has not occurred yet. Parish by parish we will eventually one day reach that goal.
Dr. Lakishia Grider
Dr. Lakishia Lewis Grider is a native of Minden, Louisiana. She is a wife and mother of three sons ages 24, 13, and 4. In her spare time she enjoys shopping, singing, watching and playing sports with her boys. She has worked at OBVAMC since March 2009 as a Board-Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner caring for hundreds of Veterans with diagnosed heart disease. Working with cardiovascular disease and having her father die from it in 2018 makes her even more motivated to work with the AHA. She is excited to be part of this committee and looking forward to continuing her work for Advocacy.
Lauren Barrett Kearley
Lauren Kearley is a second-generation volunteer for the AHA. Lauren grew up volunteering at AHA events, but her passion for advocacy comes from her deep connection to the cause. Her grandfather, Robert Barrett Sr., "Paw," was impacted by heart disease and underwent a triple bypass surgery in 1994. Lauren was blessed with 20 more years of memories with her grandfather, which she credits to medical advancements and research partners like AHA. The Baton Rouge native has been a founding member and mission chair for PULSE BR, which is AHA's young professional group, and is proud to be the PULSE representative to the 2020-2021 Advocacy Committee.
TONY KING IS FUNNY! entertains audiences as one of the most acclaimed and entertaining comedians today. Tony has been blessed with the opportunity to use his God-given gift of humor to perform and tour with such amazing acts as Rickey Smiley, Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Hamilton, Monica, and more. He has also been featured on BET, Comedy Central, and MTV2. Tony has been a longtime advocate for the AHA. Providing testimony during the Smoke Free EBR Metro Council and most recently he and his adorable son Cam are the face the Louisiana Healthy Restaurant Kids’ Meal Beverages campaign.
Mitzi LaSalle was elected in 2010 to the Alexandria City Council as the First African American Female elected to the Council. She served as Vice President of the Council for 3 years. She completed her four-year term and ran for Mayor of Alexandria in 2014. Although unsuccessful in her bid for Mayor she is still an active member of her community. She is at this point a Public Servant for Life.
Mitzi is a proud graduate of Grambling State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing with a minor in both Broadcasting and Journalism. She is the mother of four adult children and grandmother of four; they are members of The WORD Christian Center in Alexandria, LA.
Born and raised in Lake Charles, LA, but now a resident of Alexandria, LA for 26 years. A career as a News Anchor for the NBC affiliate KALB-TV brought Mitzi to Alexandria. Mitzi is a Marketing/Public Relations and Communications Professional. Mitzi is currently the Director of Donor Relations at Evergreen Life Services. Mitzi is a very active person in her community.
Jonathan Mitchell is from Baton Rouge, but currently lives in Shreveport where he serves as a high school administrator. His six-year-old son Jayce was born with the congenital heart defect Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). He has had two open heart surgeries and four procedures. He is currently a very active kindergartener at Walnut Hill Elementary School in Shreveport.
Crystal Pichon serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Safety Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the community through safety education. The goal of the organization is to save and improve the lives of kids 0-18 by empowering youth and caregivers through awareness of injury risks and prevention. Through The Safety Place’s Bike & Pedestrian Safety program, and AHA’s efforts to promote healthy a lifestyle; our organizations come together in supporting safe and active modes of transportation throughout local communities
You may have seen Klo Wilson behind the scenes, serving as the official AHA photographer and videographer. In his regular life, Klo is Assistant director of Information Technology for the Southern University System and adjunct cyber security professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He lost his grandmother, who never had any signs of heart-related issues, maintained a healthy diet and did not smoke or drink, in December 2018 after numerous heart attacks which were said to be caused to congestive heart failure. He’s recently been added to the University’s Coronavirus taskforce to assist with the technology needs of staff and students in this dire time of need.
Ashley Hebert, AHA Louisiana Government Relations Director, contributed to the article.