Pearls of Pride and Promise Cotillion

The Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel was the site for the special night when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.| Omicron Lambda Omega Chapter presented the above cotillion, which, for 2023, was titled “Standing on the Shoulders of Outstanding African American Women.”

Reigning as queen was Miss Yanci Willene Robertson, daughter of Mr. Doug Robertson and Mrs. Toya Brown-Robertson. She succeeds the 2020-2022 queen Maci Milan Duplessis. The 2023 debutantes and their parents were Misses Chayil Spencer-Thomas (first maid), Mr. Nicholas Thomas and Mrs. Saleeta Thomas; Chesney Khi Audrict (second maid), Erroll Audrict Jr. and Chedaphne Audrict; Lauren Monique Bickham (legacy debutante), Mr. Ralph Bickham and Dr. Shaniece Bickham; Se’Maj Kahleyah Funches, Ms. Ari Byrd; and Amiri Mona Hardy, Deputy Chief Terry Hardy Sr. and Dr. Andrea Hardy.

Also, Misses Gabriel Clark Henry, Mr. Dana Henry and OLQ member Angel Henry; Vonya Angel Howard, Mr. William Howard and Mrs. Deidre Howard; Jordan Olivia Kindrick, Mr. Nicholas Kindrick Jr. and Ms. Tanya Kindrick; Annalise Cecilia Loud, Dr. Rodrick E. Loud and Ms. Anita M. Coxen-Loud; Kairie Simone MaGee, Ms. Renee MaGee and the late Mr. Ricky MaGee Sr.; and McKenzie Terelle McCollum, Mr. Melvin McCollum and Mrs. Keishell McCollum. And, Misses Paige Christina Parent, Mr. Thomas Reed III and Mrs. Avanna Parent-Reed; Morgan Dior Pierre, Ms. Angela Espradron; Karlee Asia Monet Stewart, Mr. Derrick Stewart Sr. and Ms. KaTrina Chantelle Griffin; and Kaitlyn Alexis Willis, Ms. Quanika Willis.

Princesses Cay’Dience Shuntel Campbell, Kacy Abigail Augustus, Priya Jazelle Mitchell-Bowman, Kylie L’oreal Brown, Aria Alexia Crittenden, Damia Monica Gaines, Haiden Kaylee Hunter, Khloe’ Marie Peters, Zoe Maria St. Martin, Mia Michelle Staes, Winter Noel Smith and Haley Michelle Stewart figured in the court, as did pages Larry Renard McCaa Jr. and Joerell Antoine Smooth Jr. The escorts were Ethan Anderson, Paul Collins II, Landon Bishop, Sean Blondell II, Tremaine Cooper, Byron Edwards Jr., Malcolm Ferrouillet, Sean Fontenot, Justin George, Preston Henry, Tariq Anthony Jackson, Lance Joseph Jr., Mekhi McCollum, Kevin Price, Landon Reneau and Raymond Smith Jr.

Salmon pink and apple green, the ballroom’s dominant colors, were incorporated in her majesty’s custom mantle of white and silver. An embroidered crown was surrounded by the sorority’s name. The debutantes held nosegays of pink roses and green ribbon.

Further notables were cotillion ball captain Dr. Yolanda Wornner Prevost, cotillion chairman Tracy Tinguee, co-chairmen Valerie Fontenot and Linda Bryant-Landry, mistresses of ceremonies Charlene Larche-Mason and Tracey Flemings-Davillier, chapter president Brittany Reed, vice president Shantrell McGill Johnson, and AKA South Central Regional Conference Chair Rhonda Goode-Douglas.

Setting the overall tone for the evening was Dwight Fitch, whose “You are so Beautiful,” the queen’s entrance song, was reflective of the radiant entourage.

On the Eaten Path

Folks flocked for the food and natural ambiance when An Edible Evening held forth at Samuel J. Green Charter School. All were awed by the natural beauty of the school’s garden setting, which was enhanced with decorative rustic elements, lots of burlap and cut flowers in jars. String lights added punchy luminescence.

Four musical groups added the auditory fillip, thanks to Seguenon Kone’s African-drumming welcome; Margie Perez and TETRAD’s soulful harmonies; Lynn Drury’s combined rhythms; and DJ Otto for the Late Wave dancing party. Nineteen restaurants purveyed, rating all kinds of raves. And vendors tempted with such items as kumquat marmalade, salsa matcha, harissa, pralines and incense cones.

From The Murphy Foundation came lead sponsors Madison and Suzanne Murphy, along with their son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Cat Murphy, of the family-owned Presqu’ile Winery, whose wines were featured. Event sponsors included Miggy and James Monroe, and Randy Fertel (the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation) with friends Jan Gilbert and Kevin McCaffery. Further who’s who were Edible Schoolyard New Orleans founders Cathy Pierson and Karin Giger, Tina Shannon, Storm and Katherine Lauricella Ainsley, Alison Hartman, Dr. Victoria Snider, school director Ava Lee, ESNO executive director Claudia Barker with husband Michael Tucker, and from FirstLine Schools (“a network of four public charter schools educating pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students,” which includes Samuel J. Green) CEO Sabrina Pence, chief equity officer Sivi Domango, and board chair and vice chair Charles West and David Barbier with Koneca and Trudy.

SmART Adults

For two decades, Cocktails for KID smART has exemplified the idea of togetherness for a common cause, as well as a chance to have fun. For its most recent iteration, Press Street Station, at the “meeting” of the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, hosted the happening. Marianne Rodrigues, Milagros Collective, Raine Bedsole, Mark Bercier, Brent Houzenga, Gretchen Howard, Jessica Strahan, Scott Howard, Aimee Farnet Siegel, Nicole Charbonnet and KID smART students added artistic touches. The plants were courtesy of Vivian Cahn.

Zasu and Martin Wine & Spirits provided food and drink; Kyle Roussel (patron hour) and Kaleb and the Minz (four NOCCA jazz students during the main event) delivered the musical momentum; and a live auction stirred up bid business. David Grunfeld purchased Aimee Siegel’s one-of-a-kind art piece, while Alex Guitart “won” the Bourbon Tasting Experience hosted by L. Kasimu Harris.

Teamed to chair the event were KID smART board members Krystal Hardy Allen, Martine Chaisson Linares and Jeanette “J.R.” Weiland. More mastheaders were presenting sponsor Dr. Jarrett Johnson, supporter Dickie Brennan, and KID smART co-founder Allison Stewart and executive director Elise Gallinot Goldman. From the board came chair Toryah Cameron, Nancy Rebold, Nan Sterling and Dr. Gwenesta Melton, and from the committee, Bethany Paulsen and Ragan Gankendorff. To mention a “Cocktails” few, who imbibed the art of the matter.