Meet the Honorees: Jesse Hoggard

Name someone that has been influential in your life. 
That would have to be Robin Kistler, otherwise known as my Baton Rouge mom. I’ve known her and husband Brian for nearly 15 years; we met when I was a junior at LSU and interning at her office on campus. While I was in college and after, they became surrogate parents of mine. They live and lead by example and I’ve been lucky to be able to learn from them. Whether it was a personal or professional problem or cause for celebration, Robin has always been there. She’s always quick to help me remember my self worth and what I’m capable of. Whether it’s “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” or “Make good choices, but take some risks babe,” or “I can’t wait to be able to say I knew you when,” Robin’s words of wisdom and support are always now at the top of my mind. The great thing is, she’s been this type of mentor, leader and friend to so many others as well.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
I love to cook, mostly because I love to eat.

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you?
This has been such a humbling and eye-opening experience. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special, just what I hope anyone else would do. I’ve also been so glad to get more insight into the important work Boys & Girls Club does in being a champion for kids in our community.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ruston, La but grew up in a smallish town in south Louisiana, called Luling.

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
I try to hold to true to the verse “to much has been give, much is expected.” I think we all have a chance to impact someone or some thing for good and I think it’s our duty to invest in the communities we live at any level.

What did you want to be growing up?
A marine biologist, then a Mickey Mouse Club cast member, then a doctor, then a country music star, then a lawyer.

Meet the Honorees: David Mullens

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
Ashley Mullens, my wife.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Hunting

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
I enjoy participating in programs and events that improve my community.  Being recognized for my involvement is more than I could have ever expected and truly an honor.

Where did you grow up?
Jackson, Mississippi, until I was 8 - then Baton Rouge.

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
It is much easier to help people get off to a good start than it is to correct a bad path in life.  That is why I believe so strongly in the mission of the Boys & Girls Club.    

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be an FBI Agent

Meet the Honorees: Chad Cornett

Name someone that has been influential in your life. 
My mother, Jackie, is the most influential person in my life.  Her humility, compassion and heart for others is far beyond measure. She is the type of lady that walks into a room and says “ahh, there you are, so good to see you” instead of “ahh, I’m here.” Her lessons whether from guidance (or corrective action…lol) taught me a great deal about life… never give up on my dreams, always take up for those who can’t take up for themselves and when confronted with adversity-  forgive and move forward as we do not know other people’s circumstances.   

Name a hobby.
Without a doubt my favorite hobby is fishing.  Six O'clock on a Saturday morning as the sun breaks over the horizon you can find me somewhere between the Gulfport, MS harbor and the Louisiana marsh jamming out to the Doobie Brothers or making my first cast for a specked trout at the west end of Cat Island.  My earliest memories typically involved a fishing pole, the Gulf of Mexico, fishing and friends… still the same later in life but with a cold beverage!

What does being a Great Futures Gala honoree mean to you?    
It’s a true honor to be recognized and even more of an honor to be in such good company among the other honorees.   My father used to say, the measure of our character is how we treat those that can do nothing for us.  The Boy’s & Girls Club through Club Blue reaffirms that statement in their daily work to improve the lives our youth.  

Where did you grow up?  
Gulfport, MS and Brandon, MS during my high school years

Why do you feel it’s important to give back? 
I’ve been blessed to even be in a position to give back.  In college, I used to write this quote in each binder as a daily reminder… “to whom much is given much is required.”  It’s so true.  I believe we have an obligation to help each other, spend our time in ways that bring about positive change and always strive to do what is right.

What did you want to be growing up? 
A veterinarian.  From the time, I was young enough to play in the woods and build forts I had an affinity for animals.  My house was always a refuge for animals in need of care.  I’m surprised my nick name wasn’t changed to Noah with all the animals I brought home for supervision, from squirrels that fell from the nest, birds with a broken wing, to every stray dog and cat in sight.   If my mother reads this, I’d thank my mother for her patience, especially for the possum I hid in the laundry room.  

Meet the Honorees: Kristen Reeves

 

Name someone that has been influential in your life
My father is by far the most influential person in my life.  Growing up he taught me many things.  One was the importance of giving back to your local community and showing me how rewarding and fulfilling these experiences could be.  Another was that the word "Can't" doesn't exist for you to be successful.  That if you work hard and have the determination to reach a goal, you can accomplish anything.


Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
I stay pretty active.  I play softball and kickball each season.  I also play for the Blondes Vs. Brunette Football game each year benefitting the Alzheimer's Association. 


What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
I've never expected recognition for the work that we've done in the community.  We started Louisiana Women in Technology as a passion project almost 5 years ago and still can not believe how much we've accomplished.  It has been such an honor to be selected for the inaugural class of the Great Futures Gala, and has truly been a rewarding experience to meet and learn more about the phenomenal men and women selected this year.


Where did you grow up?
Violet, Louisiana


Why do you feel it's important to give back?
There is so much untapped potential in our community.  Sadly, opportunities that may be available for some, are not available for many others.  Through education, support, and mentoring of our youth, I feel that we are building a better infrastructure for our future community.


What did you want to be growing up?
Exactly what I'm doing now...  When I was in 5th grade I heard something on the radio expressing the need for Information Technology professionals for the future work force. I was curious, started to learn what I could with the limited resources at the time.  Then I took any classes that I could to learn more.  Here I am today,  a Sr. Database Developer for a local software company, Geocent.

Meet the Honorees: Brandon Smith

Name someone that has been influential in your life. 
My family—too many to name. My parents, grandparents, and a host of relatives who are responsible for shaping my sense of love, faith, togetherness, humility, and fairness.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport. 
My favorite hobby is cooking. For me, it’s an art form…and an activity that doesn’t require critical thought. That’s a huge plus considering the totality of my schedule.

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
I’m grateful to be recognized for what I represent and my contributions to a community that’s been my lifelong home.

Where did you grow up? 
Zachary/Baker area…with many weekend trips out to Amite, LA to spend time with family.

Why do you feel it's important to give back? 
There are fewer honors higher than pouring yourself and energies into worthy causes. I pray to die empty.

What did you want to be growing up? 
A graphic design artist for Disney

Meet the Honorees: William McGehee

Name someone that has been influential in your life. 
Not surprisingly, my parents have been very influential in my life.  Not just from raising me, but leading by example and teaching me to try to always be kind, loving, and treat people well.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Definitely sports/exercising.  I love being active and will pretty much play any sport my body will still allow me to play... 

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you?
I am very humbled to have been chosen to participate in the Great Futures Gala.  I wouldn't be where I am in life without a lot of help, sacrifice, and education from others, and it's important to me to try to make the same impact on others to help them succeed in life.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Natchez, MS, which was a great place to have a childhood.  

Why do you feel it's important to give back? 
Helping others is one of the easiest things people can do and it's important as a community that we look out for and help those that need it.  Baton Rouge has so many great community leaders that it makes it easy to get involved and make our community a better place.

What did you want to be growing up? 
I was pretty sure I was destined to be a professional athlete before I knew about physical limitations...

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Eric reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Eric reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Makesha Judson

Name someone that has been influential in your life?
My parents and my grandmother has had the biggest influence in my life. My grandmother owned her own fabric store called, "Judson's Fabrics" and did alterations. I so admired that about her and so much more. My mom is very good with managing money and making wise financial decisions (among other things), so I always lean on her for wisdom. Plus, she really knows me. Lastly, my dad was a visionary and the risk taker in our family, so from him I learned to think outside the box, try to look at things a little differently and see how I could make it better. Additionally, I believe I go my entrepreneurial spirit from him.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
I love hanging out with family and friends. We turn anything into a celebration. Any small accomplishment warrants a celebration or a family "get-together"!!! I'm actually a sports fan. So, I really like college and professional football, track and field, and gymnastics.

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
Being a Great Futures Gala Honoree means a lot to me, especially being a part of the inaugural class of Great Futures Honorees in Baton Rouge. That is definitely an honor for me to be recognized in this way and I don't take it for granted. Its programs like those offered through the Boys & Girls Club that helped me when I was growing up to gain life and career exposure and advance academically.  Its an honor to pay it forward and support the Boys & Girls Club so other young people can have that same advantage.

Where did you grow up?
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
There is no way that I would be where I am in my life without the many people that gave back to me. I believe it is incumbent upon anyone that proclaims to be a leader, to give back and pay it forward to others. As a leader, you have a responsibility and an obligation to lay a foundation for those coming behind you and prepare them to go farther than you did.

What did you want to be growing up?
I definitely wanted to be a business woman and a fashion designer.

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sarah reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE.  

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sarah reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE 

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Sunny Mayhall West

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
My parents, Lorri and Van Mayhall, Jr. They have been examples to me of love, compassion, selflessness, kindness, courage, and commitment.      

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport. 
Spending time with my husband, Hampton, and our two dogs- Bonnet Carre, an English bulldog, and Walter, a mutt

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
It is an absolute privilege. Children deserve our best, and the Boys and Girls Club is just that. Through an active, dedicated volunteer base, club members are given access to a stable environment in which they can learn, grow, and challenge themselves.    

Where did you grow up? 
Baton Rouge

Why do you feel it's important to give back? 
Christ calls us to be His instrument on earth. Service to our fellow man is how we realize this calling. My mom instilled this principle in me at an early age. In fact, from the time that I was an infant, she taught me that service is our responsibility. Together, we were Hospice volunteers, active in the St. Aloysius Church nursing home ministry, and served as RCIA sponsors. I am blessed that she made service such an integral part of my childhood.    

What did you want to be growing up?
 I always wanted to be an attorney, which is my profession. As a child, I watched my dad and the excellence with which he served, and continues to serve, his clients and the community. Growing up, he was my Atticus Finch, and he inspired me to follow in his footsteps.

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sunny reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sunny reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Kali Johnson

1.) Name someone that has been influential in your life. 
My parents have been most influential in my life. They built a firm foundation of hope by sharing and modeling our faith. Further, their work ethic has transferred to me, and I believe compounded over and over. That may or may not be a bad thing :). And finally, they've loved me unconditionally that has enabled me to love others with abandon. 

2.) Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.

Football - I mean, I'm from Louisiana :) 

3.) Please complete the following sentence.
I hope by being a 2017 Great Futures Honoree that I can inspires others, no matter their age, to dig deep and pinpoint their passions. That's where they'll find their purpose and that's when life really begins. 

4.) Where did you grow up?

Baton Rouge, LA


5.) Why do you feel it's important to give back? 
It's important to give back because everyone needs the opportunity to

6.) What did you want to be growing up?

A sports reporter for ESPN. I still believe I'll make an appearance one day but I'm for sure living out my purpose now. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Kali reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right  HERE

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Kali reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right  HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Rudy Comeaux

 

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
My wife Francisca, has honestly had the most influence on my life. She and I have been together now for 15 years nearly half of our lives. She's a rock star and has always been my biggest supporter and sounding board for life decisions. 

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Golf for my favorite sport and hobby; I also love being outside and working on construction projects hands on! 

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
Being an honoree is very humbling. I truly love giving back to the community and want no recognition in return. It's humbling to see others notice your impact and influence in serving the community as well as progressing in our careers.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Plaquemine, Louisiana a small town just south of Greater Baton Rouge. I attended St. John School 1st-12th grade, graduating in 2004. We currently reside in my wife's family home. We are the 4th generation to live in this home, originally built in 1908!

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
Servant leadership is a concept I believe in which puts others ahead of yourself. We can do amazing things in our communities when we put others needs ahead of ourselves. Simply treating others the way we'd like to be treated goes a long way. It's our duty to care for each other and make sacrifices for the greater good of our community. 

What did you want to be growing up?
I loved all sports growing up and like most young boys probably wanted to be a professional athlete. Playing sports for a living is a pretty cool thing! #MuchRespectForPros!

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Rudy reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Rudy reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
My mom. When I was growing up, she stressed the importance of education. I am a proud first generation college graduate and the first in my family to attend graduate school. 

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Watching Ohio State football. OH-IO!

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you?
Through my selection as a Great Futures Gala Honoree, I hope to show children everywhere that they can achieve more than they can imagine with hard work, perseverance, and a support system. 

Where did you grow up?
Just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
I believe we all have a responsibility to make our world a better place. My work has been mostly in arts and education nonprofits as I believe in the power of both to change lives.

What did you want to be growing up?
Politician

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sarah reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Sarah reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Eric Dexter

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
My mom. She passed away my freshman year in college, but she played the biggest role in shaping me into the man I am today. 

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Sitting outside and reading while listening to some music. I also play in a BREC Men's flag football league. 

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you?
I'm involved with a number of organizations (outside of work) that keep me pretty busy throughout the week. And rarely do I get a chance to stop and consider if what I'm doing is actually making a difference in someone else's life besides my own. And being a Great Futures Gala honoree gives me some form of validation that the work I'm doing is impactful. It also motivates me to keep pushing further. 

Where did you grow up?
Alexandria, Louisiana 

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
I was blessed to have parents, teachers, neighbors, and coaches who were always there to guide me in the right direction throughout my youth. Unfortunately, not every young person is provided with that type of guidance and foundation. So, I feel that it is only right for me to reciprocate the blessings that were given to me. 

What did you want to be growing up?
A doctor AND a professional football player. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Eric reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Eric reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through him right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Benjamin Vance

Next up in our Great Futures Gala Honoree spotlight is Benjamin Vance, a CPA at Postlethwaite & Netterville, APAC

Name someone that has been influential in your life.
My parents.


Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
Golf and LSU sports. What else is there?


What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
I can influence more people to help make a difference in their community.


Where did you grow up?
Amite, Louisiana.


Why do you feel it's important to give back?
Not everyone has the same path and opportunities. Helping others is the best way to strengthen a community. And it feels good!


What did you want to be growing up?
Stock broker or Texas Ranger (too much Lonesome Dove).

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Ben reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Ben reach his goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

Meet the Honorees: Lauren Westbrook

As we all look forward to the inaugural Great Futures Gala on April 22, we want to take a look and honor the very reason for our event - the 15 men and women who are making a difference in our community while excelling in their career. 

First up is a woman who is a part of many people's lives in Baton Rouge - people she may not even know. Lauren Westbrook is the morning and Noon anchor and reporter for WAFB. Her passion for Baton Rouge and her ability to win over the hearts of all those who see her through their TV screen is pretty unique. Since moving to Baton Rouge, she has been a supporter of many nonprofits in our area - one of those being the Boys & Girls Club. 

We are so grateful to have Lauren in our inaugural class of Great Futures Gala Honorees. We sat down with Lauren recently to get to know a little more about her. Here's what she shared with us:

Name someone that has been influential in your life
Julie Hays, KWTX News Anchor in Waco, Texas.

Name a hobby, or your favorite sport.
I love watching college football and Major League Baseball but I grew up dancing and playing piano.

What does being a Great Futures Gala Honoree mean to you? 
I hope by being a 2017 Great Futures Honoree I can encourage others to realize the importance of after school programs in the improvement of our education system in Baton Rouge.

Where did you grow up?
St. Louis, Missouri and Plano, Texas. 

Why do you feel it's important to give back?
I know that I had a great upbringing receiving a public education in multiple cities outside of Louisiana. I want to send my future children to a public school in Baton Rouge. I am tired of hearing about why I should not. I love this city so much. We deserve better.

What did you want to be growing up?
A journalist.

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Lauren reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE. 

Each Great Futures Gala Honoree is committed to raising $2,000 for the Boys & Girls Club. Their goal is to raise this amount before the big event on April 22. Want to help Lauren reach her goal? Donate to the Boys & Girls Club through her right HERE

Ready to purchase tickets to the Gala? Your tickets can also count toward any honoree's goal when you purchase HERE

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB SEEKS YOUNG PROFESSIONALS ON A PATH TO GREAT FUTURES

Inaugural Great Futures Gala to honor community-minded individuals excelling professionally

Applications for the first ever Great Futures Gala, a Boys & Girls Club fundraising event honoring the brightest young professionals, are being accepted right now! The youth development organization is looking for a select group of outstanding young professionals in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who have achieved success and excelled in their field while working to make the community a better place.  

Applicants should demonstrate leadership, initiative, passion and dedication in pursuing their careers. Active involvement in the Greater Baton Rouge community is also required to apply.

“Everyday, Clubs focus on helping members achieve academic success, live a healthy lifestyle and practice good character and citizenship,” said Pat Van Burkleo, President and Chief Professional Officer for Clubs in Baton Rouge. “We are looking for young adults who meet those same high standards we set for our Club members.”

Selected by some of the most prestigious professionals in our area, this first class of Great Futures Gala Honorees will represent movers and shakers in the community. Great Futures Gala Honorees are young men and women who are on a path to achieving a great future all while giving back to the community.

Club Blue, an affinity group of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge, will host the Great Futures Gala on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Shaw Center for the Arts, to honor young professionals and raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club.  This formal event celebrating the honorees will include a silent auction, live music, presentation, food and drinks.  

“The Great Futures Gala is an event Club Blue is excited to bring to Baton Rouge,” said Chelsey Blankenship, event chair and founding member of Club Blue. “It’s our opportunity to start an event that raises funds to help Clubs make a bigger impact on young people who need them most, all while having fun and honoring young professionals!”

Applications can be found online by visiting greatfuturesgalabr.com. The deadline to apply or nominate is September 1, 2016.

About the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge
For more than 30 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge has been helping put children on the path to achieve a great future. Today, the organization has Club sites in area schools and park facilities serving more than 8,000 young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs offer members, ages 6-18, a wide variety of educational, recreational, cultural and social enrichment programs focusing on three priority outcomes: academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles. The Clubs are places where young people come to learn, do homework, develop social skills, express themselves creatively and participate in sports.  The Clubs are staffed by full-time professionals and located in neighborhoods where they are needed most. Boys & Girls Clubs help produce confident, educated and responsible members of our community. 

About Club Blue
Club Blue is a social and philanthropic network of young professionals who are dedicated to developing awareness of and providing volunteers opportunities for the Boys & Girls Club.  Club Blue represents Baton Rouge's young professional community leaders connecting to make a difference in a child's life. Established in 2014, Club Blue hosts events and service activities to raise awareness and resources while encouraging young professionals to become involved through leadership, volunteerism and advocacy for the Boys & Girls Club.

# # #