Female leaders are the backbone of many different sectors in New Orleans. From major businesses to social work to cuisine, women make up some of the most resourceful and helpful contributions to New Orleans economy and culture.
Ever-inspiring in their vision and dedication to their projects, there are many notable and successful business women to keep an eye on. With mentions from the New Orleans City Business Association, we’ve highlighted some great female leaders in the Big Easy.
Nicole Webre Nass
Webre Consulting President and Lead Government Relations Consultant, Founder and CEO of Livewell Properties
Nicole Webre Nass is an inspiration to many in the New Orleans community. Previously, Nass worked as the legislative director NOLA Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, often helping citizens work through permitting, zoning, and legal issues. After being recognized for her expertise and seeing a gap in the market, Webre Nass set out as a private consulting firm with her retirement savings in 2013.
Webre Consulting now assists clients in navigating City Hall and specializes in government and community relations. As a bonus, she helps constituents with land use planning, regulatory compliances, permitting, and economic incentives. In addition to this role, Webre Nass also works on a large-scale redevelopment project in the Irish Channel Historic District for her real estate company Livewell Properties. Her focus and efforts are now leading to better economic and residential development in the area.
Project 18 Executive Director
As a youth advocate with a licensed Masters in social worker, Sonya Brown knows how to pay it forward. After being placed in an unstable foster home system as a child, she decided to help in-need youth. Now the executive director of Project18, Brown’s business provides services like transitional homes, job placement, and applying to college for aged-out foster care youth.
Founded in September 2015 with her business partner, Bonnie DeSalle, focus on giving of-age kids the support system they need to pursue a life. In its first year, the organization was awarded $20,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield Angel Award. As someone who has experienced the generosity of social workers, Brown seeks to direct New Orleans youth on the right path.
Vice President, Retail Attraction, Development and Strategy
Canada is veteran of the real estate industry who has been in the business for over 25 years, even before many women were in the sector. While there wasn’t a lot of engagement for women in the industry in the past, Brenda is excited that she got to be a pioneer whose seen how the industry has changed.
Starting out in the industry in 1991, eventually developing shopping centers and focusing on tennant representation. Now, she is a vice president, facilitating retail growth in New Orleans and has helped revitalized the New Orleans retail sector. bringing in major outlets like H&M and Tiffany. Her biggest success was leveraging Nordstrom Rack. Canada is proud to help bring more tax revenue and economic stability into the area. Providing support in finding locations, working on financials, and gaining permit,s among other duties, Canada is a wonder woman helping to bring a central community feeling back to NOLA.
Vice President of Ochsner Health Services – System Hospital and Emergency Medicine, U.S. Air Force Reserve Compliance Officer
With a background in health administration, Lauren DeFrates was commissioned into the Air Force as a second lieutenant at the tender age of 21. Having 20 people serve under her–and who were also veteran workers–she learned the importance of servant leadership.
After becoming vice president Ochsner Health Services, she sought out ways to develop a better work culture for all employees with her physician partner. She has continuously sought a clear cut and inclusive work atmosphere across various roles and job categories by incorporating daily interdisciplinary huddles, where doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals talk through the care plans for each patient. DeFrates says this has led to better discharge policies that allow patients to go home sooner. As a dedicated contributor who looks to know and understand her workers, she is a vital and inspirational healthcare leader in NOLA.
Regions Bank Vice President, Former President of American Business Women’s Association Crescent City Connections
Closing the pay gap for women is still a point of contention in US politics, but for Rachel Nunez she was able to find victory in helping women build the confidence and skills they need to ask for higher pay rates.
Over the past few years, Nunez has helped revive the New Orleans chapter of the American Women’s Business Association. She has helped organize and lead events that help women practice their negotiating skills. After Hurricane Katrina hit, the ten AWBA chapters of NOLA disbanded and it was a struggle to get rebuild even one chapter. But with determination, Nunez was able to strategize ways to help regain a chapter and empower women. Serving as president of the chapter from 2015-2016, she helped build a local network, identify the group’s needs, and that of other non-profits. The group secured various initiatives including sponsoring the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children to serve the needs of women outside of the professional world. The chapter also raised money for its first Impact Scholarship which was awarded in 2016. The chapter has risen to include more than 70 women in the NOLA area. Nunez was named the first Women of the Year for her efforts with the group!
There are so many inspiring and hardworking in New Orleans’ professional society. Stay tuned for another post on women who are leading the way to help revitalize and impact New Orleans culture.