New and Notables
It takes a lot of courage to leave what you know behind and take a leap into the unknown. For some, change comes in the form of a job offer they never could have imagined. For another, a simple idea may spark a creation, which, before they know it, leads to a new business venture and a million new things to learn. In this, Biz New Orleans’ third class of New & Notables, we are proud to honor local professionals who are following their passions and taking on new challenges in an effort to make Southeast Louisiana a better place for all.
Market CEO/ LCMC Health
After serving for two-and-a-half years as president and CEO of University Medical Center New Orleans (UMC), on Jan. 1, 2019, Bill Masterton was promoted to a newly-created position — market CEO of LCMC Health. In this role, Masterton oversees the operational and financial performance of the system’s four adult hospitals: UMC, Touro Infirmary, West Jefferson Medical Center and New Orleans East Hospital.
“The goal is for LCMC to evolve into more of a system than a holding company of hospitals,” says Masterton. “This means we need the hospitals to complement each other and we need to consolidate our resources and coordinate our strategy.”
Masterton has spent more than 20 years working in healthcare. Prior to serving as CEO of UMC, he was the CEO at Piedmont Medical Center and Coastal Carolina Hospital — both in South Carolina —and chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Atlanta Medical Center.
In addition to helping LCMC evolve from a company made up of individual hospitals to a system with multiple care sites, Masterton says his other main focus is on improving patient safety.
“We want to increase our service levels, which will lead to a better patient experience,” he says, adding that all hospitals will continue to meet their community’s needs.
“That won’t change,” he says. “What we’re doing is a bit of a nuanced concept, but I think it’s the right one. I’ve definitely seen it work in other systems.”
Assistant Marine Operations Manager / New Orleans Steamboat Company / Gray Line Tours
Matt Dow grew up keeping time using the whistles blowing from his family’s steamboats in Lake George, New York, and with the music of his family’s New Orleans Steamboat Natchez’s calliope in his soul.
Dow’s father, Bill Dow, founded the New Orleans Steamboat Co. in 1972 and was responsible for building Steamboat Natchez. The family business has since grown to include Gray Line Tours and Visit New Orleans.
Following in his father’s footsteps, over the past few years, Matt Dow served as the project manager for the renovation of the new City of New Orleans. Previously a casino boat from Peoria, Illinois, the boat was purchased in September, 2016 and towed to its current location in February, 2017. It began offering trips on the Mississippi River from New Orleans this past January.
While the City of New Orleans fulfills the company’s need for a boat with more dining space and gaming machines and offers more entertainment options for visitors, for Dow, the project has been about much more than a business opportunity.
“For me, this is a coming of age project,” he says. “It has taught me a lot about what it takes to do work down here in New Orleans, helped me build onto existing business relationships and establish new contacts for future projects. Most importantly, it has taught me a lot about myself and what kind of leader I am, and what kind of leader I want to be. For me, personally, she will always be a physical embodiment of a pivotal time in my life. She is also a beautiful boat and will be a jewel in the tiara that is the New Orleans waterfront.”
Tania Tetlow, J.D.
President, Loyola University New Orleans
Last August, New Orleans native Tania Tetlow was announced as the new president of Loyola University New Orleans. She is the 17th president in the university’s 107-year history, and notably the first female and first layperson president.
Before accepting the position, Tetlow worked as the senior vice president and chief of staff at Tulane University, where she also held the title of Felder-Fayard Professor of Law.
“I never imagined myself as a university president until Loyola came looking,” she says. “But I’m honored to be here. In fact, my grandfather attended Loyola on a football scholarship in 1928 and every member of my family has either lived, taught or worked here.”
Since becoming president, Tetlow says the university has invested further in the quality of education, diversified its revenue, told its story better and increased enrollment. In 2018, the incoming class was 762 students. This year it’s 840.
“We’re also ending the fiscal year with a surplus,” she says. “There’s real momentum here.”
Tetlow says since joining Loyola she has become more aware of the university’s importance to Southeast Louisiana.
“More than one-quarter of our student body are the first generation in their family to go to college,” she says. “With our hands-on teaching, learning by doing, and individual coaching and mentorship, we prepare students to be extraordinary people who contribute to our local economy.”
Executive VP of Basketball Operations, New Orleans Pelicans
An NBA Championship is coming to New Orleans — at least that’s the plan. And step one in making that happen, as far as the New Orleans Pelicans are concerned, was the hiring of David Griffin as the team’s new executive vice president of basketball operations.
Before he joined the team this past April, Griffin worked as both the vice president and general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2010 to 2017. In that time, the franchise took three trips to the NBA finals and won its first championship in 2016.
As excited as the Pelicans are to have someone like Griffin, Griffin says he’s equally thrilled to be in New Orleans.
“People in my position tend to spend a vast majority of their career trying to find their perfect owner,” he says. “Not long after meeting Mrs. Benson, I knew I had found mine…I made a lot of outrageous demands during the process and she not only met them, she was excited to meet them. Her commitment to doing what it takes to compete in the here and now is just incredible.”
Griffin says among his first goals is to continue to make sure the team collects the right talent, something that will be helped by the fact that the Pelicans beat the odds this year to secure the No. 1 draft pick.
“Winning here, when we do win, is going to mean so much more than it would elsewhere,” says Griffin. “And getting to do it with the bandwidth of the Saints behind us is almost like having a cheat code.”
Superintendent / Jefferson Parish Public School System
With nearly 50,000 students, the Jefferson Parish Public School System is the largest school district in Louisiana, and on March 26, 2018, it received a new leader — Cade Brumley.
Previously the superintendent for six years of DeSoto Parish Schools in Northwest Louisiana and the president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents in 2017, Brumley accepted this new position knowing the challenges — Jefferson Parish has struggled with low scores (the system has a C rating), a low graduation rate and problems with teacher retention. He says his goal is to achieve an A rating by 2024.
“Our academic outcomes are going in the wrong direction and we’re trying to flip that as soon as we can,” he says.
After just a little over a year on the job, Brumley has already accomplished a lot. Jefferson Parish finally has one curriculum that is being standardized throughout and the school system recently won a $2 million grant from the state, along with a $2 million mental health grant, and is launching a new English Language Arts program. Six new principals have been hired for the upcoming school year and, for the first time in 10 years, Jefferson Parish teachers are receiving a pay raise — an effort designed to help with retention.
“Two years ago, there was an effort to provide raises and it failed,” Brumley says. “The fact that it passed by 72 percent this time is a reflection, I think, of the energy we’ve created with the aggressive approach we’ve taken to turning things around.”
CEO / Southern Food and Beverage Museum
When new Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) CEO Brent Rosen is pressed to name what his last meal would be, his answer reflects the time he has spent across three states (Missouri, Alabama and Louisiana), embracing southern food ways and traditions.
“I’m going with the classic meat and three — it’s got to be fried chicken; I do love a biscuit, some collard greens, some field peas.”
Rosen and his wife, Carolyn, have become the new dynamic duo among New Orleans food and drink enthusiasts since their return to the city in 2015 (both received their undergraduate degrees from Tulane University in the early 2000s). Carolyn Rosen became the new CEO of Tales of the Cocktail in February 2018, and Brent Rosen joined the rebuilding team at BRG Hospitality as director of hospitality before taking over as CEO of SoFAB this past April.
Founded in 2004, SoFAB moved to its current space on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in 2014. A museum dedicated to the celebration of food and drink in the South, SoFAB includes the Museum of the American Cocktail, a culinary research library boasting more than 11,000 items and an on-site restaurant — Toups South. In addition to exhibits, the museum regularly hosts lectures, tastings and cooking classes and also runs the Paul C.P. McIlhenny Culinary Entrepreneurship Program.
Rosen’s goals as SoFAB’s new leader include increasing fundraising efforts and communication with the community and moving beyond a traditional museum model.
“We have so many community resources,” he says. “For me, it’s about the big picture and execution matters. Finding partners and thinking creatively, that’s the fun part.”
Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg
COO and CEO / SBP (originally St. Bernard Project)
Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney were among the tens of thousands of people who flocked to New Orleans to help the city following Hurricane Katrina. It was an experience that changed their lives forever.
The couple (now married) went home to Washington D.C. determined to raise some money and come back and make a difference. They did just that, launching the St. Bernard Project in March 2006 with the goal of helping communities recover from, and become more resilient to, disasters. The organization has since gone national, rebuilding homes for more than 1,660 families throughout the United States and Puerto Rico with the help of more than 180,000 volunteers.
Rebranded in 2016 as SBP, the organization’s latest project seeks to help address New Orleans’ lack of affordable housing, while also serving as an example of efficient construction. SBP broke ground in January on the first net-zero multifamily development in Louisiana, an affordable housing project aimed at veterans.
“We want to provide affordable and market-rate housing for our area veterans,” says Rosenburg. “So, we’re constructing 50 one- and two-bedroom units — less than a mile from the new V.A. —29 of which will be low-income and 21 market-rate. Thanks to a generous grant from Entergy, this will be an energy-efficient project on steroids, which means if tenants follow our recommendations they will be paying virtually nothing in energy bills.”
Tenants are expected to begin moving into the project in mid-November.
“Hopefully this will serve as an example of what can be done,” says McCartney. “We look forward to building more projects like this in New Orleans and other communities.”
There is no shortage of new apps flowing into the market, but one in particular stands out from the crowd.
RentCheck, an app designed to simplify and clarify the residential rental process, took home more than $100,000 in winnings from business competitions in the past year, including the top prize and $50,000 at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, as well as the $35,000 top prize at the 19th annual Tulane Business Model Competition. The app is the creation of Lydia Winkler, a graduate of Tulane Law School, and Marco Nelson, a Tulane MBA student, who met during orientation at Tulane’s business school.
When they met, Nelson was an app developer and a landlord looking to create a product and Winkler was in the process of suing her landlord for her security deposit. After extensive market research in which they found 45 percent of renters experience disputes with their landlord, they created an app that launched in April 2018.
RentCheck provides a guided walk-through of a move-in inspection, including the ability to take time-stamped photos. It is currently in use in 40 states and seven countries and available free of charge to anyone with a smart phone. Winkler says so far 60 percent of the app’s downloads are landlords and property owners.
“We’re in the process now of building and scaling the company in New Orleans,” she says. “Right now we’re really focused on honing in on our exact market and getting the app in the hands of as many tenants and landlords as possible.”
Business and nonprofits in New Orleans now have a new way to buy and sell products and services — it’s called Moxey.
Launched in Baton Rouge almost two years ago, Moxey is a digital platform that encourages businesses to barter in a very organized, technologically savvy way.
“Say you’re a restaurant and you have empty tables for lunch — that’s an expiring asset. When lunch is over that opportunity for revenue is gone forever,” says Charlie Davis, president of Moxey. If the restaurant is a member of Moxey, however, he explains, it could fill its empty tables with other Moxey members in exchange for something else the restaurant might need, like help with landscaping.
More than 4,000 businesses stretching from Lake Charles to the Mississippi Gulf Coast currently trade using Moxey Money, and Davis says the goal is to expand that number exponentially. This past April, New Orleans became the company’s first new major market.
“We want New Orleans to become the Moxey flagship community,” he says.
He adds that joining Moxey also helps expand an organization’s reach.
“It’s $195 to join and immediately we start advertising the new member,” he says. “Plus, we give them a Moxey credit card to start spending with other members.”
While the technology is new, Davis says the overarching concept of Moxey is one businesses have been using for centuries.
“It’s all about businesses working together and supporting each other,” he says. “We’ve just built upon the best practices we’ve seen of small-business owners working together around the world.”
Owner / Morrow’s restaurant / Larry Morrow Events
Larry Morrow is a born entrepreneur who has been learning from family members his entire life.
“My family is a family of entrepreneurs: my mom, my grandmother,” he said. “I grew up watching them, through good times and bad times, and how they handled each situation.”
Among the many hats he has worn are event curator (think festivals, concerts and big names such as Drake and Meek Mill), book author (“All Bets on Me: The Risks and Rewards of Becoming An Entrepreneur”), and, most recently, restaurateur.
Morrow’s restaurant, which he opened in April, 2018 in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood along with his mother, chef Lenora Chong, is just another expression of his vast résumé of business experiences.
The restaurant features the cuisine of New Orleans, with a twist.
“I wanted [it] to be good food, but also more than just food — an experience,” he says.
Morrow’s menu includes traditional local flavors, such as poor boys, shrimp and okra stew, red beans and rice, and craft cocktails, but also includes Asian items from his family’s Korean roots, such as Korean BBQ and the bibimbap rice bowl.
While Morrow says he’s constantly at work, he doesn’t mind a bit.
“I enjoy what I do,” he says. “I work seven days a week, 365. I am always working, networking. Conversations are all a part of growth. I learn from others and they can learn from me as well. An entrepreneur jumps off a cliff and makes a plan on the way down. That’s the way I work.”
Founder and Executive Director, STEM Library Lab
What do Slinkies, hula hoops, magnets and boxes of flashlights have in common? For math and science educator Todd Wackerman, they are some of the key items and instruments for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, and many are missing from teachers’ classrooms due to budget, time or space constraints.
A former public school teacher in New Orleans and Brooklyn, Wackerman created the STEM Library Lab (SLL) in 2018 after personally struggling to stock his own classroom with the tools he needed to teach. Those tools, from the common household items like calculators, to the obscure, like a box of primate skulls or Bunsen burners. All are items that teachers from all levels need and may not have due to budget or access restrictions.
Currently co-locating with Foundation Prep in the Nelson Elementary building in Gentilly, , SLL currently provides classroom resources to member educators at 16 schools across Greater New Orleans, with the capacity to supply many more. Teachers who visit SLL are able to receive training on various equipment and check out items when needed. They can also receive free items at SLL’s “Teacher Free-Store.”
“Our goal is to have 25 to 40 schools signed up,” Wackerman says. “We just would like to get the word out and reach as many as possible.”
Wackerman says his next goal is to bring learning tools directly to educators.
“We are piloting a delivery service,” he says. “It’s all about knocking down barriers to learning and giving teachers what they need, even if it’s just more time to teach.”
Siobahn Trotter, DNP
CEO and Founder, SurgiStrong
Anybody who has ever had a surgical procedure knows the rules — no food or drink allowed, typically for 12 hours before surgery.
“The thing is, that way of thinking is actually not backed by research,” says Siobhan Trotter, DNP. A nurse practitioner, Trotter specializes in preparing patients with cancer for surgery and treatment at Ochsner’s Benson Cancer Center. In 2014, while attending a conference in Europe, she was introduced to research that proved that patients who carb load before a surgery fare better, including a reduction in muscle mass loss.
At that point, she says, inspiration struck. Shortly after the conference, outside of her day job, Trotter began working with a surgical oncologist in Santa Barbara to formulate a special pre-surgical beverage. SurgiStrong RecoverAid began commercial production in June 2018.
The beverage, which can be consumed up to two hours before surgery, has been a quick success. It is already being used by physicians in the Gulf Coast and parts of Canada and California, as well as at Ochsner.
“I’ve been approached by people in home health and hospice that want to distribute it as well,” says Trotter, who says the plan is to roll the drink out through hospitals and doctors’ offices, although it is for sale to the public on SurgiStrong’s website.
“Surgery is hard on your body, just like running a marathon,” she says. “It just makes sense to prepare your body by fortifying it beforehand.”
General Manager, Sazerac House
Designed to be the first true “homeplace” for the Sazerac Company, makers of the world-famous Sazerac cocktail (created in Louisiana), Sazerac House plans to welcome over 150,000 visitors to its new, six-floor building on the corner of Canal and Magazine streets in New Orleans during just its first year.
A mix of an interactive museum, rye distillery, event space and company offices, Sazerac House is set to open to the public at the end of October under the leadership of General Manager Miguel Solorzano.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Solorzano is a veteran of hotel operations with more than 20 years of experience in guest relations and training and development with companies like Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale and Sonesta Hotels. As general manager, Solorzano’s job will be to lead his team in creating memorable guest experiences.
“With the Sazerac House, we will bring a new take on New Orleans history to the heart of the Central Business District,” he says. “Our guests will experience the legends and legacy of New Orleans through our signature cocktails, taking an immersive and delicious journey designed to entertain all their senses.”
President & CEO, Brechtel Hospitality
Restaurateur and entrepreneur Kyle Brechtel is the mastermind behind Brechtel Hospitality, a restaurant group that includes Fulton Alley, Vintage Rock Club and Copper Vine wine pub. The latter two of these businesses opened within the past year.
Vintage Rock Club, a new event space in the CBD situated above Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar, opened last October. The upscale, 3,000-square-foot space features a 1,000-square-foot wraparound balcony on Poydras Street and a 185-inch video wall commonly used for vintage music videos and concert footage.
Just steps away, offering the only outdoor patio seating on Poydras Street, Copper Vine wine pub opened last summer on a site that served as home to Maylie’s Restaurant for 110 years. The bar, dining area and courtyard feature more than 30 wines on tap and regularly host wine tastings and a dinner series.
Brechtel says his goal is to create unique restaurant experiences, a dream inspired by his greatest mentor, his grandmother, one of the first Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse franchisees.
“Novelty inspires me: having new experiences, visiting new places and meeting new people,” he says, adding, “we strive for interesting, but not intimidating experiences.”
Brechtel is currently looking to expand his current property at Copper Vine, as well as grow his burgeoning catering business, Bonfire Catering & Events.
“We are also in the middle of design for the next phase of development at our Poydras property, which will include a renovation and expansion of Walk-Ons and adding event space to Copper Vine,” he says. “My original plan for Copper Vine included a six-room inn, so I am trying to fit that in as well. That should keep me busy for the next 18 months or so.”