2021 Speakers

Photo of Richard Cortizas

Richard F. Cortizas
Partner, Corporate Practice Group & Chair, Diversity Group, Jones Walker LLP

Richard Cortizas is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group.  He focuses on transactional matters, representing clients in complex land use and zoning matters, public finance, and economic development projects.

Richard has extensive experience representing corporate clients, developers and individuals before local planning commissions, boards of zoning adjustments, and governing authorities of political subdivisions throughout the state.  Richard also represents clients before local and state regulatory bodies on a wide range of governmental matters.

Richard is chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee, the mission of which is threefold: to increase awareness of the importance of diversity within the firm, to foster mutual respect and appreciation for different perspectives and experiences, and to develop and implement strategies to recruit, retain, and advance lawyers and staff from diverse backgrounds.

Prior to returning to Jones Walker in 2013, Richard served as executive counsel to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu from 2010 to 2011 and as city attorney for the City of New Orleans for three years.  As city attorney, Richard was responsible for directing and supervising legal affairs for the City of New Orleans and was part of the team that negotiated the New Orleans Police Department consent decree.  Prior to his public service, he practiced law with Jones Walker for six years.

Before practicing law, Richard served as regional director for U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu and as a member of Mayor Marc H. Morial’s administration.

Richard holds a BBA in International Business from Loyola University and a JD from Loyola University’s College of Law.  Richard was recently elected Chair-Elect of Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) the regional economic development organization for the Southeast Louisiana 10 parish region.


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Matt Dearmon
Director, Innovation Partnerships & Portfolio Management, KeyString Labs by Entergy

Matt is an experienced energy professional with a background in leading cross-functional teams to develop and execute corporate strategies. Since joining Entergy in 2015, Matt has led efforts to develop and deploy new products and services in order to address customers’ evolving needs. In his current role, Matt leads a team within KeyString Labs that manages the portfolio of innovation work underway and collaborates with partners, both internal and external, to augment product teams’ efforts.

Prior to joining Entergy, Dearmon led corporate development efforts at NAES Corporation, an Itochu subsidiary that specializes in power generation services. He also managed business development efforts at CTC Cable Corporation, an overhead power transmission technology firm with global reach.

Matt is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He holds an MBA from Tulane University and a BA from American University.

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Daryn Dodson
Managing Director, Illumen Capital

Daryn is a passionate advocate of social and economic justice, especially for disadvantaged and marginalized groups.  His work with impact investors, private equity funds, Fortune 100 companies, universities and foundations has been viewed through the lens of addressing the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems.
Daryn is the Founder and Managing Director of Illumen Capital, an impact fund of funds that seeks to increase gender and racial equity within the financial markets.  Illumen Capital invests in the top growth, private equity and venture impact funds, and then provides coaching and tools to fund managers designed to reduce implicit bias.  Daryn previously led the Special Equities Program as a consultant to the Board of the Calvert Funds, a $15 billion pioneer of the impact investing field.  Through this vehicle, Calvert maintains a portfolio of more than 40 funds on five continents, representing over 350 underlying portfolio companies.  Prior to serving as a consultant to Calvert, Daryn served as Director of University and Corporate Partnership for The Idea Village, where he created a platform engaging leading private equity firms, business schools, and Fortune 500 companies to invest over 100,000 hours and $2 million into more than 1,000 New Orleans entrepreneurs post-Hurricane Katrina.
Mr. Dodson is the co-author of published research that examines the influence of race in financial judgements of asset allocators, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Ben and Jerry’s, and on the CFA Institute’s Future of Finance Advisory Council.  He earned his M.B.A. from Stanford, where he serves on the Dean’s Management Board, and his A.B. from Duke University.


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David D. Ellis
SVP & Chief Customer Officer, Entergy Services, LLC

As Entergy's first-ever chief customer officer, Ellis leads the company's strategic efforts aimed at delivering extraordinary customer experiences while also bringing to market innovative solutions to keep pace with evolving customer needs and expectations.

Ellis partners with Entergy customers at every touchpoint to meet their reliability, affordability, and sustainability goals and to develop solutions that create sustainable value.

Previously, Ellis served as president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, LLC, the $720 million a year electric and gas utility serving Orleans Parish.

As president and CEO, he was responsible for the company’s financial and operational performance, customer service, regulatory and governmental relations, economic development programs, external and internal communications, charitable contributions and environmental policy execution.

He has led a renewed focus on resiliency, reliability, storm hardening, technology innovation and sustainability. Under his leadership, Entergy New Orleans has increased its solar assets to over 100 megawatts and implemented a smarter energy grid for New Orleans customers. In 2020, the company completed construction and placed in operation both the New Orleans Power Station, a 128MW gas-fired power plant and the New Orleans Solar Station, a 20MW solar plant on approximately 90 acres to strengthen the local grid, improve reliability, and increase the company’s progress toward its sustainability commitments.

Ellis brings more than 29 years of experience in reliability, energy and energy-management technology leadership to his role. Previously, he served as president and CEO of a global technology family of companies, offering power quality and reliability solutions to utilities.

Prior, he led a demand-response and distributed energy resource management company’s global expansion working with governmental, regulatory and utility interests around the world. During that time, he created four international subsidiary companies and three joint ventures on three continents—where he managed, operated and served on the boards of each. He is regarded in the United States, African, and Asian markets as an expert in his field.

In all, Ellis has a diverse background having worked in varying leadership roles within regulatory/public policy, energy management, reliability and technology. He was responsible for the development of several patented software platforms and related power-metering technologies.

He recently served on the Louisiana Task Force for Economic Recovery, and currently on the GNO, Inc. Board, New Orleans Chamber Advisory Board, and the Xavier University President’s Advisory Board. Also, as of September 2020, he was appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans as a commissioner to the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority as its Treasurer and the Convention Center Board of Directors.

Ellis holds an MBA from Eastern University and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering technology from Penn State University. He and his wife Christine are the proud parents of nine children.

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Katy Evans
Lead Product Manager, Innovation, KeyString Labs by Entergy

Katy is the Product Management leader inside of Entergy’s KeyString Labs, responsible for delivering innovative solutions that solve specific customer challenges. Within her role, Katy creates the foundation that facilitates the innovation process, starting with ideation, through concept development and into commercialization. Katy leads a team of Product Managers, working across numerous innovation opportunities, in establishing outcome-driven standards for development, leveraging agile frameworks and engineering toolsets.

Prior to joining Entergy, Katy led a global software team that developed predictive analytics applications used for preventive maintenance in offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico (GE Digital – Oil & Gas). Prior to her experience in the software development arena, Katy has a history of product development successes in consumer products, from manufactured foods to home improvement. Katy has served as an entrepreneur mentor through local startup accelerator The Idea Village. Katy currently serves as the leader of ProductTank NOLA, a local meetup of the global Product Management association.

Katy holds an MBA from Loyola University New Orleans and a BS from Miami University (Ohio).

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Trivia Frazier
President & CEO, Obatala Sciences, Inc.

Dr. Frazier has over 15 years of training and research experience in the isolation, culture, expansion, and characterization of adherent stromal/stem cells from adipose tissue and bone marrow.  She has been in various management positions for the past seven years.  
Dr. Frazier completed her undergraduate training in physics and biomedical engineering through a dual degree program between Tulane University and Dillard University, a historically black private university in New Orleans, and her graduate training in the Biomedical Science Program at Tulane University School of Medicine.  
In 2013, Dr. Frazier began working as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Jeffrey Gimble on an NIH R21 project entitled ‘Distinguishing adipose stromal vs. stem cells by serial transplantation’. During this work, she combined murine SVF cells with a silk scaffold to create a tissue engineered fat pad for in vitro and in vivo studies.  
She held a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Dillard University until 2016 and served as the department Chair.  Dr. Frazier then served as the NSF Project Director for proof of concept and commercialization of work supported by an NSF Phase I SBIR, entitled:  ‘Tissue Engineered Human “Fat on a Chip”: A Novel Tool for Metabolic Drug Discovery’.  
Dr. Frazier obtained her MBA from the executive program in the Tulane University Freeman School of Business, class of 2018, and finished in the top 10% of her class.


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Michelle Goldman
Executive Vice President, RT Specialty

Michelle Goldman serves as Executive Vice President in RT Specialty’s property practice group based in their New York office.  Her expertise is CAT risk in the Property E&S market, and RT Specialty has recognized her as one of their top producers.

Michelle has been with RT Specialty since they acquired American E&S in 2011, where she served as a property broker.  Prior to her time with American E&S, she worked in the claims department for AIG, where she began her insurance career.

Michelle graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York Law School, receiving an American Jurisprudence Award, and she has experience practicing commercial litigation.  She received her bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in Government and Politics.

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Walt Green
Partner, Phelps Dunbar LLP

Walt Green is a partner in the Baton Rouge office of Phelps Dunbar.  He focuses his practice on cybersecurity, white collar crime defense and governmental investigations.  Walt served in the United States Marine Corps for over 30 years and retired with the rank of Colonel.  He was the United States Attorneys for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Executive Director for the National Center For Disaster Fraud from 2013-2017.  Walt created and led the Middle District of Louisiana’s innovative cybersecurity initiative: a comprehensive effort to increase awareness of cyber issues, better protect potential victims in the district and take a more aggressive approach for initiating criminal investigations and prosecutions of cyber-crimes.  Since entering private practice, Walt has been a sought after speaker and commentator on fraud, cybersecurity and data privacy issues, in BBC News, The Economist, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN Money, and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University (1989) and Tulane University Law School (1993).

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Gary Hoover
Executive Director, The Murphy Institute
Professor of Economics, Tulane University

Gary “Hoov” Hoover is the Executive Director of the Murphy Institute at Tulane University.  He is also a professor of economics.

From 2015 until 2020 he was a President’s Associates Presidential Professor and the Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Hoover received his PhD in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998.  Since then he has published numerous scholarly research papers, book chapters, and reviews on topics concerning public policy of income redistribution/poverty, political economy, and ethics in the economics profession.  Dr. Hoover is the co-chair of the American Economic Association Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession.  He has also served as the Vice President of the Southern Economic Association.

Dr. Hoover is the founding and current editor of the Journal of Economics, Race, and Policy.  He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.  Dr. Hoover is also a network member at the Center for Economic Studies & ifo Institute in Munich, Germany.  He has also been a guest professor at the Universities of Hannover and Konstanz in Germany along with the University of Vienna in Austria.

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Walter Isaacson
Leonard A. Lauder Professor of American History and Values at Tulane University, Author

Walter Isaacson is the Leonard Lauder Professor of American History and Values at Tulane.  He is the former CEO of the Aspen Institute, where he is now a Distinguished Fellow, and has been the chairman of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine.
He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci (2017), The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014), Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992), and coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986).
He is a host of the show “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and CNN, a contributor to CNBC, and host of the podcast “Trailblazers, from Dell Technologies.”
Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans.  He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University.  He began his career at The Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  He joined TIME in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996.  He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003.
He is chair emeritus of Teach for America.  From 2005-2007 he was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, which oversaw the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.  He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States, a position he held from 2009 to 2012.  He had been a member of the New Orleans City Planning Commission.
He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of the Arts, and the American Philosophical Society.  He serves on the board of United Airlines, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Society of American Historians, New Schools for New Orleans, the U.S. Defense Department Innovation Board, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.  He is an advisory partner at Perella Weinberg, a financial services firm based in New York City.

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Suzanne Mestayer
Managing Principal, ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC

Suzanne Mestayer is Managing Principal of ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC, an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm which provides investment consultation and advisory services to families, retirement plans and institutions.  She holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst® certification, administered by the Investments and Wealth Institute®.     

She is a member of the Sanderson Farms, Inc. Board of Directors and the Pan American Life Insurance Group Board of Directors.  She was formerly a member of the board of the Federal Reserve of Atlanta’s New Orleans branch.

Suzanne has a deep commitment to local and national community service.  She is the past Chairman and continuing board member of Ochsner Health System, the largest health provider in Louisiana.  She is Treasurer of The National World War II Museum board and is Past Chairman of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region.  Over her career, Suzanne has served on over twenty public, private, and non-profit boards, presiding as chair for seven.  

Suzanne’s board work inspired her and ThirtyNorth to develop the Women Impact Strategy, a gender lens impact investment strategy addressing the value add that gender diversity brings to corporate boards and executive teams.  She has been featured on this topic in Financial Advisor Magazine, Investment Advisor, Financial Planning, Think Advisor and Philanthropy Women.  The research she co-authored was published in Investment and Wealth Monitor’s August 2017 edition.  

Her work on gender diversity led to an interest in the broader strategies of ESG investing.  Focused on Environmental, Social and Governance issues, ESG investing is capturing the attention of investors who seek to align their investments with good corporate stewardship.

Prior to ThirtyNorth Investments, Suzanne held executive leadership roles in banking.  She was Executive Vice President, and New Orleans President of Regions bank with responsibility for four Louisiana markets.  She began her career at public accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. where she served as a partner and a member of the national Estate and Gift specialty team.

Suzanne received the Weiss Award for humanitarian and civic contributions and a spot in the New Orleans Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.  She has twice been recognized by the Louisiana Society of CPA’s – with the Distinguished Public Service Award and the Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry Award.  

Suzanne is a graduate of Louisiana State University and is registered as an Investment Advisor Representative.  She is also a CPA – Inactive. 

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Dr. Stephanie Mills, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Dr. Stephanie Mills joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana in 2020 as executive vice president and chief medical officer.  A Louisiana native and experienced physician leader, she represents the company as a subject matter expert on topics related to healthcare IT, clinical transformation and population health management.  She is responsible for developing strategies that improve the quality of care members receive from network providers and drive greater cost efficiency.

Dr. Mills oversees staff, programs and services within Blue Cross’ Health Services division, which includes medical management, population health, medical policy, quality management, provider networks and value-based reimbursement, pharmacy management and care delivery. She is also responsible for maintaining national accreditation for HEDIS, NCQA and other relevant healthcare assessment organizations.
Before joining Blue Cross, Dr. Mills was president of inHealth Strategies, an Innovation Institute Company, which evolved from the growth and development of Franciscan Health and Wellness Services, a population health consulting company of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady (FMOL) Health System.

Dr. Mills held various roles with the FMOL Health System from 2004 through 2017, including joining as chief medical information officer, then becoming chief information officer for the system and later, vice president of Quality and Innovation.  FMOL Health System created Healthy Lives, a comprehensive, patient-centered preventive care and wellness program, with Mills’ leadership.

Prior to assuming healthcare executive roles, Dr. Mills practiced pediatric emergency medicine, including serving as the medical director for the pediatric ER at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, a FMOL Health System subsidiary.

Dr. Mills received a Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University and earned her Doctor of Medicine from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  She completed her pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Mills also holds a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Management from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Marc H. Morial
President & CEO, National Urban League

Marc Morial, who has been described as one of the few national leaders to possess “street smarts” and “boardroom savvy,” is the current President and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization.  

He served as the highly successful and popular Mayor of New Orleans as well as the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  He previously was a Louisiana State Senator, and was a lawyer in New Orleans with an active, high profile practice.

He is a leading voice on the national stage in the battle for jobs, education, housing and voting rights equity.

A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Pennsylvania, he has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, one of the top 50 Non Profit Leaders by the Non Profit Times, one of the 100 Most Influential Black Lawyers in America and he has also been inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, GA.

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Ralph R. Russo
Professor & Director of Information Technology Academic Programs,
Tulane University, School of Professional Advancement

Ralph Russo is the Director of the Tulane University School of Professional Advancement Information Technology Program, where he is focused on keeping learning delivery and the Applied Computing curriculum on pace with cutting-edge technology, security and industry advancement.  Mr. Russo also holds the title of Professor of Practice.  He created and delivered the first graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity courses at Tulane in 2011, and has taught in both the Homeland Security and Applied Computing programs.

Mr. Russo is a nationally recognized subject matter expert on technology in the homeland security and public safety domains.  He has served in Director-level leadership positions for technology/systems integration companies for over 15 years.  He has also consulted for multiple federal, state and local jurisdictions to successfully guide the development, deployment and adoption of IT systems for security and public safety.

Mr. Russo retired from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 2005.  His 20+ year career with NYPD included leadership positions in a wide array of investigative and field assignments.  Of note, Mr. Russo served as the Commanding Officer of an Organized Crime Control HIDTA Task Force of Local/State/Federal law enforcement.  He also served as a Commanding Officer at NYPD Intelligence RIC/Watch, where he designed, managed and implemented agency-wide law enforcement and homeland security systems for tracking Confidential Informants, Search Warrants and Counterterrorism Leads - including the NYC Terrorism Hotline (888-NYC-SAFE).

As an entrepreneur, he has co-owned two startup technology firms.  These small businesses focused on delivering secure solutions to businesses handling personal data, and on creating, marketing and delivering software for Police Officers seeking to advance their careers.
Russo holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business and a Master of Science degree in Information Technology.
Mr. Russo is passionate about technology, and its real-world uses.  He is strongly motivated to educate and prepare students in different phases of their careers to lead secure technology programs that drive innovation and safety in the community, while engendering trust and bringing value to the users.

Mr. Russo lives in the New Orleans area with his wife Michelle, a Federal IT Program Manager and expert on Lean/Agile IT operations, and their family.

His hobbies include trying to pronounce the r’s at the ends of words, and rooting for the New York Yankees - and any team playing the Red Sox.


Photo of Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi

Dr. I. Steven Udvarhelyi, M.D.
President & CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana as president and chief executive officer in 2016.  He is a board-certified internist and has more than 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry.

Prior to joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Dr. Udvarhelyi was with Independence Blue Cross (IBC) in Philadelphia for almost 20 years, most recently serving as executive vice president, health services and chief strategy officer.  Before IBC, he worked for Prudential Health Care in a variety of roles, including vice president, operations for Florida and vice president, medical services.
Dr. Udvarhelyi currently serves on the boards of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI).  He also serves on the Committee of 100 and the Business Council of New Orleans.  He is a past board member of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), NaviNet, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Devereaux Foundation, and the Franklin Institute and has served on Institute of Medicine roundtables and committees.

Dr. Udvarhelyi received an A.B. degree from Harvard College, an M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from the Harvard School of Public Health.  Prior to his career in the managed care and health insurance industry, Dr. Udvarhelyi was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School with a focus on health services research.


*As of 5/26/2021. Speakers are listed in alphabetical order. Program is subject to change