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December 2019

December News 2019

Honorary Consulate General of Albania

Honorary Consulate of Canada in Louisiana

Royal Danish Consulate of New Orleans

Honorary Consulate of Switzerland

Honorary Consulate of Ukraine

Honorary Consulate General of Japan

Laura Plantation


    On November 12 the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council hosted its Annual Appreciation Party at the Acorn restaurant in the Louisiana Children’s Museum at City Park.


    The event included special remarks about the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) by Anne Grimes, Director of the Office of International Visitors. Ms. Grimes outlined the lasting and far-reaching impact of the IVLP.

Approximately 95% of NOCDC’s international visitors come through the IVL Program. Three IVLP delegations attended the reception including arts management officials from Armenia, trade officials from Iraq, and public health officials from Africa.


    In addition, NOCDC President Keith Twitchell bestowed NOCDC’s Outstanding Citizen Diplomat Awards to Eden House and the Women’s Business Resource Center of the Urban League of Louisiana. Accepting the award on behalf of Eden House was Board member Peggy Babin, and accepting for the WBRC was Executive Director Klassi Duncan.  The recognition is given annually to organizations that go above and beyond in meeting with the international visitors to share knowledge, friendship, and culture with them. 


    At the event, NOCDC members unanimously voted on the slate of Directors and Officers below.


NOCDC Directors and Officers -2020

Diana Mercer                       President

Bob Freeland                        Treasurer

Cynthia Dubberley               Secretary

Tamalyn Dallal

Nancy Maveety

Alexandra Mora          

Alla Rosca

Keith Twitchell

Pamela Waldron-Moore

Constance Willems

Walter F. Wolf, III 



Message from Keith Twitchell 

Keith Twitchell is the President of the Board of the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council. 


    "As someone who has been fascinated by the ancient world since I was nine years old, Egypt has long been a place I wanted to visit. And thanks to a connection made via the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council, I was able to make this dream come true this fall.


    NOCDC hosted an Egyptian delegation in November 2017. One of our guests was Azmy Salama, former professional archeologist and now a tour company co-owner and guide. We exchanged contact information and stayed in touch, and early this year, we began working on a custom itinerary for my small group of friends and me.

In the course of our three weeks in Egypt, we saw so many amazing sites: pyramids, the sphinx, the great temples, the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, and much more. We took a Nile cruise and a hot air balloon ride. The entire time, Azmy accompanied us, keeping us completely safe and sharing his vast expertise as an Egyptologist. At several sites, he had friends/former colleagues still working there who took a little time to give us extra insights, and on a couple of occasions, to take us to parts of the site that are not open to the general public.


    This truly was one of those “trips of a lifetime”, and it really showcases yet another benefit of being a NOCDC member: I could never have done this without my friend Azmy, and I would never have met him without NOCDC."

US Attorney Peter Strasser takes part in DOS’ Speaker Program in Mongolia


    At the invitation of the State Department, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Peter Strasser spent a day of his two-week personal visit to Mongolia in early October to give presentations in Ulaanbaatar on the general subject of anti-corruption and asset forfeiture. Mr. Strasser gave separate presentations to the Prosecutor General’s Office, Economic Police, Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC), and the Bar Association. Each session included productive follow-on discussions regarding future collaborations between the U.S. and Mongolian governments to fight corruption. Mr. Strasser received gifts from each organization to which he presented. He reciprocated with USAO EDLA challenge coins and officially embossed notebooks.  


    The Department of State’s U.S. Speaker Program recruits dynamic American experts to engage international audiences on topics of strategic importance to the United States.  Programs are conducted in person and through virtual engagement platforms.  The office conducts approximately 650 speaker programs annually.


Thank you to our professional resources

Thank you to our professional resources who met with our international guests in October and November 2019.


Arc Mardi Gras Bead Recycling Center - Ms. Toni Wright, Manager

Ashé Cultural Arts Center - Ms. Carol Bebelle, Co-Founder & Executive Director; Ms. Jo Ann Minor, Associate Director

Brotherhood Incorporated - Mr. Mark Johnson, Executive Director 

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) ESL Programs - Ms. Sarah Bal, ESL Program Coordinator for Immigration, Refugee, and ESL Services 

Center for Restorative Approaches - Ms. Jennifer Pagan, Restorative Approaches Facilitator/Trainer; Mr. Alana Delery, Restorative Approaches Facilitator/Trainer 

Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) Program - Mr. Terry Bean, Program Coordinator; Mr. Paul Noel, Deputy Superintendent

Friends of the Cabildo - Mr. Robert Freeland, Vice President

Girls Innovation Studio at the WWII Museum - Ms. Lea Schram von Haupt, STEM Programs Coordinator 

Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness - Mr. Darryl Delatte, Region 1 Coordinator; Mr. Melton J. Gaspard Jr., Assistant Section Chief

Hope Federal Credit Union - Ms. Kathy Saloy, Vice President

John Richie Films - Mr. John Richie, Executive Producer, Writer, & Director

Indonesia Diaspora Network – Louisiana Chapter - Ms. Ida Utomo, President; Mr. Herry Utomo

Langlois Culinary Entertainment, LLC - Ms. Amy Sins, Owner 

Leake and Andersson, LLP - Mr. Edward Hayes, Attorney - Ms. Sandy Rosenthal, Founder

Louisiana Department of Health - Dr. Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, Assistant State Health Officer, Administrator and Medical Director 

Louisiana Economic Development (LED) - Ms. Jessica Steverson, International Project Manager

Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) - Ms. Mary Lee Orr, Executive Director; Mr. Michael Orr, Communications Director 

Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation (LFBF) - Mr. Andy Brown, National Affairs Coordinator & Assistant Commodity Coordinator

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA) - Mr. Tyler Gray, CEO

Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, Division of the Arts - Ms. Kristin Sanders, Assistant Secretary; Ms. Cheryl Castille, Executive Director; Mr. Scott Finch, Director of the Percent for Art Program; Ms. April Baham, Project Manager 

Louisiana State and Fusion Exchange (LA-SAFE) - Mr. Steven McGovern, Director; Mr. Darryl Davis, Deputy Director 

Louisiana State University - Ms. Mari Kornhauser, Writer for HBO’s “Treme” & Associate Professor

Loyola Center for International Education - Ms. Debbie Danna, Director 

Loyola University - Dr. Behrooz Moazami, Founder & Director of Middle East Peace Studies; Father Justin Daffron, Vice President for Mission & Identity; Dr. Sybol Anderson, Chief Diversity Officer

LSU Health Sciences Center: Infectious Diseases Comprehensive Alcohol-HIV/AIDs Research Center (CARC) - Mr. Michael Hagensee, MD, Ph.D, Professor of Medicine; Dr. David A. Welsh, MD, Howard A. Buechner Professor of Medicine, Professor of Microbiology, Immunology & Parasitology

LSU Agricultural Center - Mr. Lynn Kennedy, PhD, Professor 

LSU Manship School of Mass Communication - Christopher Drew, Junior Endowed Chair; Roxanne Dill, Instructor; William Mari, Faculty; Ruth Moon Mari, Faculty   

Magnolia Liquid Gas Limited - Mr. Maury Hudson, Vice President of Operations and Maintenance & Chairman of Louisiana Export Association

Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, Film New Orleans - Ms. Carroll Morton, Director

Metropolitan Crime Commission - Ms. Michelle Foster, Director of Investigations

Midway Pizza - Mr. Ben Sherman, Owner

NO/AIDS Task Force - Mr. Noel Twillbeck, Jr., CEO of CrescentCare 

NOLASec - Mr. Stephen Tullos, Cybersecurity Consultant; Mr. Sonny Smith, IT Security Consultant

NOLA Standards - Ms. Tabatha Waters, AKC Dog Breeder

New Orleans Business Alliance - Ms. Alejandra Guzman, Vice President of Program Development & Strategy 

New Orleans Interfaith Peace Initiative - Mr. Joseph Givens, Executive Director of the Isaiah Institute & New Orleans Interfaith Peace Initiative 

New Orleans Police Department, Professional Standards and Accountability Bureau - Ms. Lisa Kurtz, Compliance Manager

New Orleans Police Department, Public Integrity Bureau - Mrs. Arlinda Westbrook, NOPD Deputy of the Public Integrity Bureau

New Orleans Society for Infectious Disease Awareness (NOSIDA/WHIV) - Dr. Mark Alain Dery, DO, MPH, FACOI

New Orleans Syringe Access Program (NOSAP) - Ms. Jean Redmann, Director of Prevention

New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC) - Ms. Darcy McKinnon, Executive Director (

New Orleans Video Productions - Mr. Edward Holub, Creative Director

Office of the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor - Ms. Susan Hutson, Police Monitor

Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana - Mr. Peter Strasser, U.S. Attorney; Mr. Myles Ranier, Assistant United States Attorney; Mr. David Haller, Assistant United States Attorney

Peacebuilding and Governance Consulting - Ms. Sarah Nell Bolton, Consultant

Port of New Orleans - Mr. David Cordell, Chief Information Officer & Local Agency Security Officer

Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance - Mr. George Swift, President & CEO; Mr. R.B. Smith, Vice President of Business and Workforce Development; Mr. Eric Cormier, Vice President of Strategic Development and Policy

STEM Library Lab - Mr. Todd Wackerman, Director

St. Paul’s Episcopal School - Mrs. Heather Farnsworth, Spanish Teacher; Ms. Daphne Lavie, Middle School Spanish Teacher; Ms. Charlene Swank, School Principal

Studio Kiro - Ms. Cynthia Dubberley, Founder

The Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO) - Mr. Keith Twitchell, President

The Lens - Ms. Anne Mueller, Development Director 

The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate - Mr. Jeff Adelson, Reporter; Mr. Gordon Russell, Investigations Editor; Mr. John Simerman, Reporter

Tribeca Film Institute - Tubi Theater at the Contemporary Arts Center

Tulane Center for Global Education - English for Academic and Professional Purposes (EAPP) Program - Ms. Casey Love, Ph.D., Interim Associate Dean of Global Education; Ms. Megan Ritterbusch, Instructor, English for Academic and Professional Purposes; Mr. John DePriest, Ph.D., Instructor, English for Academic and Professional Purposes   

Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine - Mr. Ronald Blanton, MD, MS, Chair & Professor of the Department of Tropical Medicine 

University of New Orleans - Mr. Laszlo Fulop, Assistant Professor & Independent Filmmaker 

University of New Orleans Cyber Security Program - Mr. Vassil Roussev, Ph.D., Canizaro-Livingston Endowed Professor in Cybersecurity & Director of the Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assistance 

University of New Orleans Intensive English Language Program (UNO IELP) - Ms. LaTesha Charbonnet Gonzalez, Program Director; Ms. Nora Steiger, Assistant Program Director; Ms. Coleen Maidlow, Immigration and Program Coordinator; Ms. Kayla Andres, Teaching Associate; Ms. Jessica Bordelon, Teaching Associate; Mr. Antonio Garza, Teaching Associate; Ms. Mackenzie Herrera, Teaching Associate; Ms. Kimberly Tubre, Teaching Associate       

Urban League: Women’s Business Resource Center - Ms. Klassi R. Duncan, Director

Ursuline Academy of New Orleans - Dr. Tracy Bonday, Head of High School; Ms. Shannon Culotta, Head of Elementary School; Mr. Fred Debram, Math Instructor; Ms. Nicole Williamson, Science Instructor; Ms. Ally Vernon, ACE Program Student

U.S.F.G.I.S. LLC - Mr. Nick Waguespack, Operations Manager

U.S. Small Business Administration - Mr. Michael Ricks, District Director

WRKF Public Radio - Adam Vos, Development Director

Youth Run NOLA - Ms. Denali Landers, Executive Director; Ms. Hannah Coleman, Community Engagement Manager; Ms. Brenna Byrne, Development Associate


Special thanks

Special thanks to those who met with the law enforcement officials from Mexico for the Police Professionalization Exchange Program in November.


Metropolitan Crime Commission – Ms. Michelle Foster, CFE, Director of Investigations

NOPD Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) Program – NOPD Deputy Chief Paul Noel; Officer Terry Bean, Epic Coordinator

NOPD Professional Standards & Accountability Bureau – Commander Sandra Contreras; Ms. Lisa Kurtz, Compliance Manager

NOPD Public Integrity Bureau – Commander Sabrina Richardson

Office of the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor – Ms. Susan Hutson, Independent Police Monitor

U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Louisiana – Mr. Peter Strasser, U.S. Attorney; Mr. David Haller, Assistant U.S. Attorney; Mr. Myles Ranier, Assistant U.S. Attorney


Thank you to our hosts

Thank you to all who welcomed visitors with home hospitality in October and November 2019.


Dr. Alla Rosca & Dr. Ed Chervenak hosted dinner for journalists from Cameroon and Senegal.

Ms. Amy Langlois Sins and Mrs. George Sins hosted dinner for journalists from the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Republic of Congo.

Mr. Dale and Mrs. Jeannie Biggers hosted dinner for journalists from Gabon, Rwanda, and Tunisia.

Ms. Malise and Mr. Eddy Dennard hosted dinner for journalists from Haiti, Madagascar, and Mali.

Ms. Nadia Jenkins hosted dinner for journalists from Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Ms. Ida Utomo and Mr. Herry Utomo hosted dinner for 10 university students from Indonesia.

Keith Twitchell, President

Diane Mercer,

Vice President

Robert Gray Freeland, Treasurer

Cynthia Dubberley

Machelle Lee Hall

Greg Lambousy

Nancy Maveety

Alexandra Mora

Alla Rosca

Walter F. Wolf, III


Mayor LaToya Cantrell

Hon. Jay Dardenne

Patricia Denechaud

Edward T. Hayes

Herbert Larson

Jim Letten

Echo Olander​


Susannah Coolidge, Executive Director

Kelley Ponder, Program Manager



Riana Gaudet,

Tulane University

Paige Koritz,

Tulane University

Frank Zhang,

Tulane University

Become a citizen diplomat today


Click here to view the online version.

Journalists from African nations visit WRKF

Discussed independent journalism and public radio’s community support funding model.

BATON ROUGE, La. – 89.3 WRKF-FM hosted a delegation of 13 journalists from countries throughout Africa plus Haiti, earlier this week. They were in the U.S. to observe best practices for operating and funding media institutions. They were participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, part of the International Visitor Leadership Program.



“The state department brings emerging professionals in journalism to the U.S. to examine the role of a free press in a democratic society," said Susannah Coolidge, Executive Director of  New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council, which arranged the meeting on behalf of the state department. “Field visits to independent media like WRKF help the journalists gain an understanding of media coverage in state politics and government."



The journalists represented print, broadcast, and digital media organizations. They came from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. Three interpreters accompanied the delegation.




WRKF President and General Manager Paul Maassen said, "The visiting journalists were interested in public radio’s funding model. 90% of WRKF’s funding comes from community donations and local business underwriting. It is gratifying to share some of the best practices of U.S. public radio stations for on air fundraising and programming.”



Maassen added, “One journalist asked how we ensure editorial independence from funding sources.  I said that while we value all who support our work, those who fund us do so in the knowledge that public radio journalism serves only the public. Public radio journalists as well as sponsorship, communications and development staff – are committed first and foremost to that service.”





WRKF, Baton Rouge’s NPR station, connects community members to independent news, cultural programs, and each other, through local, national and international news and programs. Founded in 1980, WRKF is supported by community donors and underwriters who value discovering the world around them.


Photos attached, described below. High resolution photos available from Barbara Clark, 225-278-0504,

WRKF.11.4.19 Seated: Jonas Alirou of Cameroon, Jerry Bivigou of Gabon, Marie Rose Mukayiranga of Rwanda and Arsène Ngoussou of Repubic of Congo attend a public radio funding presentation at WRKF Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (WRKF/Marie Constantin)

WRKF.11.4.19 Studio: WRKF’s Adam Vos discusses public radio programming with visiting journalists at WRKF Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. The journalists were in the U.S. to observe best practices for operating and funding media institutions. Pictured: Fasika Yimer of Ethiopia, Adedayo Oketola of Nigeria, Jonas Alirou of Cameroon, Jerry Bivigou of Gabon, Luckner Garraud of Haiti, Marie Rose Mukayiranga of Rwanda and Arsène Ngoussou of Republic of Congo. (WRKF/Marie Constantin)

After three years as Program Officer, Svetlana Pizzati will leave the NOCDC in mid-July to volunteer in Chile with the English Opens Doors Program. The English Opens Doors Program (Programa Inglés Abre Puertas) is an initiative supported by the Chilean Ministry of Education. The Program was created in 2003 to improve the level of English for students between 5th and 12th grades throughout the Chilean public school system by providing teacher training, instructional materials, language competitions, English immersion camps, and semester abroad scholarships for university students. A native of Russia, Svetlana graduated Cum Laude from the University of New Orleans in 2014 with a degree in International Studies with a concentration in Diplomacy and International Organizations and a minor in Spanish. In 2015 Svetlana took a short-term assignment as NOCDC Projects Assistant, and before that she had served as an intern for her undergraduate course work.  Svetlana is really excited to embark on a new journey and get firsthand experience of the Latin American culture.

On June 19 the NOCDC will host an informational session for those interested in the Department of State’s U.S. Speaker Program. The session will be conducted by Ms. Imani Esparza Pitman, Foreign Affairs Officer in DOS’ Office of the U.S. Speaker Program.  Ms. Pitman’s office supports U.S. embassies through the recruitment of dynamic American experts who participate in short-term traveling projects or virtual programs with audiences abroad. 

The session will be held on Wednesday, June 19 from 5:15-6:15 pm at 1215 Prytania Street, Room #362 (3rd fl. conference room) New Orleans, LA 70130.

On April 2, 2019 12 delegates from around the world met with Sugar Roots Farm staff to discuss strategic approaches to food security and nutrition.  Sugar Roots Farm is a working farm that offers field trips, classes, event rental space, and kid’s camp that also sells eggs, honey, and produce to visitors their farm store.   Sugar Roots also collects compost and New Orleans food waste to feed our livestock, reducing what goes into the landfill.  Sugar Roots Farm’s mission is to foster compassion and physical wellness in the metro NOLA communities through farm-to-fork education. Sugar Roots is dedicated to making a positive impact on children by teaching them how to feed themselves using a sustainable, free-range working farm model.


Sugar Roots Farm is located at 10701 Willow Drive.

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