Board of Directors
Melissa Schutz Lilly, JD, is a Financial Advisor for Heller & Stieffel Wealth Management Group of UBS Financial Services, Inc. Prior to her role with UBS she was the Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Advisor for IBERIA Wealth Advisors and OMNIBANK. As a senior wealth advisor, she advised clients on estate, gift, and retirement planning. Her role with IWA was client-centric and its goals were relationship-building and maintenance through a comprehensive approach to financial planning. As a trust officer with OMNIABANK, Melissa oversaw the day to day operations of a $500,000,000 trust department centered on fiduciary, custodial and retirement services. Prior to joining OMNI, Melissa practiced estate planning law in California with a major regional law firm. Her main focus has been on estate planning and trust administration. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis School of Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Melissa is a member of the California State Bar and the Estate Planning Council of New Orleans. She is the current board chair of Community Works, an avid runner and the mother of one.
Vice Board Chair
Sarah Hargrove Howard is the Acquisitions Director for the Conservation Fund’s Central Gulf Coast office, where she executes real estate acquisition projects that protect land and water with high conservation value across the gulf. In addition to her efforts to protect the Gulf’s environmental health, Sarah is dedicated to connecting our city’s Youth with quality education, culture and arts services. She is an active volunteer with the Junior League of New Orleans, Big Class, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, and the Friends of the Cabildo. Sarah received her Masters of Science in Sustainable Real Estate Development from Tulane University in 2013. She holds a Bachelors degree in Mass Communications from Texas Tech University. In her time outside the office, Sarah enjoys kayak fishing, college football, cooking and floral design.
Emma Herr is a Director of Development with Tulane University. She moved to New Orleans in 2006 to attend Tulane and worked previously as the Director of Development for the hurricane preparedness non-profit, Evacuteer. Prior to joining the board, she was a volunteer with Community Works and Young Audiences. She has also served as co-chair of the board of Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans.
Kesha Bullard Lewis has been a part of the Community Works team since 2010. She began as a Teaching Artist, then moved to the other side, as parent, enrolling several of her “sons” from a local boys home, and now, as a member of the board. Outside of Community Works, most of her time is spent alongside her husband, focusing on “Character Building” and “Life Skill Training” as youth ministers in the community and around the world. She has also been given the privilege of being a working actor and writer, who dedicates every morsel of her gifts to telling the stories that make others better.
Mish Warrier, MBA, has a breadth of experience working in various financial, operational, strategic planning, and advisory roles with organizations in differing industries. In his time spent working in private equity, he aided in venture investing activities and was responsible for evaluating business plans, gathering competitive intelligence, and performing financial analyses to determine companies’ growth potential. Prior to working in the field of finance, Mr. Warrier worked in various business roles within the National Football League, for both the New Orleans Saints and the NFL League Office. Mr. Warrier graduated from the Tulane University – A.B. Freeman School of Business receiving a MBA with concentrations in Finance and Strategy with a supporting concentration in International Business. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin where he majored in Economics, Philosophy, and Psychology. In addition, he has attended graduate programs and completed coursework in legal and business studies at Loyola University New Orleans Law School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Mr. Warrier believes that the enriched learning programs provided by Community Works play a vital role in motivating children to enjoy learning, both in the classroom and beyond their traditional schooling.
Jordan Frankel is orginially from Oregon. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, and his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law. After practicing law in Chicago for a few years, Jordan moved to New Orleans with the hope of finding a more meaningful career path and even spent some time as an instructor for Community Works. Jordan eventually went back to school and obtained his Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Jordan currently works with injured and disabled individuals in litigation to help identify future medical treatment plans and assist in returning to the workforce.
Eric Alexander is an insurance advisor at Marsh & McLennan Companies, specializing in governmental agencies. Although growing up in Texas, he attended Louisiana State University, where he received his bachelor’s of interdisciplinary studies and a master’s in business administration. Before residing in New Orleans, Eric spent 10 years in Boston, MA while he played in the NFL, spending 6 years as a member of the New England Patriots. He currently serves as Secretary for the NFLPA Former Players New Orleans Chapter, as well as, coaches football at Country Day Metairie Park School. Eric enjoys traveling and working out. He considers one of his greatest accomplishments is training and running the Boston Marathon. He and his wife Brandi, have one girl named Ellison.
Ben Arceneaux grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from Catholic High School. He spent his freshman year at Roanoke College in Salem, VA before transferring back home to LSU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and an MBA. After completing his MBA, Ben moved to New Orleans to work for the Claims Administrator on the BP Oil Spill Settlement. While there, he helped to stand-up a new internal audit department and led the Claims Administrator’s team for the Seafood Compensation Program. He currently works for Entergy in their Accounting Projects group, which specializes in process improvement. Through his various roles, Ben has gained experience in several areas including project management, process improvement, internal audit, reporting, and vendor management. In his free time, Ben enjoys cheering on the Tigers and the Saints or catching some live music wherever he can!
Myron Miller is a New Orleans native and is currently the Lead Organizer at Ubuntu Village Nola, where he oversees a campaign to connect and build power among families whose voices are too often ignored. He played a key role in the campaigning and reopening of Sarah T. Reed High School in New Orleans East where he was a student. He also received a highlander seeds of fire graduate award for non-violent direct action communication. Myron is also a fellow at the New Orleans Youth Alliance, where young people are prepared for leadership roles. He has been an active and engaged organizer for over eight years and is very passionate about education and youth empowerment. Additionally, he served as the 2nd vice president & board member for the Village de l’est Neighborhood Association. Myron believes all people should be aware and ready to serve and assist our schools and communities. He is an avid supporter of the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team.
Kayne Stewart is a full-time Pilates instructor in her own home studio and at Ochsner Fitness Centers. She attended LSU and earned a BS in Computer Science in 1983. She was employed as a software engineer at Louisiana Land & Exploration, Pan American Life Insurance, EDS, Freeport McMoRan and International Shipholding until 2005 when she became a full-time Pilates instructor. Always interested in the performing arts, Kayne was a member of Delta Festival Ballet in the late 70’s and is currently a board member for DFB here in New Orleans. She enjoys traveling and reading and tutors second graders through the local Stair program. She volunteers for Boys Town of Louisiana and has two children in their late twenties and will become a grandmother in July 2020!
Dr. Donte Flanagan – Independence, diverse equity and financial freedom drive Dr. Donte A. Flanagan. Born and raised in Chattanooga, TN, those drivers are what carried him to a successful career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Today, he is dedicated to using his experiences with time management, resilience and courage to motivate diverse students to consider what has traditionally been a homogenous profession. An advanced practice registered nurse in Louisiana, New York, Georgia, U. S. Virgin Islands, Alabama and Tennessee, Dr. D. A. Flanagan has worked in five hospitals and medical centers over the past 14 years. As a CRNA, he provides anesthesia to patients in the areas of obstetrics, pediatrics, regional, neurological, thoracic, ear, nose & throat (ENT), orthopedics, gynecology and trauma. Dr. D. A. Flanagan has served as a Board Member of the Diversity Nurse Anesthesia Mentoring Program (DNAMP), as well as an active member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), a founding member of National Black Nurses Association of Greater New York City (GNYCBNA), and former member of the Oxford College of Emory Alumni Board, Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Alumni Board, and Emory School of Nursing Graduate Committee. He earned his Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Columbia University, Masters of Science in Nursing Anesthesia at Samford University, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Emory University. Through his professional work, community involvement and public speaking, Dr. D. A. Flanagan aims to serve as a prominent voice and advocate for diversity throughout the field of nurse anesthesia. Today he leads this initiative through his Dream Big Mentorship Program. The program has created a community that not only mentors aspiring nurse anesthesia applicants, but supports students during their academic calendar as they battle the ups and downs of rigorous programs, and also helps guide new graduates as they navigate the job placement process, contract and benefit packages in an effort to increase fiscally responsible and financially independent practitioners who will further be the voice and the pillars of hope for the voiceless.
Shep Buckman, a New Orleans native, is a Senior Investment Consultant with over 20 years of experience in financial services. Prior to joining Equitas, Mr. Buckman was a Senior Portfolio Manager and Investment Committee member for United Bank’s Wealth Management division where he guided investment strategy and execution for over $4 billion of private client institutional assets. Mr. Buckman was a portfolio manager at UBS Financial Services where he built customized portfolios for high net worth clients. He also served as a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley. Shep has obtained his CFA® and CMT® designations. Mr. Buckman has considerable experience with high net worth families, professional athletes, non-profits, financial planning, lending, alternative investments, and sell-side advisory to include ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans).
Shep earned an MBA in Finance from Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in Business Administration with Special Attainments in Commerce from Washington & Lee University.
Brandon Speed manages the Project Controls team that is responsible for the methods and tools used in project data gathering, data tracking, management and analytical processes used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of SWBNO Capital projects or programs; through the communication of information in formats that assist effective management and decision making.
He is a certified Project Manager (PMP) and Construction Manager (CCM) with over 16 years of experience in the construction industry, including project management, construction management, and field inspection. He possesses a strong background in the areas of Civil, Commercial and Residential construction projects. This experience has provided him familiarity with the processes and procedures of FEMA, GOHSEP, and other public entities.
Past Board Chair
Albert Vallotton is co-founder and president of Ardent Services, an industrial electrical contractor serving the process automation needs of oil & gas, petrochemical, refining, pharmaceutical and food processing companies nationwide. Ardent employs over 1,000 skilled craft personnel. Mr. Vallotton has extensive strategic planning, senior management, operational leadership and safety training experience. His service to the community includes teaching coursework in Economics, Personal Finance an Ethics as a high school classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement. He graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University, and during the ensuing twenty-five years has lived and worked in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Corpus Christi, Houston and New Orleans. He currently resides in Metairie, Louisiana with his wife and three children. Mr. Vallotton brings critical enterprise development, financial analysis and performance measurement capabilities to our board and organization.