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People We Have Watched

An alumni retrospective

New Orleans, the city, has many traditions, so it is appropriate that New Orleans, the magazine, should have a few too. For us the most enduring tradition is “People to Watch.”

Each year we look back at a past class with a matching end number to see whatever happened to the selectees. Ten years ago, in 2007, New Orleans was still in its early stages of rebounding from Katrina. Nevertheless hopes were high if not always totally achieved. Some careers just take unexpected bounces, none more so than Chad Shinn who we recognized as being the obvious heir apparent to his father, George, who owned the New Orleans Hornets. “For Chad Shinn his dad’s team and his new hometown are both part of his future,” we wrote.

Sometimes things don’t just quite work out. George Shinn wound up bailing out of the NBA because of financial troubles. The team was purchased by Tom Benson who changed the name to Pelicans and the Hornets’ name reverted back to Charlotte from which it came.

There were a few people, including a couple of coaches, who would be fired from their position at the time and one person, whose TV role was fired. That would be actor Brian Batt who at the time was playing art director Salvatore Romano on the hit program Mad Men. Batt was great, but Salvatore got in trouble in one of the episodes and had to walk the plank. (So as not to be a spoiler we won’t tell you why.)

There were successes too. Larry Hollier, the Chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center, had a dream of developing a new teaching, emergency and specialty hospital complex that would share a campus with the new Veterans Administration hospital. The recently emerged University Medical Center is a tribute to him. Another M.D., Gerry Cvitanovich, was pioneering developing a group of urgent care clinics. He succeeded as the clinics  became part of the next decade’s landscape. His business has since been sold to the Ochsner empire, just as well because he has lots else to do including serving as Jefferson Parish’s Coroner.

And the list goes on. It occurs to me that we have always thought of People to Watch as being valuable for trying to provide a glimpse into the future. Yet there is a lot to learn from looking at the past. And the past is always a lot more reliable.

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