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Activists of the Year

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Herschel Abbot Jr.

Herschel Abbott is a history buff. Whether he’s discussing his hero Winston Churchill or chairing a board meeting for the National World War II Museum, his penchant for commemorating the past fuels his drive to shape a better future.

“It is the indisputable fact that Churchill stood alone, and he rallied Britain to fight on when it was fighting on alone.” This dedication is apparent in all of Abbott’s work and is partly a product of his extensive law firm experience (he’s currently Special Counsel at Jones Walker).

Having grown up in Monroe and lived in multiple cities, Abbott is quick to call New Orleans home. “I fell in love with the city when I attended Tulane University – the people and the attitude toward life. It’s the only place I’d want to live.” Fortunately for New Orleans, he conveys this love through his involvement in a variety of organizations.

Among those organizations is St. Thomas Community Medical Center. “We do a lot of good in the community, and we’ve been able to provide medical care for people who would not otherwise receive it,” Abbott shares. “With the help of other organizations, we provide specialty care. That gives me a real source of pride and accomplishment.”

Abbott also has a passion for education and serves on the board for Dillard University. “What we’ve been able to at Dillard since Hurricane Katrina is nothing short of a miracle, and I’m very excited to be working with the new president [Walter Kimbrough].” Much of Abbott’s work in education has been in the museum sector. Though he began his board chairmanship of the National World War II Museum last year, he has been involved with the institution for over a decade.

It is obvious that New Orleans is grateful for Abbott’s many contributions; in 2011, he was honored as Rex – a role he undertook with his usual gusto. Working with so many organizations, Abbott is bound to face some obstacles, but his attitude keeps him moving forward. “Go around them,” he asserts. “Better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission.”

There is one particular person from whom he seeks forgiveness. “The key ingredient to my activism is my patient and long-suffering wife,” he notes. It seems Abbott has trouble saying ‘no’ to civic commitments. “I have been very fortunate in life, and all of us have an obligation to pay back the community we live in.”


Boy Scouts, Distinguished Citizens Award
Holy Cross College, SPES Utica Award
New Orleans Bar Association, President’s Award
The Times-Picayune, Loving Cup

Past and Present Organizations (selection)

Bach Consort, board member
Baptist Community Ministries, board chair
Blanchette Rockefeller Neuroscience Foundation, board member
Board of Governors of Tulane Medical Center, former board chair
Bureau of Governmental Research, board member
Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, former board chair
Council for a Better Louisiana, regional vice president
The Dean’s Council of Tulane Law School, board member
Dillard University, board member
Family Service of Greater New Orleans, former capital campaign chairman
Governor of Society of Colonial Wars, deputy lieutenant
Governors of Tulane University Medical Center, former board chair
Holy Cross College President’s Advisory Board, member
Lambeth House Foundation, former board chair and current board member
Louisiana Museum Foundation, board member
Metropolitan Crime Commission, board member
Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in the Grand Priory of America, bailiff/chancellor
National World War II Museum, board chair
The President’s Council of Tulane University, board member
Southeast Louisiana Council, Boy Scouts of America, former chair
St. Thomas Community Health Center, board chair
Tulane Shakespeare Festival, board member
Vestry of Christ Church Cathedral, senior warden
WYES-TV, former board chair and current chairman of the search committee

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