Amy Boyle Collins currently serves as Director of Strategy at Gambel Communications, but I’ve known her through her through pervious professional incarnations – including as Executive Director of the Young Leadership Council (2006-’12). Her bare bones bio would take two pages to list here, so to learn more about her achievements, please read her New Orleans Magazine 2016 Top Female Achiever profile.
In addition, Amy and her husband, Walter Sherwood Collins III, have created the inaugural Beignet Fest to increase awareness and support of programs for children with developmental delays and autism. The first of its kind, Beignet Fest, set for Oct. 8, is designed to celebrate the iconic beignet from traditional sweet treats with powdered sugar to savory delicacies that feature seafood, cheese and more.
Proceeds from Beignet Fest will benefit the newly established Tres Doux Foundation, whose mission is to: “celebrate, embrace and enhance the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities by presenting them as whole beings, and to support organizations that do the same.”
So put Beignet Fest on your calendar and read on to learn more about Amy!
What is your idea of perfect happiness? These days, raising young children (Liam age 6 and Wesley age 5), perfect happiness is knowing that my boys are safe and thriving as they grow – and giving them every opportunity I can to continue to do so. More simply, it’s my family. I love living my life with my husband, Sherwood, and my boys – and our larger family of grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc.
What is your greatest fear? It used to be things like snakes and falling in public. But once I had children my greatest fear is someone harming my children. They are my heart!
Which living person do you most admire? I admire a lot of people for different reasons. It’s really hard to pick one person! If you forced me to, then I guess I’d say my parents. I know that’s two people, but each of them have taught me critical lessons and instilled values in me. From my dad, I learned the value of hard work and the skill of “hobnobbing.” From my mom, I learned to be solution-oriented and independent. There’s nothing she can’t figure out how to do!
What is your greatest daily (or almost daily) extravagance? Foot rubs from my husband! He started rubbing my feet when I was pregnant with our first son and he never stopped. It’s a lovely treat!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Temperance. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll laugh if you ask them if I show restraint and temperance in my life. I’m a Scorpio – volatile by nature – but I think that’s what makes me the go-getter I am, so temperance is overrated for me.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? My 5-year-old and I say “whatever!” a lot!
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, of course! He’s the nicest, most generous, loving man I’ve ever met, and that’s why I married him.
Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be musically inclined, but sadly I’m completely inept at music. I don’t even clap on beat most times!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My son, Liam, is autistic. Being a good mom and tireless advocate for Liam is absolutely my greatest achievement. When Liam was first diagnosed just a few years ago, I was clueless. I didn’t even really know what autism was. Now I beam with pride every day when I see what I’ve helped teach him and how well he’s doing.
Never one to settle for the status quo, my husband and I have developed a new festival in New Orleans, Beignet Fest, to raise money to expand programs for children with autism. There’s a definite gap in the market serving this community. And we wanted to do something about it.
The first ever Beignet Fest will be Oct. 8, and I have a feeling I’ll add that to my list of greatest achievements. Our big, bold vision is to raise $1 million in 10 years with this festival, and I know we’re on the right track. The festival and the cause it supports has been enthusiastically received by all – we’re thrilled to do this!
Where would you most like to live? In the house closest to the gates of the Fair Grounds during Jazz Fest time!
What do you most value in your friends? Having fun with them, and knowing they love me, support me and are there for me.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I talk way too much. It’s a gift – my ability to talk to people and sell my ideas. My entire career is based on this gift. But sometimes I really, really need to hush and listen more to others and give them a chance to express themselves.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Excuses. I deplore people who create excuses why they can’t do something. I’m a doer. For every reason not to do it, I challenge them to find two reasons why they just might be able to.
What restaurant do you find yourself recommending to friends lately? Ruby Slipper – It’s simple, casual, but so delicious and incredibly consistent.
Describe your perfect New Orleans day? A day at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – mostly the weekdays when it isn’t so crowded!
What’s your favorite New Orleans story? When I got a job at the Young Leadership Council following Hurricane Katrina I told my girlfriends, “I’m not going to work there to meet a boy!” It was a running joke. The organization – for as much amazing good that it did in the community – had a nickname: YLC – the young lovers club. It was true that people met, dated and many married after meeting through the YLC. Well, within a year of taking the job, I met Sherwood, and by the next year we were married.
What is your favorite thing to do in New Orleans during the summer? Festivals are my absolute favorite thing to do in New Orleans, but most of them are in spring and fall, so I settle for good times and great food with friends at the pool during the summer.
What are you most looking forward to this fall? Beignet Fest: Sat., Oct. 8 at Lafayette Square. It will cap off 18 months of tireless work. Plus, it’s just going to be a great day with lots of yummy food and good music!