Literary luminaries, celluloid heroes, melodious musicians and culinary creatives are what makes the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) Bright Lights Award dinner so special.

On May 11, the LEH honored these Louisiana innovators who made significant contributions to the state’s arts and cultural communities. 

This year’s award winners included: Humanist of the Year, Chef John Folse; Champion of Culture, State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux; Documentary Photographer of the Year: Jenny Ellerbe; Humanities Book of the Year: Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom, by Kathryn Olivarius; Humanities Documentary of the Year: “Roots of Fire” with Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi; Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities: Marianne Fisher-Giorlando; Light Up For Literacy: One Book One New Orleans Executive Director Megan Holt; Best in Digital Humanities: Freedom on the Move, represented by UNO’s Mary Niall Mitchell; and Chair’s Award for Institutional Support, given to the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, which was represented by the foundation’s Vice President and Executive Director Dr. James Caillier and board President Byron A. LeBlanc.

The event took place at LEH’s historic Turners’ Hall, now home to The Helis Foundation John Scott Center. 

Banjoist Don Vappie provided musical accompaniment for the patron party, and for dinner (catered by Messina’s Catering and Events) Megan Brown and Friends played eclectic Cajun as guests entered a beautifully lit tent that overlooked a large-scale mural by artist Ayo Scott.

Fun Fact

  The LEH always closes the event with milk, chocolate chip cookies and its signature “good night story,” which provides a glimpse at LEH’s award-winning Prime Time Family Reading literacy program. 

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Claude Schlesinger, Mimi Schlesinger, Drew Tessier

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Rae Gremillion, Freddie Williams Evans, Mark Gremillion

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Jermaine Smith, Melinda Mintz 

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Kellen Mathews, Andy Horowitz, Katheryn Olivarius 

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Daniel Hammer, Fatima Shaik, Lesli Harris, Pat Carrier

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards

Jeremy Lavoi, Abby Berendt Lavoi