“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”
– Albert Camus


The Junior League of New Orleans Sustaining Advisor to the Board of Directors is Melanee Gaudin Usdin. This position encompasses a historical perspective and provides practical guidance from a Sustaining member who has previously held the position of President. Melanee calls upon her volunteer and leadership experience to advise Board members and assist with making decisions on membership, fund development, community projects, administration and strategic planning. She also encourages other Sustaining members to continue their involvement with the positive community impact of the Active and Provisional membership. Looking forward to sharing her experiences with the newest iteration of the JLNO Board, she hopes to continue advancing JLNO's mission.

Recently named JLNO's 62nd Sustainer of the Year, Melanee was JLNO's President from 1999 to 2000, and highlights of her presidency include publishing and selling the Crescent City Collection: A Taste of New Orleans cookbook and the launch of the first JLNO website. She was also the first President to chair a Joint Council. Prior to that, JLNO had been operating with an Executive Committee board structure. One of Melanee's biggest undertakings was pioneering the Junior League Endowment Campaign, which has grown to $3.2 million. She viewed her time as an Active member as an honor to serve the community and considered it an important endeavor in her life. As a working mother, she still made her volunteerism a priority. Melanee is an example of what the Junior League mission intends. What she learned as an Active member helped her serve on other Boards and further contribute to building a better New Orleans. She believes that good governance is critical for a well-functioning board, and she's relied on her JLNO leadership to guide other organizations in pursuing their missions. She believes that what she learned in JLNO to be as formative as going to law school.

Melanee's personal passions gravitate towards the arts, currently serving with other nonprofit boards, such as Board President for Poydras Home, KIDsmart and the Contemporary Arts Center. She is also currently on the board for New Orleans Museum of Art where she and husband Steve Usdin chaired Odyssey Ball a few years ago. Other boards have benefitted from Melanee's service, including Chartwell Center School, Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, Children's Bureau of New Orleans, Louisiana State Museum, The Parenting Center of Children's Hospital and the Dress for Success Advisory Board. Additionally, she has chaired or co-chaired annual fundraising events for Trinity School, Newman School, Arts Council of Greater New Orleans, EENT Hospital, Louisiana Nature and Science Center and Legacy Donor Foundation. While serving as Chairman of the Board of KID smART, she promoted their mission to teach public school children their core curriculum via visual arts. Through a partnership with Poydras Home and the New Orleans Museum of Art — two organizations where Melanee currently serves as a board member — she is especially proud of their joint program that brings residents struggling with Alzheimer's and dementia to the museum.

In her free time, Melanee enjoys reading and traveling. An avid reader, Melanee is a member of three different book clubs and a literary club where they write and present research papers. Melanee is a New Orleans native and went to Metairie park Country Day, Vassar College, and Tulane Law School. She also studied Literature for a year at University of Kent in Canterbury, England. Melanee gives of herself as a volunteer and as a mother. While practicing law, she was pro-bono Child Advocate. Melanee and her husband Steve have two sons. Matthew (30) practices law at Jones Walker in New Orleans, and William (28) lives in London and works for Google.


Melanee Gaudin Usdin, Sustaining Advisor to the Board