For the past 18 years Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans has honored the best and brightest entrepreneurs in our city. We are proud to continue that tradition with our 10 honorees for this year’s “City Stars Soirée.” The journeys and successes of each of these role models are true examples of why JA continues our work today.
Our mission at JA is simple: That every young person grows to contribute to, be successful in and advance their local and global economies. Without question each of our honorees has realized that vision through the successes they’ve achieved, and we’re convinced that we’re indeed inspiring young people right here in New Orleans to follow in their footsteps.
On behalf of our staff, our board of governors, our volunteers and the young people in Greater New Orleans who will be impacted by JA’s programs this year, we invite you to attend the 2021 “City Stars Soirée” on February 4 at JA’s BizTown for what promises to be a fun and exciting night celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of our 10 exceptional and deserving honorees. JA is only as strong as the community support we receive so we’re counting on you to help empower the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and rising stars!
Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans’ “City Stars Soirée” is excited to return to socializing together with a fun and exciting evening at the same time honoring 10 remarkable young local entrepreneurs. Themed “Stargazing Together,” Chaired by Jeff Good and Co-Chaired by Scott Wolfe Jr., the Soirée promises to be a night where people are happy to be together, again.
Friday, February 4, 2022 at JA BizTown, JAGNO’s kid city
Tickets are only $75 per person or $150 per couple. Guests will enjoy delicious cuisine, music provided by Sweet Crude, a guest appearance by a favorite New Orleans entertainer, a mixologist with specialty cocktails, a silent auction and more!
For more information contact Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 504-569-8657.
We are excited about the impact we are having through programs like our Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge. In this program, students are introduced to entrepreneurship as a viable pathway to success and are challenged to come up with the next big business idea that will transform their communities. Each of our Rising Star honorees has done exactly that, which is why we take great pride in honoring their accomplishments and contributions to the New Orleans area.
Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans continues to make it possible for thousands of southeast Louisiana K-12 students to have the JA Experience. Our formula has been simple, yet effective: We equip business and community volunteers with our proven programming and send them into the classroom to join teachers in introducing students to the basics of money, careers, business and entrepreneurship.
On behalf of our staff, our board of governors and the young people who benefit from JA’s programs, we invite you to attend the “City Stars Soirée” on February 4 at JA’s BizTown for what will be a fun and exciting night celebrating our outstanding and deserving honorees. We are only as strong as the support we receive from you, and we encourage you to help us empower the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and Rising Starts!
President, Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans
It is my distinct privilege to share the news that Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans (JAGNO) will honor our 18th class of Rising Stars at this year’s “City Stars Soirée” on February 4, 2022. As Chair of this year’s event, I can assure you that the diverse members of our 2021 class exemplify the values, spirit and mission of Junior Achievement.
Each year, hundreds of JAGNO volunteers work with more than 20,000 students across Greater New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana to help them achieve three core goals: financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. While our programs achieve demonstrable success in each of these areas, what I find truly breathtaking is the degree to which the young people in our programs gain something even deeper: a sense of self-worth, of potential and of possibility. Our students learn that big dreams are within reach.
I have had the good fortune of getting to know this year’s honorees, personally and professionally. Each of them in their own right is a strong role model for students across the region; together, they will help shape a positive future for New Orleans and beyond. Please join me in congratulating them all.
Jeffrey P. Good
Partner, Jones Walker LLP, New Orleans, Louisiana
Rising Stars 2021
On Friday, February 4, 2022, Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans will honor its 18th class of Rising Stars at the “City Stars Soirée.” Junior Achievement is excited and grateful to have Renaissance Publishing and St. Charles Avenue magazine as our print sponsor. The event will take place at JA BizTown (a kid city) located on the City Park campus of Delgado Community College.
We are honored to introduce our amazing and diverse class of 2021 JA Rising Stars in this section of the St. Charles Avenue magazine. They are: Ryan Berger, Executive Principal of The Berger Company; Jason Burns, Former President, QCS Logistics; Katherine Eshleman and Parke McEnery, Partner and President, McEnery Company; Gabrielle Glasgow, Lauren Hernandez, Suzy Kingston and Kendall Connick, Co-Owners, Sprout Pediatrics; Reid Martin, Founder, MidCitizen Entertainment; and Ashwin Vilkhu, Chef and Co-Owner, Saffron NOLA.
Junior Achievement empowers young people to own their economic success with its many experiential learning experiences and business lessons. A part of this education is learning about successful role models and what it takes to become one. Recipients are individuals aged 40 and under from the Greater New Orleans area that demonstrate leadership, vision, integrity and innovation. These Rising Stars serve as role models for others in business and in life.
Ryan Berger has grown up around real estate investment and development. His father founded The Berger Company in 1972. As a young adult, Ryan joined the family business.
The Berger Company has holdings in parking, retail and hotels. Their projects include the Westin New Orleans Canal Place, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and the Hampton Inn Metairie. A key to success is often location, location, location.
“Real estate in unassailable locations tends to best maintain value through tumultuous market conditions,” Berger says. “Throughout New Orleans history, that prime location has centered on the French Quarter Riverfront and CBD, which is where many of our holdings are located.”
While The Berger Company is a business, Ryan says he and his father both have a personal stake in matters.
“Our family is deeply committed to the future of New Orleans,” Berger says.
Berger’s works allow him to get involved with organizations focused on making New Orleans a better place for everyone, like Son of a Saint, WYES and the NOCCA Foundation.
“Civic engagement is far and away the most rewarding part of my job,” Berger says.
Jason Burns’ parents started QCS Logistics in 1984. It began as a payroll service, but quickly transformed into a courier and delivery service. In 2008, Burns joined the family business.
“We become what we see in life, and I was fortunate to see both my mother and father navigate the highs and lows of entrepreneurship,” Burns says. “I want to thank my parents for taking a leap of faith more than 36 years ago to become entrepreneurs.”
Burns said the pillars of his business are integrity, problem solving, accountability and going above and beyond for customers. “It (the pillars) separates us because in this business, you are only as good as your last delivery, and these values guide how we communicate with our internal and external customers,” Burns says.
The problem solving is Burns’ favorite part of the job. He said customers often QCS when they’ve had a problem elsewhere. It’s QCS’ job to step in, find a solution and “stop the bleeding.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a demanding but exciting time for the transportation and logistics industry. Burns says delivery volume has spiked, making shippers realize how critical “final mile” delivery services like those QCS provides are to the supply chain.
Parker McEnery and Katherine Eshleman
McEnery Residential launched in 2018 as part of the McEnery Company, a diversified real estate services firm, to offer best-in-class boutique residential real estate services in the New Orleans area. Parker McEnery, Broker and Owner, and Katherine Eshleman, Realtor and Owner, along with their ownership partner, Ansley Marshall, work tirelessly to help their clients achieve their real estate goals.
Eshleman says the current market is challenging for buyers because of low housing inventory. When a property goes on the market, it will likely receive multiple competing bids.
“A large contributing factor … is the increased motivation of buyers -record low mortgage rates and lifestyle changes resulting from the pandemic have pushed more buyers to purchase property,” Eshleman says.
In a challenging market like this one, Eshleman says creative thinking is needed. One such solution is seeking off-market opportunities for McEnery’s buyers. A homeowner may want to sell but may not want to publicly list the property for privacy reasons or may not want a parade of people coming through during an open house. They can approach McEnery and explain the situation, and Eshleman can connect them with an interested buyer.
McEnery recently opened a Northshore office, and they soon hope to expand to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, too.
Sprout Pediatrics is the brainchild of Dr. Gabrielle Glasgow, Dr. Suzy Kingston, Dr. Lauren Hernandez and Kendall Connick, NP. The four women worked together for over seven years before opening their practice in Metairie in winter 2019.
Their dream was to emphasize wellness in pediatrics. To achieve this goal, Sprout offers CPR certification classes, talks with adolescents about what to expect during puberty and offers drive-thru flu clinics, group therapy classes and yoga sessions. New parents are invited to monthly meet-and-greets to ask questions and meet the doctors.
Parents place a great deal of trust in pediatricians, and that trust is something the team at Sprout Pediatrics is grateful for and doesn’t take for granted.
“The most rewarding aspect of our job is the ability to connect with members of our community both in the clinic and beyond,” says Dr. Hernandez. “We’re blessed to be chosen as a small part of each family and watch them (children) grow.”
Dr. Hernandez adds that initial reaction to Sprout Pediatrics has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It has been a privilege to be accepted and embraced in the community, and we look forward to continued growth and meeting new families in the years to come,” says Dr. Hernandez.
Pursuing a career in the arts isn’t easy, but Reid Martin at MidCitizen Entertainment works to help local artists create successful, sustainable careers.
The idea for MidCitizen Entertainment first came to Martin in 2014, when he watched Sweet Crude play at Gasa Gasa. He knew he wanted to manage them, and now he does!
Martin defines his work in this way: “The artist is the owner and the creative force of their business. I’m the CEO that they’ve hired to run it. All functions of an artist’s career – booking, publicity, distributions, radio, legal, accounting, logistics – report to me and I report to the artist.”
For Martin, it isn’t just about profitability. He wants to help artists who stand for something bigger than that. For example, he represents Big Freedia, who represents the bounce music culture of New Orleans to the rest of the world. Sweet Crude is part of a movement to return Louisiana French to art. He wants to use the success of his artists to help create more music industry jobs in New Orleans.
“We don’t want to represent artists who sound like a million other artists,” Martin says. “We want to work with artists that own their own lane.”
New Orleans is a fusion of cultures, as is New Orleans cuisine. At Saffron on Magazine Street, Ashwin Vilkhu and his family have merged Indian cooking with New Orleans tradition and ingredients.
Ashwin is Chef, General Manager and Beverage Director for Saffron. His sister, Pranita, is Director of Human Resources and Finance. His father, Arvinder, is President and Executive Chef. His mother, Pardeep, is Vice President and Director of Operations.
The Vilkhu family journeyed from India to New Orleans in 1984. They quickly fell in love with their new home, but they felt Indian cuisine was underrepresented in the local food scene. In August 2017, they opened Saffron.
Ashwin said his parents instilled a love for food, beverages and hospitality in him at a young age.
“My parents used to entertain a great deal,” Ashwin says. “It was a humble home, but I experienced firsthand at an early age how to create an experience.”
Indian-Creole dishes, such as curried seafood gumbo, came to the Vilkhus organically. Living here made them want to mix the cuisine of their old homeland with their new homeland.
“New Orleans just finds its way into your heart and influences you,” Ashwin says.