The Southern woman has earned her fitting nickname: Steel Magnolia.

A Southern woman has infamous mystique. She is feminine, but not afraid to speak her mind; gracious, but in no way a pushover; and with the strength and force of hurricane winds whipping across the Gulf Coast. The New Orleans Steel Magnolia special section is a celebration of life, love, strength and beauty within. Generous, durable and unflinching in character, our Steel Magnolias give even more to others than to themselves, and for this we gladly celebrate them in the October issue of New Orleans Magazine.    


Annette Dowdle — Senior Vice President, HUB International Gulf South

Steel Magnolias 2021 Annette is passionate about her clients and helping them grow their businesses.  Attraction and retention of good employees is critical to any business. In a constantly evolving workforce it is imperative to find innovative ways to engage employees.  As an expert in Employee Benefits, she supports clients by spotlighting overall workplace heath—physical and mental—to improve employee retention, overall well-being, job satisfaction and productivity. She serves on HUB’s National Employee Benefits Best Practices Task Force, defining cutting-edge programming for HUB offices across the nation. A passionate heart health advocate, Annette serves as the AHA Heart Walk Chairperson for 2022 and has been a longtime Circle of Red member. She was awarded the AHA’s inaugural Willie Paretti Award in 2020. Recently, Annette was accepted to the prestigious Loyola’s Women Leadership Academy.

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Courtney Dorris Jenkins — Senior Loan Officer, NOLA Lending

Steel Magnolias 2021 After attending the University of Mississippi, Courtney Dorris Jenkins began her finance career in 2008. She joined NOLA Lending in 2011 and currently serves as a top-producing Senior Loan Officer and President’s Club qualifier, helping families achieve their financial goals.  “We get back the energy we put into the world, and as a mortgage lender and philanthropist, I’m humbled to help change lives,” says Courtney. This dedicated wife and mother currently serves on the board of the Junior League of Greater Covington and stays involved at her children’s school. Additionally, Courtney is a sponsor for Ochsner Health’s Colors of the Mind, a member of the local American Heart Association’s Circle of Red, and an honoree for the Northshore’s Finest supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 

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Dr. Devan Szczepanski — DS Family Medicine

Steel Magnolias 2021 Board certified physician and founder of DS Family Medical Group, Dr. Devan Szczepanski is on a mission to change the face of medicine now and for generations to come. Dr. Szczepanski is the leading authority on the utilization of Nutrigenomic Testing as a foundational tool in creating treatment plans for her patients. Well-versed in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and aesthetics, Dr. Szczepanski has proven that Comprehensive Lifestyle Medicine is the future of progressive healthcare. With certifications in nutritional and genetic medicine, Dr. Szczepanski complements work-ups with her DS Therapeutic division, offering a dynamic, reformative approach. Dr. Szczepanski also enjoys opportunities to give back. Her newest business, SoLux Wellness Integrative Medical Spa, hosts an annual Sophrosyne Beauty Blessing, benefitting medical charities while empowering the women of her community.

Clothing from SOSUSU Boutique: Vivetta Donna


Lisa Marquette

Steel Magnolias 2021 A wife, mother, hair stylist, and business owner, Lisa Marquette believes that with hard work and consistency anything is possible. A longtime stylist and creative “people person,” Lisa wanted to help the restoration process of the city and its architecture following Hurricane Katrina and transformed a charming Canal Street house into the relaxed, welcoming Salon M. To nurture new talent, Lisa created an apprenticeship program that allows new graduates to reach their potential, find purpose, and become financially independent.  In the community, Lisa volunteers for her church and children’s school while giving back to the community through Mary’s Song, a faith-based, women’s substance abuse rehabilitation program in Metairie. Along with offering financial support, Lisa has mentored, trained, and hired Mary’s Song graduates. 

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Sarah Martzolf — Principal of The Martzolf Group

Steel Magnolias 2021 Sarah Martzolf is the Principal of The Martzolf Group. With Partners Hayley Bumpas and Kristen Nelson and Associate Molly Wogan, the full service real estate group helps buyers and sellers maximize their enjoyment and investment through smart design. Martzolf builds and renovates homes as well as consults for their clients. “My passion is maximizing a property’s value while making it the most useful for the homeowner,” she says. Martzolf is also passionate about building community—she currently serves as Vice President for both Dress for Success – New Orleans and The Women’s Professional Council. Additionally, she serves on the boards of Preservation Resource Center, YAYA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists), Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses.

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Valerie M. Grubb, CSP — Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Executive Coach

Steel Magnolias 2021 Valerie’s passion is developing employees into leaders that help drive a company’s bottom line. With decades of senior leadership experience within corporate America, she shares her expertise locally through Board work with the NO Film Society, National Speakers Association, Opera Association Women’s Guild and the NO Chamber of Commerce. “Educating and inspiring others to exceed their own expectations and propel themselves to success is by far what I am most proud of in my career—actually, in my life,” she says. Valerie’s books further her passion: Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel offers advice on how to travel with aging parents and Clash of the Generations: Managing in the New Workplace Reality helps managers motivate and engage across four generations.

Clothing from SOSUSU Boutique: Tanya Taylor