Kimberly Davis Reyher

Kimberly Davis Reyher

Executive Director of Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), Board Member for Amis du Lycée Foundation

How did you get to where you are today? What decisions, obstacles or milestones have defined your success?

My family encouraged me to pursue what fascinated me. So I studied ecology and natural resource economics, and followed my love of nature and our oceans to the World Wildlife Fund and then, after moving to New Orleans, to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. At CRCL, I’ve had the opportunity to work with partners to drive action to protect and restore our coast. Much of our success has been based on tailoring our outreach to match the interests of specific audiences. We’ve convened thought leaders, scientists and industries through our biennial State of the Coast conference. We’ve engaged those seeking elected offices to share their views and priorities through our Coastal Issues Forum series. We’ve engaged thousands of volunteers in boots-in-the-mud restoration projects across the coast, and we’ve built reefs from 10 million pounds of oyster shells recycled from New Orleans restaurants. I’m very proud of all that we’ve accomplished. But there is so much more to do. As a state, we’re well-positioned with more restoration projects underway than ever before and have the momentum to build two large-scale ecological restoration projects to divert water and sediment to feed our starving wetlands. Even as we cope with the pandemic and hurricanes coming our way one after another, we need to ensure these projects go forward, and we need to ask ourselves at every turn how we can do this bigger, better and faster. We need to engage a much more diverse set of interests to be more reflective of those being directly affected by coastal land loss.

How do you champion environmental sustainability in your daily lifepersonally and/or professionally?  Why are these important values for our community?

New Orleans is a coastal city. The coastal wetlands between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico provide spectacular wildlife habitats and an amazing bounty of seafood — and they protect us from storm surge. But we’re losing those wetlands as they sink and the sea level rises. This coastal land loss is a threat to all who live in and love Louisiana. In this time of drawing lines between parties and people, this issue brings people together. It isn’t political. It is existential. Very simply: Do you want to live here into the future? If so, you should be calling for action to protect and restore our coast. 

How has the League influenced you personally and/or professionally?

I first joined the League in Washington DC and did my placement in a shelter for battered women. I was so inspired by the busy, capable women with diverse personal and professional backgrounds, all throwing themselves at problems and focusing on how we’re all the same rather than how we’re different. I’ve since been impressed again by the League chapters in Hampton Roads, VA and now in New Orleans.


Kristen Rivero

Kristen Rivero

Chief Chemist at Jefferson Parish Water Quality Laboratory

How did you get to where you are today? What decisions, obstacles or milestones have defined your success?

I’ve gotten to where I am today through a combination of education and experience. Thanks to my parents, I was afforded a first-class education from the very beginning, which allowed me to hone my strengths and eventually led to a career as a professional scientist. I’ve always been interested in how our actions impact the environment, and I like to focus on the small things that we can do every day that make a big difference over time. I can’t say that I’ve encountered many obstacles in my career. Jefferson Parish has been a great place to build a career, and I’ve had many opportunities to continue learning and growing as a professional in my field. I am very fortunate to have an extremely supportive staff and a peer group that advocates for one another. That being said, when people ask me what I do for a living and I respond that I’m the Chief Chemist of the Jefferson Parish Water Quality Lab, the reaction I usually receive is one of surprise. 

How do you champion environmental sustainability in your daily lifepersonally and/or professionally?  Why are these important values for our community?

In my professional life, protecting the Mississippi River, which is our source of water, is extremely important. I never flush prescription medication or “flushable” wipes because I’ve seen the impact that these items have on our environment. Personally, I try to make choices that support a healthier and more robust environment, such as drinking out of a reusable tumbler, avoiding single-use plastics when possible, and recycling anything that’s eligible even when it’s inconvenient. A single person can have a profound impact on the environment around them.

How has the League influenced you personally and/or professionally?

JLNO has influenced me in so many ways. The greatest by far is the number of women I’ve met that work in different professions. I’ve met chefs, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs that each have unique life experiences. I truly believe this is what makes the group of women in the League such a great asset to other members and the Greater New Orleans area. 


Gabriel Virdure

Gabriel Virdure

Architect, AIA

How did you get to where you are today? What decisions, obstacles or milestones have defined your success?

A lot of it has to do with the supportive environment I work in. When you work with people you believe in and they believe in you, then it allows you to grow professionally. Working for women most of my career has definitely helped my confidence in this profession. Big milestones for me were getting my architectural license and becoming an associate at my firm.

How do you champion environmental sustainability in your daily lifepersonally and/or professionally?  Why are these important values for our community?

Personally, by looking for ways every day to be efficient and to conserve wherever possible, and by encouraging my immediate family to do the same. Additionally, by making decisions about buying things that I feel will have less impact on our resources, to small and easy things like recycling, composting, reusing items like bags, containers etc. as much as possible.

Professionally, by helping clients understand that up-front costs for a better design and building pay off in the long run — whether they remain the owners or not. The firm I work for does a lot of adaptive reuse projects, which lends itself to encouraging clients to retain a lot of the original character while carefully deciding where we are going to intervene with modern materials and systems. It’s challenging sometimes, but it’s worth it when the client understands that it’s for the betterment of the project.

In this community, sustainability is really about resilience, especially since we are being impacted on a day-to-day basis with both the environment and our existing infrastructure. If we want to continue to live here for the next 50-100 years, it’s in our best interest to evaluate what we as individuals can do in our everyday lives and re-evaluate policies to focus on preserving and protecting our natural resources.

How has the League influenced you personally and/or professionally?

It’s given me an outlet to serve in the community outside in a variety of ways, which has been great. Also, it’s been a way of expanding my network of women in the community who love to serve and support each other.