Women Leading Marketing & Communications for a Greater New Orleans

As the Junior League of New Orleans inspires the next generation of women leaders, “Women Leading for a Greater New Orleans” has been adopted as the new slogan for JLNO. To illustrate this ongoing tradition of empowering women leaders, Lagniappe looks forward to highlighting female changemakers making an impact across industries, throughout Greater New Orleans. As we celebrate our 95th Anniversary, the following testimonies from women educators within the JLNO network provide powerful insights into the strength of our League leaders, as well as the ripple effect these women have in our community.


Photo by: Carlie Anne Collective

Blair Broussard

Chief Operations & People Officer, ARPR

How did you get to where you are today?
I think we are all defined by our pasts — the obstacles and triumphs that helped us get to where we are today. I come from fairly humble beginnings, raised with chickens in my yard in Carencro, Louisiana. I’m a millennial and first-generation college graduate. I was given encouragement, but I also knew I didn’t have the luxury of taking my time in school or picking the wrong career path because I had to support myself financially.
Despite this, my journey, for better or worse, involved mostly following my gut — no pie charts, statistics or strategy. I was determined to pick a career that showcased my strengths of writing, curiosity and being bossy (yes, this is a strength — just ask Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook), which landed me in public relations. I’ve certainly made (and am still making) some missteps along the way, but now I look at them as an opportunity to continue to grow.
Like everyone, I’ve also had my fair share of rejection, from being told I was a terrible writer and would have a hard time completing grad school, to countless letters saying I didn’t get the job. But the combination of all of this taught me the importance of ongoing education, perseverance (one of my mottos is “fake it till ya make it”), hard work and relationships, which are the four keys to getting where I’m at now in my career…and hopefully they’ll continue to take me further!

What is your best advice for other women looking to succeed in their own industries?
No matter what industry you are in, find a tribe. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” I’ve been so lucky along my career path that I’ve had many people who have shown up, and for reasons I still don’t understand sometimes, they truly believed in me. They encouraged me along the way, giving me jobs, finding me unique opportunities to showcase my talents, and recommending me for organizations and programs that have continued to help me elevate my career. I’m forever indebted to them and am determined to pay it forward.

How has Junior League benefited you in your success?
That tribe I was talking about? I’ve found a part of it during my time with the League. It’s also given me an opportunity to learn the city better, not being from here originally (only 2 hours down the road in Lafayette). I’ve learned about New Orleans’ beauty, challenges and opportunities, and it’s opened my eyes to even more ways to help make it even better.


Photo submitted by: PJ Lentz

Paula Jo “PJ” Lentz

Event Manager, Ravensburger North America

How did you get to where you are today?
I utilize my internal guidance system for every aspect of my life. Listening to this intuition has always directed me towards the best path. The times that I ignored this are when I found myself in less than desirable places, so this has been an important reminder to continually tap into my feelings to know when I am making the best decision. With this process, I have put myself in situations that are initially uncomfortable but have allowed me the greatest opportunities for growth. I strive to consistently push myself outside of my usual boundaries, which has allowed for amazing experiences where I have lived in Seattle, Chicago, Pittsburgh and now New Orleans — all while moving upward in my career path and coming more closely aligned with my desires and purpose.

What is your best advice for other women looking to succeed in their own industries?
Keep a positive attitude, and always strive to find gratitude in your daily life. This way of being will permeate into every area of your life — personal, social and professional, and it will allow you to level up your life. Think abundance and you will have abundance. Always follow your instinct on what you feel is best for you, avoiding those things that are done only to appease others and do not feel true to you. Practicing each of these consistently will move you towards your happiness and therefore ensure your success, as happiness is the ultimate mark of success.

How has Junior League benefited you in your success?
These women are incredibly supportive and uplifting! I have made life-long friends that I can call on for feedback and advisement, whether professional or personal — from consulting with me on a public-speaking program, to negotiation tips, to just lending a hand during a move. With this wonderful network of top-tier women, we continue to encourage each other in every category of life. We help one another out in a variety of ways, which is extremely fulfilling and heart-warming. Junior League has become enmeshed into my life socially and professionally, and I am eternally grateful for this group of women.


Photo by: L. Kasimu Harris

Sheryl Kennedy Haydel

Assistant Professor of Public Relations, LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication

How did you get to where you are today?
I’m blessed to continually be surrounded by people who are patient, inspiring and hold me accountable. My parents truly set me up for success. Their focus on education and being a person of high character are values I live by and share with my children. I’m one of a handful of people on both sides of my family to be a journalist, public relations practitioner, professional marketer and scholar, so any success that I may have professionally and personally is shared with my family, mentors and friends. I’m committed to hard work and treating everyone with integrity along the way. I define my success by maximizing each day as if it’s my last chance to change the world.

What is your best advice for other women looking to succeed in their own industries?
Never underestimate yourself, and never forget to celebrate your growth — even if no one else does. Often as women, we sell ourselves short for several reasons. I believe those around us have gotten accustomed to us doing extraordinary things from changing diapers, assisting with homework, being a sounding board to your spouse, volunteering, being a loving daughter/sister/friend/neighbor, running a successful brand awareness campaign, starting a business or running a million-dollar company. We can make all of this look easy when we are being strategic and thoughtful about everything we do. Understanding this about yourself, especially in the communications and marketing fields, is invaluable to generating new ideas, being a resource for your clients and executing campaigns that positively shift the paradigm. Success also comes from taking a moment along the way to acknowledge and celebrate both small and huge milestones as well as everything in between. This industry is full of churn and burn moments, so for the sake of balance, we must do this. Also, we need to stop waiting for others’ approval when we know we are exceeding expectations.

How has Junior League benefited you in your success?
I love being around like-minded women. We come from diverse backgrounds but are connected by an enduring desire to invest in our community. This motivates and affirms me as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and colleague. It’s a beautiful thing to look around a room and see women committed not only to their personal and professional success, but also to the success of their community. I believe it is what we are called to do.


Photo by: Jessica Bachmann

Katie Baxter

Vice President of Operations, Firmidable

How did you get to where you are today?
Hard work. My entire life I’ve had to work hard for everything I wanted, because nothing ever came “easy.” At some point in my childhood, I realized that if I wanted to succeed or have the chance to succeed, I’d have to work harder than those around me to be successful. That’s not to say I didn’t have the occasional misstep or rejection along the way, but those obstacles and moments of failure helped me gain perspective, allowing me to reflect and say, “Okay, is this going to knock me down, or is it just pushing me in a different direction?” Instead of turning back, I just went in another direction. Sure, I usually had to take a longer, harder route to get there, but nevertheless I got there — and it was well worth the trip.

What is your best advice for other women looking to succeed in their own industries?
Don’t be afraid to speak up, whether it be with coworkers or with your boss. In any industry, it’s easy to be dominated by the larger personalities or big egos. I work in the advertising industry and, trust me, there are a lot. If you want to succeed, your ideas and your perspective can be one of the most valuable assets you bring to a company. On paper, we are often as equally qualified as the person next door, but it’s our voice and brain power that makes us stand out from the rest.
Also, be confident with who you are and what your strengths are, but have enough self-awareness to accept you’re not going to be great at everything. You’re not doing yourself or your career any favors by pretending to be someone you’re not or that something brings you happiness when it doesn’t. It admittedly took me about ten years to figure this one out the hard way — flash back to late nights at the office, a few tears shed at my desk…we’ve all been there, right? The moment I figured out which aspect of my career brought me happiness, I immediately turned a corner. Instead of trying to squeeze myself into a certain seat on the bus, I decided to create my own seat — one that brought me happiness, one that made it worthwhile to work harder if I needed to and one that ultimately brought me more success.
So make it part of your weekly routine to spend time reflecting on what makes you happy and fulfilled. Channel that understanding into every decision you make to help you succeed.

How has Junior League benefited you in your success?
Junior League surrounds me with phenomenal leaders who inspire me to work harder every single day and have given me confidence in my ability to lead others. The training opportunities and speakers we bring in have helped me grow personally and professionally. But more than anything, it reminds me that the road to success for many women is never easy and does not come without sacrifice along the way. Having the support of women who understand what it takes and are there to cheer you on in your successes (and cry with you through the failures) has been invaluable.