Our Board | Agenda for Children

Meet our Board Members

Board MemberRoleBiography
Ana GershanikChair

Born in Rosario, Argentina, Ana Gershanik has lived in New Orleans for the past 42 years and is a longtime community advocate who has served on numerous nonprofits boards in the greater New Orleans region. Currently, she serves on the Boards of Trustees of the Anti-Defamation League, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, National Council of Jewish Women, Puentes New Orleans, United Way’s Women United and Young Audiences.

She also serves on the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans’ Community Relations Council and the Advisory Committees to Loyola University School of Humanity and Sciences, Tulane Cancer Center and WLAE. For 29 years, she was the writer of the “Nuestro Pueblo” weekly column for The Times Picayune.

John MortonVice Chair

John Morton is the Senior Vice President in the Private Wealth Management Group at Hancock Whitney Bank. Previously, John held various leadership roles with his previous employers – IberiaBank (SVP and Team Lead, Commercial Banking and Private Banking); Capital One / Hibernia National Bank (Director and SVP, Private Banking and Commercial Banking); and First Commerce Corporation / Bank One Private Banking (VP, Private Banking).

John has served in various roles with several community organizations, including Board of Trustees, Major Gifts Chair, and Alumni Association President for Metairie Park Country Day School; Treasurer, Board of Trustees, and fundraiser for Trinity Episcopal School; Treasurer, annual fund chairman, property chairman, youth teacher, and planned giving committee chairman for St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church; President of the William & Mary New Orleans Region Alumni Club and a fundraiser for the College of William & Mary in Virginia; and Treasurer and Board of Directors for NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) Foundation. He is a native New Orleanian.

Edward “Ted” GeorgeTreasurer

Edward “Ted” George is a Partner in the New Orleans office Chaffe McCall who has advised clients in a variety of industries in connection with acquisitions and divestures throughout the United States and in South America, Europe, and Australia. He has served as General Counsel to publicly traded and private companies and has negotiated transactions in a wide variety of business contexts. In addition to his work in mergers and acquisitions, Ted advises corporate clients regarding litigation, regulatory compliance, finance, and human resource issues. He also advises individual clients on estate planning and other tax issues. He has served on or advised the boards of several community and non-profit organizations.

Sonjia Brown-JosephSecretary

Sonjia Brown-Joseph, Executive Director of Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy, Inc. In this role, Sonjia manages a team providing all aspects of Early Care and Education of over 300 children, including a team of over 40 early care and education educators

A big believer in education and the importance of brain development, Sonjia supports educating children from birth. Sonjia has a Child Development Associate and a Bachelor of Science in Business with a Human Resource Management Certification.

Sonjia is no stranger to the childcare industry, having co-owned and operated an Early care and Education Center for 35 years and currently operating three centers. Sonjia is a Board member of Agenda for Children currently serving as Secretary, also a board member of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. Sonjia is a founding member of New Early Education Network (NOEEN), and also former member of the NOEEN Steering Committee.

Sonjia has more than 30 years of experience in advocating for young children, and is currently a member and Business Consultant for 4 Providers by Providers Advocacy Organization. In addition, to receiving hundreds of hours in training in early care and education, Sonjia is also a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and the Louisiana Economic Development CEO Round Table.

For Sonjia Early Care and Education as well as peer-to- peer support is a passion.

Vanessa Brown-ClaiborneBoard of Directors

Ms. Claiborne is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chaffe & Associates, Inc.   She specializes in business valuation services primarily for estate and gift taxes, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), GAAP fair value reporting, financial reporting, corporate planning, business interruption claims, litigation support including expert testimony, exit planning, and shareholder transactions and restructuring. She serves on the boards of Newman, BGR, Newcorp Inc, and the Red Cross.

Bernadette D’SouzaBoard of Directors

Judge D’Souza received her Juris Doctor degree from Tulane University School of Law in 1992. Upon graduation she dedicated her legal career to public interest law; for more than 18 years, she represented indigent clients in family law, domestic violence, and housing cases, many of them as a Managing Attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. Judge D’Souza has spent over a decade promoting awareness to domestic violence issues, educating and supervising students from law schools across the country, and serving as adjunct professor at Tulane Law School. She is an active member of numerous public service and professional legal organizations and has won several prominent awards for her professional and personal commitment to the community. Judge D’Souza currently serves as a Mayoral appointee on the Board of Total Community Action.

Dayna PriceBoard of Directors

Dayna attended Nicholls State University and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences in December of 1998 and a Master of Arts in Psychological Counseling in 2005. Dayna obtained her LPC licensure with the state of Louisiana in October of 2008. She is also a Louisiana LPC-board approved clinical supervisor. She is the supervisor of the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program and has been so since its inception at Options in January of 2009. Dayna is also a national consultant for Functional Family Therapy, LLC. Dayna has been employed with Options for the past 17 years working with youth and adults in various programs, but she has been a supervisor with the agency for the past 10 years.

Koneca WestBoard of Directors

Koneca West has been with the Ochsner Health System for over seven years in a variety of financial positions. Prior to Ochsner, she was the Business Operations Manager at Barling Bay, a Financial Consultant at H2 Performance Consulting and Verizon. She has a bachelor’s of business administration and finance from Georgia Southern University. She is a certified project manager.

Chris BardellBoard of Directors

Chris Bardell is the Owner/Operator of 12 McDonald’s restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area.

When asked what he imagines he would do if he did not work at McDonald’s, Bardell says it is impossible. What started as a part-time summer job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Laplace led to what has become a lifelong career.

Bardell moved his way through the ranks at McDonald’s, working at restaurants across the entire Greater New Orleans area in the process. He was a Crew Member, Shift Manager, Assistant Manager, Restaurant Manager, Senior Restaurant Manager and Area Supervisor. He also worked in the McDonald’s Corporation Regional Office as a Business Consultant, providing operational guidance to McDonald’s Owner/Operators throughout Louisiana.

Bardell always knew he wanted to own his own business. In 2001, he realized that dream when he purchased his first McDonald’s restaurant, the location on Bullard Avenue in New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, he became the Owner/Operator of the two restaurants on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.

By 2005, Bardell owned six restaurants in the market. When Hurricane Katrina struck the city, all six of his restaurants were damaged and closed. Over the next several months, he helped many of his managers move back to the area, and with their help, was able to re-open his existing restaurants and buy additional ones. By 2008, he owned and operated 17 restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area.

In 2008, Bardell was selected by McDonald’s Corporation to attend the National African American History Month celebration at The White House. The invitation was extended to Owner/Operators who are considered to be outstanding ambassadors and leaders in their communities.

Bardell truly is a leader, both within the McDonald’s system and in his community. He is President of the Great Southern Region’s Black McDonald’s Operator Association; a member of the Great Southern Region’s Leadership Council; Vice Chair of Operations of the African American Marketing Committee for McDonald’s of New Orleans Ad-Co, Inc.; and serves on the McDonald’s National Supply Leadership Council.

As a member of McDonald’s of New Orleans Ad-Co, Inc., Bardell contributes to many causes in the New Orleans market, such as the local Ronald McDonald House Charities. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Audubon Nature Institute, where he sponsors various community events. His company is the title sponsor of Audubon Zoo’s Get Yah Praise On, a gospel music experience held each year during Black History Month; a co-sponsor of Audubon Zoo’s Soul Fest, a celebration of African American culture; and the sponsor of Special Needs Day as well.

Bardell says that one of the most rewarding things about his position as a McDonald’s Owner/Operator is being able to give back to others. He credits many people with mentoring him throughout his career and he works hard to give back to his employees in the same way. Whether it is helping a crew member develop a career, or volunteering his time for local non-profit organizations, his contributions to the community are many.

Bardell gives back to his community in one other notable way as well: he is a volunteer police officer in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Bardell is a life-long resident of St. John the Baptist Parish. He currently lives in Laplace with his wife, Lentreise. Together they have two sons, Dylan and Kyle.

Cori MorrisonBoard of Directors

Dr. Morrison is proud native New Orleanian and alumni of Xavier University obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry.  She subsequently completed medical school, Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. At present, Dr. Morrison is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at LSU School of Medicine- New Orleans and a practicing pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist at Children’s Hospital. She holds a Professorship in clinical ethics and co-chairs the Ethics Committee.  Dr. Morrison is a member of several national professional medical societies. She has worked several years towards efforts in increasing childhood cancer and sickle cell awareness to support research, clinical advancements and supportive services.  Dr. Morrison is also an active participant in various mentorship programs promoting careers in the medical field and working to narrow the gap in healthcare disparities and diversity of medical providers.

JP HymelBoard of Directors

JP is President of Gallo Mechanical, and he serves as Chief Executive Officer of Gallo Mechanical Services and Sheet Metal Systems.  Gallo Mechanical is a commercial HVAC (Air Conditioning & Heating) and Plumbing contractor with offices in South Louisiana, the Florida Panhandle, Charlotte & Raleigh, Charleston, and Beaumont.  Clients throughout the Southeast include:  the Louisiana Superdome, the University Medical Center, LSU, the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences, Baton Rouge Children’s Hospital, and many other commercial, institutional, and industrial clients.

Prior to joining Gallo Mechanical, JP served as North American Business Development Director for Johnson Controls specializing in Public Private Partnerships.  His local clients included: Tulane University, Dillard University, and Louisiana State University.  During his time with Johnson Controls, JP successfully developed innovative financial contracting structures allowing clients to purchase construction and service offerings without the need for up-front capital.

JP enjoys serving his local community.  JP is the past Board Chair for Crescent City Schools and serves on several boards including the Academy of the Sacred Heart Board of Trustees, Tulane School of Architecture Advisory Council, the Tulane City Center Advisory Council, the Cowen Institute Advisory Council, and the Christopher Homes Board.  JP is President of the Maisonette Condominium Association and an adjunct professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business.  He is a past member of the Tulane Alumni Association Board of Directors, the UNO Engineering Advisory Council, the Newcomb-Tulane College Advisory Council, and the St. Francis of Assisi Pastoral Council.

After graduating from Tulane University as an Electrical Engineer, JP served in the US Air Force as an Electronics Warfare Engineer.  While in the Air Force, he received his MBA from Georgia College & State University.  JP, his wife (Erin), and his daughters (Louise, 10 years old & Lucille 5 years old) live in New Orleans.

Tina OwenBoard of Directors

Tina Nguyen Owen started her career over 30 years ago with international investment banking firms such as Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Charles Schwab and American Express. With several billion dollars in completed financing projects, one of Ms. Owen’s proudest achievements in the financial industry was having her own financial advisory firm, Lotus Capital Management, ranked as “Top 10 Financial Advisors” in the U. S. by The Bond Buyer publication. Ms. Owen served as financial advisor and co-advisor in structured debt transactions for local governmental agencies and municipalities. Public finance client list included the City of New Orleans, the City of Houston, the City of Corpus Christi, the New Orleans Aviation Board, Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, and the Finance Authority of New Orleans.

Most recent and current accomplishment, Ms. Owen successfully grew a home care company, Lotus Community Care, since 2009, providing quality care for the elderly and differently able individuals. The Company proudly serves the underserved community in Louisiana with bilingual staff and caregivers to accommodate language accessibility and cultural diversity.

Throughout the decades, Ms. Owen has always volunteered her time on the boards of non- profit organizations including the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans, Great Expectations Foundation, the Organization of Chinese American Women (Chair, 2001), and the Asian Pacific American Society (Chair, 2013), Loyola University Board of Trustees (2003-2009), and Women of the Storms. She is the co-founder of Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (2003) and the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana (2007).

Ms. Owen is a graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans, MBA (1988) and BBA (1986), and is the mother of Lauren and Donald.


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