LSU Women’s Center announces 2015 Esprit de Femme award recipients

BATON ROUGE, LA (December 18, 2014) — The LSU Women’s Center will honor Women’s History month on Thursday, March 19, at its third annual Esprit de Femme Awards Sunrise Celebration, recognizing local women who have greatly impacted the lives of women in the state. This year’s awards ceremony will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, beginning at 7:30 a.m.  All proceeds will support the mission and goals of the Women’s Center.

In 2015, the Esprit de Femme award will be presented to eight deserving recipients. The recipients are: Doris Carver, Kathi M. Gill, Racheal Hebert, Alejandra Juan, Louisiana Rep. Helena Moreno, Charlotte D. Placide, Christel C. Slaughter and Carroll W. Suggs.

“We are excited about all of our honorees and look forward to the opportunity to recognize their phenomenal contributions at the third Annual Esprit de Femme Awards Sunrise Celebration,” said Summer Steib, LSU Women’s Center director. “These women have made lasting impacts on the lives of countless women in our state and blazed trails for other women. Our 2015 honorees represent diverse backgrounds and accomplishment—we have women who are leaders in our military, the business sector, nonprofits, academics and politics.”

Established in 2009, the Esprit de Femme award is an annual acknowledgement of a person who has made exceptional efforts toward the advancement of women. This award honors individuals who elevate the status of women in the community through their contributions to the arts, education, healthcare, business and industry, charity and civic engagement.

LSU professor in the Division of Computer Science and Engineering and holding a Dow Chemical Distinguished Professorship, Carver recently completed a three-year assignment at the National Science Foundation. She previously served as interim vice chancellor of Research and Economic Development and as interim dean of the Graduate School.

Gill, Neighbors Federal Credit Union president and CEO, has been with the credit union for 34 years with the past seven serving in her current role. Since becoming president/CEO, Neighbors has more than doubled its asset size, completed three mergers and added seven new branch locations, a mortgage lending office and two school branches. She serves on several professional and community boards including the Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, Sexual Trauma Awareness Response Center, or STAR, and, in 2009, she served as chair for the March of Dimes Walk. Gill credits her success to her team and promotes civic responsibility as a means to give back to the community that has helped build the success of Neighbors.

As executive director of the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center, or STAR, Hebert has quadrupled STAR’s staff and annual revenue in three short years – enabling the nonprofit organization to serve thousands of community members each year. Additionally, She serves as co-director of New Leaders Council Louisiana Chapter, president of Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault and as a certified facilitator in the Victim-Offender Dialogue Program for the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

The first female to be named executive director of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum, Juan is a decorated Air Force veteran with a focus on community collaboration – a focus that has led her to several volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles.

Honored on numerous occasions for her work to advance awareness on issues effecting women in the New Orleans community, Moreno has helped expand social and institutional awareness surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence by creating progressive bills regarding these issues.

A retired East Baton Rouge Parish School System superintendent, Placide has been the recipient of many awards such as the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge’s Women of Achievement award, Business Report’s Influential Women in Business award and the NAACP community award. She worked in the EBR school system for 28 years, where she served in several positions before being named superintendent in 2004.

Co-owner of SSA Consultants, Slaughter joined the nationally recognized consulting firm in 1983 after receiving her doctorate from LSU’s E.J. Ourso College of Business and serving as faculty for seven years. She has been instrumental in guiding organizational change and strategy development for hundreds of organizations and currently serves on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Retired CEO and chairman of the board of Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., Suggs’ community service has been dedicated to the causes of education, community development and medical research. She currently serves on the National World War II Museum Board of Trustees, the Jefferson Parish Ethics and Compliance Commission and numerous boards at LSU, Xavier and Tulane. In addition, she is the president of the Louisiana Women’s Forum, a member of the Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Health Education Authority of Louisiana and Family Service of Greater New Orleans.

In addition to the award presentation at the sunrise celebration, sponsorship opportunities will be available. Registration will open in January, and anyone interested in learning more about event sponsorships, table purchases or recognizing an honoree is encouraged to contact Steib.

The LSU Women’s Center is involved in several signature programs and initiatives, including the annual Take Back the Night candlelight vigil and march, Women’s History Month programming and Gender on Film series.

The LSU Women’s Center provides support, referral and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to women. The center also promotes the advancement of gender equity issues and well being through its services, educational programs and advocacy efforts.

LSU’s Women’s History Month Celebration is coordinated by the LSU Women’s Center. For information about the Esprit de Femme Awards Sunrise Celebration or the LSU Women’s Center, please contact Steib at or 225-578-7563, or visit

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