THIBODAUX – The Louisiana Center for Women and Government at Nicholls State University will honor four Louisiana women for their outstanding public service on Friday, March 14, at a luncheon at the Warren J. Harang Jr. Municipal Auditorium in Thibodaux.
The hall of fame ceremony will feature the induction of Kitty DeGree of Monroe, Sandy Rosenthal of New Orleans, Dr. Dolores Spikes of Baton Rouge and Phyllis Taylor of New Orleans.
New Hampshire native Kitty DeGree moved to Monroe with her husband in 1946 following her service as a yeoman first class in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. In the following years DeGree held various positions in Monroe, eventually amassing a multimillion dollar real estate empire which she converted into a goldmine of community service. Her philanthropic and personal contributions are extensive, including a long, multimillion dollar list of gifts to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the founding of the Kitty DeGree Breast Health Center at St. Francis Medical Center. DeGree has also served on numerous boards, including the Ronald McDonald House and the Veterans Home of Northeast Louisiana.
Sandy Rosenthal founded the organization Levees.Org in November 2005 while living in Lafayette – her temporary, post-Katrina home. A non-partisan, non-profit grassroots group with over 19,000 members, Levees.Org advocates effective flood control and protection in New Orleans and nationwide. Rosenthal’s organization was critical in adding corps reform measures to the 2007 Water Resources Development Act and instrumental in federal legislation awarding a fairer share of revenues to Louisiana from royalties on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, Rosenthal has advocated the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the federal flood protection measures in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Dr. Dolores Spikes, named one of the 20 “Most Influential Black Women in America” by Ebony Magazine in 1990, is a woman of firsts. She was the first African American to receive a Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics from Louisiana State University, the first female president of a public, four-year institution of higher education in Louisiana and the first woman to head a university system in Louisiana – the Southern University System. Spikes’ visibility as a Southern University leader and proponent of progressive education is magnified by her membership in various organizations, including the Board of Directors of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.
Phyllis Taylor of New Orleans is chairman and chief executive officer of Taylor Energy Company, LLC, founded in 1979 by her late husband to explore and develop oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico. A graduate of Tulane University School of Law, Taylor’s chief community service is her role as chairman and president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, a philanthropic organization benefiting education, law enforcement, the military and other humanitarian efforts. In the past 20 years Taylor has served on numerous organizational boards, including the New Orleans Business Council, the New Horizons for Educational Excellence Advisory Council, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Taylor has received various honors for her community service efforts.
In addition to the hall of fame inductions, the Louisiana Center for Women and Government will present its Blue Ribbon Award to WWL-TV Morning News Show with Eric Paulsen and Sally Ann Roberts for their exceptional reporting of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Center will also present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana’s first female governor and public service commissioner and chair.
Dixie Carter, stage and television actress, has been announced as the keynote speaker for award ceremony. The embodiment of down-home Southern hospitality, Carter is best known for her role as interior decorator Julia Sugarbaker on the television series “Designing Women.”
Tickets to the award ceremony are $50 each, $320 for a table of eight and $400 for a table of 10. The ticket includes a coffee and cocktail reception at 10:30 a.m. and the noon luncheon. For reservations, contact the center at firstname.lastname@example.org.