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Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors Debut

April 17, 2007

The New Wave staff

The Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors head off on their first New Orleans goodwill trip to Boston today (April 17). Likening the group to an all-star baseball team, Tulane University President Scott Cowen publicly thanked the team of volunteer Crescent City ambassadors at a news conference on Wednesday (April 11) at the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane.


Fleur-de-lis ambassador Becky Zaheri, founder of the Katrina Krewe, and other ambassadors don fleur-de-lis lapel pins to represent New Orleans on their promotional trips across the country. (Photos by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The group made its public debut as the agenda was announced for the ambassadors' first trip to Boston, April 17-18.

"This group of volunteer representatives is as good as any you'll see anywhere in the United States," Cowen said. Cowen and New Orleans City Council vice president Arnie Fielkow created the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors program to share positive news of New Orleans' economic and cultural revitalization and combat misperceptions about the city's recovery.

Local business and community leaders will represent the city and provide their personal experiences of living and working in New Orleans to share their beliefs in New Orleans' recovery and viability. The ambassadors who will travel to Boston include Fielkow, Becky Zaheri, founder of the Katrina Krewe, and Rod West, president and chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, who received law and business degrees from Tulane.

The group will meet with media, political and civic leaders including The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, New England Cable News, the Greater Boston Foundation, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, the Harvard Business School Public Education Leadership Project, and Massachusetts Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, among others.

The ambassadors also will attend the public opening of a special Katrina exhibition at the Noble and Greenough School. About 40 students from the school volunteered in New Orleans in March working on rebuilding projects in the Lower Ninth Ward and in St. Bernard Parish. The exhibition will feature photos, journals, memorabilia and student anecdotes.


Ray Manning, left, president of Manning Architects, and Anthony Patton, president and chief executive officer of EBONetworks, exchange business cards at a news conference announcing the first trip of the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors.

"New Orleans has made great strides toward overcoming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina," Fielkow said, "We need to spread this message far and wide while continuing to reach out to cities around the country like Boston that continue to send volunteer groups to help our communities recover and rebuild."

Telling personal stories of recovery, renewal, resiliency and hope will be central to the ambassadors' mission, Cowen said. "A program of this size and complexity is not possible without a lot of help," Cowen said, adding the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors hope to "deputize thousands of citizens of New Orleans who want to help spread the word about our great city."

After Boston, the ambassadors program aims to visit several other key markets this year including: Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Jacksonville, Fla.; New York; Philadelphia; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and Miami.

Cowen emphasized the need for the ambassadors to tell "the untold story" of New Orleans' role in the country's economy, including the port, culture and seafood.

Funding for the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors Program is provided by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the New Orleans Business Council, Tulane University, and Bill Goldring/Republic Beverage. Express Jet is providing travel to some of the selected cities.

At the news conference, the ambassadors received silver fleur-de-lis lapel pins to wear during their travels. The pins were provided by Wellington & Co. Fine Jewelry of New Orleans.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000