New Orleans has an amazing history and rich culture that mean different things to different people. For some, New Orleans is colorful Mardi Gras beads and extravagant floats on Fat Tuesday in the French Quarter. For others, it’s gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral, leisurely river boats, and stately homes whispering of a bygone era. Still others may say that the essence of New Orleans lies in between the zest of Cajun and Creole cuisines and the groove and rhythm of a live jazz band.
To get a first-hand account of the essence of New Orleans and to find out what’s so exciting about having our 47th AAUW National Convention in the Big Easy, we reached out to our 2013 Convention Host Committee and asked them a few questions. Today, we’ll hear from Chair Deborah Freda as well as Koggie M. Hakenjos, one of the committee members who is coordinating volunteers.
What is your favorite place in New Orleans?
Hakenjos: My favorite place is the riverfront. It is always calming to run or walk along and see the many ships, cruise ships, and ferries. It invigorates me to see all the activity and people enjoying our city. It is also a very popular place for festivals to be held with lots of food and music. The most common sounds are the horns from the boats, the calliope playing on the Delta Queen riverboat, and musicians playing music. Sunrises and sunsets are always very picturesque, and it is a treat to see downtown and the Crescent City Connection bridge light up at night.
What is your favorite memory from a past AAUW convention?
Freda: I have two favorite memories, both from 2011. First, I loved hearing Lilly Ledbetter speak and having my picture taken with her (she is my AAUW inspiration). And second, lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Hakenjos: I have not attended a national convention, but I do have a favorite memory from a state convention. There were several students in attendance who had participated in the $tart $mart [salary negotiation] seminar. A student at Xavier University gave her report, and I spoke with her at one of the breaks. We connected immediately, and our branch sent her to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Her recap of the trip was heartwarming, and she came to our branch meeting to tell us about her experience and show pictures. We still keep in touch on a regular basis.
Why is the convention’s focus on Leading across Generations important to you?
Hakenjos: I happen to be one of the youngest members of our branch. Two of our members just received a life membership. I worked with these wise women at several presentations and have interacted with young ladies at $tart $mart and Elect Her seminars. It is important for us to build confidence in young women and give them every opportunity to be educated in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] areas. I think by having multiple generations come together to discuss AAUW and women’s equality, we would all be more empowered.
Freda: In AAUW, there are so many strong women and leaders. Their wisdom and life experiences are an inspiration to us all. I get motivation from hearing their stories when they were truly breaking through barriers in the workplace, et cetera. Multiple generations of AAUW women are all passionate about women’s equality. There has been so much discrimination over the years; this is personal to every woman, and each has a story to tell.
What would you tell a friend who was on the fence about coming to inspire her or him to register for convention?
Freda: This will be a unique and memorable convention unlike any other because of the speakers and the culture, music, food, and spirit of New Orleans. The excitement is contagious! So come be a part of it all! You don’t want to miss this one!
Describe New Orleans in one word.
Hear more from our host committee members in New Orleans!
This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.