Places & Faces
2020 Thriving 30-Somethings: 10 Years of Thriving
4/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
30 Somethings

Gregory Bass, 33

Director of Operational Excellence at Golden Nugget Lake Charles

Gregory Bass was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. He began his post-secondary education at LSUE for Nuclear Medicine and ultimately completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix while working full-time. He made an intentional decision to postpone obtaining his MBA and opted instead to earn his Six Sigma/Lean credentials. "That decision has played a valuable role in my career and growth opportunities,” Gregory says. "With Villanova University I earned the top certification of Advanced Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.” 

Gregory began his working career as do many young people – in food service. He soon joined the heavy equipment company Louisiana CAT. From there, he joined the hospitality industry and loves his job. He is now Director of Operational Excellence at Golden Nugget Lake Charles. "My grandfather shared a statement with me long ago as a young man that I’ve continually turned to in my life. ‘Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.’ Therefore, anything I commit my time will have my complete effort.”

Gregory co-chairs his employer’s Golden Giver Community Panel, through to which he serves at United Way of SWLA and raises funds for non-profits in the community. He’s a member of the executive leadership committee for the SWLA American Cancer Society and was their 2019 Chair for their fundraiser Real Men Wear Pink, raising a total of $222,241. Gregory is the 1st Vice President for the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA, serving as co-chair to the 2020 Live at Lakefront. He also coaches his son’s soccer team with the Calcasieu Soccer Club! "I’m thankful to my wife for allowing me the opportunity to serve. I believe those with the ability to serve owe it to their community to add value and help change lives, even if in a small way. I want to be remembered as a person who cares for others and to leave this world knowing I did my part to make it better for my children and the future of my family and other families.”

Gregory lives with his wife, Claire, and their sons, Patrick and Ronan.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I had just married my incredibly talented and beautiful wife and we moved to Prairieville, Louisiana for a position I was promoted to at Louisiana CAT. 


Where do you plan to be 10 years from now?

 I intend to be general manager of a property or something comparable. Most importantly, I commit to providing for my family and spending all the precious time I can with them.

Jana Crain, 39

Litigation paralegal with Scofield, Gerard, Pohorelsky, Gallaugher, & Landry

Lake Charles native Jana Crain attended Barbe High School and Hamilton Christian Academy, and graduated from McNeese State University with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and a minor in paralegal studies. She lived in Dallas and later Houston, working in law firms and handling complex international commercial litigation. Growing weary of big city life, Jana and her husband returned to Lake Charles to be close to family and friends. She now works for Scofield, Gerard, Pohorelsky, Gallaugher, & Landry. "For 17 years I have driven myself to produce the best product to help my firms and their clients present the strongest cases possible. I have coupled this with my organizational skills both in the courtroom and my personal life.” 

In 2019, Jana started her own business, Honestly Organized. Her passion is to help people find better organization in the clutter of everyday life. She helps to organize home and business moves – from planning boxing and moving day to full unpacking and set up in the new location. "My dream has been to be a small business owner and use these skills to help my clients find ways to de-clutter their lives for their families and careers.” she says. 

Jana serves the community and especially thrives behind the scenes, making things happen. She currently serves with the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA as the Secretary of their executive board and and works with their numerous annual events. Jana assists her husband with his charity, the Outdoor Association for True Heroes (OATH) and is a member in Krewe du Lac. "I strive to help people and organizations reach their goals by playing supportive roles and using my experience and perspective to strengthen their teams.”

Jana volunteers for the Everything Grey Greyhound Rescue. She fosters and finds homes for rescued retired racers. "After Hurricane Harvey, hundreds of dogs were displaced and shipped to Lake Charles. I couldn’t stand the thought of them being hungry and scared, trapped in a kennel. I spent several days working around the clock at Burton Complex walking, feeding, and comforting these dogs until they were returned to their owners.” 

Jana lives with her husband, Chad, her step-son, Zachary, and her dogs, Sizzle, Layla, and Marty.

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

Working in Houston on the BP Horizon Oil spill. And I had just met the man who is now my husband.


Where would you like to be 10 years from now? 

I want to be fully invested in Honestly Organized. I envision myself with a lifestyle that allows my husband and I to travel while continuing to volunteer.

Ashley Gatte, 34

Empire of the Seed Historic Events President

Ashley Gatte spent her childhood in Sulphur and moved to Lake Charles when she was a high school senior. She earned a degree in marketing (minor in management) and an MBA from McNeese State University and is currently the President of Events Division at Empire of the Seed. Through her role there, Ashley supports local organizations such as the Lake Charles Symphony, Boy Scouts, The Community Foundation, and various community and arts projects. "I believe that giving is a part of my nature,” says Ashley. "I aim to be someone who gives abundantly and does not ask for anything in return. Several people in my life inspire me daily. My husband (Ben Gatte), my parents (Lonnie and Trudy Phelps), my in-laws (Nacis and Patty Gatte), my friends (they know who they are), and Rick and Donna Richard. These folks have been true examples of what it means to be selfless and generous. I’ve been so blessed in my life; I can’t help but try to be my best self every day. Hard work and drive are my expressions of gratitude to all of those who have encouraged and helped me along the way!

Ashley has been a volunteer musician at her church for years, allowing her to serve different church congregations and act as a mentor for younger musicians who need encouragement/advice. "I believe my faith is the main reason for this drive to make our community and the world a better place. I grew up in church watching my parents volunteer, teach Sunday school, and open our home to befriend people and share meals with them. (1 Peter 4:8-10, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.)

Ashley also volunteers at local 5k races and events. "It’s always fun when you can align your favorite hobbies with doing good for others!”

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

I was in Lake Charles, starting the MBA program at McNeese and working as Dr. Burckel’s graduate assistant.

Where would you like to be in 10 years? 

I would love to still be in Lake Charles. I love this city. As long as I stay rooted in my faith in God, and am surrounded by the ones I love, I know I can handle whatever the future may bring. Ten years from now I hope to be doing good and meaningful work, encouraging others, and creating community!

Emily Porché, 31

Events Manager at Burton Coliseum Complex

Emily Porche' was born and raised in Lake Charles, graduated from Barbe High School, and McNeese State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. She is the Events Manager at Burton Coliseum Complex, where she rents the facilities to various clients and helps create memorable experiences for our community. Her first "big girl” job was the Marketing Assistant at Cameron State Bank, where she coordinated promotions and special events for each bank branch. "I knew that my career was headed down the right path of managing promotions, planning events, and ensuring patrons enjoy their experiences, whether in a bank lobby or in a large 6,200 seat arena,” Emily says.

Emily was a member of Fusion Five, serving as a board member and an executive board member. She represented the art community by serving on the Arts & Humanities board and executive committee for several years. She participated in the annual Mad Hot Ballroom fundraising event for Dancing Classrooms and DanceSport as a "professional dancer” and is a 2014 graduate of SWLA Leadership and a 2018 graduate of the International Association of Venue Management. After her experiences from these various leadership and volunteer opportunities, Emily felt a passion to start her own non-profit organization, Mae’s Mission., founded in September of 2019 to bring awareness and fundraised dollars to small, lesser-known non-profit organizations within the five-parish region of Southwest Louisiana. They host events and donate the collected funds to other non-profits through a grant application process.

Emily strives to live by what she calls the 50/50 standard. "The 50/50 standard focuses 50% of your time and efforts on accomplishing goals and focusing the other 50% on putting those accomplished goals to good use, meaning giving back to your community. I also think celebrating ‘small wins’ is important so that your goals and accomplishments are kept in check. Everyone defines success and achievement differently, but if you take the time to recognize your ‘small wins,’ they add up to large achievements along the way.”

Emily is married to Cody, owner of Porche' Aerial Imagery, and mom to Charlie Mae.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was just starting my first job at Cameron State Bank, finalizing wedding plans to marry my high-school sweetheart, excited to take on the so-called "real world,” and still teaching dance classes for extra money.


Where do you plan to be 10 years from now?

I hope that ten years from now, I’m as eager to succeed and serve my community as I am now. 

Kyle Daigle, D.C., 33

Doctor of Chiropractic, Owner of Ultimate Performance Chiro & Rehab

Kyle Daigle says he’s a small-town kid making an impact in the world. He grew up in the Sulphur/Vinton area and began his higher education at McNeese and later transferred to LSU. After completing the prerequisites for chiropractic school, he attended Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas, where he studied Functional Medicine and Functional Neurology and was president of the Nutrition Club. 

Kyle is currently the Chief Medical Officer for SNA Technologies, a software company in Austin, Texas, where he co-developed a patent-pending program called Neurosage that is being used in countries around the world. He manages Partners for Brain Chat, an online educational platform for doctors and therapists who want to learn about Neurological Rehabilitation. He published a book called What If You Knew. He partnered with a Company in Abu Dhabi called Developing Minds, a learning center for kids with development delays and sensory processing disorders. He lectures at Life University and in Europe (Barcelona and Amsterdam) to doctors in the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation (IAFNR) about Digital Therapy and Childhood Development Disorders. He received the 2018 IAFNR Humanitarian of the Year Award and won their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 for developing the software used by numerous doctors in the organization. He was recently selected to speak at the Movement Conference at the University of Paris/La Sorbonne in September on the impact of Virtual Reality in movement and cognition. When he isn’t traveling, Kyle sees patients in his private practice in Lake Charles called Ultimate Performance Chiro & Rehab. "I absolutely love my job and all my patients! I help patients facing difficulties with different neurological and orthopedic conditions,” he says. 

As a child, Kyle’s career path was influenced by his parents and his love of competitive sports. His mother is a special needs teacher. "Her passion to help kids struck me early. She has made such a huge impact on so many kids.” His father operated a successful oil distribution company. "I had two great role models who demonstrated persistent hard work and setting goals. In second grade, I knew what I wanted to be—a doctor. At LSU, my interests changed after I began researching neurology, biochemistry, and nutrition which led me to the chiropractic field.”

Kyle lives with his wife, Alexa, and daughter, Blakesly.

What were you doing 10 years ago?  

Living in Dallas, attending Chiropractic School, and dreaming about opening my own practice.


Where would you like to be 10 years from now? 

I plan to expand Developing Minds throughout the Middle East and into parts of Europe while still practicing here in Lake Charles.

Nick Reina, 33

Agent/Owner of Nick Reina State Farm

Nick Reina was born and raised in Lake Charles. He attended Hamilton Christian Academy and joined the United States Marine Corps immediately after graduation. He served as an infantryman in Iraq from 2006-2008. After his honorable discharge, Nick attended McNeese State University and majored in Natural Resource Conservation Management with a concentration in Wildlife. While in college, he worked for Meridian Global Security and did overseas anti-piracy security contracts abroad. He also installed irrigation systems and realized he would rather have an office job. Post-graduation, Nick moved to Houston and worked nearly four years with a successful State Farm agent, working his way up to Office Manager. 

Nick is currently the Agent/Owner of Nick Reina State Farm in Lake Charles. "During our first year, we were the number seven new agent in the country out of roughly 1000. In our first full year we received an award for being a top 5% agency nationwide,” says Nick. "My desire to win, do things the right way, take care of others, and my need for personal growth in development drive me to succeed in my career.”

Nick serves on many boards throughout the area such as the Arts and Humanities Council and Fusion Five. He’s a member of the SWLA Veterans Association, and integrally involved with the College of Business at McNeese State University. His business has sponsored schools, organizations, and sports teams. "My compassion and love for the community stem from growing up in this area and being raised in the church. My compassion for others increased tremendously as a result of my years in the Marine Corps. Seeing how other people live opened my eyes to the struggles people deal with every day. If we can make an impact that makes their lives a little easier, it’s worth doing. I feel compelled to give back because without people helping me through my life I would not be where I am today. Helping others gives me the self-satisfaction that I am doing what God has called me to do. Otherwise, what is the purpose of life? Be it financial support, acts or service, or just listening, being there for others is my calling.”

Nick lives with his wife, Erin, and daughters, Emma Catherine and Parker.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

 I was a freshman at McNeese transitioning back into civilian life after leaving the Marine Corps.

Where do you want to be in 10 years? 

I want to be a Top 50 Agent in the country, be able to give back more to the community, and assist with the positive progression of Lake Charles.

Brandon Racca, D.C., 35

Chiropractor/partner at Center for Chiropractic in Lake Charles

Brandon Racca was born and raised in Lacassine. He recalls helping on his grandfather’s farm, working summers for his dad on construction sites, and riding four-wheelers. With academic and athletic scholarships (he was a javelin thrower), Brandon attended LSU and graduated with a degree in Kinesiology. From there, he attended Texas Chiropractic College. After that he began his career as a D.C. at Southwest Chiropractic in Lake Charles and is now a partner at Center for Chiropractic in Lake Charles. Brandon spearheaded the development of a second office in Sulphur to better assist their patients. "In my journey through life, athletics, and career I have had many people give me their time and knowledge to improve me as a person. For that, I feel a calling to repay to others after me. One of the joys of life for me is to provide people with improvement of their health and physical being.”

Brandon grew up in a family with five chiropractors who were pioneers in their field. From the time he was five years old, Brandon aspired to follow their lead. "My dad always told me to do what makes you happy and you will always want to go to work.”

Brandon’s parents taught him the importance of service. His mother was a teacher and his dad a carpenter. "They taught me through their actions what kind of man to be.” Brandon recently went on a medical mission to El Salvador, traveling from village to village and setting up a mobile clinic where he gave free adjustments, health education, and provided basic hygiene essentials to those in need. He coaches high school and college athletes in Track and Field and helps with local events. Brandon is an avid cyclist and has ridden in multiple MS 150’s to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. "We can enrich not just one person but many others through giving. I am one person and if I can help thousands of people then those people can help millions along their journeys.” 

Brandon lives with his wife, Krickett (a fellow 30-Something this year).

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

 I was stressing out in Houston at chiropractic school. 

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? 

Right here doing the same job. I love my town and I never want to leave, but I would like to branch out more into the surrounding area and develop multiple practices.

Krickett Racca, 31

Marketing and Special Events Manager at Crying Eagle Brewing Co

Krickett Racca was born in Springfield, Missouri. She and her mother later moved to Greenville, Michigan. As an early teen, her mother met Krickett’s stepfather which took them to Southaven, Mississippi. She graduated high school from DeSoto Central in Southaven and attended LSU where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies in 2010. 

As a young person, Krickett worked summers at her parents' beer distributorship, submitting beer and soda orders for local restaurants and grocery stores. "This position gave me valuable behind the scenes knowledge that I utilize every day in my current position at Crying Eagle,” she says. "I have worked several marketing jobs throughout my life at restaurants, doctors’ offices, media companies, athletics, you name it I've marketed it! When Crying Eagle popped up on my radar, I knew that it was the perfect place to combine both of my passions; marketing and beer.”

Krickett learned the value of volunteer work from her mother’s example. "We helped serve food at church, we adopted shelter animals. As soon as I was old enough to drive, she encouraged me to spend time at our local animal shelter and our community foundation.”

Through the Junior League of Lake Charles, Krickett has volunteered for Fit Kids, Truck Fest, Waters Edge Food Pantry, and Lake Charles Pitbull Rescue. She’s on the board of directors at the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and Fusion Five, and volunteers with the Children’s Museum of Lake Charles (Secretary & past board member). She is currently in the Leadership Southwest Class of 2020. "I love to see a need, come up with a plan, and make it happen all while working with some truly brilliant and caring individuals. No matter where I’ve lived, I meet amazing people while volunteering.”

Krickett lives with her husband, Brandon.

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

I was finishing up my bachelor's degree at LSU. I was also an LSU Batgirl and a Chi Omega, putting off "adulting" as long as possible. 

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? 

I plan to physically be right where I am. My husband and I have planted roots here in Lake Charles. Our community has so much potential and we intend to do our part to make it even better year after year. I plan to still be working at Crying Eagle and striving to make our brand the go-to Louisiana beer as well as bringing bigger better out-of-the-box events to SWLA.

Ashley Chretien Williams, 32

Assistant Director – Oasis A Safe Haven for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Ashley Williams was born and raised in Lake Charles. She began her role at Oasis A Safe Haven for Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence (formerly Calcasieu Women’s Shelter) 12 years ago as a volunteer and worked her way up to Assistant Director of the organization. "I advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I am also responsible for training and supervising survivor and children advocates, addressing family needs, safety planning, educating survivors on the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and I have facilitated domestic violence support groups for survivors and their children,” she says. 

During her employment with Oasis, Ashley also worked with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV) as the Public Policy Coordinator where she provided legislative advocacy on the state and national levels. She was also the Project Coordinator of LCADV’s Children Exposed to Violence Program. "Domestic and sexual violence is real and affects families in our community. I try to be a voice for all victims, but it is the children impacted by violence who hold a special place in my heart. They need people in their lives who will listen, believe, and respect them. I want them to know that they are not alone.”

Ashley says being a voice against domestic violence is rewarding by itself, but educating children and young adults about healthy relationships, bullying and signs of domestic violence is what she loves. "When I see that engaging, educating and empowering our young people is saving and changing lives, it truly makes my heart smile.”

Ashley volunteers for several community service organizations. She’s a board member of MusicMakers2U, Secretary at LCADV, a member of the Junior League of Lake Charles and the Lake Charles Happy Hour Rotary, and an active member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Ashley learned the importance of service from her parents. "Watching them give so much of their time and talents growing up taught me that if I can help someone, just do it! I am so grateful that God has given me opportunities to serve Him through serving others. 

Ashley lives with her husband Markell and her son Mason.

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

I was a McNeese student and child advocate at Calcasieu Women’s Shelter.

Where would you like to be 10 years from now?  

I would like to be better version of myself. I hope that I will be a BETTER wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and member of this community.  Most importantly, I hope my faith is still my foundation.

Melissa Coco Raymond, 33

Licensed Behavior Analyst, owner of Milestones Behavioral Services, autism activist

While working on her undergraduate degree at McNeese State University, Melissa Raymond was introduced to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston Clear Lake with a concentration in ABA and became a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst; later a Licensed Behavior Analyst. In 2012, she and her husband, Craig, opened Milestones Behavioral Services with a goal of utilizing the principles of ABA to help autistic children and those with other developmental disabilities reach their developmental milestones. "I am so lucky to wake up every day to a beautiful family and a job that I truly enjoy,” she says. Inspired by her parents, Melissa has a passion for working with children with developmental disabilities. "As a Licensed Behavior Analyst, I see children speak for the first time. I see them learn new skills and reach new milestones. As a business owner, I create a positive environment where employees enjoy the work that they do and feel support from their supervisors.”  

Witnessing the struggle that parents of children with developmental disabilities face when transitioning their child from early intervention to a school setting, Melissa wanted to do more. In 2017, she and Craig founded the non-profit organization Autism Scholars with a mission to increase scholarly opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Autism Scholars gives back to the community through its Teacher Workshop and Scholarship Fund. The one-week, hands-on Teacher Workshop provides information about ABA to teachers in Calcasieu, Cameron, Allen, and Beauregard Parishes. The goal of the workshop is to arm teachers with tools they can take back to their classrooms. 

Melissa is on the boards of Louisiana Coalition for Access to Autism Services and Louisiana Association for Behavior Analysis.

Along with her husband, Melissa lives with her children, Kinzey and Cohen.

What were you doing 10 years ago?  

I was a new behavior analyst working part time for myself and part time for another company. And I was still a newlywed!

Where do you want to be in 10 years? 

I hope that Autism Scholars has grown and our reach expanded. I hope our fundraisers are bigger, better, and result in the donations needed to expand our scholarship fund and increase the number of teacher workshops offered. Milestones Behavioral Services might have multiple locations and possibly include a feeding clinic and life skills lab to provide ABA services to more families. 

Erika Doshier, 37

Vice President of the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Court Appointed Special Advocates

Erika Doshier is a native of Lake Charles, a graduate of Barbe High School, and a McNeese State University graduate with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Her first job was working the drive through at McDonalds. In college she worked as a nursing step student for CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. In 2006, she was hired by Family and Youth Counseling Agency. "I started at an entry level position and now 13 ½ years later I’m the Vice President of the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and a Diplomate Child Forensic Interviewer for the State of Louisiana.”

Erika’s goal has always been to "help the next person” whether she’s providing information to our community about child abuse or foster care issues or talking with a child one-on-one about their story of abuse. "I feel so honored to play a small role in keeping our community safe. I love being involved in my community and working to bring about change.” Erika credits her passion for community to her love for her son. "Becoming a mother changed my outlook on what being involved means. I look around and I want to ensure my son’s experience in this community is healthy, safe, nurturing and most of all inspires him to want to give back to our community in some capacity. Growing up, my parents were always involved with community and church groups, lending a hand to a friend or stranger in need. I was raised to believe that being able to serve others is an outward reflection of God’s love for us.” 

Erika’s past and current community volunteer work includes the Go Group Sub Committee, KIDS Can of Southwest Louisiana, Leadership Southwest, Allstate Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders Program, and the Continuous Quality Improvement Team (created by the Department of Children and Families to improve the quality of services for SWLA foster care youth). She assists with special events for the eight different divisions of Family & Youth Counseling Agency. She’s been a member of the Junior League of Lake Charles and is a member of her church choir at United Christian Fellowship Church.

Erika lives with her son, Myles Simon.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was the Senior Coordinator for the Children's Advocacy Center at Family and Youth Counseling Agency. I was also preparing for the National Association of Certified Child Forensic Interviewer Exam. 

Where would you like to be 10 years from now? 

I want to work with others to strengthen our community by being a voice for change, advocacy, and education! I believe it’s our responsibility to pave the way and leave a legacy for the next generation.

Stefanee Tolbert, 34

Co-founder, visionary, and principal at Life Christian Academy

Stefanee Tolbert was born and raised in DeQuincy. She attended LSU and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in English, as well as a degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. She also earned an associate’s degree in Advanced Youth Ministry from Christ for the Nations in Dallas. 

In 2011, she and Carolyn Nelson opened Life Christian Academy to the public with 26 students. They now enroll 350. From the beginning, their goal has been to "encourage, equip, and empower" their students. "These values are also my life values,” says Stefanee. "If I look back over my day, and know that I have encouraged, equipped, and empowered the people in my life, then I feel like I am thriving. I strive to help others reach their full potential.”

Stefanee says she wanted to be an educator her whole life. "From a very early age, I would play school. So many things have led to where I am today, from ministry experience to my personal educational experience. My life has been a series of wins and losses, high mountains and low valleys, but I wouldn't change it. I am so happy where I am today. I don't take it for granted.”

 Stefanee enjoys community outreach, but says she doesn’t like to do it alone. "I provide our students with many opportunities to serve. As early as three years old, we involve our scholars with community outreach. We go to SC3 to provide non-perishable food items; we have partnered with the City of Sulphur to serve the senior citizens at the Ole Tyme Christmas Brunch by singing, interacting, and serving food. We partner with Compassion International and bring groups of children to poverty simulations. We collect necessities and deliver them to the homeless; partner with the Biker Church to serve lunch to those in our community; and participate in Operation Christmas Child. I’m proud of how well my students do academically, but my true joy is encouraging, equipping, and empowering the next generation of world changers to be the hands and feet of Christ. Servant leadership is essential.”

Stefanee is married to Trent Tolbert and together they parent Cruz, Piper, Beckett, and Nash. 

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

I was fresh out of LSU with big dreams, absolutely no idea how to reach them, but determination to make my dreams reality. 

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Life Christian Academy will be meeting in our state-of-the-art facility. I will be encouraging, equipping, and empowering a new group of young world changers, and training up educators to do the same.

Jamie Chapman, 36

Region Engineering Supervisor for Entergy Louisiana

Jamie Chapman grew up in Lake Charles, attended Hamilton Christian Academy, and majored in electrical engineering at McNeese State University. After college, she began her career with Entergy as a Distribution Field Engineer. She briefly transferred into a Distribution Planning Engineer role before accepting her first leadership assignment in 2014 as the Region Engineering Supervisor of the Entergy Louisiana West Region. In this role, Jamie led a group of employees responsible for distribution designs for Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana, a geographic area spanning from the Atchafalaya Basin to the Texas border. Most recently Jamie accepted a developmental opportunity where she is the acting Region Manager, leading the day to day operations of the line and service organizations in this same geographic area. "I have every intention to retire with Entergy,” she says. "I strive to be the best role model I can be for my two daughters. I want them to see a successful independent hard-working mother who has a strong career and also makes it to the events at school.”

Jamie is also actively involved in the community through board and committee membership. 

She serves on the Family and Youth Counseling Agency Board and is engaged in the Programs and Personnel Committee. She serves on the board of Hamilton Christian Academy where she currently holds the office of Secretary. Jamie has also served as a member of the CHRISTUS Ochsner Southwestern Louisiana Foundation Board for three years on the Foundation’s Development Committee and Children’s Miracle Network Committee and was an honored Philanthropist in 2019. "I invest back into the community because I grew up here and I plan on staying here long term even after retiring. I want a strong community so that even my girls will want to build their families here, too.”

Jamie lives with her husband, Blake, and daughters Emma and Charlotte.

What were you doing 10 years ago? 

Living in Lake Charles and working for Entergy as a Field Engineer in the department I currently supervise. Ten years ago I was married and focused on starting my family. 

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

I love Lake Charles and I plan to still be here.

A lot of work goes into planning the Thriving 30-Something issue. From themes to props to locations to scheduling, thriving is serious business. Past themes for the issues include a police line-up, CLUE, smart phone apps, selfies, movies, back-to-school, camping, Southwest Louisiana and chairs. The one thing that stays the same each year are the bonds created between the recipients. Many go on to remain close friends through this experience.


Allison Kuhn

Brooks Donald-Williams

Clair Marceaux

Dave Evans

Heath Allen

Jennifer Wallace

Jason Barnes

Kara Garofas

Nikki Fontenot

Kimberly Dellafosse

Trista Ledet Ames

Tyson Green 

Wayne Smith


Melissa Bender

Kay Morgan

Nadine Dunbar Gillis

Dr. Brian Harrell

Nomica Guillory

Tommy McClelland

Billy Edwards

Jen Kober

Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough

Becky Dupre

Pastor Tony Bourque

Aaron Davis

Keisha Braxton Payne


Jason Martinez

Angela Pierson

Jennifer Spees

Erik Jessen

Keith Credo

Angie Manning Peshoff

Erin Davison

Dr. Craig Morton

Rebekah Osborn

Ann Barilleaux

Haleigh Lyons

Dr. Keith Menard

Eric Zartler


Stephanie Karpovs

Heather Hidalgo-LaFleur

Sophia Simancas

Janet Woolman

Brittney Glaser Felder

James Babin

Sharmita Rideau

Emily Fenet Parker

George Cestia

Chelsea Boudreaux

Lyle Broussard

Christy Duhon

Marcus Myers


Anatole Karpovs

Makeitta Broussard

Matt Young

Huber Mickey Smith

Travis Manceaux

Erica McCreedy

Angela Stutes

Melanie Dees

Brad Guillory

Ethan Miller

Ashli Waldrep

Fred Sebren

Justin Hill


Candice Alexander

Cheyenne Boudreaux

Cary Chavis

Rachel Garner

Hillary Green

Katie Harrington

Anthony Iannone

Sara Lasher

Shonda Manuel

Beth McGee

Beth Melancon

Curtis Stewart

Lonnie Turpin


Alyson Vamvoras Antoon

Mike Beer

Owen Clanton

Brandon Cooligan

Marcell Gary

Megan Monsour Hartman

Jennifer Chaumont Istre

Terra Gauthreaux Jones

Brett McKee

Lauren Monroe

John O’Donnell

Amanda Reeves

Maria Tran


Devin Morgan

Elizabeth Eustis

Keri Hankins

Krystle Blue

Graham Martin

Ronaldo Hardy

Laurie Baynard

John Reddin

Amy Peck

Selena Cisneros

Blake Brignac

Sara Kennison

Jessica McBride


Amber Ewing

Brittany Manuel

Charley Lemons

Crystal Briscoe

Dr. Michelle Corcoran

Dr. Donald Higgins

Jennie Bono

John Viator

Justin Holt

Megan Norris

Melissa Hill

Michael Elliot

Morgan Turpin


Sometimes it's quite hard to get everyone in to take the Thriving 30 Something group picture. Can you spot who are the people who were photoshopped into their month's cover photo?

Thriving Married Coupleos

You could say high-achieving, compassionate personalities are drawn to like minds. It’s no surprise there are five instances where both individuals in a married couple have been past Thriving 30-Somethings. Thrive magazine caught up with these folks and asked them how being a thriving couple has affected their relationship with each other and with the community.

Dr. Anatole & Stephanie Kestel Karpovs

married December 29, 2001 

Stephanie – Private practice speech-language pathologist, Therapy Team leader and feeding specialist in the NICU at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Anatole – Pediatrician at the Children's Clinic of SWLA and Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist. 

Thriving personally is great; but combining our strengths, talents and passions has given us the opportunity to grow together and help others to thrive. We've used our own health scares combined with our professional training to help others use food as medicine and combat disease. We’ve attended trainings that allow us to collectively help patients while spending time with each other across the country. We take one day at a time, laughing, praying, and reflecting on the many reasons we have to love being a part of this community. 

Dr. Tyson & Hillary Green

married June 20, 2003

Hillary –  Former teacher turned stay-at-home mom to four kids and an occasional substitute teacher at ICCS.

Tyson – Podiatric Specialist/Partner with Center for Orthopaedics.

Our relationship was tested and proven when fostering and adopting our daughter. It was a time to rely on each other’s strengths, the same strengths used to thrive as a couple, pushing each other to be resilient. Regarding the community, we have branched out and learned more about the needs of our city and its people. Being a thriving couple gave us the confidence to step out of our comfort zones and continue to be challenged to find new ways to make a difference in our area. 

Justin & Melissa Hill

married August 11, 2007

Melissa – Owner of Niche Creative Studio.

Justin – Head Baseball Coach at McNeese State University.

Success should be measured by how much you can help those around you. We like to focus on community outreach that we can do as a family. This way we can support each other and show our children what it means to do a "job” you love but also give back to the community we live in. 

Morgan & Lonnie Turpin

married June 28, 2014 

Morgan - McNeese State University- College of Business Internship Director.


Lonnie - McNeese State University - Associate Professor of Operations and Statistics.

We feel very fortunate to serve our students, side-by-side, in the College of Business at McNeese. Through our work at the University and volunteerism in the community, we hope to help others thrive. We support each other in all endeavors—our careers, passions, and service.

Matt Young & Wayne Smith

married November 4, 2017

Wayne - Supervisor and Hearing Officer for Calcasieu Parish School Board’s Department of Child Welfare and Attendance. 

Matt - Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of Lake Charles.

Matt says, "We’ve learned it’s important to support each other’s professional goals and personal passions. You can’t be so busy chasing your own ambitions that you forget your partner’s dreams.”  Wayne adds, "The calendar can get out of control really quickly. We’ve learned to be more intentional with scheduling dates, quiet nights at home, and short weekend trips. I so appreciate the drive Matt brings to the table and being able to run ideas past him is priceless. From new businesses to the growth of homegrown festivals, we are fortunate to be able to experience our thriving community together."

Noteworthy Past Thriving 30-Somethings —Where are they now?

Clair Thomson Marceaux was a 30-Something in 2011. At that time, she worked with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, overseeing more than $35 million in hurricane recovery projects and was involved in the development of the SEED Center. Since then, Marceaux says she has grown more passionate about participating in regional economic development initiatives. She moved on to positions with Entergy Louisiana, and the Director of Economic Development with the Cameron Parish Police Jury. She currently holds the position of Director of the Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District. She has served on numerous boards and was recognized as one of four global nominees by ExxonMobil for its first ever Vanguard Award in 2019, which honors those who display tremendous leadership in the liquified natural gas industry. In 2018, she was awarded the SWLA Economic Development Alliance’s "Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Accomplishments for Southwest Louisiana.” Marceaux is currently pursuing a master’s degree in port management.

Dave Evans was also one of our Thirteen Thriving 30-Somethings in 2011. During that time, he championed downtown Lake Charles development, including his popular restaurant, Luna Bar and Grill. Nine years later, Evans is still evolving his business and the cultural climate of Lake Charles. Several years ago, he spearheaded the organization of Chuck Fest, a festival celebrating music, food, and art in Lake Charles. Last year, Evans expanded Luna, a fixture on Ryan St. for the past 16 years, into the space next door. This spring, he’s breaking into the Lafayette dining scene with a brick and mortar location. In February of this year, Evans was named the 2020 Restauranteur of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Association.

Jen Kober was recognized as a Thriving 30-Something in 2012. That year, she had already built a successful stand-up comedy career in clubs across the country and appeared in several television shows and movies. Since then, Jen has continued to tour nationally and has headlined new markets and larger venues. Her TV and film career has continued with roles on The Middle, The Purge, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, and on the hit Netflix series Dead to Me. She can be seen on the first season of RuPaul’s Netflix sitcom AJ & The Queen, and she has a recurring role on the hit HBO show, The Righteous Gemstones and the Disney+ Diary of a Future President. Jen accepted an award in 2017 and 2018 for best comedic performance on NPR's hit storytelling show Snap Judgment. She’s created a style born out of her humble Lake Charles upbringing where she has always brought folks together by sharing a laugh. "My focus is to make an audience laugh so hard it hurts,” Jen says.

In 2015, 30-Something Mickey Smith, Jr. was a successful saxophonist, an award-winning band director at Maplewood Middle School, and was named a Top 10 Nationwide Finalist for the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Since then, Smith remains in his role at Maplewood Middle, but this year, he WON the 2020 GRAMMY for Music Educator! He continues his work with Musicmakers2U, his SOUND180 EDUCATORS program, and is author/illustrator of his own children's book, The Adventures of Little Mickey: Keep on Going.

A 2013 Thriving 30-Something, Craig Morton, MD, FAAPMR, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Center for Orthopaedics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He has now been with the group for 13 years, providing non-surgical pain management for injuries and pain of the spine and musculoskeletal system. He has taken his mission of helping his patients live pain-free lives way beyond his medical office. Dr. Morton founded Innovations in Wellness in 2013 to work toward improving quality of life through innovative wellness products and media solutions. Under this parent company, he has successfully launched RehabZone, a home exercise video program for back, hip, and knee pain, and AcuPlus, an FDA-registered all-natural pain relief cream that promotes healing and recovery. Both products are very successful and are likely just the beginning for this physician entrepreneur. Just recently, Dr. Morton launched a podcast with two friends called "Who’s Driving My Car?”

Lyle Broussard was a 30-Something in 2014. At that time, he was room chef at Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill, L’Auberge Casino Resort, a role he fills to this day. But since that time, Broussard’s talent in the kitchen has brought gumbo pots full of culinary kudos to Southwest Louisiana. In the past six years, he’s participated in and placed or won dozens of seafood and gumbo cook offs. He represents SWLA by cooking in culinary tours around the country. He has won tourism and "Best Chef” awards. He’s been the subject of countless magazine articles. In 2016, Broussard was part of a documentary made at Dillard University called The Black Hand in the Pot­—the Story of Creole Cooking. 

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