Places & Faces
Thirteen Thriving Thirtysomethings
4/8/2015 12:18:37 PM


Early this year, we asked you to nominate a thriving 30-something in the community who excels in their professional and personal lives—and once again, you answered the call. We received an ever-growing stack of nominations, but were able to narrow it down to these lucky thirteen.

Angela Stutes, 36

Human Resources Director, Calcasieu Parish Library

Accolades: Somehow Angela Stutes is able to squeeze more hours out of a day than most people. In addition to her full-time job as human resources director of the Calcasieu Parish Library, she serves on the Kids Can Board, the Junior League Board (as program development chair), and is a former board member of ICHRMA. She was tapped to be the orientation chair of the Quality of Life Task Force due to her active involvement with Fusion Five and other volunteer groups. She’s been a volunteer "Room Mom” at Prien Lake Elementary for over 10 years and is the self-appointed wrestling team mom for Barbe High School.

Thriving Fact: Angela was the first in her family to graduate from college.

If her life were a movie, it would be: Comedy. "I love to have fun and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine,” Angela says. "I am always laughing at inappropriate times.”

Favorite movie: Steel Magnolias

Anatole Karpovs, 39

Pediatrician, Children’s Clinic of SWLA

Accolades: Anatole has excelled both professionally and personally in the community because of his compassion and love for helping others thrive. Before moving to Lake Charles in 2005, Dr. Karpovs was director of pediatrics at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Locally, he has served as the pediatric department chair and on the medical executive committee at both Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and Lake Area Medical Center. He is currently serving his second term as secretary for the Calcasieu Parish Medical Society and has been a delegate to the LA State Medical Society. He provides education to nurses and nurse practitioners and enjoys teaching parenting and new baby classes. A member of First United Methodist Church, he has helped build the community through Habit for Humanity. He also serves on the Literacy Council board and as an advisor to the Department of Children & Family Services. Dr. Karpovs has been a Cub Scout leader for the past five years, where he enjoys mentoring the boys and strengthening their character by giving the greatest gift: his time.

Dr. Karpovs has bravely battled cancer for the second time in two years—enduring nearly 24 rounds of chemo—and hopes to use his experience as a platform to improve the lives of others around him.

Thriving Fact: Anatole is a talented writer and sketch artist and is a member of the Bayou Writer's Group.

If his life were a movie, it would be: Drama.

Favorite movies: Stardust, Princess Bride, The Fifth Element, Seven Samurai, and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life

Ashli Waldrep, 35

Director, Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA

Accolades: Ashli is a true advocate for community growth and for engaging young professionals in our region’s future. In her professional role, Ashli identifies the needs of the community and expands the reach of area art events; she keeps an eye on the horizon for future trends, and encourages the area to embrace those trends. Ashli is the chair of Fusion Five, SWLA’s premier organization for young professionals, and has grown the organization’s membership, connected young professionals with area boards and committees, and coordinated large events that attract young professionals to our area, such as two successful Zombie 5K Runs. Fusion Five’s role has become increasingly diversified in the community under her tenure, and she continues to encourage young professionals to become the change they want to see in SWLA. She also serves as the recycling committee chair under the Chamber’s Quality of Life Task Force, where she leads efforts to make regional recycling more efficient and convenient. When appointing leadership in the Quality of Life Task Force, Ashli was an easy decision because of her dedication to making SWLA better for the next generation.

Ashli currently serves on the Chamber SWLA board of directors and is also enrolled in the Leadership SWLA Class of 2015. Ashli has her fingers on the pulse of the community, and her energetic and ambitious nature allows her to help identify ways to make our area more attractive and more diverse for residents and for incoming families.

Thriving Fact: Ashli has been scuba diving with sharks and has camped in the Arctic Circle under the Northern Lights.

If her life were a movie, it would be: Adventure comedy.

Brad Guillory, 39

Attorney, Liles and Guillory Law Firm

Accolades: An attorney licensed in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, Brad was born in Opelousas and grew up in Lake Charles. While in law school at South Texas College of Law, he was a member of Pi Delta Phi honors fraternity and the Christian Legal Society. After graduating, Brad practiced for several years in the Houston area. He moved back to Lake Charles in 2009 and opened the Law Office of Brad A. Guillory, LLC. He is admitted to practice in U.S. District Court, Southern District and Eastern District of Texas. He is involved in numerous civic organizations such as South Lake Charles Kiwanis Club, McNeese Petrochemical Association, is on the board of directors for the McNeese Alumni Association, and is an officer for the Kappa Sigma Alumni, Theta Rho Chapter. Professionally, he serves as the president of the family law section of the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association and is a mediator. He and his wife Laura have four children.

Thriving Fact: Before going to law school, Brad served as a police officer with the Lake Charles Police Department.

If his life were a movie, it would be: Action—"due to the fast pace of my profession and my four children—two of which are under the age of four.”

Favorite movie: E.T.

Erica McCreedy, 31

Public Relations Director, The O’Carroll Group

Accolades: Erica has a bachelors in English with minors in theatre, classical studies from LSU, and two masters’ degrees in English and creative writing from McNeese State University. Before her previous appointment as the executive director of the Arts Council, she functioned as the projects coordinator, during which she implemented additional community programming such as the Art Battle, Arts & Crabs and the First Friday Poetry Reading Series. She has taught English courses at McNeese for six years.

Erica has served or is serving on the board of directors for Chamber SWLA, Fusion Five, Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, and Louisiana Partnership for the Arts; she has also served on the committees of Leadership SWLA, the Quality of Life Task Force, Cultural Economy Team, and Friends of Central School. She is associated with Yellow Flag Press, a small publishing house in Lafayette, and is a recipient of the CVB’s Hospitality, Arts & Tourism Award and the Women’s Business Network Up and Coming Business Leader Award.

Thriving Fact: Erica is a poet. Yellow Flag Press published her book of poetry, Red Winters, in 2012, with a second edition in 2014.

If her life were a movie, it would be: An action movie with a strong comedic pulse. "It would seem like an epic adventure, but the main character is incredibly clumsy and says raunchy jokes for two hours,” she says.

Favorite movies: Rocky, Good Will Hunting, The Dark Knight

Ethan Miller, 39

President, Advanced Audio Video Technologies

Accolades: Ethan is a local entrepreneur who showed ambition at an early age. When he was a teenager, he approached the sound board operator at First Baptist Church and asked if he could help. Since then, he has demonstrated a driving commitment to excel professionally.

In addition to operating his own small business, Ethan loves to volunteer in his kids’ scouting activities. He’s staffed a combination of summer and winter camps at Camp Edgewood in Dequincy and was assistant scout master for troop 84. He’s also served as an active member of Gideons International, firefighter for Ward 6 Volunteer Fire Department, sponsorship chair for Fusion Five, co-chair of the technology council for Chamber Southwest, board member of Crime Stoppers, and secretary for Sulphur Sunrise Rotary.

Thriving Fact: Ethan serves as active deacon at First Baptist Church.

If his life were a movie, it would be: Drama. "I grew up in the country with woods as my playground, along with a brother and two sisters,” he says. "We learned about wildlife and how to make the best of what we had.”

Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Fred Sebren, 32

Owner, The Simmons Group

Accolades: Fred grew up in the insurance agency. As a kid, he worked for his mother and grandfather, both of whom were State Farm agents. In high school and college, they sent him to photograph and measure houses at $10 a pop. But he didn’t immediately head toward the insurance business. Instead, he joined the army. He served for four years, with two tours in Iraq. After he got out of the Army he went back to school and finished his criminal justice degree at McNeese. He now owns an independent insurance agency, which he named after his grandfather Hyman Simmons. The agency has been a success since its launch less than a year ago. Fred started a non-profit called Rain 22 to help veterans with PTSD obtain a trained service dog.

Thriving Fact: Fred recently started an important chapter in his life—he became a father. He and his wife Dana and have a 10-month-old son.

If his life were a movie, it would be: An action-packed comedy with a bit of romance sprinkled in.

Favorite movie: Armageddon

Justin Hill, 35

Head Baseball Coach, McNeese State

Accolades: Since completing his playing career at LSU in 2002, Justin has been coaching at the high school and collegiate levels for the past 12 years. Throughout his young career, Hill has coached or recruited 36 players that have gone on to play in the professional ranks, 12 All-Americans, two conference players of the year, two NCBWA Stoppers of the Year, a conference pitcher of the year, relief pitcher of the year, freshman of the year, conference tournament MVP, and a Louisiana pitcher of the year. In his first season as head coach for McNeese, Coach Hill led the Cowboys to a 30-28 overall record and the team finished the Southland Conference Tournament with the third best finish among the eight participants. McNeese’s 30-win season was the program’s first in nearly five years, while the Cowboys compiled 17 conference victories, the best since 2012. He also became the first head coach since Mike Bianco in 1998 to win 30 or more games in his first season as the skipper for the Cowboys. Five school records, six NCAA records and one Southland Conference record were either tied or broken by Hill’s first McNeese team.Fan attendance has reached its highest peak since 2010. In two seasons, Justin has secured nearly $500,000 in private donations for McNeese baseball facility improvements and program development.

Thriving Fact: Justin conducts youth baseball camps throughout the year to teach area youth fundamental skills of playing baseball.

If his life were a movie, it would be: Probably a little of everything, but "would definitely have plenty of comedy.”

Favorite movie: For Love of the Game

Markeitta Broussard, 31

Director of Student Affairs, Unitech Training Academy-Lake Charles

Accolades: Makeitta works hard at everything she does and strives to help anyone she can. She goes out into the community to partner with various agencies to ensure the students at Unitech succeed. She’s part of the Black Heritage Festival and National Association of University Women and consistently demonstrates hard work and passion that for the community.

Markeitta also has a non-profit called Position for Success, where she reaches out to college-bound students. She is past president of the Southeastern Louisiana University African American Alumni Association, executive director of Project PROMISE, and volunteers with Girlie Girls Mentoring.

Thriving Fact: Markeitta suffered five mild strokes, one of which affected her ability to walk and speak, but she has never let it get her down.

If her life were a movie, it would be: Animation. "I’m an eternal kid and have a hard time taking anything seriously,” Markeitta says. "I want my life to be a colorful adventure filled with love and hope.”

Favorite Movie: The Lion King

Matt Young, 30

Public Affairs Officer, City of Lake Charles

Accolades: Matt’s infectious enthusiasm has made him a key player among young professionals in Southwest Louisiana. He joined the Chamber SWLA board of directors as one of its youngest executive board members and currently serves on the Alliance’s Quality of Life Task Force. He is a DeRidder native who briefly lived in California before returning to Louisiana, where he worked with Mayor Ron Roberts of DeRidder to reshape the community. From there, he took over and enlivened the Arts & Humanities Council and moved on to the O’Carroll Group to play a larger role in the campaigns and community efforts across the region.He recently accepted a job with the City of Lake Charles.

Matt has served on the board of directors for the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of Central School, and on the Junior League’s Community Advisory Board. He has also served on the board for Fusion Five and the American Cancer Society.

Thriving Fact: Right after college, Matt was selected out of 250 applicants to work for a PR firm in Newport Beach, Calif. He drove there in a 12-year-old Maxima that leaked oil so badly that he had to stop every 300 miles and add another quart. Since then,

If his life were a movie, it would be: Adventure, with unexpected twists.

Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Melanie Dees, 38

Visiting Lecturer, French, McNeese State

Accolades: Originally from DeRidder, Melanie spent about 15 years working in Paris, San Francisco and Portland. She most recently taught in Nantes, France. While living in France, she completed a Master in Linguistics with honors before returning to Southwest Louisiana to create a rigorous French program for middle school students at Bishop Noland EDS. All of Melanie’s students who took a high school placement test succeeded in testing out of either one or two years of high school French. Last summer, she piloted a high school exchange program and brought two of her former students to attend a French high school and learn firsthand about French culture. She is currently teaching French at McNeese State University and represents the region on the board of the Louisiana Foreign Language Teacher’s Association.

In addition to her passion for our French culture and heritage, Melanie is active in the Lake Charles Junior League and serves as the Troop Leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop. She also volunteers in other local organizations, including the youth symphony orchestra group, of which her daughter is an active member.

Thriving Fact: Melanie has participated in numerous community service projects in Central America and Africa and continues to spend time in France each year.

If her life were made into a movie, it would be: Comic drama. "If you wrote my life as a movie, no one would believe it,” she says.

Huber "Mickey” Smith Jr., 35


Accolades: A graduate of Westlake High School, Mickey earned his bachelor and master degrees in music from McNeese and is currently the band director at Maplewood Middle School, where the band has grown from 40 to 170 students. Mickey was the 2008 Teacher of the Year for West Orange Cove CISD, 2011 Calcasieu Parish Teacher of the Year 1st Runner Up, and the 2013 Five Parish/District V Band Director of the Year. He was also named to the SWLA Black Heritage Festival Hall of Fame. Most recently Mickey has been named the Maplewood Middle School Teacher of the Year again for 2015, as well as the 2015 Martin Luther King Memorial Breakfast Unsung Hero Award and a City of Sulphur You Make the Difference Award. Smith was named a Top 10 Nationwide Finalist for the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award.

As a saxophonist Mickey has performed for and with a variety of artists and has been featured on CBS This Morning, Ryan Seacrest's website, School Band and Orchestra Magazine, the National Association for Music Educators and BET’s "My Black Is Beautiful." His annual concert series, "Sax in the City," is presented to thousands in the SWLA area annually and his work with Music With a Mission, Jazz In the Arts, and Musicmakers2U helps area youths fulfill their dream of making music.

Thriving Fact: Smith has had an audience with figures ranging from President Bill Clinton to Louisiana rapper Lil’ Wayne.

If his life were a movie, it would be: Inspirational drama. "A young kid grows up on the ‘other side of the tracks’ in a rural town (and) plays an instrument that few understand—(an) instrument that would later open doors for him to go to college on scholarship,” he says.

Favorite Movies: The Shawshank Redemption and Lean on Me

Travis Manceaux, 32

Construction Manager

Accolades: Travis exhibits all qualities of a thriving 30-something. He has worked in the local construction industry for over 15 years, starting out as a carpenter's helper. He now works full time as the commercial construction manager for Frey Construction. His entrepreneurial spirit drives his own company—PERC Development, a real estate development and construction company—which was established in 2010. Although Travis' trade is construction, his way of building and nurturing relationships is where he excels most. He is currently serving his second term as a board member of the Better Business Bureau and also held a past board seat for the Cash and Carry Farmers Market. He actively volunteers at his daughters' school as head coach of the girls basketball team. He has also previously assisted in coaching both of his daughters’ recreational soccer teams. He loves the Lake Area and strives every day to make it a better community. Whether it’s a business meeting or a social gathering, Travis greets everyone with a smile and strives to set an example for his three daughters that you can do or be anything you want to, as long as you are a person of good character and integrity.

Thriving Fact: Travis’ personal motto is "Work hard, play hard.”

If his life were a movie, it would be: Action-comedy. "I think laughter and keeping a sense of humor is important, but my life moves fast and is constantly changing,” Travis says. "But my life could also be considered a drama, being that I live with four women.”

Favorite Movie: 300

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