November Luncheon


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The next American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) luncheon on November 15th will feature four business women that will be speaking about

Overcoming Obstacles and Nurturing a “Success Mindset”

Speakers include:

  • Sheba Turk
  • Mary Jane Walsh
  • Mayra Pineda
  • Deb Elam

Sheba Turk co-anchors WWL-TV’s Eyewitness Morning News and is the author of the book “Off Air: My Journey to the Anchor Desk.” Shortly after graduating from college, Sheba was hired as an associate producer at WWL. She has been there ever since, working her way from behind the scenes to the anchor desk. Sheba is an alumnus of Soledad O’Brien’s PowHerful Foundation and mentors with the organization. She is passionate about helping other people, especially other young women, reach their full potential.



Mary Jane Walsh is a transformation coach who helps clients get breakthrough results.  Mary Jane uses a unique methodology which equips her audiences and clients to navigate the fears that come up in sales and teaches her clients her success process of “Getting to Yes.”

Mary Jane has spoken at several organizations and companies both in the Greater New Orleans area and nationally, helping individuals and teams meet their quarterly and yearly business and personal goals. She is excited to moderate this year’s November ABWA panel of inspiring speakers.



Mayra Pineda is a local business woman and the President & CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, where over the years, she has worked tirelessly to develop strong and long-lasting business relationships between Louisiana, the Hispanic Community and Latin America. She is a former Consul General of Honduras in New Orleans, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Mrs. Pineda has been the recipient of the Leadership Award by the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the High Achievement in Compliance by Subway Corporation, and Honoree of Men and Women of Fashion/Prix de Elegance, as well as SABAA Business Woman of the Year, and the Personality of the Year by Que Pasa Festival.

Most recently, Mrs. Pineda was recognized as a 2018 Top Female Achiever by New Orleans Magazine, 2018 Minority Business Champion by the US Small Business Administration, one of the CityBusiness Women of the Year Honorees, Partner of Year of Women Business South Council, and accepted the 2017 Chamber of the Year Award and the 2018 SRMSDC Leadership Award for Supporting Partner of the Year on behalf of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.

She is a former President of the NOHHF (2008-2011) and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation since 2000.  She is also a current and active board member of the following organizations:

  • Commissioner at Jefferson Economic Development Council (JEDCO)
  • New Orleans City Park Improvement Board
  • New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation
  • Jefferson Parish Task Force for Education
  • Forward New Orleans
  • City of New Orleans Oversight Committee on Diversity
  • Mayoral Transition Team Sub-Committee (Mayor Cantrell)
  • Member of USHCC Local Chamber Ad Hoc Committee

Deb Elam After a thirty year career with the multinational conglomerate, corporate pioneer Deborah Augustine Elam has retired from her dual role at General Electric as Chief Diversity Officer, as well as President of the GE Foundation.

From graduate intern to GE’s first-ever black female corporate officer, Deb dedicated her career to diversity, philanthropy, and inclusion. She oversaw efforts to embrace diversity in order to create an environment where GE employees are able to thrive and contribute to the company’s success in the global economy. Her experience spans across multiple organizations within the corporation.

An alumnus of Louisiana State University, Deb holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Her career catapulted after graduating from Southern University, where she earned a Master in Public Administration. She was quickly recruited by GE’s Human Resources Leadership Program where she undertook assignments at GE Global Exchange Services and GE Transportation. Upon successful completion of the training program, she progressed through larger HR roles within GE Consulting Services, GE Capital Mortgage Corporation, GE Capital Insurance Services, and GE Capital Markets Services. In June of 2000, Elam became Managing Director of Human Resources at GE Capital Commercial Finance.

Colleagues have cited Deb’s commitment to diversity, philanthropy, and inclusiveness as key factors to her success. In February of 2006, Deb rose to the top with a well-deserved promotion that made history. GE’s Board of Directors appointed her Chief Diversity Officer, the conglomerate’s first-ever black female corporate officer, making Deb one of the most senior women in the company.

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VIVA NOLA Mentions ABWA in August 2018 Edition

VIVA NOLA Mentions ABWA in August 2018 Edition

ABWA is a professional national organization that specializes in honing women’s leadership skills, providing women with continuing education, and highlighting and raising awareness and recognition of the empowerment of women in business. Click here to read more!


October Luncheon

American Business Women’s Association Hosts October Luncheon “Pivoting from Failure to Power”

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The next American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) luncheon on October 18th will feature Anna Finch, cofounder of Real DFM, a product design and development company, helping clients take products from concept to reality. Anna will be speaking about “Pivoting from Failure to Power”.

Anna Finch’s Bio:

Anna Finch is the cofounder of Real DFM, a product design and development company, helping clients take products from concept to reality. After graduating from Edinburgh University, Scotland with a Masters in Chinese language, history and culture she moved to Beijing, China where she worked in the wine industry, selling and distributing wine to hotels, restaurants and bars, learning international business skills, marketing and sales. After four years in China, Anna had an opportunity to move to California where she went to work within the male dominated industry of being a Land Man, working for Vintage Power and SunPower, in utility scale Oil, Gas and Solar projects, purchasing mineral rights, determining new locations and managing multi million dollar budgets. Three years into that phase, Anna met her husband in Los Angeles, who was working as a freelancer in industrial design and she uncovered a passion that lay more in the creative, and together, with their combined skill sets, they decided to start their own company, filling a gap in the market of offering a true turnkey solution to innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses seeking help in bringing a product to life, covering everything from conceptual design, engineering, prototyping, development and ultimately mass manufacturing. Anna moved to New Orleans two and a half years ago, over which time she has been growing Real DFM, with which she was a finalist in Square’s The Brassys Awards, she won the Women In Business Challenge through the Urban League in 2017, and was a finalist in The Idea Village’s The Big Idea Challenge at NOEW also in 2017.

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September 20th @ 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
“Achieving Success at Work and Balance in Life”


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$50.00 – $65.00

Our 2018 Conference is “Achieving Success at Work and Balance in Life.” The conference will provide leadership-training opportunities to local businesswomen, create a networking environment for businesswomen to share ideas about self-development and leadership goals and create awareness in the community to support businesswomen. The Women Can Drive Conference hopes to raise $2,500 in scholarship and professional development funds for ABWA Crescent City Connections Network Chapter.

We could not be more excited to have Lauren Haydel from Fleurty Girl be our keynote speaker.

 Fleurty Girl was born out of a vision of New Orleans-native, Lauren Leblanc Haydel. Using just $2,000 from her 2009 tax refund, this single mother of three put everything she had into printing t-shirts that celebrated New Orleans. Just six months after launching her online store, she opened her first retail store on historic Oak Street and moved herself and her family in the back of the old shotgun house. “We all crammed in the back of that house in order to see if this would work. We went from 2,000 square feet to just under 1,000. My kids went from each having their own rooms to having to all share one room together. People said I was crazy, but I believed in this.”

Today, Lauren now has six Fleurty Girl retail stores and has gotten her kids back to having their own rooms again. “I’m glad I was able to show them what it takes to believe in something, make sacrifices and succeed, and to do it all in the most amazing city in the world.”

Powerful Women’s Panel

We have also put together a powerful Women’s Panel “How to Achieve Success at Work and Balance in Life” moderated by Monica Pierre, an Emmy Award winning journalist, television and radio talk show host, and author. Our panel will feature five businesswomen including Caitlin Cain, CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans, Stephanie Osborne owner and found of The Sit Gift, LLC a Corporate Guided Meditation business, Victoria Adams Phipps, Executive Produce of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), and Donna Accardo, co-owner of Garrity +Accardo Architects, representative of Inner Design and trained facilitator and Area Coordinator for The Way of the Heart and Wendy DolanPresident of Get Online NOLA, a marketing agency dedicated to helping local businesses make the most of their online presence through reasonably priced marketing services and resources.

  Monica Pierre, an Emmy Award winning journalist, television and radio talk show host, and author. Pierre hosts the public affairs show Community Matters airing on WWL AM/FM.

  Caitlin Cain, CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans.

  Stephanie Osborne, owner and found of The Sit Gift, LLC a Corporate Guided Meditation business.

  Victoria Adams Phipps, Executive Produce of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW).

 Donna Accardo, Licensed Architect and co-owner of Garrity+Accardo Architects, Representative of Inner Design and trained facilitator and Area Coordinator for The Way of the Heart, an organization dedicated to supporting individual and collective life purpose, discovering our essence and creating a more empowering and beautiful life, in ourselves and those we touch in our lives.

  Wendy Dolan, is the President of Get Online NOLA, a marketing agency dedicated to helping local businesses make the most of their online presence through reasonably priced marketing services and resources.

 Ulla Gaudin, is a recognized professional makeup artist and founder of Cinematics by Ulla, the only online makeup academy that focuses solely on teaching TV and film makeup.

12:00pm: Doors Open/Open Networking/Lunch, provided by Jimmy John’s
1:00 pm: Welcome/Fidelity Bank P.O.W.E.R. Presentation/Ice Breaker
1:20 pm: Keynote Speaker: Lauren Haydel, Fleurty Girl
2:00 pm: Break
2:10 pm: Donna Accardo – Quick Exercises to Help Relieve Stress
2:30 pm: Women’s Panel – How to Achieve Success at Work and Balance in Life, moderated by Monica Pierre, award winning journalist
3:40 pm: Break
3:50 Ulla Gaudin – 5 Minute Make-Up Applications
4:00 pm: Recap/Housekeeping/Door Prizes
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Individual Kart Races, Crown Winner
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm: Open Networking, Shop Local Invitation


Local Annual Dues: Renew by October 18th

ABWA Local Dues Are Due! We will be collecting local dues now through October 18th! 

The annual dues for Crescent City Connections Express Network are $35 annually. You can pay your dues at the next Luncheon, ABWA website, or send in a check to PO Box 1334, Metairie, LA 70004.

If you have any questions please contact, VP of membership, Becky Kostik-Livaudais


Download our New Member Brochure Here