Leah Chase: ‘This City Needs Young People With Vision’

NEW ORLEANS – On Wednesday, Dec. 13, more than 50 young professionals attended a networking event at Dookey Chase's restaurant in New Orleans, hosted by the nonprofit 504Ward – a group that connects young professionals in the city at monthly meet-ups at local restaurants.

Leah Chase, the 94-year-old renowned chef and owner of Dooky Chase’s, had a few words for those young professionals. She came out of her kitchen and into the restaurant's dining room to speak directly to the group.

“You all have vision, and you have energy and that’s what this city needs – young people with vision who can imagine this city ten years down the road,” Chase said. “When you get together, you have power. Besides, you all look good.” Chase added: “Look in the mirror every day and say to yourself, ‘I am the prize.’”

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Attendees of the 504Ward restaurant night were treated to Dooky’s Chase’s famous Creole cooking and spent the evening networking with like-minded young professionals.

The diners, aged 21-35, work at a number of local companies and organizations, including Tulane University, the City of New Orleans, Northwestern Mutual, the New Orleans Business Alliance, Ochsner, the Louisiana Department of Education, Commanders Palace restaurant and many more.

Mary Matthews, Executive Director of 504Ward, introduced the evening’s “connectors,” who spoke about their experiences and gave advice for young professionals.

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The connectors included Keith Toussaint, an expert in strategic business consulting focusing on information technology; Tiffany Harvill, Chief Operating Officer for InspireNOLA Charter Schools; and Bill Ganon, a sales and presentation coach and founder of Connect2Sell Training.

“Always trust the power of the networking,” Ganon said, calling attention to the importance of the night's purpose.

Matthews said: “Leah Chase said it better than I ever could – that your energy is so important for the future of the city, and that’s what 504Ward is all about. We want to make sure you stay here and that New Orleans is place for all young professionals to thrive and grow. Whether you are from here or just arrived, we want to make sure you keep making connections here, get involved here, and advance your career here.”

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Matthews added that 504Ward will be putting together a Young Professional Advisory Council in January.

For more information about 504Ward including upcoming networking events, visit www.504ward.com.

-By Jenny Peterson, Associate News Editor, Biz New Orleans

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