Xavier University 2015 40 Under 40 Alumni Honorees Announced

NEW ORLEANS – Xavier University of Louisiana announced its 2015 Class of 40 Under 40 Young Alumni Awardees.

         These recipients, who were selected from among 150 candidates, have demonstrated significant accomplishments before the age of 40 in arts, entertainment, healthcare, sciences, education, law, business, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, public service or government.

         “Xavier alumni have always excelled in their chosen professions, but the number of alumni 40 and under that are making significant contributions to their career field and the community is awe-inspiring,” said Kimberly Reese, Xavier University Class of ’95 and Director of Alumni Affairs. “This celebration gives the University an opportunity to highlight its rising stars.”

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         Included among Xavier’s 2nd Class of 40 Under 40 awardees are nationally prominent physicians, writers, a finalist for “Last Comic Standing”, international service officers and several a nationally recognized government and law professionals.

         Xavier University created the 40 Under 40 program to identify and engage high-achieving younger alumni who are well positioned to serve as advocates and ambassadors for the university, and who have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with the university. The selection committee included a panel of alumni, university personnel and industry leaders.

         The 2015 Awards Gala will take place on Friday, November 20, 2015, in the University Center Grand Ballroom, at 5:30 p.m., and will feature entertainment by T-Ray the Violinist and Dj Rx.

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         The event which is a part of Xavier’s homecoming celebration, will be hosted by Lavar Walker, an alumnus and award recipient.


         The 2015 honorees are:

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• Dwayne Aikens ’05, MBA

CEO, We Lead Ours

Oakland, CA


• Sarah Al-Dahir ’06, Pharm.D

Clinical Assistant Professor, Xavier University College of Pharmacy      

New Orleans, LA


• Fronce Mario Barnes ’08, Pharm.D

Pharmacist and Entrepreneur, Kearney Park Compounding Pharmacy

Dallas, TX


• Brandon Batiste ‘05

Director of Physician Alignment & Program Innovation, Evolent Health

Washington, DC


• Teniesha Biagas ‘10

Co-Founder, Nolablackprofessionals

Influence and B2B Marketing Manager, Brock Beauty

New Orleans, LA


• Alecia Blake ’00, MD, MPH,

Manager, Drug Safety Surveillance, Pharmacyclics, LLC

San Jose, CA


• Councilmember Jared Brossett ’05

District "D" Councilmember, City Of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA


• Farai Caldwell ’11, JD

Artist and Author

CEO, Farai Art

New Orleans, LA


• Letitia Clark ’05, MPP

District Director of Public Affairs, Marketing and Government Relation, Coast Community College District

Tustin, CA


• Kimberly Clay ’98, Ph.D, MPH, MSW,

Founder and Executive Director, Play Like A Girl!

Nashville, TN


• Royce Duplessis ’04, Esq.

Special Counsel To Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, Louisiana Supreme Court  

New Orleans, LA


• Simone Ellis ’05, DMD

Owner And Dentist, Smile Design Studios, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Founder, President, Houston Minority Dental Society

Houston, TX


• David Forsh ’02, MD

Chief of Orthopedic Trauma, Mt Sinai Health System

New York, NY


• Nicole M. Golden ’00, Esq.

Chief Assistant District Attorney, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office

Tucker, GA


• Christie Gooden ’98, MD, MPH

Surgical Director, Kidney Transplant Program, St Luke’s Health Systems

Founder/Director of St. Luke's Health Dialysis Access Center, St. Luke's Health Systems      

Kansas City, MO


• Piia Hanson ’00, MSPH

Bureau Chief, Perinatal and Infant Health, DC Department of Health

Adjunct Faculty, George Mason University

Arlington, VA


• Aja D. Hardy ’00, MBA, MPH,

Healthcare Strategy & Operations Consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Chicago, IL


• Allison Hudson ’08

Public Information Officer, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office

Gonzales, LA


• Ayanna Jackson ’05, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist, Dow Agrosciences

Indianapolis, IN


• Nia Johnson-Jones ’00, MD

Emergency Room Physician, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, First Choice Emergency


Houston, TX


• Maya Jones ’12

Senior Researcher, ESPN The Magazine

Bristol, CT


• Varion Laurent ’01

Visual Artist

New Orleans, LA


• Kim LeDuff ’96, Ph.D.

Chief Diversity Officer And Associate Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity, and International Affairs, University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL


• Nicole Lee ’05, MD


Fellow, Maternal Fetal Medicine, University Of Mississippi Medical Center

Jackson, MS


• Leonard Lightfoot ’04, Ph.D.

Research Electrical Engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory

Miamisburg, OH


• Chawla LaToya Mason ’98, MD

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine

Director of Obstetric Anesthesia Education, Baylor College Of Medicine

Houston, TX


• Robert Melvin ‘99

CEO, Alpha Omega Strategic Partners

San Antonio, TX


• Jaime L. Moody ’07, M.A.

Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State

Geneva, Switzerland


• Aaron Omotola ’99, MD

Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Alton Orthopaedic Clinic

Edwardsville, IL


• Alejandro Perkins ’99, Esq. ‘

Deputy General Counsel, National Bar Association

Partner, Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, and Guice, LLP

Baton Rouge, LA


• Kristine Pichon ’99

Fashion Designer and Owner, K’Pich

New Orleans, LA


• Synim Rivers ’03, MPH

Vice President of Healthcare, Edelman Marketing Firm

Washington, DC


• Leslie Rose ‘05

Editor, Weekly Citizen and The Donaldsonville Chief

Baton Rouge, LA


• Juval Scott ’97

Attorney Advisor

Administrative Office of Courts Defender Services Office Training Division

Washington, D.C.


• Evelyn Simien ’96, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Of Political Science And Africana Studies, University of Connecticut

Coventry, CT


• L. Chris Stewart ’00, Esq.

Managing Partner, Stewart, Seay & Felton Trial Attorneys

Atlanta, GA


• Dolores Deneen Tarver ’98

Licensed Psychologist, Columbus Psychological Associates

Columbus, GA


• Lavar Walker ’02, Pharm.D

Comedian and Pharmacist

Atlanta, GA


• Candace Weber ’03

Senior Product Marketing Manager, AT&T

Frisco, TX


• Alfred “AJ” Williams ’08

Head Coach for Men's Basketball, Harris Stowe State University

St. Louis, MO


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