Meet Our Family Day Authors
Downing has garnered multiple awards including a 2017 Louisiana Writer Award, 59th Grammy Award Participant Certificate, eight Parents’ Choice Awards, four iParenting Media Awards, two Parent’s Guide To Children’s Media Awards, four National Parenting Publications Awards, a Family Choice Award, two Family Review Center Awards, Family Review Center Gold Award, Family Review Center Best of the Year Award, DAR Literacy Promotion Award, an Imagination Award, and a Haiku International Association Honorable Mention Award. Her work has received rave reviews on Grammy.com and in Nick Jr. Magazine, Family Fun Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Parent’s Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, American Library Association’s Booklist, School Library Journal, Washington Post, Early Childhood News, Cookie Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, New Orleans Magazine, and Big Apple Parent to name a few. Further, she was selected as one of “The Women of the Year 2008” by New Orleans CityBusiness Magazine, “Thirty People to Watch in 2000” by New Orleans Magazine and “Forty Under Forty” by Gambit Weekly Magazine.
Mrs. Edwards has long been active in her community, supporting various organizations and school and church groups. Early in her marriage during the governor’s eight-year service as an Army Infantry Airborne ranger, the first lady volunteered her time and assistance to families of deployed Army service members.
While raising three children, Mrs. Edwards became a certified teacher and taught music for more than eight years. As Louisiana’s First Lady, she continues to advocate for teachers, public education and music and arts education. She started Louisiana First Foundation with a mission of service and support for children. Louisiana First Foundation is the rainbow cover for Louisiana Fosters, Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention and TeachMAM (Teach Music, Art and Movement).
John Bel and Donna married in 1989. They are the proud parents of three children: Samantha, Sarah Ellen and John Miller, son-in-law, Jonathan and three fur babies, Mollie, Bandit and Lady.
Her book Come Sunday, A Young Reader’s History of Congo Square received the Bronze Medal Independent Publisher Book Award and was a finalist for Next Generation Indie Book Award. Her research and advocacy for Congo Square influenced the New Orleans City Council Ordinance that changed the official name of the location from Beauregard Square, named after Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard in 1893, to the popular name Congo Square in 2011.
Evans is also the award-winning author of books for children including Hush Harbor: Praying in Secret, The Battle of New Orleans: The Drummer’s Story, and A Bus of Our Own. She is co-author of the upcoming book, Passing It On: The Art of John T. Scott, which will debut in 2022.
Working in the community, Evans co-chaired the New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade to Louisiana, helped to erect the UNESCO Site of Memory Middle Passage Marker, and currently serves on the New Orleans Legacy Project Committee.
Elizabeth’s resume boasts an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education, an Associate of Arts in General Education, and she is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management. Currently residing in Palm Bay, Florida with her husband and son, Elizabeth spends her spare time baking, watching football, traveling, honing her skills as a photographer, and volunteering in the church and her local community.
Over the years, Tyrell honed his skills as a writer by ghostwriting novels, penning screenplays, and adding film directing to his repertoire. In 2019 he released his debut novel “Stolen Innocence” as an independent author. In 2021 Tyrell and his co-author Elizabeth Johnson released their first youth novel “Just Like My Dad”. Realizing the struggles as an independent author, Tyrell decided to write and produce books as a business, thus forming “PlaTy Multimedia & Publishing.” Tyrell has written and produced commercials for “Outrageous Love Foundation,” “L&J Multicultural Barbershop,” and other film projects. Tyrell also has several new novels on the way, including the highly anticipated Urban thriller “Illusions.”
With a roster full of talent and drive to match, Tyrell envisions PlaTy Multimedia as being the number one media and publishing company in the world. With a roster that boasts experienced and talented authors, such as Alonzo Strange of “Tit4Tat” and Alan Little, creator of the “Country Boy” series, Tyrell Plair feels like there literally is no limit to what they can achieve.
Tyrell developed unheralded leadership skills as a soldier in the United States Army with a tour in Kuwait. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology with a Media and Technology concentration from the University of Phoenix. When not fulfilling his role as Chief Operating Officer of Platy Multimedia, you can find Tyrell locked in on a game of chess, fishing, or enjoying his family and friends.
Prior to joining NOLABA, Jeanette served as the Financial Operations Manager for Ochsner Health’s Retail Division, where she created strategic plans and managed budgets, projections, productivity dashboards, and built pro formas for numerous business divisions. In addition to leading cross-functional teams for Retail M&A activity, Jeanette translated complex financial data into relatable platforms such as infographics, reports, and presentations that provided easily-understood information to diverse audiences.
Before joining Ochsner Health, Jeanette served as the Executive Vice President of CIC Wealth – a privately-owned, independent wealth management firm with several offices located in the greater Washington, D.C. area. As a team, the firm was responsible for managing over $300M of client assets. Her areas of expertise included working with high-net worth individuals and business owners to create and manage defined benefit and contribution plans, actively manage investment portfolios, and implement tax-advantaged retirement income strategies for individuals and families. Jeanette was a Registered Representative (Series 7 & Series 66) and was awarded a Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist (CRPS®) designation from the College for Financial Planning. Prior to CIC Wealth, Jeanette worked with the wealth management teams at Capital One Bank and UBS Financial Services in New Orleans, LA.
Ms. Weiland currently serves as a board member for KIDsmART, the New Orleans Garden District Association, Louisiana BIO, and had her second children’s book published in Fall of 2020. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Trade and Finance, and received both her Master of Arts in Arts Administration degree and Master of Business Administration degree from the University of New Orleans.
While enrolled in graduate school in the evenings, Jeanette worked within the Development Department of the LSU Health Sciences Center’s School of Dentistry, where she and two other staff members were responsible for the fundraising practices and alumni affairs of the school. Before she began her graduate education, she interned on Capitol Hill for former U.S. Senator John Breaux of Louisiana and lived in Beijing, China where she studied the Mandarin dialect.
He is a 2004 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (B.A., Public Relations) and a 2007 graduate of Marshall University (M.S., Athletic Administration). He earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Mercer University in December 2019.
Since publishing his first book, Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad’s Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter, in September 2018, Chris has appeared nationally on NBC’s TODAY and The Kelly Clarkson Show as well as numerous media outlets throughout the New Orleans Metro.