2017 New Orleans Mom of the Year Finalists

2017 New Orleans Mom of the Year Finalists

We received some amazing nominees for our New Orleans Mom of the Year campaign … nominated by husbands, fiancés, daughters, sons, sisters, and friends … all who have made a difference in the lives of others and who motivate and inspire those around them. Selecting the top 10 finalists from all of the nominations proved to be a very difficult task.

A team of objective judges will determine the New Orleans Mom of the Year from the 10 finalists below, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, May 7th!

2017 New Orleans Mom of the Year FinalistsTop 10 Finalists

Angela Lacoste Ledet

{Nominated by :: Brittany Bouche Hosch} Without hesitation, I nominate Angela Ledet as the NOMB mother of the year. A former Veteranarian who now spends most of her time raising her two children, Elliana and Isaiah, at first glance, Angela seems like a typical mother. However, what a first glance won’t reveal about Angela is that she is not a mother of two, she is a mother of three. With a closer look, the onlooker might notice the silver butterfly pendant around her neck, a symbol of Noah, her second-born child, whose time on Earth ended in 2015 due to a congential heart condition at three months old. His death was an earth-shattering loss for Angela and an unnatural situation no mother should ever experience. In the months after her loss, rather than hardening her heart and hiding away from the world, in true New Orleans fashion, Angela emerged from her grief with an unimaginable level of strength, grace, and faith.

Angela has become a mentor to many bereaved mothers, locally and nationally, while bringing awareness to congenital heart disease. Knowing the importance of community in a time of crisis, she has rallied a group of bereaved mothers and has acted as a mentor and spiritual guide in navigating the lengthy grief process. Through Facebook, Angela created a place for bereaved mothers to connect and even exchange books and literature focused on loss and grief. In Noah’s name, she began a fundraiser to supply local NICUs with supplies and comforts for premature babies and families. She created a day of service, generating random acts of kindness, specifically for local law enforcement and fire departments, encouraging others to follow her lead. And most recently, she has raised over $2200 (currently) to provide a no-cost Mother’s Day Luncheon at the Lake House in Mandeville in order to bring bereaved mothers in the community together. She accomplished all of this while continuing to shower her two Earth-side children with an immense amount of love and affection.

In a situation where she should have crumbled, Angela blossomed in faith. She is a professional, a wife, a mother of three, an animal-lover, a daughter of God, and a beautiful example of what it means to be a New Orleans mother rooted in strength and resilience. As a bereaved mother myself, Angela is an inspiration. I am proud to call her my friend and I hope you will consider her as this year’s Mom of the Year, as I am absolutely certain she is the most deserving candidate.

Naomi Lavergne Smith

{Nominated by :: Hannah Szubinski} I have known my best friend Naomi since we were born. She is the most loyal and loving friend you could ever have. She has a Masters in Early and Special education and has worked as a special needs teacher for over 12 years and then the last 3 years to current as an early childhood director. Those who work with her praise her leadership highly. She will roll up her sleeves and get in the trenches with you to meet that successful outcome no matter what. Naomi is an amazing person professionally, but in her personal life I have seen her overcome the most tragic loss and face situations head on that would’ve knocked others out. For as long as I can remember, Naomi has wanted first and foremost to be a mother. It was heartbreaking to learn that she wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally, but that didn’t stop her. Through IVF Naomi had the hope of finally being a mother. The first transplant of two eggs was successful and we were all overjoyed that it was a boy and girl, Ruby & Jude! But at the 34 week ultrasound, the doctors told us that Jude had no heartbeat. An emergency c-section was scheduled and the babies were delivered. Ruby was 4 lbs 13oz and the most perfect baby we’d ever seen. And before we told Jude goodbye, we held him and honored his beautiful life. I watched my best friend go through something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. No mother should ever lose her child. Ever. I saw grief so raw and crippling that I didn’t know how she would be able to go on. But go on she did. Not only did I watch her face her grief and process it, but I watched her find the courage to go on living and loving life to the fullest. Ruby was a preemie and it was hard for her to nurse at first. But Naomi never gave up or gave in. She knew that she would be able to nurse and so she spent hours pumping and then training Ruby how to latch. Ruby nursed beautifully all the way to 2 years old. As it turned out, Naomi was able to produce so much extra milk, she donated well over 100 gallons of milk to milk banks for micro preemies in that 2 years as well. Not only did she successfully nurse her own daughter, but she also provided life saving nutrition to other preemies. And this is just classic Naomi! When she has a goal and vision for something, nothing can deter her. She will break down any wall or obstacle. Ruby is now 3 years old and has a new baby brother Jasper, who was born a few days before Easter of this year! Jasper was also conceived through IVF and it was a tedious pregnancy. We all breathed easier once he was finally born. The courage that Naomi has to go through the whole process again especially after already losing a child is mind boggling to me. She is my hero and inspiration in my own motherhood journey. The love and gentleness, and patience she has with her children knows no limits. Her loss gave her an appreciation of life that is simply beautiful. Her children are so blessed to have her as their mother and I’m so honored and humbled to call her my best friend. She is truly one in a million.

Christian Randall

{Nominated by :: Danielle Bartholomew} My mom has always been a strong role model. She works hard and loves even harder. When my brother and I were growing up, we admired our mom for her ability to juggle so many things at the same time. She works full time as a makeup artist, she teaches French, and she always had a homemade dinner on the table. But, what I admire the MOST about my mom is how she steps up to help those in need. About 2 years ago, my godmother was diagnosed with leukemia and needed help. My mom and dad stepped up and had her live with them. My mom cooked, cleaned and cared for my nanny on top of her full time job and part time teaching. Never complaining. She is the true definition of a hard working, compassionate, intelligent, and selfless woman. I am lucky to call her mom.

Cristina Edmunds

{Nominated by :: Megan Gouzy} Cristina is an inspiration to me and so many. She gave birth to adorable Oscar in March of 2016. While she knew he would have some birth defects, it wasn’t known until after his birth that he suffers from an extremely rare chromosome abnormality. While Oscar has had to deal with countless doctors, procedures, set backs, and medical plans for the future Cristina has been there with a smile to celebrate his achievements and be encouragement for her family and little boy.

She recently told me that even if Oscar isn’t able to play like a kid his age or have the normal mobility, it is her job to make today a great day for Oscar! And believe me any day with Cristina is a great day for Oscar! She is the perfect mama for that sweet boy.

Cristina is also a strong mama who teaches Pilates in New Orleans. She encourages women to be strong not skinny. Pregnancies can make moms feel like they will never have their bodies back. And while that may be true Cristina shows women that its on the inside, and making yourself feel good through eating well and exercise. She is one strong woman in her class and in her life.

As if that wasn’t enough, Cristina is a phenomenal jazz vocalist. This is where I first met her. Cristina went to Loyola with my husband and now we hire her frequently with our music booking company. She loves her city and its musical history. She brings beauty and talent to any stage she is on. Before precious Oscar she was a Victory Belle and performed at many of the hotel lounges. She is in high demand for social and corporate events all over the city!

I think her family, friends, and especially Oscar would all agree that she is the mom of the year to us already, but I believe she deserves to be recognized as not only the amazing mom, but woman she is!

Natalie Vath

{Nominated by :: Rhiannon Vath} She is the most patient mother. She has two small kids, is in college, and head of the PTO at their school. She plays such a huge part in their life, and it’s truly admirable. To see a woman, a mother, who always puts her kids first, and their future. She’s overcome trials and tribulations. But she has not let that stop her. She had turned that into assets to help other women in her community. I take note of how she continues to flourish and raise her children, in hopes that I can apply these things in my life and how I parent. But it doesn’t stop there. She is a hard worker, and even though her schedule is as full as it can be, she will be there for anyone at the drop of a hat. Caring, considerate, passionate, and admirable. In my eyes, she’s not only mother of a year, but somebody to look up to, and one can only wish to be a mother and a woman that she has become.

Ashley Chauvin 

{Nominated by :: Amanda Gomez and Jessica Ortlieb} Ashley is incredible and will inspire you to want to be a better mother. She’s been a very talented teacher for over 15 years! She has the most amazing little boy here with us and one who shines down on her daily from heaven. Luke just turned 3, and he would amaze you with his sign language skills, independence, vocabulary and that’s just a tiny piece. Watching her stop everything she’s doing the moment she hear her son’s voice and teaching him to say “Excuse me Mommy” when she’s in the middle of a sentence and giving him her full attention has taught many of us. Many moms are special, but Ashley is extraordinary in her willingness to help and teach others as well. She’s behind the “Be Good to Everybody” movement. It has spread like wildfire from coast to coast and internationally. The thought behind the movement is just what it says, but she also sends out what she calls “Happy’s” to different people around the world. It’s a handmade gift by her, and it’s always personal and meaningful to the person she’s making it for. Her caring and loving nature with not just her son but all children is infectious. She refuses to live a snooze button life – a term she picked up from her idol Hoda Kotb – which to her means that in everything you do, it must be for the good/happy. You should want to wake up every day excited about day; not snoozing 5 times in a row and dreading the day. Every graduation she’s invited to from past students she attends. Her parish is so lucky to have her as a teacher. As a mom of 3 with my two oldest being on the Autism spectrum, there are many times I use skills I’ve learned from Ashley just in watching her parent. She’s just being a great mom but in the process she’s teaching me a different way to handle a tantrum or interruption. I am so very blessed with such a loving, caring, thoughtful and unselfish woman that I am proud to call my friend. Without a doubt Ashley would make the very best Mother of the Year 2017. She does so much so others and her family that it would be amazing to see her get something special that’s just about her.

Faith Fray

{Nominated by :: Shannon Becnel} Faith is the mother of all mothers! She has two boys, Jack has Aspergers and Alex has Autism. She is a full-time night nurse at Children’s Hospital in Oncology. She works nights to tend to get her boys to and from school. At work, she is a mother to both the sick children and a comforting soul to their parents. Along with this, she was the Den Leader to her boys’ scout den and the treasurer of Cub Scouts. She gives up her sleep time to volunteer at her children’s schools. She assists and cares for her elderly in-laws by taking them to the doctor and assuring they have what they need. She is also the best friend I could ever ask for. My family is presently experiencing some problems, and Faith and her husband dropped everything and came to help. Faith is not only a “Supermom” to her children, she is a “Supermom” to everyone around her. Faith Fray is the definition of Mother of the Year!

Iris A.T. Boyd

{Nominated by :: Joy F. Boyd} I was most recently diagnosed with 2 rare diseases that I’m fighting at the same time. My mother is truly a remarkable woman. She has stuck by my side tirelessly since day 1 when I was in the hospital for a month and a half, then after that to inpatient rehab. For 3 and a half weeks, she slept on a small roll away bed and became my full-time caregiver. Daily she’s been driving me all my appointments and just has been more than amazing to shift her life around to care for me as she does daily. It’s very hard me to walk and have my strength, so she is determined not to be defeated. She will pick me up and carry me the best way she can. I can really just cry when I think about all she has done and is doing for me. Now, she kindly turned down receiving help from home health just so she could do it on her own. Wow! What a mother! I can never repay her for sticking close by my side through this most difficult journey, but I’m so deeply grateful to God and to her for being my rock, strength, best friend, and One Extraordinary Caregiver.

Kellie Jordan

{Nominated by :: Veora Fortin} Kellie is THE best mother I know! She wakes up at 5 a.m. and drives her 3 boys from LaPlace to 3 different schools in New Orleans every day. She then goes to work full time at the Tulane Lab. She is a worker bee in her church. Her volunteer work at our youngest kids’ school is unparalleled. She sews, screen prints t-shirts, makes all the cool games at our festivals. If you’re her friend, you are the recipient of the most precious gifts! Homemade blankets, scarves, pillow sack dresses for your little girl, personalized coffee mugs, I could go on and on. Her oldest son is going to college in the fall, and you should see her “Jamal goes to College” binder. ACT and SAT dates, scores, deadlines, you name it. (He got a full ride to Howard University, by the way.) It’s just how Kellie Jordan rolls … she gives her best to the ones she loves. I’m happy and blessed to be one of them, and happy and blessed to know her.

Rebecca Labat Tassara

{Nominated by :: Nicole Cook-Ficaro} Rebecca Tassara is a mother to 4 beautiful children, a loving wife to Michael. She is 37 years old and was diagnosed with an extremely rare breast cancer. In June last year, she noticed a lump in her breast shortly after weaning her 5-month old baby, Caleb. Within weeks, tests confirmed a tumor in her breast.

By July, she was diagnosed with “triple negative” breast cancer. The tumor in her breast actually grew during chemotherapy so, in October 2017, the doctor removed the tumor.

Recently, Rebecca learned that the cancer had metastasized and is now in her right lung, left rib, and left humerus bone and is classified as stage 4. On May 5th, Rebecca is heading to MD Anderson to see what can be done.

Rebecca deserves this recognition and honor above all. She is willing to sacrifice everything … the sickness, the pain, the tears to continue to be here for her children. Thank you for considering Rebecca for this award, but most importantly pray for her cure and for her family!

Not only will the winner be crowned the 2017 New Orleans Mom of the Year, but she will also win the fabulous prize package giveaway valued over $700 including:

The winner will be announced on Sunday, May 7th!

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