2016 New Orleans Mom of the Year Finalists

2016 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 8 finalists from all of the nominations proved to be a very difficult task.

A team of objective judges from Delivering Hope NOLA will determine the New Orleans Mom of the Year from the 8 finalists below, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, May 1st!

2016 New Orleans Mom of the Year Finalists

The Top 8 Finalists

Donna MacAlester

Donna MacAlester{Nominated by :: Nicole Brenner} I’m excited to nominate my best friend and mother of my godchildren, Donna MacAlester. Donna is the mother of 4 kids – Averi (11), Rex (8), Milly & Lucille (8-month-old twins), a cheerleader of all moms, especially moms-to-be, and an educator at a New Orleans East high school. Averi and Rex are her step-kids. When she married her husband, she was honored to help raise them and viewed the responsibility as an essential part of her marriage. She approached the situation with incredible empathy for the kids, her husband, and their mother. She has been able to create an amazing bond with the kids and earn the respect and appreciation of their mother. She has attended parent/teacher conferences with their mother even when her husband isn’t available. She has worked to make sure that everyone works together for Averi and Rex, even amidst disagreements. Most importantly, she has built incredibly strong relationships with Averi and Rex – she is often the person they seek to talk through their feelings about their parents and their divorce. A tough position for any step-mom, Donna puts Averi and Rex first, listens and supports to help them in anyway possible.

Now 8-months-old and 14 pounds, Milly and Lucille came 10 weeks early at only 2.5 and 3 pounds and spent 5 weeks in the NICU. Throughout it all, Donna was a champion for her little ones. She worked remotely from their hospital room throughout their time in the NICU so she could take care of them and then take her full maternity leave once they left the hospital. Visiting them there speaks more to her courage, determination and love than anything else. I remember walking in while she was on a conference call for work and also kangaroo holding both girls so that they could have their best chance at growing. Now home, Donna is back at work and continuing to thrive as a mother of infant twins.

Donna is also outspoken in her support of all women and is a trusted friend and advisor to many. She is someone who people go to to talk through their own struggles as moms, moms-to-be and non-moms alike. She makes everyone feel valued and supported in their decisions and works hard to dispel the “mommy” wars. She openly talks about her own struggles and often says the thing that everyone is thinking but is afraid to say, creating a safe space for women around her to have honest, supportive and encouraging dialogue.

Finally, Donna is an educator, and, as the Director of Co-Curricular Programming at Sci Academy, she works relentlessly to ensure all of her scholars have the same access to the opportunities that their peers in more affluent schools and neighborhoods have. Over the last 6 years, she has build their extra-curricular programming. From finding funding, recruiting coaches, getting kids to be involved and invested, to finding locations for practices/dances/events, she created a program that began as a few clubs that now includes over 300 students, 25 sports / clubs / organizations, and dozens of social and educational school events. She has also served as an advisor to two groups of junior and senior girls helping guide them through high school and into college and beyond. As one of her advisees said, “I have my mom at home and I have my ma, Ms. MacAlester, here.”

Brandy Williams

brandy{Nominated by :: Leoance Williams} I’ll start by saying that I am clearly biased. However, please don’t let that shy you away from choosing my amazing wife! Not only is she an outstanding educator, public speaker, published author and friend, but she is also a community activist here in New Orleans. My wife has the biggest heart of any person I know. She spends her limited spare time tutoring students in the Greater New Orleans region, being an advocate for Special Education and 504 Accommodated students in the many charter based schools here, and also fighting and lobbying with the government for the rights of opportunity youth in New Orleans. Just last year she was chosen as an Opportunity  Leader for Opportunity Nation. I should mention she was the ONLY person chosen from Louisiana! She is passionate and dedicated to our family and our causes as well. At our church, she spends time being a model and confidante in our Marriage Ministry. As a model, she and I have counseled with married couples, we have talked about parenting issues, and we have led Couple’s Prayer sessions. As if all of the above weren’t enough, my wife has battled cancer and fought her way back to our family as our rock and support. Our son has a learning disability, and she is phenomenal with him. She is his favorite teacher. She takes excellent care of our home, and still manages to play video games and have water gun fights to help us all wind down. My wife is our Super-Mom.

Alissa Rowe 

Alissa Rowe{Nominated by :: Sarah High} Alissa is amazing. She is the mom to Ava (4) and Eleanor (2), wife to Adam and an Assistant Professor, Director of Choral Activities at Southeastern Louisiana University. She will most likely soon receive tenure. Alissa is immensely talented and accomplished. She works hard at her craft, but her girls know they come first. She lives in Mandeville, drives to Hammond for work, directs a community choir in addition to her work at Southeastern and regularly trains for half marathons. Somehow, among all of this, she still finds time to make art with her girls for a friend’s birthday card, bike her girls to the park for an afternoon with mom, and plan the most fun pig roast for Ava’s birthday. Alissa is so supportive of other moms. When I first met her, I was a little intimated. Here was an accomplished woman who had her doctorate and I was a new stay at home mom who was getting used to not having a “job” outside the home. She was charming and supportive. She quickly reminded that regardless of what else mothers have going on we often have the same struggles parenting. I’m so thankful to have a friend and a mom bond with Alissa. She is truly an inspirational mother!

Charlsey Wolff

Charlsey{Nominated by :: Jennifer Shorts} Mrs. Charlsey is a loving caring woman who has been through more that any mother should. She lost her daughter Vanessa to a drunk driver in With several of Vanessa’s  friends, Mrs. Charlsey has stood up for her community in not just her law firm, but in volunteering to educate as many as she can of the dangers of drinking and driving. She has also supported Vanessa’s friends in the scholarship they stared in her name. As a mother myself, Mrs. Charlsey has shown me how to love in a way I just don’t think I would have ever been able to without her in my life. She is so strong willed and with her dedication to her family and community, there should be no other mom more deserving for this year’s Mom of the Year.

Kristen Westbrook 

Kristen Westbrook{Nominated by :: Kacey Klemetsen} Kristen is not only my best friend, but my son’s godmother (nanny). She is a single mother of her own daughter and works hard to provide everything plus some for her little girl! She’s been promoted to assistant manager at work, because she works hard and is dedicated to always doing a good job. She always puts everyone before herself; and she has a heart of gold. She deserves this more than anyone I know. Not only is she an outstanding mom, she’s also an outstanding nanny, hard worker, and most of all my best friend!

Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor{Nominated by :: Joshua Taylor} I nominate my wife. I married this beautiful woman a year ago but we’ve been together for almost 7 years. I am nominating her to be Mom of the Year because she is an amazing mother. We have 2 daughters(one almost 7 year old and a 5 month old). Unfortunately I have to go out of town quite often and randomly for my job and my wife is SUPERMOM & super wife. She maintains taking care of our spoiled breastfed baby and our growing smart 1st grader. She’s the mom that brings and picks up our daughter off at car riders just because she doesn’t want to ride the bus. She maintains bringing the baby to the sitter because her days are never free. She works 2 jobs as a substitute teacher and a youth specialist working with challenged youth. She is a full time college student in her Senior year majoring in Elementary Education. She is changing small lives now helping children grow and learn. She is shaping the future & working on making a better effort to educate the youth when she become a teacher next May. My wife is incredible. She maintains her wifely duties when I’m home and away and even takes over some of my duties when I’m gone. She is so supportive of everyone & even raised her siblings for 2 years after her mother passed away in I don’t know what more can I tell you about my wonderful wife and even if she doesn’t win this contest, I just wanted to let you all know how much of a super mom and wife she is to me.

Yolanda Green

lonnie{Nominated by :: Sherice Clark} My mom deserves this honor because she has overcome being a single teen mom to being an inspiring role model for young mothers. My mom walked with me at night across town to complete GED class during the bus strike. She enrolled at UNO to pursue a nursing degree where the stress of working two jobs, caring for me, and maintaining her grades caused her to be hospitalized. She courageously survived cancer. At the height of her career she elected to become her ailing mother’s full-time caregiver. Then she took on the responsibility of caring for her sister; moving both of them in her home. She gave the utmost care without assistance and never complained. Despite her medical concerns she puts the needs of our family and her church work first. Once a lady approached her and said that she was walking out of the church because she didn’t feel welcomed. As she was exiting my mom smiled at her and assisted with her crying child and she said that she knew she was in the right place. She serves willingly and pleasantly as an Usher for her church; never refusing a task. Recently she took on the task of providing care for her premature great nephew. He is surpassing all developmental milestones and lights up he sees her. Despite her busy schedule, she assists me in my classroom and runs to the aide of her grandkids. My mother epitomizes the word mother. She is always there for us giving unconditional love and support. I could not have hand-picked a better mother. My mother is a virtuous woman who always seeks ways to honor others. I am overjoyed to bestow this honor on her.

Jill Hopkins

Jill Hopkins{Nominated by :: Jill Robinson} My mom deserves Mom of the Year because she is so selfless and giving. My mother watches our 3 year old son everyday for my husband and I so we can provide for him. We had to live in Texas for year for my husband’s work, and she traveled back and forth to watch him sometimes just so I could go on a job interview. She has always put my siblings and my needs first. She has heart problems that recently put her in the hospital for a few days. I realized how much of a difference everyday my mother makes in our lives while she was in the hospital. She helped take care of my grandmother when she had colon cancer. And she helped take care of her sister who also died from cancer. My mom deserves to be pampered and taken care of.

Not only will the winner be crowned the 2016 New Orleans Mom of the Year, but she will also win the fabulous prize package giveaway valued over $475 including:


The winner will be announced on Sunday, May 1st!

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