2016 Honorees

Andreanecia Morris, Keith Twitchell, Leora Madden, Phyllis Cassidy

Andreanecia Morris Keith Twitchell Leora Madden Phyllis Cassidy

Our 2016 Urban Heroes

Andreanecia M. Morris serves as the Executive Director for HousingNOLA, a 10-year partnership between the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA), the Foundation for Louisiana, the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and dozens of public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis.

A graduate of Loyola University, Ms. Morris has worked to create affordable housing opportunities in the Greater New Orleans Area in both the public and private sector. Ms. Morris has helped create opportunities for approximately 500 families to become first time homebuyers after Hurricane Katrina, and she was lead organizer for GNOHA when it started in 2007 as a collaborative coalition of non-profit housing builders and community development corporations working to rebuild the City of New Orleans.

Ms. Morris serves in leadership roles for a number of organizations, including as President/Chairwoman for the GNOHA Board of Governors, which supports and advises the efforts to preserve and production of affordable housing for people within the Greater New Orleans Region and places a special emphasis on the needs of the most vulnerable in society—seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, low-wage workers and low-income families.   Read her full bio here.


Keith G.C. Twitchell is President of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. Born in New York City and raised in nearby Connecticut, he moved to New Orleans in 1979. Mr. Twitchell concluded a series of marketing firm positions by serving as Creative Director for Shelley Berman Communicators. In 1982 he launched his own company, Pendragon Promotions, a business communications firm. In that capacity he has written and produced a wide variety of communications for a diverse group of clients.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Mr. Twitchell became involved in a number of urban planning projects, including the Brownfields Initiative and the City of New Orleans Land Use Plan, Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. He served as a consultant for the Committee for a Better New Orleans beginning in July 2000 before accepting a full-time position in March 2002; he became president of the organization in June 2004.

Mr. Twitchell is responsible for project management, organizational leadership and fundraising/finances, and developed key CBNO programs such as the Citizen Participation Program and the Asset-Building-Based Employee Benefits Model. He also played lead roles in establishing the Orleans Public Education Network and the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative, and oversees the annual Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum.

Mr. Twitchell is a former Captain of Krewe du Vieux, a state-ranked tennis player and an award-winning writer, and has served on a variety of organization boards. He received a YLC Role Model award in 2014. He earned his B.A. from Washington College and his M.A. from Bowling Green State University, and is a member of the ODK National Leadership Honor Society. His other interests include travel, the ancient world, fossils and minerals, music, cetacean research, and people.


Leora Madden is the owner of Pearl Wine Co. in Mid-City. She is a driven, dedicated wine professional whose love of New Orleans imbues all aspects of her work. After living out West for several years, Ms. Madden was drawn home to Louisiana after the storm to help rebuild,and was driven to open Pearl Wine Co. by her desire to strengthen local ties between local business and community and to fill the large gap in New Orleans’ wine offerings.

Ms. Madden set out for Chicago Wine School in 2009 and bought Cork and Bottle in Mid-City in 2013, which she later re-branded to Pearl Wine Co. She has a Masters in Political Science and American Legal History from Mississippi College and uses her knowledge to actively pursue change and advocate on behalf of local businesses at the local and state levels. Ms. Madden also plays a major role in StayLocal’s Small Business Roundtables that address policy issues facing small businesses, and serves on StayLocal’s Business Advisory Board.

Ms. Madden is a huge supporter of local non-profits and has contributed to over 150 organizations in the Greater New Orleans Region. She is a member of the Mid-City Business Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and StayLocal. Pearl Wine Co. has been recognized as a Top Wine Bar by several local publications, was featured in Garden and Gun, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator magazines, and was voted “Best Place to Drink Wine” by Where Y’at readers.

Above and Beyond Award

Phyllis Cassidy is the Executive Director and founder of Good Work Network, a non-profit micro-enterprise development organization serving the greater New Orleans area. Good Work Network has provided educational programs, technical assistance, back office support, capital access assistance, and market access services to minority and women owned community based businesses in the New Orleans area since 2001.

During Ms. Cassidy’s tenure, the organization has served over 5,000 individuals, facilitated 900 businesses starts,  connected clients to over $32MM in contacts resulting in 1,330 jobs, and assisted clients in acquiring over $4MM in business capital.Good Work Network has also purchased and renovated an historic building on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

In 2015, Good Work Network developed Roux Carré, an outdoor food court that incubates emerging food entrepreneurs and provides space for artists to perform and exhibit.  These community redevelopment projects have been a significant part of the revitalization of a once blighted corridor in a low income neighborhood.

Ms. Cassidy has served on various community boards and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.  She is a graduate of Duke University (B.A. in Business Administration) and University of New Orleans (M.S. in Accounting) and is a licensed CPA.  She is the proud mother of three children and grandmother of seven amazing grandchildren.