After spending time traveling across the nation to promote the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, members of the Fleur de Lis Ambassador Program look at the city's progress since the storm in videos now posted online.
The video interviews on the state of the city since Katrina mark the fifth anniversary of the storm's landfall. Thirteen members of the organization, including Tulane President Scott Cowen, co-founder of the group, discuss key areas of recovery such as the economy, reform, education and neighborhood revitalization.
Cowen discusses public education in his video interview. After Katrina, the city's public education system was rebuilt “in ways we never thought possible,” he says. Tulane has monitored the changes through its Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.
“The community has come together with a shared view we want to have the best public education system in America,” Cowen says. School reforms also will address problems such as poverty and crime, he adds.
Arnie Fielkow, New Orleans City Council president and also a founder of the ambassador program, talks about public-private partnerships in his video message, while Anne Milling, a Tulane alumna and founder of Women of the Storm, discusses coastal restoration.
Ruthie Frierson, also an alumna of the university and founder of Citizens for 1 New Orleans, recounts the organization's petition drive, 53,000 signatures strong, that was the beginning of the effort to consolidate the levee boards in southeast Louisiana.
Entrepreneurship is the topic chosen by Tim Williamson, cofounder and CEO of Idea Village, a non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans.
Williamson describes how the city had to become “a startup community” after the storm. He says, “It created a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders.”
The mission of the Fleur de lis Ambassador Program is to spread the message that New Orleans is an economically viable, livable city with a long-range recovery plan in progress, and to seek additional support in that recovery from business and philanthropic organizations.