SOC Board Members
Craig Henry, President
As President of Save Our Cemeteries, Craig is committed to the tenets of the organization's mission - preservation, promotion, and protection of New Orleans historic cemeteries through restoration, education, and advocacy. He believes the organization can accomplish this mission through the efforts of a highly skilled and committed team. He is grateful to have such a team in the members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director. Through creative thinking and open communication, this team is moving forward with initiatives to keep SOC alive and thriving as we move forward from recent events - specifically the pandemic. Craig has an open-door policy for all interested parties, please contact him with your ideas and suggestions for building a stronger and more progressive organization.
Craig is a working tour guide in the metro New Orleans area and has a broad personal inventory of tours and tour industry engagements. He is committed to expanding the opportunity for historically actuate presentations not only in the historic cemeteries but across the spectrum of our 300-year history.
M. Grey Sweeney, Vice President
M. Grey Sweeney is an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice defense, risk management, and health care compliance. She is the General Counsel, Professional Liability, and Chief Compliance Officer for Patient First, an urgent care corporation based in Virginia. In addition to her law degree, she holds degrees in history, English, and political science.
Grey moved to New Orleans in 2012, and she quickly began volunteering for Friends of the Cabildo. She became a volunteer tour guide for the FOC, and in 2015 she was asked to be Lead Facilitator for the FOC's annual Walking Tour Guide class. Grey continues in that role today, leading a month-long class that includes 100 lecture hours, 50 field hours, 3 field exams, and a written exam. Grey serves on the Board of Friends of the Cabildo, where she is a member of both the Tour Guide and Education Committees. Grey is also a past Board member of the LGBT+ Archives Project, and she currently serves as an active volunteer in many of that organization's endeavors. She is a founding member of the Krewe de la Rue Royale Revelers, a Carnival krewe that hosts an annual Twelfth Night party to benefit the LGBT+ Archives Project. She serves on the Tours and Marketing Committee at SOC.
Grey's love of New Orleans cemeteries grew from her years as a commercial tour guide. She wrote tours of St. Louis #1, St. Louis #2, and Lafayette Cemetery #1, and she served as a trainer in those cemeteries for several commercial tour companies. She has also seen first-hand the destruction which can occur in historic cemeteries due to negligence, poorly trained guides, and unsupervised guests. She is thrilled to be a member of the Save Our Cemeteries Board, and she hopes to contribute to the organization's preservation goals and tour guide program.
Jim Breaux, Treasurer
Jim Breaux joined Argent Trust in 2018 and serves as a Senior Vice President and National Sales Director. Prior to joining Argent Trust, Jim has served at other organizations as a Director of Administrative Services as well as a national sales director for Funeral and Cemetery Trust Services. Jim currently serves on the Finance Committee of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA). Jim is a former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of New Orleans and has been in the financial services industry for 22 years. Through his 10 years of experience in the Funeral Service industry, Jim has helped countless funeral home and cemetery owners manage their preneed and perpetual care trust assets.
Baylee Badawy is a digital strategist living and working in the French Quarter at the intersection of art, music, and technology. She is currently the marketing coordinator for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit owner of Jazz Fest and WWOZ. She has previously worked for the Louisiana Museum Foundation and the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Baylee is a founder, with chess master Jude Acers, of The Red Beret Chess Foundation, a chess nonprofit promoting chess learning and culture for all ages and genders with a small space, The Chess Cave, located at 521 St. Philip Street. She is also a multimedia artist with a strong interest in her Lebanese heritage.
DeAnna is honored to be a part of Save Our Cemeteries Board of Directors and has been an active member for years. DeAnna’s family roots date back 3 centuries in New Orleans and preservation and history are very important to her.
With a multi-faceted background, DeAnna has an eclectic career. Besides being the Sports Tourism Director for “Nola Sports”, she is also a licensed tour guide, a manager for “Haunted History Tours”, a content writer for the NYC based “Hearst Publishing Company”, and the director of the local chapter of the “Eliza Project” where she teaches classes in the performing arts to underprivileged children. She is the owner of “DuPont and Company”, which houses her ventures in producing and production assisting, historical research, tours, health and wellness coaching and travel, and vacation, and event planning.
DeAnna and her husband Ken have been married for 37 years and have 2 children and 5 grandchildren.
Chelsea Carroll is an oil and gas compliance consultant, working with companies on programs encompassing production to utility distribution. She also works as a medical sales representative for spinal implants. Formerly, Chelsea specialized in outdoor carnival event production and operations from caramel apples to balloon darts to ticket sales. She studied Economics and Business at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. In 2018, Chelsea moved to Bucktown after purchasing a sailboat and decided to call New Orleans home. She got involved with Save Our Cemeteries in 2019 by volunteering in cemetery cleanups and the All Saints Soiree. Chelsea joined the Board in 2021.
Lesley Kane is a licensed tour guide who believes that all roads lead to or from New Orleans and enjoys sharing and connecting the northernmost Caribbean city with guests from all over the world.
Currently, Lesley serves as a volunteer with the New Orleans Jazz Museum; she has served as music co-chair for the Preservation Resource Center’s Holiday Home Tour and is a sustainer in the Junior League of New Orleans.
Prior to getting her tour guide license, Lesley was an Administrative Assistant for Donor Services at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. She was also the designated “Brick Chick” aka the Brick Program Coordinator for the Road to Victory Brick Campaign at the World War II Museum. Living with her family in New York from 2003 to 2008, she worked as an Executive Assistant for Bessemer Trust, a private wealth management company, and as an advertising representative for The New Criterion, a publication of The Foundation for Cultural Review.
In a past life — B.C. (before children) — Lesley was a professional singer. Giving back to the community began in Memphis, where her band performed at fundraising events for such organizations as the American Heart Association and United Cerebral Palsy. Lesley’s love for music led her to New Orleans in 1996. She immediately started singing with the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra and was also the singing cocktail waitress at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a local historic destination, where she served up cocktails and history lessons while warbling with the piano player in between. Lesley enjoys being an ambassador for our beatific, sultry, and exotic city. When she isn’t strolling the sidewalks of New Orleans, you might occasionally find her sitting in with local musicians around town.
Kiley Keibler is a design enthusiast, with special interests in interior decorating and of course, costuming. After receiving her B.S. in Architecture with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, she and her husband moved to New Orleans for the warm weather and abundant culture. Kiley is the social media coordinator at Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights, the oldest and largest gas light manufacturer in the U.S. In her free time, you'll find Kiley power tool in hand, updating and remodeling her 1920's Bywater double-shotgun. With a love for historic architecture and design and a deep appreciation for craftsmanship, she is excited to be a part of SOC and help preserve the beauty of this city. Kiley joined the board in 2021 and is on the Restoration Committee.
Frances (Frenchie) Kessler
Frances (Frenchie) Kessler leads the New Orleans office for Career Management Partners, an HR consulting firm specializing in Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Career Development, and Outplacement. As a Human Resources executive, she has more than 20 years of experience in small, medium, and large-sized companies and consulting firms including Ameritech (now AT&T), Entergy, Navigant Consulting, eLoyalty, PepsiCo, Glazer’s, JPMorgan Chase, Invensys, the American Heart Association as well as consulting on her own.
Frenchie has an extensive background in the organizational and talent development functions of HR focusing on corporate transformation, HR strategy development, change, and communications, leadership development, coaching, employee engagement, and learning and development. She has won numerous awards for leadership development, as well as learning and development programs.
She is bilingual in Spanish and earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame of Maryland. She moved to the greater New Orleans area in February 2018.
Frenchie is very active in organizations supporting individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities such as the Down Syndrome Association of Greater New Orleans (DSAGNO), GiGi’s Playhouse, Upside Downs, the National Down Syndrome Congress, and Bitty & Beau’s. She is on the board of the Special Olympics of Louisiana.
She is an active member of the New Orleans Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management and is an interview panel member for the NOPD’s Police Academy recruitment process.
She has been a member of the Krewe of Muses since 2007 and is currently a float lieutenant. When she’s not glittering shoes, she’s needlepointing, reading, enjoying the company of her friends, or spending time with her daughter Ashley, Ashley's husband Jeremy, and their 3 children: Lilli, Tessa, and Campbell.
Having grown up in Puerto Rico where the ‘above ground’ burial traditions are similar to those of New Orleans, she brings a bicultural experience to the SOC Board.
Frank Perez serves as Executive Director of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana, a locally based nonprofit that works to preserve queer history. Perez is also a writer and has authored several books on New Orleans history, including In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar, Treasures of the Vieux Carre: Ten Self-Guided Walking Tours of the French Quarter, Southern Decadence in New Orleans, and Political Animal: The Life and Times of Stewart Butler. He is also the co-editor of the anthology My Gay New Orleans: 28 Personal Reminiscences on LGBT+ Life in New Orleans. In addition, Perez is also a columnist for Ambush Magazine and French Quarter Journal. In 2012, Perez created the “Rainbow Fleur de Lis Walking Tour,” a leisurely sashay through the French Quarter’s rich queer history. Perez also teaches part-time at Loyola University. He is a sought-after public speaker specializing in New Orleans LGBT+ history. He and his partner and their dog live in the French Quarter.
As a part of the third-generation owners of Resthaven Memorial Park, Chad S. Robert has spent virtually all his life involved in cemetery upkeep. Located on Old Gentilly Road in New Orleans, Resthaven is among the largest private cemeteries in the South. The clientele consists mostly of American blacks and Vietnamese. Robert has been a securities sector professional since 2002. He holds licenses as a General Securities Principal and Financial Operations Principal, among others. Robert serves on the boards of Majestic Life Insurance Company. He is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans holding a B.A. in Business Administration with a Finance concentration.
Jill Robinson is a community-based researcher and has an MA in Community Psychology and Social Change, and a PhD in Community Research and Action. She currently is a freelance writer, applied researcher, and consultant. Her areas of expertise are community development, immigration, human trafficking, and youth development. She moved to New Orleans in 2017 after living in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ukraine, and Russia, and believes strongly that cemeteries preserve the history of a place, period, and culture. She joined the SOC Board in 2021.
A chance encounter in an art gallery led Christopher Tidmore to dedicate much of the last twenty-three years to one of the nation’s oldest continuously published and influential African-American newspapers.
For 93 years, The Louisiana Weekly has not only stood as the most respected news source for the African-American community in New Orleans, but has spoken for the Black community up and down the Mississippi Delta, concentrating on both urban and rural challenges. From inner-city industry to countryside educational challenges, for over two decades, the common theme of Christopher Tidmore’s domestic journalistic work as Associate Editor of this newspaper has focused on the needs that unite minority communities across the spectrum.
A veteran political reporter and talk show host, Christopher also has served abroad as a foreign correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) News Service. He is also a student of American history, having written and lectured extensively on the history of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, in mid-2015, redesigned the Creole Queen’s Battle of New Orleans Battlefield tour, recounting the importance of the most consequential battle in American History after Gettysburg and Yorktown.
Christopher has served as Communications Director and a Board Member of the Louisiana Living History Foundation. Through his efforts along with Tim Pickles and others, Christopher played a key role in staging the Bicentennial re-enactment of the Battle of New Orleans. For this purpose, he helped raise over $200,000 and obtained the lease of a piece of property to create a dedicated ‘Meraux Living History Park’. A model of the January 1815 battlefield, along with its own ‘Line Jackson’ was constructed less than a mile from Chalmette National Battlefield and hosted 1588 historical re-enactors on January 9-11, 2015.
Christopher also has served in public outreach positions for several non-profits and issue-based causes–and as a senior advisor to two U.S. Senatorial campaigns, as well as having hosted one of Louisiana’s top political talk shows, political blogs, and newspaper columns. Currently, besides his work for The Louisiana Weekly, he co-hosts a political affairs talk show on WRNO 99.5 FM (Sundays 8-9 AM, rerun on WSLA 1560 AM, Monday, Wednesday & Friday 8-9 AM).
In other work in the historical/non-profit world, Christopher currently serves as a board member of the Winston Churchill Society of New Orleans, responsible for the annual national symposium at the World War II Museum, the high school essay contest, and annual speakers dinners, as well as other events.
A native New Orleanian, Christopher first developed his love for public outreach by participating in National Catholic Forensics League Debate tournaments and Student Congresses. During his college years, he worked at the Leadership Institute in Washington DC, the training ground for many young activists in the public arena, and studied under the late historian Dr. Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower Center, University of New Orleans–the founder of what would become the National World War II Museum.
In his first forays into the realm of public relations, Christopher served as a press aide to Republican Quentin Dastugue’s bid for Governor in 1995 and Regional Campaign Coordinator for Woody Jenkins’s 1996 run for U.S. Senate.
Later, after serving in PR and fundraising capacities for two different non-profits, Christopher began to write columns for The Louisiana Weekly unearthing political deals that were holding back the state, especially within the New Orleans Levee Board. In the late 1990s, Christopher launched his radio career on WTIX 690 AM with a successful political talkshow, called “Politically Speaking, Louisiana Style”. Amongst its achievements were getting former KKK leader David Duke to admit that he had not paid income taxes on the voting list he sold to Mike Foster–leading to search warrants of his home and offices and his eventual indictment. Christopher hosted gavel-to-gavel national coverage of the opening of the D-Day Museum–and the first announcement of a presidential candidacy.
On his TV program of the same name, he moderated Louisiana’s only presidential debate with representatives of all four campaigns, explored reforms in education, and the state of the local media. By mid-2001, Christopher converted WBYU AM into a talk station and on his new radio show with partner Sidney Arroyo (and in his newspaper column), first revealed that the President of the Orleans Levee Board Jim Huey had used public money to hire private investigators to follow a member of the media and several dissenting employees of the Levee District. Later that year, Christopher published a series revealing that then-State Rep.-turned-Congressman David Vitter had a multi-month tryst with a known prostitute Wendy Cortez (nee’ Yow Ellis). This was later confirmed nationally, and Christopher appeared on ABC’s Nightline, in the Washington Post, and elsewhere for breaking the story.
This led to a statewide radio program with Louisiana Network on 14 stations across Louisiana and to several nationally syndicated newspaper columns covering war protests in Western Europe at the onset of the Iraq War and to two series of articles about attitudes towards America in Egypt and in Russia (later in India, Tunisia, and throughout Central Asia as well).
Also in late 2002, Christopher took a leave of absence from his reporting work to serve as Communications Director for Republican Suzie Terrell in her race for the U.S. Senate. Post-Katrina, Christopher formed the news department at WRNO 99.5 FM, the state’s newest news/talk radio station. He helped conceive, with his friend Roger Wilson, a proposal called Broadway South. It would extend the state tax credits that the film industry enjoys, to live legitimate performances: jazz, opera, ballet, cabaret, and theater.
In 2007, Christopher took a break from the news and ran for the Louisiana Legislature from District 82, which encompasses parts of Uptown, Old Jefferson, and Metairie. Impressive for a first-time candidate, he won 43% of the vote while being outspent 4-1.
He also serves on the Board of Directors for Crimefighters, Inc. (Louisiana’s leading Victims Rights Organization) and continues to write a nationally syndicated column for the NNPA press association, and occasionally for the UK Guardian Newspaper. He has appeared on ABC’s Nightline and MSNBC’s Maddow Show as an expert political commentator.
Over the last seventeen years, Christopher has visited 53 countries. He has camped with Bedouins in the Sahara desert, rode stallions with Indian Princes across Rajasthan, fished with locals in the Arctic sea above Norway, and narrowly missed being bombed in the London Terrorist attack of 2005. In 2012, he drove from London to Singapore, across Central Asia’s Silk Road, and then again across the Australian Outback from Darwin to Adelaide to Sydney (and then by ferry) to Hobart, Tasmania. In 2014, he sailed down France’s Canal du Midi and covered the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy and Bastille Day’s 100 Anniversary of the start of World War I. In 2019, he broadcast live from the Rock Hotel in Gibraltar and spent a month covering the impact of Brexit on not only this key outpost of the UK, but on Spain, Portugal, and Southern Europe.
Most recently on the historical front, he completed a memoir on retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark by boat and train, and has led lecture tours by train across the west and by boat through the Great Lakes and down the historic Erie Canal on the War of 1812, has completed a series of lectures about and conducted upon the trans-Canadian rail system About Canadian confederation, and served as the keynote speaker at the Canadian Consulate-General-sponsored conference on the 300th Anniversary of New Orleans.
He has written extensively on all these topics at www.louisianaweekly.net.