Good to Know is a monthly roundup of news, culture and other information happening throughout Shreveport-Bossier City.

Symphony Gala to Showcase Broadway

The 2018 gala to support the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra at Horseshoe Casino Riverdome will bring the thrill of Broadway to hundreds on Sept. 6.

Confirmed to be a sold-out affair, the gala entertainment will feature Michael Butterman, Shreveport Symphony music director, leading the Symphony. Onstage with them will be a host of dancers and vocalists, including Shreveport-Bossier City’s own Rocky Maddox, Gale Odom, Mike Martindale, Lester Senter Wilson, Jennifer Dowd, William Gallmann, Emily Petzold and Margaret Williams Jones, featured in favorite selections from The Sound of Music, including an audience sing-along, and a variety of modern and classic Broadway blockbusters, including Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera and My Shot from Hamilton, featuring dancers JaQuarius “JD” Drew, Demario Davenport and Alexis Morreale.

In addition to dynamic performances, guests will enjoy dinner and visit the extensive silent auction without missing a moment of the excitement. Celebrity emcees Dan and Jacque Jovic, both Emmy Award winning journalists and evening anchors of KTAL-NBC 6 news, will host the evening and serve as auctioneers for big-ticket items, including a vacation stay at a fabulous home in Destin that sleeps 16 (with golfing privileges).

Sharon McGivney, auction committee chairman, worked with individuals and companies to generously donate goods and services to the auctions. The items can be previewed on the symphony website ( Auction items include jewelry, a fish fry for 100 at Everitt Farm, Crawfish Boil for 50 people, “Music and Cocktails” for 12 at a historic Shreveport home, sign up parties, a weekend at Fairfield Bed and Breakfast with a champagne breakfast, vacation homes, dinner parties with musical accompaniment by symphony musicians, campfire sing-alongs, limousine service, drone photography, family activities, gift cards, and more.

The live auction will be followed by a wine pull and a game of “Heads or Tails,” with the winner receiving a gift from Stephen Miller Fine Jewelry.  

Anne Wilson chairs this year’s event assisted by co-chairs Jennifer Carsillo Butterman and Leigh Anne Chambers.

“Last year, when I first started working on Gala 2018, I was attending a reception after one of the symphony concerts. I remarked that it would be wonderful to have our musicians play at the Gala and accompany our performers as they sing Broadway hits,” Wilson said. “Paul Broussard from Oasis Pools was at our table and immediately offered to underwrite the cost involved in making that happen. This kind of generosity and spontaneity from the people of Shreveport is what has made this Gala a roaring success. We are so thankful to all of our 26 sponsors.”

Connie Ferguson, Decorations Committee Chair said, “Guests can look forward to walking the red carpet and posing for photos. Gala decorations create the feeling of midtown Manhattan at dusk, in the chaos of an opening night sold-out show. Everyone will be in the umber glow of the house lights, rushing to take their places as the musicians begin tuning their instruments.”

The night will close with a rousing full-cast finale that will leave patrons singing as they head home after a dynamic night spent supporting the Shreveport Symphony.

Michael Butterman said this gala is an opportunity to build, among supporters and patrons, a sense of common purpose, community and camaraderie as well as raise funds to continue bringing great symphonic music to the people of this area.

Funds raised at the gala support not only the season’s concert performances, but also the Symphony’s robust educational and community engagement programs, including the Sym-phonics Program that promotes literacy and music education for preschoolers in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes, the Discovery Concerts for elementary students, and performances for loved ones in senior communities and memory centers. 

The Shreveport Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 70th year as Louisiana’s oldest continually operating professional orchestra and one of the most respected regional orchestras in the U.S. The Symphony’s reach and impact are evident as a result of Butterman’s beliefs that music allows us to transcend the everyday and experience something so powerful and important.  His goal in having a vibrant symphony in Shreveport is to speak to people of all ages and backgrounds with warm and welcoming concerts that add immeasurably to quality of life and culture here.

Stanislav Libensky Award Committee Selects Shreveport Artist Eric Hess 

Glass and sculpture artist, Eric Hess, who graduated this year with an MFA, was as one of 30 artists from around the world to be included in the 2018 Stanislav Libensky Exhibition and Award Competition in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Stanislav Libensky Award competition serves as an international presentation of emerging glass artists. The aim of the competition is to help the development of emerging glass art and to compare different approaches and methods. The initiator and main organizer – the Prague Gallery of Czech Glass – hopes that this competition, followed by a long-term exhibition, will help emerging artists enter the business world and explore the potential of glass. Past iterations of the exhibition featured many excellent works by artists from around 30 countries and 40 universities.

Stanislav Libenský Award (established in 2009) is the world’s only international glass exhibition with a call for entry to recent MFA graduates concentrating in the glass arts. Stanislav Libenský is considered as the most outstanding Czech glasswork artist. His works created in collaboration with Jaroslava Brychtová are presented in museums and galleries all over the world. Besides his work, he was teaching at Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague and he was a director of the School of Applied Arts for Glassmaking in Železný Brod, where he lived and worked for the majority of of his life.

The Exhibition begins Sept. 20 at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Poupetova, Prague and is sponsored by the Prague Gallery of Czech Glass. The exhibition will end Nov. 19.

Hess has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. His work is included in several museum collections and he will be featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma in 2019.

United Way NWLA Hires LaToria W. Thomas as VP of Resource Development

United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) announces the addition of LaToria “Tori” W. Thomas as vice president of resource development, effective July 2018. In this role, Thomas will lead the resource development team to fundraise and grow relationships in the 10-parish region UWNWLA serves.

Thomas, a Shreveport native, brings a diverse background of nonprofit leadership including work in foundations and grant making organizations, fundraising, program development and management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Northwestern State University and has served in many charitable affiliations including Shreveport Green and leadership roles as the Executive Director of Dress for Success New Orleans.

“We are pleased to have someone serve our organization with this level of skill and experience,” said Dr. Bruce Willson, president and CEO of UWNWLA. “We’re confident Tori will help our organization move forward into new territory and reaching new goals.”

The addition of Thomas comes to helm at the beginning of United Way NWLA’s fundraising season. Each year, United Way of Northwest Louisiana fundraises in various workplaces throughout its 10-parish footprint. The first big task Thomas will lead is the annual Workplace Campaign Kickoff in September featuring guest speaker Lisa Bowman from United Way Worldwide. This event is the official start of the 2018-2019 fundraising year, ending in March.

This event will also mark the end of the pre-fundraising season by honoring the companies who ran their fundraising campaigns early. They will be recognized with an award as a thank you for contributing to the $700,000 goal raised between June 1 and Aug. 31. These companies, known as Pacesetters, receive advertising benefits and complimentary United Way event tickets amongst other incentives.

Red River STEM hires Executive Director for Sci-Port Discovery Center

Red River STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Inc., a new non-profit entity that recently entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the City of Shreveport to operate a children’s science center in the building known as the Sci-Port Discovery Center, has announced that it has hired an Executive Director for the Center.

Dianne Clark, formerly with the Northwest Louisiana Technical College, has accepted the position as its executive director.  Clark served most recently as the Chief Workforce Development Officer and Mansfield Campus Dean for Northwest Louisiana Technical College, and she also served as Interim Director of the College for two years.  She began her engagement with Red River STEM in August.

Clark has 29 years of experience in technical education. She said, “I am honored that the members of Red River STEM have selected me to serve as the Executive Director and look forward to the opportunity to re-build this vital educational entity for northwest Louisiana. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities for all age groups through hands-on discovery. With 29 years of experience in hands-on technical skills training, I believe our team can transition very quickly and begin to identify and offer educational programs which serve the mission of the Sci-Port Discovery Center.”

According to Sci-Port Board of Directors Chairman Jay Pierson, “Dianne has a track record of successful innovative thinking and proven administrative leadership.  She has made grant applications and worked within the framework of grants and budgets.  With her background and enthusiasm for the position, we think she’s the right person to take Sci-Port Discovery Center into the future.”

Red River STEM, Inc. was brought into being through the efforts of The Community Foundation of North Louisiana, as well as a group of community organizations and individuals.  The Community Foundation of North Louisiana will act as the fiscal sponsor of Red River STEM pending its federal tax-exempt status.  Kristi Gustavson of the Community Foundation stated, “We are so pleased that someone with Dianne’s wealth of experience and talents has signed on to propel Sci-Port forward.”

Shreveport Geologist Gives Research Talks at National Meeting

Dr. Mary Barrett, professor emeritus of geology at Centenary College of Louisiana, recently presented two research talks at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) annual meeting in Salt Lake City.

The first talk, “U.S. Natural Gas Wastage, Late 1870s to Early 1950s: a Compilation of Numerical Estimates,” discussed the historic gas venting and flaring losses compared to natural gas production. The second presentation, “Documenting Past Oilfield Arsenic Corrosion Inhibitor Usage: a Pit Groundwater Example from Lake St. John Field, LA,” described the widespread 1950s arsenic inhibitor usage in the field and the geographically-limited modern study of arsenic remnants in shallow groundwater and soil.

“The modern petroleum industry benefits in knowing its waste history, both as a testament to its ability to continually decrease its environmental footprints and as a planning tool to better evaluate modern remediation needs concerning past impacts,” explains Barrett.

Barrett recently began her term as the 2018-2019 president of the Division of Environmental Sciences for AAPG. She and the Division are playing an active part in this year’s AAPG theme concerning the petroleum industry and sustainable energy development.

Barrett was a Centenary geology professor from 1992 to 2009 following employment with Mobil Oil in improved oil recovery of aging fields. Her research centers on sedimentary, petroleum, and environmental geology and on the history and impact of oilfield wastes. She has served as an expert for both defendants and plaintiffs in Louisiana oilfield pollution litigation. Barrett holds geology degrees from Stephen F. Austin St. University and the Johns Hopkins University.

Chamber’s J. Pat Beaird Industry & Top Businesses of the Year Awards to honor Metro Aviation & host Commander Kirk Lippold of the USS Cole

Each year the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce hosts the J. Pat Beaird Industry and Top Businesses of the Year awards, with the support of our sponsors, the Forum, Chase Bank and the J. Pat Beaird Memorial Fund.

“The Chamber is proud to announce that our Industry of the Year Award recipient this year will be Metro Aviation,” said Dr. Timothy Magner, Shreveport Chamber president. “Metro Aviation is one of our city’s hidden gems. They are the largest air medical completion center not just in Louisiana, not just in the U.S., but also in the world as well as the largest traditional air medical provider. We are excited to honor Mike Stanberry and the rest of the Metro family for their industry leadership and their contribution to our community.”

In addition to honoring Metro Aviation and select small businesses, the awards luncheon will also play host to a recognized authority on leadership and crisis management, former Naval Commander Kirk Lippold. CDR Lippold was in command of the USS Cole when it was targeted by a deadly al Qaeda terrorist attack in 2000, 11 months before 9/11. His team training prior to the attack and unflappable leadership after galvanized his crew to action, resulting in lives and the ship being saved. A compelling storyteller, CDR Lippold draws upon his Five Pillars of Leadership to offer strategies he learned and applied to instill integrity into his team members and mitigate crises throughout his naval career. With takeaways for organizations on assessing their own successes and failures to prepare for what the future may hold, his lessons learned can make the difference when it matters most.

This year’s J. Pat Beaird Industry and Top Businesses of the Year Awards Luncheon will take place at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 20. Tickets are available online at Prices are $45 for members and $75 for nonmembers until Sept. 4. Table and event sponsorships are also available.