Frank Perez is a writer, historian, educator, public speaker, small-business owner, and tour guide. He has authored three books: In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar (with Jeffrey Palmquist), Treasures of the Vieux Carre: Ten Self-Guided Walking Tours of the French Quarter, and Southern Decadence in New Orleans. He is also the co-editor of an anthology of personal essays titled My Gay New Orleans. He is a columnist for Ambush Magazine and French Quarter Journal. His publications include a number of scholarly articles in academic journals, and a number of poems and short stories in various literary journals. In addition to writing, Perez owns a small business and is a licensed New Orleans tour guide. He earned his B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1991 and an M.A. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1997. A former Associate Professor of English, Perez now teaches part-time at Loyola University. He and his partner live in the French Quarter.
Kathleen Conlon has held an inebriated Mike Nichols' hand, was at Jim Nabors' 75th, and changed her Mama's Depends in white trash grey gardens. In between these extremes in glamour came Divaqueen Kathleen, the hosting chanteuse of the DQKshow on MNN-TV in NYC. Her Paleolithic French Quarter period found her the sole female member of the Drag/performance art group-DEMENTED WOMEN (two thirds of which were SDGMs). Waiting for the advent of fire, she learned the meaning of SOUTHERN DECADENCE. She is honored to be involved with the Archives Project and it's her intent to bestow the deserved respect to her many friends felled by AIDS, and the other hazards dealt the gay community of the late 20th century New Orleans.
Jim Meadows, MSW, currently serves as Executive Director for SAGE New Orleans - NOAGE. He received his Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University in 2007, and has worked extensively in the healthcare field. He is a volunteer for several New Orleans area LGBT+ nonprofit organizations. Passionate about LGBT+ advocacy and activism, Jim feels particularly strongly about working on behalf of the elderly, and in honoring and preserving the memory of those who fought for the liberation of the LGBT+ community in Louisiana.
A Louisiana native, Jessica Troske is the Budget and Administrative Coordinator for the Newcomb College Institute. Troske has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in English Literature from Northwestern State University and is pursuing a Master‘s in Literature from her alma mater. While at Northwestern State University, she was an advocate for the LGBT community and was instrumental in starting Northwestern’s first LGBT organization, Lambda. Her current research project explores southern writer William Faulkner’s novels and the social construction of gender and race relations. For the last ten years, Troske has worked within non-profit and educational sectors. Prior to joining Newcomb College Institute, Troske worked as the Assistant General Manager for School of Rock in Denver, CO, as Logistics Manager for New Orleans based non-profit organization, marketumbrella.org, and the Administrative Assistant to the Curator for New Orleans art’s organization, the Contemporary Arts Center.Her close friendships within the LGBT community and beyond motivated her to join the LGBT+ Archives Project. She is thrilled to have this opportunity to ensure that their stories are accessible, heard, and properly preserved.
Stewart Butler (Emeritus Board Member) was born in 1930 in Mobile, AL and lived in New Orleans from 1932 until 1942. During the next 22 years he lived in Carville, LA, attended LSU, became a 1st Lt. in the Army, lived ten years in Alaska and a year in San Francisco before finally concluding that he was gay and returned to New Orleans at the very end of 1964. In early 1973, he and Alfred Doolittle found each other in Lafitte’s. During the ensuing 35 years their relationship evolved into that of soul mates. Doolittle left this portion of his life in 2008. By 1980 Doolittle was fully supporting Butler financially, thus enabling him to become a full time LGBT+ activist, during the course of which he accumulated an attic of LGBT+ archival material. This is what, in turn, inspired him to become active with the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. Stewart passed away on March 5, 2020.
Aimee Everett is an Associate Curator for manuscript collections for the Williams Research Center of The Historic New Orleans Collection, where she has worked since 2007. After completing a BS degree in History and Geography at South Dakota State University, she moved to Baton Rouge where she earned a M.L.I.S. from Louisiana State University. She moved to New Orleans in 2007 to begin working as an Oral History Processor with The Historic New Orleans Collection, conducting oral history interviews and cataloging the 497 interviews conducted during the course of the Through Hell and High Water: Katrina’s First Responders Oral History Project. In 2009 she implemented an audio digitization program to preserve and make more readily available the audio recordings held by The Historic New Orleans Collection, including more than 500 hours of recordings made by noted jazz historian William Russell. She has served as the Treasurer for the Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association since 2013.
Robert W. Fieseler is a journalist and the author of Tinderbox, a history of the Up Stairs Lounge fire published by W.W. Norton/Liveright. Tinderbox was featured in The New York Times and on NPR and named a Best Book of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. A recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing, he graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Fieseler’s feature stories have been recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic, and his essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A proud gay American, he married his longtime partner at Walden Pond and currently resides in New Orleans.
Leah Foster is a psychotherapist working in private practice at the New Orleans Center for Mind Body Health. A native New Yorker, she moved to New Orleans in 2008 after completing a JD at the City University of New York School of Law with a focus on mediation. While in law school, Leah was active with the Outlaws, an organization advocating for LGBT law students. After moving to New Orleans, she received an MSW from Tulane University School of Social Work. In 2010 she began working at the New Orleans Family Justice Center where she served as the clinical director of trauma recovery services until 2017. She is passionate about social justice and helping to preserve the stories of marginalized communities.
Mark Gonzalez has lived in the Bywater neighborhood for over 25 years and works as an attorney in private practice. Gonzalez’s initial involvement in the gay community was as a founding member/organizer of Gay Fest New Orleans where he was an officer for two years. He was also a very active member and organizer with ACTUP, an AIDS advocacy group, in New Orleans for many years. Additionally, Gonzalez is one of the organizing/founding members of AIDSLAW of Louisiana. Also an active neighborhood organizer, Gonzalez works especially around park issues and off-leash dog areas. He was on the board of the Louisiana SPCA for two years. As well, he is a member of Neighbors First for Bywater and the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. He hopes to work more on the LGBT Legacy Project.
Kara Tucina Olidge, Ph.D. is a scholar, arts and educational administrator and the Executive Director of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. She is the former Deputy Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the New York Public Library based in Harlem. Prior to joining the Schomburg in 2012, Olidge was the Director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a nonprofit organization serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in Newark, New Jersey. Her scholarly work focuses on the intersection of art, critical cosmopolitanism and community activism.
Wayne Phillips has served as the Curator of Costumes & Textiles and Curator of Carnival Collections at the Louisiana State Museum since 1998. Wayne is responsible for a collection of over 25,000 artifacts, including historic and contemporary clothing, accessories, and textiles of all kinds, and an encyclopedic collection of artifacts documenting all aspects of Louisiana Carnival celebrations statewide. Wayne works attempting to expand the State Museum’s holdings documenting the LGBT community in Louisiana with particular interest in gay Carnival krewes. Wayne served on the Steering Committee of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana.
Melissa Smith joined LSU Libraries faculty as Assistant Curator of Manuscripts for Special Collections in late 2017. Prior to her time at LSU, Smith worked as a processing archivist, beginning with her first internship at Historic New Orleans Collection in the mid-1990s and professionally for the past fifteen years, starting with her position at the Louisiana Research Center at Tulane University’s Special Collections. Since her time at Tulane, Smith has also worked for Amistad Research Center and the Louisiana State Museum. A New Orleans native, Smith grew up in St. Tammany Parish where she also now makes her home with her 14-year old son, three cats, and dog. She received her Bachelor of the Arts in history from Loyola University of New Orleans with a focus in Louisiana history and women’s history. She received her Master of the Arts in history from the University of New Orleans with a focus on New Orleans history and African American history, specializing in African American education in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century. Smith is a huge Saints fan, and in the past wrote for the football blogging site, www.chicksinthehuddle.com that was cross-published in the Huffington Post and Fox Sports. She also sits as a regular guest for the Saints News Network. Smith is the author of Historic Photos of New Orleans (Turner Publishing, 2007), Remembering New Orleans (Turner Publishing, 2010), and recently contributed chapters to a series on Mardi Gras Indians published by the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame.
Robert Ticknor is a Reference Associate for the Williams Research Center at The Historic New Orleans Collection, where he has worked since 2012. After completing a BA degree at the College of Charleston in History and Religious Studies, he moved to New Orleans in the summer of 2004 to begin a graduate program in Medieval European History at Tulane University. He completed a Master’s degree in 2007 and went on to work for the Lending Library at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University as well helped arrange and process the Zemurray-Stone Archives held by the Stone Center. He spent over a year as a Curatorial Assistant working for the Louisiana State Museum on their Colonial Documents Digitization Project before arriving permanently at The Historic New Orleans Collection.
Brooke Volkert relocated to New Orleans in 2014 from New York City, where she worked in theatre as an actor, producer, publicist, and grant writer. She led fundraising efforts with the LGBT Center to send queer youth to marches on Washington and to support local initiatives. With the Albanian American Association, she archived photos and narratives of women in the dwindling Sworn Virgin tradition. Most recently, Brooke worked as Tour Coordinator at The Old Globe in San Diego bringing free professional Shakespeare productions to prisons, shelters, and other community centers. Brooke holds a M.A. in Arts Administration from University of New Orleans and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.