Photos courtesy Emerge Center.

Emerge Center honors a new class of Volunteer Activists

From female empowerment to heart health to family support, this year’s Emerge Center Baton Rouge Area Volunteer Activists find inspiration for engagement with the community in different places. Whether from experience or observation, the 13 individuals who will be honored next Friday, November 16, have not only noticed needs, but worked tirelessly to meet them.

We took a closer look at the 47th class of Volunteer Activists to learn more about the causes that motivate them, and how they are working to make Baton Rouge a better place.

Alsie Dunbar

A seasoned scientist in the chemical industry, Dunbar channels her passion for her career into helping other women and minorities realize the same love she found in a STEM profession. Her mentoring project STEMS GEMS launched in 2013, and she recently started a social media campaign which uses the hashtag #SHEINSTEM to spotlight the changing face of the STEM world.

Ann Trappey

Another woman breaking barriers in the workforce is Trappey, who has taken her career as an engineer and turned it into an opportunity for service. Having served as the first female president of the Louisiana Engineering Foundation among many other positions, Trappey continues to advocate for transportation infrastructure investment, as well as the necessary role of women in male-dominated disciplines.

Edmund Giering

Dedicated to the city he says quickly felt like home after his move here in 1986 to attend LSU, Giering serves as the general counsel for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which aims to enhance life in the region by connecting philanthropists with necessary resources.

“Early in my professional career, I volunteered with organizations I was interested in to develop new relationships and skills and to build my knowledge and experience levels,” he notes. “Now, I volunteer to make our community a better place–to give something back and to make a difference in the lives of people around me.”

Coletta Barrett

Motivated to a life in medicine from a young age, Barrett has spent her life not only working within the healthcare profession, but taking leadership roles to improve the system altogether. And despite holding various positions over the years, Barrett says her desire to raise awareness for heart health has remained the focus of her volunteer efforts.

Dr. Fatemeh Malekian

By serving as a professor of food science and technology, Malekian aims to serve people both regionally and internationally through not only her own work on food safety and nutrition, but through inspiring and motivating others in similarly focused careers.

“I have committed my life, energy, focused research, professional development and vocational interests not only to my family, but also to the improvement of health and wellbeing of others,” she says.

Jim Brandt

A life of government research and nonprofit management has given Brandt the platform to enact meaningful change in areas from higher education to healthcare to governmental ethics and transparency. In addition, Brandt is a longtime advocate for the arts, serving as a past chairman of the Community Fund for the Arts, as well as a board member and officer for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.

Levar Robinson

Called to action through his own childhood experiences, Robinson is a father of six who recently founded the organization Fathers On A Mission, or FOAM, which aims to strengthen the role of fathers by opening dialogues and creating networks of support for parents of all ages and backgrounds. Check out this story from the inRegister archives to learn more about Robinson and FOAM.

Nancy Crawford

Prior to her retirement in 2014, Crawford spent her entire professional career working with hospitals including Baton Rouge General Medical Center and Woman’s Hospital, as well as various nonprofit organizations, to ensure a high level of care through revolutionary programs and strong relationships. Now, she spends her time volunteering with the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, Louisiana Old State Capitol Foundation and more.

Rolfe McCollister

Founder and chairman of Louisiana Business, Inc.–inRegister’s parent company which also publishes the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report225 magazine10/12 Industry Report, and Daily Report–McCollister’s passion for connecting the community has driven him to serve organizations from Capital Area United Way to the Young Leaders Academy to the Boy Scouts of America.

Staci Deumite Duhé

While Duhé has worked with countless fundraising campaigns and organizations, in addition to creating the personalized medical care agency Nursing Care Connections, Inc., she says one of the most meaningful things she has accomplished is seeing the Knock Knock Children’s Museum go from concept to reality.

“Aside from my family and helping my brother Sloan and others in need of healthcare services, what gives me the greatest joy is my involvement with Knock Knock Children’s Museum,” explains Duhé. “To be a part of a dynamic team of volunteers faithfully willing to spend 14 years in building a place for our community’s families to come together, learn through play and create lifelong memories is an accomplishment I will be forever grateful for and truly blessed by.”

Todd Schexnayder

For Schexnayder, making Louisiana a better place to live and work is his main goal, both through his career in human resources and his various volunteer efforts. Throughout the years, Schexnayder has been involved in organizations such as Volunteers for America, Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo and the LSU National Diversity Advisory Board.

Wendy Lipsey

Lipsey has spent her entire life in service, whether through tutoring dyslexic children, working with chemotherapy patients, or spreading awareness for the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency. As the recipient of liver and kidney transplants herself, she says the cause that is closest to her heart is with organ donation.

“I truly love volunteering, especially for organizations I am passionate about,” says Lipsey, who is following in her grandmother’s footsteps in receiving the Volunteer Activist award. “Volunteering never feels like work for me. It feel like it’s just something I am meant to do.”

Hailey Junca

A senior at Dutchtown High School with a passion for working with children with special needs, Junca is this year’s Emerging Activist. Through organizations like McMains Children’s Developmental Center, Healing Place Church, the Emerge Center, and Gaitway Therapeutic Horsemanship Center, Junca has already devoted a great deal of her young life to serving others. She says that following her high school graduation, she plans to work toward a degree in communication sciences and disorders and go on to pursue a career working with children with special needs.

For tickets to the awards luncheon next Friday, November 16, visit the event page here. And for more about the Emerge Center, visit