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A few of our esteemed YLC Alums return for our Leadership Symposium Dinner. This year's panel will share highlights of their time at YLC, the leadership lessons learned, and how community service shaped their impressive careers.
Tickets include a three-course dinner and complimentary wine, beer, and champagne.
Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Jones Walker.
R. Christian Johnson (1987 YLC Board President) Since opening the firm's Washington, DC office in 1990 and being admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1991, Chris has built a strong team of government relations professionals who represent clients in the maritime, energy, and defense industries; numerous institutions of higher learning; and several state and local government entities. He provides his clients with a broad range of government relations assistance, including providing advice on a wide variety of legislative and regulatory matters facing the maritime industry and other business interests.
Chris has developed strong relationships with the key committees on Capitol Hill with general jurisdiction over transportation and maritime issues, including the Senate Commerce Committee, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as tax-writing committees with jurisdiction over maritime tax and trade matters, including the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Over the years, Chris has been deeply involved in numerous legislative matters affecting the maritime industry, including the Maritime Security Acts of 1996 and 2003, numerous Coast Guard Authorization Acts, the landmark tonnage tax legislation, the repeal of Subpart F shipping income provisions, the Jones Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Water Resources Development Acts of 2007, 2014, 2016 and 2018 and legislation to implement numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). In addition to his work on Capitol Hill, Chris has developed close ties with the principal federal agencies involved with the promotion and/or regulation of the US maritime industry: the Department of Transportation, the Maritime Administration (MarAd), the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the US Department of Agriculture, the United States Trade Representative, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Karyn Kearney (1996 YLC Board President) is the Director of Communications and External Affairs for Intralox, a global manufacturing company headquartered in New Orleans. While at Intralox she led the Global Marketing Department for five years. Prior to joining Intralox, she served as Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Audubon Aquarium, the IMAX Theatre, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, and the Audubon Insectarium. In 2005, Karyn led the response, rebuilding, and recovery of Audubon’s downtown attractions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was an Executive Producer of the Academy Award-nominated film, Hurricane on the Bayou, and is a co-founder of the Lundi Gras Festival on the riverfront in New Orleans. During her 22 years at Audubon Nature Institute, she served as Vice President of Marketing and Director of Marketing.
Karyn was recognized as Marketing Director of the Year by the Advertising Club of New Orleans. She served as a Board Member for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for three years and was appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans to the Downtown Development District where she served for six years. She was a member of the Police and Justice Foundation Board, the French Quarter Festivals Board and was recognized as one of Gambit’s “40 under 40 to watch” and as an Achiever by the Women Business Owners Association. Karyn is a founding member of Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans and worked tirelessly after Katrina to build the grassroots organization focused on the renewal of her adopted home.
As an active YLC member, she served on the Executive Committee and as President of the organization. She co-founded the YLC’s Proud to call it home campaign and volunteered for many years on the project. The YLC honored Karyn as a Role Model in 2009. She is active in her church and the community, but Karyn’s favorite moments are spent with her two teenage sons, husband, and two dogs.
Darren G. Mire (2000 YLC Board President) became the Director of Valuation for the newly formed Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office, where he supervises the mass appraisal of over 160,000 parcels in the City of New Orleans. Previously, he served 8½ years as the elected Assessor of the 1st Municipal District of Orleans Parish where he served the constituency of the state’s wealthiest taxing district before the consolidation of the parish’s seven tax assessment districts. As a native and life-long resident of New Orleans, he graduated from Jesuit High School; Tulane University, where he earned his BA in Political Economy; and the Graduate School of Political Management, where he earned a Masters in Professional Studies in Political Management.
A former property tax consultant, he provides property tax instruction through several area homebuyer-training programs. He has completed coursework in Real Estate Sales and Appraisal at the Uptown Professional Real Estate School, and he is a licensed real estate agent and is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers.
An expert on the ad valorem tax system, he frequently speaks to legal and real estate professionals, civic organizations and first-time homebuyers as part of his community outreach activities. Previous engagements include New Orleans Bar Association, Louisiana Assessor's Association, International Association of Assessing Officers, Lorman Continuing Legal Education Series, Neighborhood Development Foundation and Central City HDC Homebuyer's Training Programs, the Alliance for Good Government, and the League of Women Voters.
Fulfilling a passionate commitment to the growth and development of New Orleans, he has served as a volunteer for several organizations and serves on a host of civic boards and committees. He is a Past President of the Young Leadership Council, the largest and most far-reaching volunteer organization in the metropolitan area. His ascension to the Presidency was the culmination of over eight years of dedicated service as a volunteer, project leader and vice-president of projects. Incidentally, he was the first African American to hold the position of President in the organization’s 30-year history.
Darren is also a founding member and former President of the Boys to Men mentor program and has served on many boards to include New Orleans Outreach, Jesuit High School President’s Advisory Council, Second Harvesters Food Bank, Committee For A Better New Orleans, Central City Housing Development Corporation, Central City Economic Opportunity Corporation, Carrollton Boosters, Young Leadership Council, Stuart Hall School for Boys, St. George’s Episcopal School, WYES-TV, Louisiana Children’s Museum and the Dryades YMCA, where he currently serves as Chairman.
He is a graduate of the 1995 Metropolitan Area Committee (MAC) Leadership Forum and was a participant in the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI). He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. and the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club.
For his civic and volunteer efforts, he has been recognized with several awards including; WDSU’s Making a Difference Award, CityBusiness Power Generation: Forty Under 40 List, Gambit’s 30 To Watch List, the Dryades YMCA Black Achievers Award, YLC Volunteer of the Year and President’s Awards, Boys To Men Leadership Award, New Orleans Magazine’s 35 and Under Local Leaders, the Spirit of Greatness Award and the New Orleans Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Man of the Year Award.
In 2008 he was appointed as a member of the Hurricane Katrina Memorial Planning Commission by Governor Bobby Jindal. In 2009 Governor Jindal also appointed him to a six-year term representing the 2nd Congressional District as one of the sixteen board members of Southern University A & M’s Board of Supervisors for the Southern University System. Darren immediately moved into several key positions. In 2010 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the board after only one year of service. His most recent success is, perhaps, his highest achievement during his short tenure on the Southern University Board of Supervisors. Darren has been elected to serve as Chairman for the 2011 and 2012 years. Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Darren to become a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents, which oversees all of higher education institutions in the State of Louisiana in 2017. In 2018, he was appointed to the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority as a commissioner.
Kenneth Polite, Jr. (YLC Board of Directors 2011 and 2012) was born to teenage parents and reared in the Lower Ninth Ward by a single mother. Despite his humble beginnings, Polite excelled academically during his formative years at Epiphany Elementary School before enrolling at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, where each year, he won a competitively-awarded full academic scholarship. Among his numerous distinctions and awards, Polite was named Student Body President, Louisiana Boys State Governor, and Class Valedictorian, the first African American to attain that distinction in the school’s history.
Mr. Polite is a graduate of Harvard University (B.A., Government) and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., cum laude). While in law school, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Criminal Law Review's Fifteen Survey of White Collar Crime. Following law school, Mr. Polite served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro, Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Mr. Polite has practiced white-collar criminal defense in New York City and New Orleans and served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.
On June 27, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Mr. Polite as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. On September 17, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Mr. Polite's nomination, and he was sworn in on September 20, 2013. He served in that position until March 10, 2017.
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Polite emphasized being Smart on Crime, utilizing enforcement, prevention, and reentry as tools to improve public safety. His Office, of over 120 public servants, prosecuted significant cases against violent crime, public corruption, civil rights violations, human trafficking, child pornography, and health care fraud. At the same time, Mr. Polite established Project LEAD, the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence, and the Crescent City Keepers mentor initiative, all with the goal of preventing and reducing youth violence. He also created the 30-2-2 reentry collaborative and the LEAP Program, to assist previously incarcerated individuals in successfully transitioning back into society.
In April 2015, Attorney General Lynch appointed Mr. Polite to serve on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee ("AGAC"). The AGAC serves as the voice of the 93 U.S. Attorneys across the nation and provides advice and counsel to the Attorney General and other senior leaders in the U.S. Department of Justice on policy, management, and operational issues. In addition, Mr. Polite served as a member of the AGAC Subcommittees on Violent and Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, and Civil Rights, as well as the Smart on Crime Working Group.
Following his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Polite served as the Chief Compliance Officer for Entergy Corporation, overseeing the company’s ethics and compliance program. In August 2018, he returned to private practice when he joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as a partner in the Firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Global Investigations group.
Mr. Polite has dedicated his life to public service. Currently, he is a board member for the Youth Empowerment Project, Ochsner Health System, the Anti-Defamation League of New Orleans, and New Schools for New Orleans. He has also served as a member of the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission and as Chairman of the Louisiana Felony Class System Task Force.
Mr. Polite has received various awards for his leadership, including the Leadership in the Law award from New Orleans City Business, the Goldman Criminal Justice Reform award from Court Watch NOLA, and the Community Light in Mentorship award from Each One, Save One. Loyola University Law School awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Laws, and De La Salle High School has endowed a scholarship in his name to honor a graduating senior who has excelled in scholarship and leadership.
Mr. Polite is married to Dr. Florencia Greer Polite, and together, they have two beautiful daughters, Gabrielle and Lena.
Scott Sternberg (YLC Board of Directors, 2014, 2015, and 2016) is a former YLC General Counsel, Project Leader and Board Member who is now the Managing Partner of Sternberg, Naccari & White, LLC, a law firm with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Scott is perhaps best known for his high-profile litigation practice and his firm's vibrant public affairs, media, and government practice. Scott and his firm regularly represent newspapers, online media entities and citizens in lawsuits against government entities. Scott is General Counsel to The Advocate, The Times-Picayune, and the Louisiana Press Association.
Scott has significant election law and campaign experience. On those issues and other issues such as governmental ethics and access, Scott has experience testifying before the Louisiana Legislature and has taught at Louisiana State University and Loyola University. Scott also speaks and writes on topics related to the public access to government, ethics and First Amendment issues. Scott has twice won the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Stephen T. Victory Award for his legal writing. In 2015, Scott was also named one of Gambit’s “40 under 40.” In 2019, he received the Louisiana State Bar Association's Citizen-Lawyer award.
In 2019-2020, Scott is serving as the Chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division, representing and advocating for the young lawyers of the state of Louisiana. He is on the Manship Alumni Board and the LSU Law Dean's Young Alumni Leadership Council. He also sits on the boards of the Pro Bono Project, the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce, and the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Scott is a 2006 graduate of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication in Journalism. Scott was an intern at The Times-Picayune during the infamous summer of 2005. After college Scott moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Student Press Law Center, which advocates for student free press and free speech rights throughout the country. He returned to Louisiana to attend LSU Law Center, where he was elected President of the Student Bar Association, graduated cum laude as a member of the Law Review and the Moot Court Board.
Scott and his wife Breland have three children.
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