Community Engagement

February 22, 2019

Xavier celebrates its rich legacy of women in leadership, from its foundress to modern day heroines

 New Orleans, LA – In celebration of International Women’s Month, Xavier University of Louisiana will honor strong women of faith, past and present, who have embodied the mission of Xavier University. Each of the women to be honored at the inaugural Women of Faith Awards Brunch have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers, advocacy, community service, and philanthropic engagement undergirded by an unwavering faith.

The event will take place Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at the historic Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, 2301 Orleans Ave. Keynote speaker for the event will be former WWL-TV anchorwoman, the legendary Sally-Ann Roberts.

 The inaugural recipients of the new “Women of Faith” awards are Juanita Baranco, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Baran Company, LLC; Gayle Benson, owner of the NFL New Orleans Saints and the NBA New Orleans Pelican; and Christina Francis ’89, President of Magic Johnson Enterprises. The recognition will be bestowed in memory of University foundress St. Katharine Drexel and each award is named for Xavier University’s three female presidents: Mother Agatha Ryan, S.B.S. (1932-1955); Sr. Josephina Kenney, S.B.S. (1955-1965); and Sr. Maris Stella, S.B.S. (1965-1968). Visit HERE for bios of the presidents and this year's honorees.

The Women of Faith Awards host committee includes: Sonia Perez, chair; Katrice Albert, PhD; Naydja Bynum, DNS; Jean Marie Craig, SBS; Aleicia Donald, MD; Tracie Griffin; Barbara Kaplinsky; Ti Martin; Margaret Montgomery, PhD; Mayra Pineda; Stella Reese; Alexis Broussard Robinson; Paula Saizan; Sr. Mary Ann Stachow, SBS, PhD; Carroll Suggs; and Sharonda Williams, Esq.

 “It is in reverence to St. Katharine Drexel, a strong woman of faith, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and foundress and patron of our beloved Xavier University of Louisiana, that we honor these women of faith who created us, who nurtured us, and whose prayers continue to carry us,” said Sonia Perez, Chair of the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees and Chairwoman of the Host Committee. “We honor not only these truly deserving Women of Faith awardees, but the women of faith who led our beloved Xavier in a time and place where patriarchy reigned supreme.” 

For more information or to purchase tickets to the inaugural Women of Faith Awards Brunch, call 504-520-7575 or email

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