27 May 2015
NEW ORLEANS, LA (May 27, 2015) – On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 350 entrepreneurs, business leaders, elected officials, media, and community members gathered together at the Propeller Incubator to celebrate the graduation and social impact of Propeller’s latest cohort of social entrepreneurs.
Guests included elected officials and luminaries such as Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Orleans Parish School Board President Nolan Marshall, and Orleans Parish School Board Member Sarah Usdin, as well as members of the press such as Poppy Tooker of WWNO’s Louisiana Eats!. Co-chairs Lolis Eric Elie and Billy Perez spearheaded the event alongside Propeller Board Chair Linda Usdin.
Partygoers mingled and tasted the best of local up-and-coming pop-up restaurants, but the focus of the night was on Propeller’s graduating Accelerator class and the supporters who helped this year’s cohort turn 15 visions for change into New Orleans’ next generation of lean, social start-up ventures.
Propeller presented the inaugural Impact Champion Awards to Kevin Wilkins and Mike Eckert for their significant volunteer contributions, dedication, expertise, and commitment to the success of Propeller’s Accelerator programs.
Kevin Wilkins is Propeller’s Board Treasurer and served this year as the Lead Mentor for the Propeller Social Venture Accelerator Program, offering up many hours of support and 25 years of expertise in corporate and entrepreneurial ventures to each member of this year’s graduating Accelerator class. He is the founder of trepwise llc, a New Orleans based advisory firm with the vision of driving entrepreneurial success in New Orleans.
Mike Eckert spearheaded the Water Challenge pilot Accelerator program for the 2014-2015 programmatic year, volunteering his time and networks to Propeller’s 13 water entrepreneurs. Under his leadership, Propeller water companies made tremendous progress, from securing contracts to permanently protect over 1300 acres of Louisiana wetlands, to contracts to retain 500,000 gallons of storm water per year. Mike Eckert is the former President and CEO The Weather Channel, former Chairman and CEO of Pathfire, and currently serves as the Chairman of the NO/LA Angel Network.
“The success of our Accelerator programs and our entrepreneurs is reliant on mentors like Kevin and Mike,” says Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen. “Their guidance drives our programs and the solutions of our entrepreneurs solutions forward.”