St. Peter Claver Club Welcomes Faith Dawson Simmons and David Lee Simmons as Speakers

Posted February 1, 2019 / Last updated February 6, 2019

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The St. Peter Claver Club presented its quarterly speaker series on Thursday, Jan. 31, to a packed house of students and faculty in Room 210.

Faith Dawson Simmons, editorial director of Tulane University’s News and Public Relations department, and David Lee Simmons, communications manager for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, spoke eloquently about their journey as a multiracial couple raising their seven-year-old son, Eli.

Faith Dawson Simmons, Brian Ridgely, Rayvan Bellazer (SPC President) and Dylan Davidson (SPC Vice President), and David Lee Simmons

“I really enjoyed the presentation,” said Jesuit guidance counselor Mollie Roberts. “It was interesting to hear some of the challenges they face. They were open, honest, and engaging.”

St. Peter Claver Club co-moderator Chris LaMothe echoed that sentiment. “They were very relatable. I think the boys got a lot out of the talk.”

LaMothe was also happy to see such a large crowd. “That was our best turnout of the year,” he said, noting the strong showing by club members as well as a faculty turnout that included James Michalik, Christopher McCabe, Jack Culicchia, Top Abshire, Ted Mahne, Christopher Woods, Wade Trosclair, Mollie Roberts, Terry Ursin, Fr. Paul Shaungnessy, S.J., and principal Peter Kernion.

 The Simmons’s are the third featured guests in this academic year’s speaker series.

Kia Hayes, The Innocence Project

In November, the club welcomed Innocence Project New Orleans staff attorney Kia Hayes, who spoke about the work of the New Orleans chapter of the Innocence Project, which to date has successfully freed or exonerated 32 innocent prisoners who among them have served more than 730 years in Louisiana or Mississippi prisons.

Hayes also talked about her personal journey, which took her from Brown University to journalism to law, all in a quest to make a difference in her community.

“She’s such a great role model,” said senior Tevin Lashley. “It was inspiring to see someone who truly believes in what they are doing.”

It was Lashley, a club member, who arranged for Hayes’s visit. Lashley had interned at the Innocence Project the previous summer and made the call to book Hayes, who graciously volunteered her time.

The series’ inaugural speaker was local attorney Christian Rhodes, who practices with the firm of Roedel Parsons. He addressed club members back in September on the topic “Navigating the Majority Experience.”