Jan 122017
Kim Gandy of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (center) poses with Mariah Wineski of the  Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Judy Benitez also of NNEDV. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Kim Gandy of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (center) poses with Mariah Wineski of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Judy Benitez also of NNEDV. (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Like thousands of women across the country, former New Orleanian Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), is clearly concerned. Gandy fears that some of the Trump administration’s nominees for key cabinet posts “have historic positions that appear contrary to the rights and protections they will be charged to uphold.” It’s more important than ever, says Gandy, “for women’s voices to be heard and for women to be politically active in issues they care about.”

Gandy is in New Orleans this week to participate in a training workshop for nonprofit agencies such as the New Orleans Family Justice Alliance that receive federal funding for transitional housing serving domestic violence victims. She is a founder of the New Orleans Metropolitan Battered Women’s Shelter (now known as the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children) and is former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Gandy’s remarks reflect what many have dubbed “the coming health care crisis” under which millions of Americans may not only lose their health care coverage but other critical services. “There are concerns in every corner that the talk of budget cuts will have an impact on people who are least able to absorb that impact for food, health care or domestic violence services,” she explained.

“Those of us who work to provide for the safety of domestic violence victims and help them rebuild their lives always hope we can work ourselves out of a job someday but until the nation takes this issue more seriously, I don’t see that day on the horizon,” Gandy said.

Family planning and many preventive health services for women of child-bearing age could also be eliminated including screenings for gestational diabetes, counseling for sexually transmitted infections and breast-feeding. According to the New York Times, 62% of all women of reproductive age use a contraceptive method.

Between the 375,000 individuals who signed up for Medicaid after Gov. John Bel Edwards approved the expansion of services in 2016 or those who sought insurance through the Affordable Care Act, many Louisiana residents now have better access to health care. More than 4,000 residents who were previously untested received colon cancer screenings in 2016.

America’s women leaders are planning numerous events to kick off a new wave of activism, according to USA Today. The largest of these activities is the January 21st Women’s March on Washington that could be attended by 200,000 women.

“I personally am attending the march to stand in solidarity with women from across the country and let Congress and the Administration know we care about a wide range of issues and that we are committed to ensuring fair and equal treatment of women in this society and by the government,” Gandy said.

Many New Orleans area women — including Legislative Agenda for Women leader Julie Schwam Harris, Louisiana NOW president Charlotte Klasson, union official Maria Wickstrom, and attorneys Michelle Erenberg and Taetrece Harrison — are headed to Washington along with at least one bus of activists representing various Louisiana women’s organizations.

“These women are going to Washington because they want to be part of something big that will keep the country focused on the positive,” said Schwam Harris. She is impressed by the number of young women and women of color who are also participating. “It’s a diverse group.” Some local women are even underwriting bus tickets for others who lack the resources – like college student Brianna Rhymes – but still want to attend, she explained.

“The bus is filling up fast. We only have 18 seats left,” said coordinator Dora Lambert. Tickets are $170. Women interested should visit www.facebook.com/events1826803097594877/

For those unable to make the Washington trip, several events are also being planned in New Orleans and Shreveport including a Saturday, January 21 March for Revolution NOLA from Washington Square Park to Duncan Plaza beginning at 1 p.m. It is co-sponsored by Millennials March and March for Louisiana (www.marchforla.org). “We want women in Louisiana to know they are not alone and that it’s ok to be progressive and want good things for all people,” said Baton Rouge NOW President Angela Adkins.


After surveying the packed house at Dooky Chase last night, one judge said “this event is a tribute to the Chief.” The “Chief” he was referring to was Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Judge Bernette Joshua Johnson whose daughter Rachel was the first person to qualify yesterday for Civil District Court, Division B, an open seat. Not only had a number of judges turned out to break bread with Justice Johnson and candidate Johnson, so had a sizeable group of friends, elected officials, and members of the bar.

Seen in the crowd were Councilmembers Jared Brossett and Nadine Ramsey (Johnson clerked for her when Ramsey was a judge) as well as State Reps. Jimmy Harris, John Bagneris, and Joe Bouie. Also present were lawyers John Litchfield, Dana Douglas, Roy Rodney, Jason Cantrell, and D’Juan Hernandez. Others in the room included Telly Madina and Jacques Morial. Johnson is also supported by attorneys James Williams and Dan Foley who accompanied her to qualifying and by Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell.

“I am ready to serve,” said Johnson when asked why she was running. “I have been working as a servant my whole life. This is the next step.”

Rachael Johnson and her family and supporters at qualifying. Suzy Montero at qualifying (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Rachael Johnson and her family and supporters at qualifying. Suzy Montero at qualifying (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Aided by her family name, Johnson should be able to raise money pretty easily. So should her opponent, spit-fire trial lawyer Suzy Montero, also a first-time candidate. Montero, who has been a star litigator for attorney Chip Forstall for more than a decade, has jump-started her own campaign financially and lined up heavy-hitter Phil Wittmann as her finance chairman as well as veteran consultant Bill Schultz to handle her ground game. With 25 years of practice under her belt, Montero will formally kick off her campaign January 26th at Basin Street Station.

Suzy Montero at qualifying (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Suzy Montero at qualifying (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Schultz is also playing a leading role in the other judicial race on the March 25th ballot which pits CDC Judge Tiffany Chase against CDC Judge Paula Brown for the open Appeals Court Section C seat. While Schultz along with Jason Hughes is representing Brown – a former Tulane basketball star and breast cancer survivor – Karen Carvin Shachat is handling Chase.

First City Court Judge Veronica Henry thought about qualifying for the Civil District Court race but had a last-minute change of heart. It is possible that a spoiler or two could get into either or both of these races before Friday’s qualifications deadline. Although the public won’t be paying much attention during the next 74 days, these candidates will be fighting it out tooth and nail. May the best contenders win!


There has been much speculation as to what role Mayor Mitch Landrieu might play after his term ends. Add Judge, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal to the list of possibilities. One of the newest rumors floating out there is that Appeals Court Judge Madeline Landrieu will be named Dean of Loyola Law School. Her resignation from the bench would create a vacancy which Mitch could easily seek. The Law School’s website current lists Lawrence Moore S.J. as “Interim” Dean.

The Landrieu family certainly has strong ties to Loyola and the Appeals Court, where Mitch would be the third Landrieu to serve. The position would also allow Mitch to complete his years in the state’s retirement system.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are Foster Campbell, Regina Bartholomew, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

  One Response to “Danae Columbus: Women’s advocates rally as Trump inauguration looms”

  1. I am interested in the news that a bus is going. I was told just last week that the bus, Skedaddle, had been cancelled because they could not fill the seats. As a result I plan to march locally.

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