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Jean Benjamin Vappie, a native New Orleanian was born and raised in the 7th Ward of the city, educated in the Catholic schools of New Orleans; Corpus Christi, Xavier Prep and Xavier University of Louisiana. She completed her Masters Degree at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa and further post graduate studies at Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans.

Ms. Benjamin served as a Dance, Health and Physical Educator in the Orleans Parish Public Schools for twenty years. While sponsoring the Majorettes, Pep Squad, Modern Dance Group as well as coaching Gymnastics, Track & Field. One of her greatest joys is reconnecting with former students and learning of their accomplishments. In the noblest of professions, she taught with the motto, “Teachers Affect Eternity”, and imparted a visual of how one should matriculate in society, being it Ladies or Gentlemen.

In 1976, Jean along with her mother, Velma Benjamin and sister Velda founded The Benjamin’s Center for Dance, Gymnastics & Adult Fitness. The school was a fixture in the Gentilly for twenty-nine years, until the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Thousands of students attended the topnotch training facility to study the art of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Baton Twirling and all areas of Gymnastics. Many former students and graduates are poised professionals, successful leaders, Role Models and Dance Studio Owner’s in the city and elsewhere.

Jean Benjamin Vappie, is a two-time Breast Cancer Survivor and a Congestive Heart Failure patient.  However, she finds motivation and joy in serving God as a member of St. Leo St. Raymond Catholic Church, Co-Founder & President of Benjamin & Yancy Foundation, Inc., Louisiana Creole Research Association, Lady Knights of Peter Claver Court 140, Xavier Prep Alumni (Lifetime Member), Xavier University Alumni Association, Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center, Board of Directors and a Silver Star Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.

Her mission in life is to leave a legacy in the Dance community, an indelible impression on every  student she has taught and offer support to families caring for Breast and Prostate Cancer patients.

Jean is married to Russell M. Vappie, her Grammar School Sweetheart, and their proudest achievement in life is being chosen the parents of their only daughter, Beverly Alice Vappie.



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Dr. Elizabeth "Beth" Bridges is the co-founder of the Benjamin-Yancy Foundation. Dr. Bridges has over 25 years of experience acting as an agent of change within the realm of higher education and health-wellness education. Elizabeth’s professional career and personal pursuits have been dedicated to expanding the horizons of young adults during their formative years of education by working with a vast demographic of at-risk teenage mothers to first generation college students. In her role as a health educator administrator, she conducted numerous workshops and screening across the greater New Orleans area.


Elizabeth served as the Educational Talent Search Project Director and The Office of Global Studies Program Coordinator at Dillard University. With a strong knowledge of grant development, she managed a federally funded program servicing approximately 1200 middle and senior high students in the local school districts. In addition, she was an Adjunct Professor of Nutritional Science at the University of Phoenix, Louisiana Campus.


Dr. Bridges is an avid presenter at national and international conferences and a published author. She has traveled to 32 countries to present research and to support education for individuals with and without disabilities. She is a member of the following organizations: Kappa Delta Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Pi-National Society of Leadership and Success, the National Association of Professional Women, the National Association of Female Executives, Outstanding Young Women of America, and Who’s Who in American Women. She has also served on the Democratic State Central Committee and the Orleans Parish Executive Committee.


Dr. Bridges’ goal is to promote greater awareness about cancer through education in high-risk populations and to utilize the Benjamin-Yancy Foundation as a vehicle for change in the greater New Orleans area.

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Lila Luster-Stipe was born in New  Orleans, La.  She is a graduate of McDonogh #35 Senior High School and attended University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans.  Upon completion of core classes with and interest in healthcare, she relocat4ed to Atlanta, Ga to pursue a nursing degree at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing.  While in nursing school, Lila worked as a nurse tech in the maternity area, igniting her interest in the field.  Graduating from Ga. Baptist in 1994, she was hired by DeKalb Medical Center as a staff nurse on the Mother/Baby unit and was promoted as the maternity unit’s Nurse Educator shortly.  With the desire to relocate to her hometown, she landed a job in the Family Birth Place at West Jefferson Medical Center as a staff nurse in L&D and Postpartum but worked in the Nursery and NICU immediately, focusing on lactation assistance when needed.  Six years into employment with WJMC, Lila was promoted as the unit’s Lactation Consultant after passing the International Board Certification for Lactation Consultants, where she currently is Lead Consultant.


During college studies, Lila pledged and joined the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Epsilon Chi Chapter in 1989.  She has been an active member of the Greater New Orleans Alumni chapter and plans to take more leadership roles in the future.


Lila is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church where Pastor Fred Luter leads his congregation and is the proud mother of Kayla and Justin.





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Proud mother of two sons, Anthony Thomas Bertrand and Phillip Boyd Bertrand. Faye attended F. W. Gregory Junior High School, graduated from John F. Kennedy Senior High School, and attended Southern University at New Orleans. She is currently adhering to her calling and working in the field of Diabetes Education.





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January 16, 1948

He is admired and loved by many, a strong character and leader with exceptional patience and unrivalled wisdom.


            Corpus Christi Elementary School

            St. Augustine High School

            Xavier University of Louisiana: Bachelor of Science – Accounting

            Loyola University of Louisiana: Master of Business Administration



            United States Postal Service: Part time Clerk (Student)

            Shell Oil Company: Accountant

            United States Air Force: First Lieutenant – Staff Auditor

            Consolidated Natural Gas/ CNG Producing Company: Accountant & Purchasing Agent
              Brock Exploration: Accountant/Manager of Joint Venture Accounting

            The Times-Picayune Publishing Company: Vice President, Mgr. of Purchasing


            Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout

            Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

            Knights of Columbus: Treasurer

            National Black MBA Association: Past Chapter President

            Association of St. Augustine Alumni – New Orleans

            Cornerstone Club of St. Augustine High School

            DeSaix Area Neighborhood Association – Past President & Treasurer 

            Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club


Awards and Committees:

            Order of St. Louis IX Medallion

            Fair Grounds Citizen Advisory Committee



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Russell Mark Vappie a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, raised in the Treme and 7th Ward area of the city, and is a retired Police Lieutenant.  Lt. Vappie served the community for 31 years, rendering service in the Urban Squad, Escort & Motorcycle Unit, Applicant Investigation Commander, trained Hostage Negotiator, and Public Integrities Commander.

Mr. Vappie is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans with a B.S, in Criminal Justice and certification from the Federal Bureau Investigation Training Academy, Quantico Virginia.


Honorable assignments during his career included Executive Security to during the City’s Barthelemy Administration and two term President of The Black Organization of Police.


As a Cancer survivor, he personally understands the struggle to combat this dreaded disease.  He endeavors is to assist the organization in providing services to cancer patients on their road to remission.



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