2023 Downtown NOLA Award Honorees

The DDD would like to congratulate the honorees for this year’s Downtown NOLA Awards for their exceptional contributions to the progress of Downtown New Orleans. Join us the evening of October 18th as we celebrate the best of Downtown New Orleans at the Audubon Aquarium with a cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 PM and awards at 8:00 PM, followed by live music and dancing. Tickets are available here.

Thank you for helping us shine a light on those who help make Downtown a remarkable experience!


Connect Hub Coworking

Connect Hub Coworking offers New Orleanians a vibrant and professional coworking environment in the heart of Downtown. Members of this lively community gain access to a space optimally designed for business start-up, function, and scalability. The flexibility provided by Connect Hub Coworking allows for members to continuously evolve and grow their businesses in friendly, adaptable surroundings that center achievement and personalization. With a wide range of selections and potential packages, this space is bringing a plethora of new life and opportunity to the neighborhood Downtown.

Eskew Dumez Ripple

for the Audubon Aquarium & Insectarium

Since 1989, U.S. architecture studio Eskew Dumez Ripple (EDR) has called Downtown New Orleans its home. This past summer, the studio flew to the forefront of citywide conversation as it unveiled its latest work: the $41 million renovation and reimagination of the riverfront Audubon Aquarium & Insectarium. Throughout all its projects, EDR maintains a strong commitment to nature, balance, and environmental sustainability— and the remodel of the Audubon Aquarium is no exception. The new two-story lobby features living flora walls, and the stunning exterior façade incorporates a curtain of bird-friendly glass to ensure safe flight for the native species on the riverfront.  EDR’s vision for the Audubon Aquarium has led to the creation of a space that both the city and its natural surroundings can benefit from and enjoy. 

Kris Khalil

Executive Director, New Orleans BioInnovation Center

A New Orleans native and Tulane University alum, Kris Khalil serves as Executive Director of Downtown’s New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC). As Executive Director, Khalil oversees the incubation and growth of Louisiana-based biotech businesses that aim at commercializing medical technology and improving health outcomes for those in-state and beyond. During his time as Manager of NOBIC’s BioFund, Khalil has invested in more than 30 companies that have collectively raised more than $250 million in private funding for biotech innovation. Khalil’s work as Executive Director demonstrates the impact that an individual can make on the world right from Canal Street Downtown.

LeMieux Galleries

LeMieux Galleries stands as a staple of Downtown New Orleans’ Arts District, and has so since it first moved to the iconic neighborhood in 1990 after outgrowing its space in Algiers Point.  Under the artful leadership of Denise Berthiaume, LeMieux Galleries became a hub uniting seasoned collectors and new art enthusiasts to explore Louisiana and Gulf Coast artists committed to their vision. In 2015, longtime employees Christy Wood and Jordan Blanton purchased the gallery and have continued the mission of curating a space and a collection that captures the beauty and versatility of art from the Southern United States, with a specific focus on showcasing work from emerging artists and young minds. While the exhibitions change and the artworks come and go, for over 40 years, LeMieux Galleries has helped solidify the New Orleans Arts District as one of the premiere locations for art enthusiasts.

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) consistently ranks as one of the finest and most visited establishments in the city, yet 2023 still managed to stand out as one of the venue’s most successful years to date. In the past twelve months, the NOENMCC has been honored with a Venue Excellence Award from the International Association of Venue Managers, named a Top Workplace for its eighth year by the Times-Picayune, recognized by New Orleans CityBusiness for its organizational commitment to women empowerment, and more. They have also embarked on an impressive expansion and upgrade continuing to elevate the experience for all who visit.  With its over 1 million square feet of gathering space enjoyed by visitors from across the globe, the economic and cultural impact made by the NOENMCC is unmatched. 


For nearly a century, Rubensteins has been defining men’s fashion in the city from its spot on the corner of St. Charles and Canal. This family-owned and widely beloved store spans six buildings in the heart of Downtown and attracts tourists and locals alike with its renowned commitment to clothing, class, and customer service. A consistent staple of the culture and economy in the neighborhood, Rubensteins was the first retailer to reopen on Canal Street after Hurricane Katrina, bringing vitality back to the area it had served since 1924. As the store turns 100 years old in the new year, its ongoing success speaks to the tradition of community and excellence present in its everyday work and overall impact Downtown. 

Walter Abney

Clean Team Ambassador of the Year

Walter Abney has been helping to elevate the Clean Team effort in Downtown since May of 2022. After relocating to New Orleans from Lake Charles in the wake of Hurricane Laura, Walter has developed a deep love for the city and its Downtown area. His passion for keeping the neighborhood clean and spending time outdoors shines through in his deep-rooted dedication to the Clean Team. A committed community member and an always-friendly face, Walter epitomizes the mission of DDD, and does it with care, compassion, and inspiration that is both admirable and infectious.

Kendall Armstead

Public Safety Ranger of the Year

Since 2016, DDD Public Safety Ranger Kendall Armstead has been epitomizing what it means to make a difference in Downtown New Orleans. A true role model in the community, Kendall, a New Orleans native, demonstrates excellence in every aspect of his role as a Ranger. Whether his days are spent facilitating Safe Walks, or interacting with the thousands of global citizens who visit the District each day, he can always be found making a positive impact with a smile on his face. In addition to his outstanding outreach work with DDD, Kendall is also an irreplaceable member of the Public Safety Rangers’ internal camaraderie; his upbeat spirit and honest approach garner him deep admiration both in and outside of the office.

Alex T. Sider II

Public Safety Officer of the Year 

Senior New Orleans Police Officer Alex T. Sider II began his work with DDD in December of 2022 after having worked with NOPD for over 20 years. His work with DDD reflects Officer Sider’s endless dedication and devotion to keeping the Downtown neighborhood safe and giving back to the city of New Orleans, where he was born and raised. Officer Sider is a consistently positive, friendly, and productive force who loves time spent with coworkers and community members in the same way that they love time spent with him. His time with DDD is a true reminder of the value of personability, capability, and knowledge— both in this field of work and beyond.

Judy Barrasso

Distinguished Service Award

Longtime DDD Commissioner Judy Barrasso is receiving the Distinguished Service Award for her dedicated service to Downtown New Orleans. Commissioner Barrasso served on the DDD Board of Commissioners for 21 years and held numerous leadership roles, including Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice Chair, as well as Board Chair for two separate terms. Her term expired in June of this year, and the current Board of Commissioners is presenting her with this award.

Professionally, Judy Barrasso is a founding member of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, L.L.C in Downtown New Orleans. She has been ranked by Chambers USA as a top commercial litigator, by Benchmark Litigation as a Litigation Star, and by the Diversity Journal as among 200 corporate executives deemed “Women Worth Watching.” According to Chambers, Judy “has a reputation as a formidable trial lawyer,” “stands ‘head and shoulders above much of the competition,” and is “considered one of the state’s finest litigators.”

Judy presently serves on the boards of the Innocence Project New Orleans and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She recently received the prestigious Hannah G. Solomon Award, given to individuals who have helped change the lives of others through leadership efforts and service. She also was named a Young Leadership Council Role Model, a YWCA Role Model, and a CityBusiness ‘Woman of the Year.’

Link Restaurant Group

In early 2009, James Beard Award Winning chef Donald Link and his business partner Stephen Stryjewski formed the Link Restaurant Group in order to connect and develop their growing collection of local New Orleans restaurants. Today, those restaurants are some of the most renowned and visited in the city, with Link staples like Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche, and Gianna being some of Downtown’s top dining spots and favorite hangouts. With its carefully curated restaurants— each complete with a unique ambiance and fine dining menu— the Link Restaurant Group is a giant of hospitality in the neighborhood. Its contributions to New Orleans’ culture, cuisine, and economy simply cannot be overstated. 

About the Downtown NOLA Awards

The DDD created the Downtown NOLA Awards as an annual program to recognize exceptional accomplishments of Downtown NOLA property owners, businesses, residents, workers and organizations. We want to honor the people and places that inspire, innovate and integrate the Downtown NOLA brand into their Downtown neighborhoods.

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