I have been lucky, as a business owner, to have had great mentors in this journey I've been on, and certainly one of those important early in my career as an entrepreneur was Pat Evans, who passed last week unexpectedly.
I met her when she was Mary Landrieu's campaign manager for the 1987 Treasurer's race, and she remained a friend and advisor of mine until the end. She was the first non-family member I checked on after Hurricane Katrina. I can still hear the clip-clip-clip of her staccato walk in my office, or see her push her hand through that short gray mane of hers as she tried to figure out how to ask me to do a favor for a group of women she wanted to help or some project in her beloved Treme.
Her two most important quotes that I blatantly stole:
1. You don't have a plan if it isn't written down
2. Get women to the table and they'll change the dialogue
An unshakeable feminist, Pat Evans drilled into my head why it was so important to help women...get equal pay, get equal representation, get equal healthcare, get equal treatment. We worked on reproductive rights, on getting pro-choice women elected to the legislature and the courts. A close advisor to Lt. Governor Melinda Schwegmann, she brought those resources to projects we both developed for older women or poor women with children or those who were being abused. I would say that Pat Evans and I voluntarily stepped into situations where we were likely to lose. I earned a lot of stripes with her. In the process, Pat Evans opened up to meall her secrets and strategies, her joys and pains. Her eternal love of the music made famous by her husband Harry and brother-in-law Bill Evans, her hopes for her children. She let me learn from her mistakes so I would not make the same ones. I'm eternally grateful for that. She started important programs for women at UNO; at Nichols State University; at ULL. She leaves behind a legacy of helpingwomen in this country and in Russian republics which became independent democracies. She was a TV personality in early children's television, an awarded TV documentary producer, a stickler for details; untiring, unyielding. Her last project was to bring back commerce and recognition to Treme, which she worked doggedly at and saw come to some fruition. It is impossible to sum up the tremendous impact she had in my life, on my decisions and on my identity as afeminist. For one who could not find peace while others suffered, I hope she is at peace now. She was one of the few people I knew in New Orleans who still wore a gris-gris bag to ward off bad spirits. Hopefully, she is only with good ones now.