Louisianians of the Year
Louisianians are a diverse bunch, but we have a few common traits. For example, many Louisianians, no matter how close we are to our family, have an independent streak. Strength and persistence also come to mind when you consider people who are descended from some of the country’s earliest settlers, who fought through the most horrendous conditions, lived through the reigns of multiple countries’ monarchs or who immigrated here looking for a better way of life. Each year, we comb the state in search of Louisianians who exemplify these traits. We look for people who stand out in their professions, give back and represent what’s best about the Pelican State. From teachers and artists to healthcare professionals and philanthropists, these are the individuals who enhance our daily lives in more ways than one. We are thrilled to present to you our 2022 Louisianians of the Year.
Monroe artist Vitus Shell is a remarkable artist who explores the African-American experience through strong, compelling and often unsettling images of Black contemporary life in America. It is art driven by irony, activism and his notion of Black “coolness.”
Annelise Cassar Tedesco
The word Chalmette native Annelise Cassar Tedesco, the 2022 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, most frequently mentioned in her interview was “community.” She strongly believes in the importance of forming a community at Chalmette High School with both her students and her fellow faculty members while serving the community as a whole.
James Clesi’s restaurant career began as a teenager at the Copeland’s on Veterans Boulevard in New Orleans. He bused tables, then moved to dishwashing. Clesi fell in love with the atmosphere in the kitchen — the smells, the sounds, the camaraderie. Now, he owns Clesi’s Restaurant and Catering in Mid-City.
Retired biology professor Malcolm F. Vidrine enjoyed a career ripe with accomplishments: author or coauthor of 20 books and numerous scientific articles, the discovery of leprosy in wild armadillos, and important work with mussels at the Watson Brake archaeological site in northeast Louisiana. Vidrine’s role in the latter was to identify mussels in the Watson Brake middens, food commonly eaten by Native Americans.
Growing up in Houma, Annie Barahona dreamed of working in the medical field. When it came time to decide on a career path, Barahona chose nursing. Sixteen years after starting her nursing journey, the Louisiana State Nurses Association named Barahona the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse of the Year.