5 local humanitarians chosen for 59th annual Weiss Awards

The New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, the city's oldest human relations organization, has announced its honorees for the upcoming 59th annual Weiss Awards. The Oct. 20 ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel will recognize the five honorees' "exceptional civic and humanitarian contributions" to the greater New Orleans community, the council said.

This year's recipients are Henry L. Coaxum, Jr., president of Coaxum Enterprises, Inc.; Corey J. Hebert, M.D., assistant professor, LSUHSC and chief executive officer, Community Health TV; Campbell C. Hutchinson, co-founder and director emeritus, KID smART; David A. Kerstein, president of Helis Oil and Gas Company, LLC; and Suzanne T. Mestayer, owner and managing principal of the ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC.

"While these individuals have received many awards for their outstanding work in the community, we believe that the Weiss Awards uniquely recognizes their devotion and programs that promote respect for self and others- the cornerstone to achieving changed in our community and in the world," event co-chairman Ralph Capitelli said in a statement.

The council, founded in 1943 as the National Council of Christians and Jews, is a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism. It seeks to promote understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.

The event raises money for several community programs, including Anytown Institute, which brings together teenagers of diverse backgrounds for a week in the summer, NOLA United, a peace, wellness and culture initiative and The Great Health Race, a youth health education and wellness program.

"The Annual Weiss Awards Event is the major fund-raising effort of NOCCJ," said event co-chairwoman Linda Capitelli. "Monies raised are essential to the continued success of their outreach programs which have a direct impact on the entire community. These programs change lives, and the financial assistance they receive through this event can make a tremendous difference."

Coaxum, is the owner/operator of three McDonald's restaurants in New Orleans. In 2002 his career came full circle when he became the owner/operator of the eastern New Orleans McDonald where he started his career in 1984.

For the past five years, Coaxum has served as Chairman of the New Orleans Business Alliance and help launch the city's first public-private partnership for economic development. He also serves as treasurer of the city's Hospital Service District Board that oversaw the redevelopment of the recently reopened full service hospital in Eastern New Orleans.

 Coaxum also helps with fundraising efforts for the American Heart Association, 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans; the Grambling University Athletic Foundation; the African American Heritage Program of the Preservation Resource Center; the New Orleans African American Museum; and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.

Hebert practices pediatrics and emergency room medicine and is assistant professor at LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane University Medical Center. He travels the globe as a motivational speaker and medical broadcast journalist.

He has been the on-air Chief Medical Editor for the NBC television affiliate in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for over a decade, and is a frequent on-air contributor to the "Dr. Oz Show".

Hebert is the host of a weekly radio talk show on the Cumulus Broadcasting Network, called "Doctor For The People" in which he answers health questions from a call-in audience.

Hutchinson, a retired Army veteran and lawyer, is the co-founder and director emeritus, of KID smART, a non-profit corporation that works with public schools in the New Orleans area by teaching life skills to students through the visual and performing arts.

KID smART's focus is linking the arts with the existing academic curriculum by partnering with K-8 public schools to embed professional teaching artists in classrooms.

Hutchinson, an expressionist painter who works with oil, has published eight children books and recently published a book of his landscape paintings. He is a former board member for the Arts Council of New Orleans.

Kerstein, is an honors graduate of Tulane Law School and is a past president of the Oil & Gas Section of the Louisiana Bar Association.

He is chairman of the board of the New Orleans Business Council and is a board member of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, the President's Council of Tulane University, The Arts Council of New Orleans, Bureau of Governmental Research, The advisory board of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc., WWOZ New Orleans' Community Jazz and Heritage Station, and vice-chairman of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.

He is also president of The Helis Foundation, a private charitable foundation focusing on the needs and the art and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana and president of the Diana Helis Henry Medical Research Foundation and the Adrienne Helis Malvin Medical Research Foundation.

Mestayer, is the owner and managing principal of ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC, an independent registered investment advisory firm. She is the chairwoman of the Ochsner Health System and has helped oversee the strategic growth of the state's largest healthcare system.

Her dedication to building a more vibrant and resilient Greater New Orleans community has earned her several accolades, including a spot on the New Orleans Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2012. She has also twice been recognized by the Louisiana Society of CPAs with the Distinguished Public Service Award in 2004 and the Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry Award in 2007. In 2001, she was recognized as one of "Ten Outstanding Persons" by Family Service.

Mestayer has served on the International Women's Forum Leadership Board and is a member of the Business Council of New Orleans executive committee, and is treasurer of The National WWII Museum.