– 12 ICONS OF NEW ORLEANS –
Selected by JPMorgan Chase
THE ICON: Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes
THE LEGACY: Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes has never been shy about her passion for New Orleans, and she credits the city and its rich culture for molding her into the impassioned advocate she is today. “New Orleans helped to make me who I am,” she remarks. “All of my favorite things about myself are positively influenced by the people here, the energy here, the culture here.”
But while she’s always happy to discuss her love for NOLA with words, Ecclesiastes has proven her appreciation through hands-on action. She serves as Director of Strategic Neighborhood Development at the New Orleans Business Alliance, an accredited economic development program that’s committed to repositioning the city as a bustling hub for economy and culture. In this role, her primary focus has been advancing the revitalization of the Claiborne Corridor, a prominent African-American commercial district.
While Ecclesiastes’ current work is impressive, it’s just a fraction of all she’s given to New Orleans. Something of a renaissance woman, Ecclesiastes has taught at universities, schools and prisons throughout the area, and she’s proven instrumental in the production of numerous cultural festivals, including Tremé 200 Festival, New Orleans Juneteenth Festival and more. Ecclesiastes has even toured on a play she wrote – entitled Swimming Upstream – about post-Katrina life in the Crescent City.
And although Ecclesiastes has seen progress in her lifetime, she maintains there’s always work to be done. Her vision for NOLA’s next 300 years includes strong female leadership and measures to protect the city’s culture and environment to ensure a more prosperous future for all.
THE INSPIRATION: “If we don’t protect the environment, there could no longer be a New Orleans at all. And if we don’t protect the culture, it certainly won’t be New Orleans as we’ve known it for these 300 years.”