THE ICON: Donald E. Powell
THE LEGACY: When Don Powell was appointed to serve as President George W. Bush’s czar of Gulf Coast recovery efforts in the wake of 2005’s Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, locals had good reason to be skeptical. To that point, after all, the federal response to the storm — when there finally was one to speak of — had been defined by its glacial pace. Powell set out to change that. A Texas banker with a knack for getting things done, he quickly demonstrated his determination to smash through bureaucratic obstacles and help locals rebuild. Using his financial background and his clout with the administration, Powell secured billions in federal aid for local rebuilding efforts — and proved to be an earnest and well-placed friend for the city when it needed it most.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok
THE INSPIRATION: “Over time what happened to Don, he kind of got tired of toeing the corporate line. … As he learned more about the scale of the disaster, he became as sincere and as strong an advocate as anyone in that position could be. We couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated or harder working person.” — Then-Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in 2008