Blue Cross Names 2012 Angel Award Winners

Seven men and women from around the state have been chosen winners of the 2012 Angel Award presented by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.  The award is given annually to outstanding volunteers who give of their time and talents for Louisiana’s children.

“Directly affecting the lives of hundreds of Louisiana children every year, the Angel Award program is one of the ways the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation fulfills its mission of supporting health- and education-related causes,” said foundation Executive Director Christy Reeves. “In its 18 years, the program has awarded well over $1 million to charities whose purpose is to improve the welfare of the state’s children.”

This year’s winners, who will be honored at a presentation ceremony Nov. 5 at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel, are:

  • Gaylynne Mack of Baton Rouge, executive director of Big Buddy of Baton Rouge.  Mack has worked with the organization, which provides after school and mentoring programs to more than 8,000 Baton Rouge area schoolchildren, for the better part of three decades and was the driving force behind the group’s hugely successful “Dancing for Big Buddy” fundraising event.
  • Tiffany Phelps of New Roads, executive director of the Center for the Arts there.  With a double goal of providing art education as well as a safe extracurricular environment, the program serves more than 400 Pointe Coupee Parish schoolchildren each semester.  A dozen or more artists and teachers provide instruction in a wide variety of arts, from ballet and hip-hop, through creative writing and theater to painting, drawing and pottery.
  • Michael Hackett of Metairie, retired university IT director and nine-year Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.  CASA volunteers donate large amounts of time providing a voice for children in the state’s foster care programs; their input into judges’ decisions involving ultimate placement of these children is significant. Hackett has served as an advocate for 16 children in his years with CASA
    Mary-Brent Brown of Covington, who recently turned 17 but for the past five years has beenrunning a non-profit group that teaches other children how to raise funds for charity.  Aided by her younger sister, to date her efforts have resulted in donations totaling almost $100,000 for more than 30 non-profit organizations.
  • Ann Keene of Tallulah, who has worked with 4-H in Louisiana since she was a seventh grader in 1953.  In her decades of state fairs, livestock shows and dozens of other 4-H programs, she has served more than 5,000 children on the parish, state, regional and national levels. She was instrumental in setting up 4-H Challenge Camp, which keeps students active in 4-H through middle school and operates in all 64 of the state’s parishes.
  • Darryl Durham of New Orleans, director of Anna’s Arts for Kids, an after-school arts and academic support program for children aged 4-14 in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood.  Under the auspices of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, the program, only two years old, has seen dozens of its participants move onto the honor rolls at their respective schools.
  • Tim Falcon of Marrero, co-founder of Café Reconcile and Café Hope. In conjunction with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, these establishments provide at-risk youth with the skills necessary for employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

A committee of past recipients considered 127 nominations before selecting this year’s winners, each of whom will receive a $20,000 grant for his or her charitable organization. Since the program’s inception, 143 volunteers from all over Louisiana have been honored. They come from all walks of life and range in age from 17 to 93, but they have in common their selfless efforts on behalf of the children in their communities.

Also being recognized is Blue Cross printing production specialist Wendell Jackson as the 2012 Blue Angel.  A member of the Nubian Kruzers motorcycle club, Jackson initiated and developed a public relations and fundraising campaign that enabled the group to increase their support for the Women’s Community Rehabilitation Center and the Capital Area Family Violence Intervention Center.

For more information on the Angel Award program, visit the Blue Cross website at and click on About Blue, then Company and The Angel Award. There, visitors can research information on hundreds of past Angel Award nominees, finalists and overall winners by name, year of nomination or geographical location.

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. Its two signature programs are The Angel Award®, an annual statewide recognition program that awards funds to outstanding Louisianians working to improve the quality of life of the state’s children, and Smart Bodies®, an interactive education program to prevent childhood obesity. In addition, Blue Cross contributes nearly $2 million annually in financial aid to various non-profit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in our communities. When we put dollars into Blue Cross communities, it makes Louisiana a better place for everyone. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than one out of every four Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs more than 1,900 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company’s website at or on Facebook at Follow Blue Cross on Twitter at and CEO Mike Reitz