Community Impact Award
Jason moved to New Orleans from his hometown of Pineville, Louisiana in 1998 to attend Loyola University New Orleans. After graduating from Loyola, Jason lived and worked in Fairfield County, Connecticut where he volunteered with the non profit, Love Makes A Family. This LGBTQ advocacy organization championed the passage of the first state legislated marriage equality bill in the country. It was his experience with Love Makes A Family that introduced Jason to volunteerism and social change activism.
Jason returned to New Orleans in October 2005 where he earned a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of New Orleans. In 2009, Jason was hired as a volunteer recruiter and community organizer for AARP, a national nonprofit that advocates for persons 50 years and older. Jason began his tenure at AARP working with residents of the Hollygrove Neighborhood to rebuild a more age friendly community post Katrina The volunteers Jason worked with reduced violent crime in Hollygrove by 79%, rebuilt and activated a neighborhood park, and rebuilt the Hollygrove Senior Center.
Jason’s work in Hollygrove was followed by a successful career as a statewide and local lobbyist where he worked with older adult volunteers across the state to champion livable communities legislation. Some of his notable achievements include passage of Louisiana’s first Complete Streets legislation, increased funding for affordable housing, and organizing residents in Alexandria, Louisiana to reduce blighted properties. Working with older adult volunteers further demonstrated the value that older adults bring to creating positive social change in community; this was definitely true among New Orleans’ older adult LGBTQ community.
In 2013, Jason worked with current NOAGE Board President, Jason Waguespack, to organize a group of New Orleans residents to launch SAGE New Orleans, then called NOAGE. The organizing committee included some of New Orleans first gay rights pioneers and Jason attributes their continued contributions to NOAGE as the reason for NOAGE’s success. Jason also cites NOAGE as his saving grace while he was a caregiver for several years for an older gay friend of his. It was the support and resources that NOAGE provided Jason that helped him properly care for his friend. Serving as NOAGE’s Board President from 2015 to 2018, Jason helped lead volunteers and supporters to position NOAGE as the go to organization in New Orleans for older adult LGBTQ residents.
Jason now lives in Miami Beach, Florida where he continues to work for AARP and where he intends to find his what’s next in social change opportunities.