Keynote Speakers

Michael W. Twitty

Wednesday, November 28, 8:15–9:30am
Acadia Ballroom, Marriott Hotel

Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian and food writer from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at He’s appeared on Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern and Many Rivers to Cross with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and has lectured to over 300 groups. He has served as a judge for the James Beard Awards and is a fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and TED and the first Revolutionary in Residence at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Southern Living named Twitty one of “Fifty People Changing the South.” HarperCollins released Twitty’s The Cooking Gene, in 2017, tracing his ancestry from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom. He is a finalist for The Kirkus Prize and The Art of Eating Prize and a third-place winner of Barnes & Noble’s Discover New Writer’s Awards in Nonfiction as well as the 2018 James Beard Award for best writing and book of the year.

Panel: Looking to the Future, Challenging the Past

Friday, November 30, 8:30–10:00am
Acadia Ballroom, Marriott Hotel

Held on the concluding day of the conference, this panel discussion invites southern Louisiana experts, educators, and activists to discuss some of today’s most pressing current issues. The panel will engage the audience by discussing issues that look to the future of interpretation, creating new dialogues that challenge the past’s rhetoric. We’re looking to tackle some of the “tough” talking points, such as issues of environmental justice, gender and racial equality, and environmental progressiveness—issues that haven’t always been discussed comprehensively or fairly in the past. Building on the panel’s insights, how might the idea of “It’s Our Time” be a message that interpreters harness to positively shape the future?
Alecia P. Long is the John R. Loos Professor in the Department of History at Louisiana State University. She is the author of The Great Southern Babylon: Sex, Race, and Respectability in New Orleans, 1865–1920 and is also the author of a textbook titled Louisiana: Our History, Our Home. Her forthcoming book is titled Crimes Against Nature: Sex, Violence, and the Search for Conspirators in the Assassination of JFK. In the book Long connects Clay Shaw’s 1969 trial for conspiracy in the assassination of JFK to the longer history of homosexuality in New Orleans while also making plain Shaw’s role in the national movement for gay and lesbian civil rights.
Monique Verdin is a member of south Louisiana’s United Houma Nation Tribal Council and a part of the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative core leadership circle of brown (indigenous, latinx, and desi) women, from Texas to Florida, working to envision just economies, vibrant communities and sustainable ecologies. She has intimately documented the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate, and change in southeast Louisiana, for decades. Her indigenous Houma relatives and their life ways at the ends of the bayous, in the heart of America’s Mississippi River Delta, have been the primary focus of her storytelling practice. She is the subject/co-writer/co-producer of the documentary My Louisiana Love. Her interdisciplinary work has been included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, including the multiplatform/performance/ecoexperience Cry You One as well as the publication Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. Monique is also the director of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, a series of southeast Louisiana activations sharing native seeds and local knowledge through citizen collaboration, attempting to building a community record of history and present, while seeking sustainable solutions.
Bob Thomas received his Ph.D. in the fields of evolutionary and tropical biology from Texas A&M University and has held adjunct professorships at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and Louisiana State University. He is the past president of the Association of Nature Center Administrators and is a member/chair of several academic, business, and civic boards. He served on the Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums and as chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Dr. Thomas’s activities at Loyola include an active teaching program in environmental communication and biology, many activities relating to coastal issues communication, working in the realm of environmental intervention where industry and communities collide, environmental communication programs in tropical areas (principally Belize, Trinidad, Guatemala, Galápagos, and the eastern Caribbean), tropical biology, nature-based tourism, and environmental education and landscaping. Bob fervently believes that environmental solutions will be the result of open and honest communication, coupled with trust and integrity, among stakeholders.

2018 NAI National Conference
New Orleans, Louisiana

November 27 – December 1


New Orleans Marriott
555 Canal Street
Book a room in NAI's room block.

Single/Double $149 (plus taxes)
Triple – add $25
Quad – add $50

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