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Gambit's 40 Under 40 (2012)

Saluting this year's crop of New Orleans achievers

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Angela Massey, 18

Student, Boston University

Photo by Nicole Sievers

Angela Massey's galactic research was published in a scholarly journal before she had even received her diploma from Lusher High School. A six-week research internship in science and engineering at Boston University (BU) in 2011, the summer before her senior year in high school, led to the paper "Refined Metallicity Indices for M Dwarfs Using the SLoWPoKES Catalog of Wide, Low-mass Binaries," in which Massey was listed as a co-author. The paper was published in the March issue of The Astronomical Journal.

"I looked at binary pairs in our Milky Way which are stars close enough together that their gravity causes them to orbit around each other," says Massey, who wrote computer code to sort through a large database and establish which stars really were pairs and which were just "perceived" pairs. "These stars make up 70 percent of the star population of our galaxy, so they hold a lot of information about the makings of our galaxy."

Currently a freshman at BU, Massey is studying astronomy and physics and is again working with researcher Andrew West, her mentor last summer. "He made my first experience with astronomy amazing," Massey says. She also is working alongside graduate and post-doctorate students in West's lab and says one of the best things about college is seeing the research applied.

Massey had never studied astronomy before she applied for the BU internship, but stated she was "very interested and would work hard." She now plans to earn a doctorate in physics or astronomy and eventually become a professor. — Marta Jewson



Max Materne, 25

General Manager of After-Sales, The Transportation Revolution

Zachary Materne, 30

General Manager of Sales, The Transportation Revolution

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

The Materne brothers both began riding motorcycles in 2002, the same year their family became involved in the industry by opening a Vespa dealership along Bayou St. John. Younger by five years, Max was 15 at the time and used a provision in his state-issued motorcycle endorsement that allowed him to ride within a 1-mile distance of his home in the Gentilly subdivision of Lake Oaks.

"It was closed off, a pretty easy, safe place to ride," Max says.

Today he enjoys pushing his Daytona 675 bike to speeds more than 155 mph while riding at The NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, a new attraction that promises to transform local interest in the Maternes' passion and profession. NOLA Motorsports, with Zachary's help, already has brought the first professionally sanctioned motorcycle race to Louisiana — the AMA pro racing finale, The Triumph Big Kahuna — fostering a huge surge in local exposure to a sport that's as big as NASCAR in Europe but little-known in America. It's also brought an expansion of the Maternes' family-owned and operated business, The Transportation Revolution in the Central Business District, with the recent opening of their Speed Shop at NOLA Motorsports Park.

"[The new park is] not only for the guys who want to do track days and spectator racing, but it's given us a location for a business that really works out there," Zachary says. "It's not only a garage, but we have a 400-square-foot lounge with a bar, couches and a TV. We offer a valet service to keep and maintain your bike for you. Some marinas do this, as do some horse stables, but no one had yet been doing this here."

He credits the success of their business — which was initially the venture of their parents, Gayle and Stephen — to Max's stellar reputation for servicing bikes using the dynamometer technology novel to New Orleans — and both brothers' passion for the sport.

"Really," Zachary says, "we're trying to engage you in the whole bike culture." — FRANK ETHERIDGE



Alexander McConduit, 26

Children's author, Founder of W.R.I.T.E.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

As a native New Orleanian, Alexander McConduit wanted to see more books with characters to which children in the Crescent City could relate easily. While working his day job, the muse hit him: "I was working at Harrah's for two years doing social media marketing when one day the words 'The Little Who Dat' just popped into my head, so I thought it would be a good idea for a book, and then I just wrote it," McConduit says.

Following the success of his books, The Little Who Dat Who Didn't and Snowballs for All, McConduit founded a children's publishing program called Write, Read & Illustrate to Educate (W.R.I.T.E.), which he operated at SciTech Academy with 80 second-graders. Through W.R.I.T.E., McConduit helps children foster their creativity by teaching them the basics of writing, illustrating and publishing over a three-week period, and inviting guest presenters such as 2009 40 Under 40 honoree Brandan Odums and local children's author Denise McConduit, Alexander's aunt.

Alexander is still involved in freelance social media marketing, and he used fundraising site IndieGoGo to raise almost enough money to cover the cost of publishing all the students' books using Amazon.com and CreateSpace.

He is eager to bring W.R.I.T.E. to another school and perhaps another grade. He currently is working on his third book, Buddy Goes to the Bowl, a sequel to The Little Who Dat Who Didn't and the second in a series Alexander plans to continue. — Megan Braden-Perry



Allen C. Miller, 39

Attorney, Phelps Dunbar LLP

President, New Orleans Chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

When he's not winning court cases, Allen C. Miller is volunteering with the New Orleans Chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), WRBH Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped, the Young Leadership Council (YLC), the Metropolitan Area Committee and Odyssey House Louisiana.

"CASA is an organization that deals with abused and neglected children, ensuring that those individuals who typically don't have a voice, do have a voice," Miller says. "I've been the president for the last three years. Our job is to ensure that the child has an independent third-party [who] makes a recommendation to the court considering the child's well-being and what's in his best interest."

Miller also is involved with several legal organizations and has been commended by the Children's Defense Fund. Yet, he originally had no desire to become a lawyer: "I took a strange journey toward being a lawyer," he say. "The reality was just that I was really good with the liberal arts in school. I was an English major who loved the English language, so I found that the best use of what I believed to be my strong points was to be a lawyer.

"I love being a litigator because it's like theater to me. You get to wear many different hats, so solving your clients' problems is always fun. And I do both sides, plaintiff and defense work, so I see a variety of things, and my life is never dull. I really enjoy being an advocate, whether for children or my clients." — Megan Braden-Perry



Nicolas Nevares, 31

Event experiences director, Solomon Group

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Born on Christmas, event planner Nicolas Nevares was perhaps destined to grow up to create dazzling, delightful celebrations. In fact, he centers each event on one goal: to make guests happy.

"The first question I ask a client is, 'What do you want your guests to remember? What is the experience you want them to take away?' Then we backtrack and build the event to create that feeling. We start with the big picture, then design the puzzle."

Nevares started his career as a Loyola student, helming a fundraising gala for the Geoffrey Scholarship — the first endowed scholarship at a Jesuit university created for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. That event caught the eye of Tony Leggio at Blaine Kern Productions, who eventually hired Nevares.

Nevares later moved to BBC Destination Management and became a certified meeting professional. In 2009, the Association of Destination Management Executives named him "Rising Star of the Year." Now at Solomon Group, Nevares serves as education chairman for the International Special Events Society. He's known internationally as an industry expert on technology trends.

Despite all the accolades, it still boils down to the excitement of creating a thrilling event. Nevares recalls attending the Lazarus House fundraiser on Halloween in New Orleans, while still at Loyola.

"It was so over-the-top and such a great party; it made me realize that this is what I wanted to do," says Nevares, who has organized the successful Lazarus Ball for the nonprofit. "It's always had a special place in my heart." — Eileen Loh


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