Our Team



Several years ago, people of faith convened around an issue facing countless families in the New Orleans community — homelessness. The growing number of people experiencing homelessness increased to 70 percent after Hurricane Katrina. The number of places used to house families in crisis was few compared to the need. After hours of meeting with already existing providers, conducting research around the need and endless hours of consultation, we formed the Hotel Hope nonprofit corporation.

 A two-bedroom house in the Broadmoor neighborhood was purchased in 2016, renovated and sheltered 23 moms and 56 children over a two-year period.  In 2018 Hotel Hope sold the house and purchased a 24 bedroom hotel which provides each guest with safety and security in a gated environment.  The former Cares Center located at Blessed Trinity Parish will be renovated and ultimately serve as an early childhood development center and resource center for homeless women and their children.



Mary Lou Specha, PBVM
Executive Director

A Sister of the Presentation for over 25 years is an experienced nonprofit executive. Sister Mary Lou most recently served as the Executive Director of Café Reconcile. She has a decade of nonprofit leadership and administration and a career devoted to working for systemic change. Sister Mary Lou has experience in fundraising, strategic planning, nonprofit board development and fiscal reporting. Sister Mary Lou lives in Central City, New Orleans, and is committed to neighborhood revitalization. Sister Mary Lou believes in the mission of Hotel Hope and is committed to serving families with love and compassion. Email: mlspecha@hotelhope.org


Ingrid Foy, MCJ
Administrative Assistant

Ingrid was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She went to Southern University at New Orleans where she got her Bachelors in General Studies and her Masters in Criminal Justice. Since high school, she has continuously volunteered whether it was feeding the homeless or helping low-income and first-generation children. She has a passion for helping people to achieve greatness. She has helped teach through education, cultural aspects, and interactive activities such as cheerleading and dance. Families, especially with children, set the path for the next to come. Ingrid feels if she can help them succeed, she essentially has a hand in helping our world be a better place for us all. We’ve got to take it one step at a time. Email: ifoy@hotelhope.org


Julie Marsh, PBVM
Director of Hotel Operations

Sr. Julie is the Director of Hotel Operations.  Sister Julie is a Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Dubuque, IA.  She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a Masters of Arts degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri with other graduate work from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.  She has 20 years’ experience with families and young adults which included guidance, teaching and administrative experience. As Director of Hotel Operations, Sister Julie oversees the management of services and facilities as well as assists in developing programs, activities, policies and procedures the guests of the hotel.  She nurtures a spirit of hospitality to all guests, staff and visitors. Email: jmarsh@hotelhope.org



Anita Marshall Jefferson
Director of Program Services

Anita Marshall Jefferson comes to New Orleans, Louisiana from Columbus, Ohio.  She has obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism with a minor in Communications from Southern University at New Orleans, and a Master’s in Social Work from Tulane University School of Social Work.  She has attended the Rutgers University Training for Mid-Managers at the State University of New Jersey and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Boston Massachusetts.

Anita has recently joined the Staff at Hotel Hope as the Program Services Director. As a previous Hotel Hope Board Member, she now brings that passion, enthusiasm and excitement internally.  She has worked in this career for over 22 years.  She has previously worked at the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)/Veoila/Transdev as an Executive Assistant, Quality Assurance and Special Events Manager, and Director of Human Resources.  The training and skills received have been the road map to the trajectory of her career to where she is presently.

Anita has spent her entire career in across the board sectors of service.  Her dedication and passion resides with a gospel song by Mahalia Jackson, “If I can help somebody as I travel along, …. then my living will not be in vain.” Email: ajefferson@hotelhope.org


Rainna Richard
Case Manager

Rainna was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She went to Southern University of New Orleans where she got her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. Rainna has a passion for assisting and advocating for the community. She has set the tone by linking and navigating families to resources that will assist with overall goals for achievement.  Rainna believes that providing exceptional case management for families creates a positive change in the family unit as well as the change in the community. Rainna also states that taking community problems and placing them at the forefront for solutions will assist with making every day changes.

Email: rrichard@hotelhope.org

Danita Bright
Guest Services Coordinator

Danita Bright was born and raised in New Orleans.  After Hurricane Katrina, she relocated to Monroe, LA and lived there for the next 12 years raising her children. Danita returned to New Orleans in 2018.   Danita comes with a variety of experiences in the medical and educational fields.  Danita learned about Hotel Hope during her own housing crisis in 2019. After her stay at Hotel Hope, Danita received the supportive services needed to return to self-sufficiency.    Danita also served on Hotel Hope’s Board of Directors. Danita’s passion for serving the community is a natural part of her life.  Danita is a woman of strong faith, knowing that God always directs her steps. Danita’s role as coordinator of guest services is enhanced by staying at Hotel Hope as a guest.  Danita shares sincerely, “Hotel Hope is like Home” Email: dbright@hotelhope.org




Board of Directors

  • Nakisha Ervin-Knott (Chair)
    Louisiana Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit
  • Fred Kirchgraber (Vice Chair)                                                                                *Founding Board Member
    Retired Insurance Executive
  • Mary Jeandron (Vice Chair/Treasurer)                                                                   Certified Public Account
  • Karen Kirchgraber (Secretary)
    *Founding Board Member
    Retired Corporate Trainer
  • Clarence Adams
    Executive Director Ozanam Inn
  • Rev. Louis Arceneaux, C.M.
    Spiritual Advisor, Ozanam Inn
  • Byron Chambers
    *Founding Board Member
    Crosby Energy Services
  • Mike Hammer
    Principal, Pontchartrain Capital, LLC
    *Founding Board Member
  • Romney Kriedt Richard
    President Kriedt Enterprises Ltd.
  • Sr. Judy Zynda, OP
    Teacher / Director
  • Krystle Duplessis
    Attorney at Law
  • Jennifer Guenard
    Certified Public Accountant
  • Ashley R. Lusk
    Marketing Communications
  • Sr. Patty Huffman, DC

Board Member Emeritus

Denise Redmann Hoffman
Attorney at Law

Committee Members