John Barry is the author of several award-winning and best-selling books, perhaps most notably “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America,” which the New York Public Library named in 2005 one of the 50 best books of the preceding 50 years. He is the only non-scientist ever invited to give the annual Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture at the National Academies of Science, and he has advised national and international policy makers on resilience. From January 2007 until October, 2013, he served as a member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East, and he was the chief architect of that authority's lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, and 93 other oil, gas, and pipeline companies for the damage they have done to the flood protection system. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal demanded that the board withdraw the suit, even though the board is an independent entity, created after the Hurricane Katrina specifically to be insulated from political pressure. Because of the suit, Jindal did not reappoint Barry to the board. In order to continue his work in the area of flood protection, Barry formed Restore Louisiana Now.
Innovations in comedy and technology have been the hallmarks of filmmaker Walter Williams’ award winning career. That’s as true of his first Mr. Bill short on Saturday Night Live (which he created 40 years ago for under $20) as it is of the digital desktop studio he uses to create everything from commercials and documentaries to 3D animations and stereoscopic 3D films. Williams, a New Orleans’ native, is passionate about coastal restoration and has created an exciting range of comedic and educational films about the issues facing New Orleans and South Louisiana. Many of his films can be seen on the Restore Louisiana Now website.