The Natchitoches Young Professionals (NYP), a subdivision of the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce, named four members to the 2017 top 4 Under 40 awards. The NYP 4 Under 40 award is awarded to four members who excel in community leadership and professional achievements while maintaining a consistent level of involvement with NYP.
Nominations for the NYP 4 Under 40 awards are accepted each year through an anonymous survey open to anyone wishing to vote for their NYP member of choice. This year, nearly 50 nominations were cast for over 20 different members of NYP. A committee made of up three NYP Board and three Chamber of Commerce Board members made the final decision for this year’s cast of award winners: Howard Conday, Jr., Valencia Sarpy Jones, Justin Rhodes and Lauryn Sharplin.
Conday is owner and operator of a private law practice focusing on criminal defense/personal injury law within the State of Louisiana and sports/entertainment law within the State of New York. Born and raised in Natchez, Conday received his bachelor’s degree from LSU and his MBA and Juris Doctor degree from Howard University in Washington, DC. Conday said, “Of all the work I have done, servicing the kids in Natchitoches through the juvenile justice system has been the single most satisfying accomplishment of my life.”
Jones is a successful financial services professional with New York Life Insurance Company in Natchitoches and NYLIFE Securities LLC. Jones obtained her bachelor’s degree from LSU in 2005 and in August of 2016 she was appointed to the LSU Board of Supervisors. She also serves on the Natchitoches Jazz/R&B Festival Marketing Committee and is a new member of the NYP Board of Directors and of the Boys Scouts of America Norwela Council. When asked what it meant to be considered for this award, Jones said, “Community involvement in this amazing place we call home is my passion. My service as a member of various governing boards gives me a voice to affect positive change in the organization and in the community.”
Rhodes is owner of Rhodes Properties and Development, LLC. Rhodes Properties is a construction company rooted in Natchitoches, which has significantly expanded its reach in 2016 with over 50 new residential construction projects in Natchitoches, Ruston, Pineville, Alexandria, Toledo Bend, Coushatta and Marksville. Justin Rhodes is a member and past board member of both the Natchitoches Area Jaycees and NYP, and is also a member of the NSU Demons Unlimited Foundation Executive Board. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Mississippi State, but has adopted the demons as his hometown team. With all the success that Rhodes Properties has experienced this year, Rhodes is most proud of the fact that in 2016 Rhodes Properties sponsored over 25 community events and donated $50,000 back to the Natchitoches community that he is so proud to call home.
Sharplin has spent the last six years managing the Comfort Suites hotel in Natchitoches, which has consecutively been an award winning and nationally ranked property. This week, Sharplin will represent Natchitoches at the 2017 Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Awards Banquet as an Accommodation of the Year finalist (winners to be announced Jan. 26). Sharplin received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University in 2007 and is a founding member of NYP. As the NYP Philanthropy Chair, she has organized numerous events for the community such as city park clean-ups, food drives for the Cane River Food Pantry, Witch Way to Main Street activities, and most recently, spearheaded a city-wide campaign to collect items to donate and deliver to the Louisiana flood victims. Sharplin is also a member of Service League, the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission and the Coastal Conservation Association. Sharplin said, “I am committed to serving a community which has provided so much for me and my family. I hope to encourage community involvement and evolvement to ensure Natchitoches continues to thrive and provide a great quality of life.”
All four recipients will be recognized at the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Thursday, Feb. 2. For more information on the Natchitoches Young Professionals visit natchitocheschamber.com/nyp.