Board & Staff

Staff

Benjamin Clapper

Executive Director

Benjamin Clapper has committed his life to speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. His expertise in the pro-life movement ranges from the political and legislative realm to youth education and activism.

Benjamin serves as the Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life. Louisiana Right to Life, established in 1970, works through education, activism, legislation, and service to restore the right to life in Louisiana. During his years with Louisiana Right to Life, Benjamin has built a volunteer-run organization into a professional operation making an impact in Louisiana from the State Capitol to the high school classroom. During his time working to advance pro-life legislation, Louisiana has been at or near the top of the list of most pro-life states in the nation.

In addition to Louisiana Right to Life, Benjamin serves the national pro-life movement in a number of capacities. Through his work with the National Right to Life Victory Fund, Benjamin has worked on the political side to elect pro-life leaders to office. He also helped start pro-life youth training programs in many states through the “Life and Leadership Youth Camp Initiative.”

Benjamin is also the Executive Producer of the award-winning short adoption documentary film  I Lived on Parker Avenue.

Benjamin’s dedication to the pro-life movement began in late high school in his hometown of Mobile, AL, but was crystalized in college as he actively worked with Students for Life of America and went on to found Louisiana Students for Life. In 2013, Benjamin was honored to receive a top award from SFLA.

Benjamin graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in 2007 as the Ignatian Award winner for Outstanding Male Graduate. At Loyola, he was blessed to meet his future wife, Kristen, through their collaboration on pro-life activities. Kristen and Benjamin reside in Mandeville with their four beautiful daughters: Kate, Mary Rose, Julia, and Claire.

Email: [email protected]

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Angie Thomas

Associate Director

Angie Thomas serves as Associate Director for Louisiana Right to Life. Prior to this position, she served as CEO of the Woman’s New Life Clinic, a professional counseling and medical clinic offering life-affirming services for women in unplanned pregnancies, post-abortive men and women, and women’s health. She led the effort to expand authentic women’s health services in South Louisiana, reclaiming reproductive healthcare and offering alternatives to Planned Parenthood.

Her work includes legal education and training for pregnancy centers, development and outreach, legislative advocacy, education about life issues, and implementing new programs in building a culture of life. Angie also serves as Attorney with National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.

She was trained through the Blackstone Fellowship, an intensive training in Christian worldview principles and how they apply to the study and interpretation of law.  She worked for Americans United for Life and Bioethics Defense Fund during and following law school.

Angie is a graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University (B.A. 2001, magna cum laude) and Loyola Law School (J.D. 2004, cum laude).  She lives in New Orleans with her husband and four daughters.

Email: [email protected]

Sandy Cunningham

Communications Director

Sandy Cunningham joined the Louisiana Right to Life team as Communications Director in July 2014. Her job includes handling media relations and audio and print communications for the organization as well as managing the LARTL website.

Sandy is a native of Washington Parish and grew up in Jackson, Miss. She returned to Louisiana after high school graduation to begin college, and she received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from LSU in 1985. After a short stint back in Mississippi after graduation, she returned to Louisiana to begin her newspaper career. She worked in the newspaper industry as a writer, editor, general manager and publisher and spent her entire newspaper career at community newspapers in southeast Louisiana. She served on the Louisiana Press Association Board of Directors for 10 years and was president of the statewide newspaper organization from 2010-2012.

Sandy and her husband, Kerry, live in Abita Springs with their daughter, Cassidy. They attend First Baptist Church of Covington.

Email: [email protected]

Kathy Allen, Ph.D

State Director, Black Advocates for Life

Kathy Allen is an advocate for social justice, both personally and professionally. She serves as state director for Louisiana Black Advocates for Life, an initiative designed to both increase the meaningful participation of the Black community in prolife advocacy and decrease the rate of abortion among Black women.

Kathy is a native of New Orleans, where as a graduate student she did research as well as grassroots advocacy outreach work in the industrial corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Kathy taught social policy courses at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and completed doctoral research on the potential for socially just economic development in Louisiana. She has served as director of an agency providing resources and referrals for people with disabilities and their families, where she developed and obtained funding for several projects focused on providing practical and moral support to family members of individuals with disabilities.

As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, Kathy understands well that every life is precious. She believes that every person in a socially just society has the right to a life in which God-given gifts and talents can be contributed to the community. She believes that this right begins in the womb.

Kathy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Orleans and a master of Arts and Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. She continues to support her community as a development consultant and grant writer. She and her son Joshua reside in Opelousas.

Email: [email protected]

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Alex Seghers

Director of Education

Alexandra Seghers joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in August 2015 as Youth Programs Co-Director and now serves as Director of Education. In this capacity she focuses on a combination of medical ethics education, grassroots organizing, chapter development, legislative affairs, social media, and youth education, among other projects.

Previously she directed youth initiatives such as the PULSE Leadership Institute, PULSE Immersion Weekends and the Geaux Forth Rally at the March for Life in Washington D.C. and led LARTL youth education efforts in schools and youth organizations throughout Louisiana, including over 200 speaking engagements to 15,000+ youth while in this capacity. She will continue helping with some of these programs in her new position.

Alex grew up in Covington and was a member of St. Peter Parish’s pro-life youth club, learning pro-life apologetics and praying once a month at the Metairie abortion clinic.

She left Louisiana to study at the University of Dallas, where she was an officer of the college’s pro-life club. She organized events and also represented the university at the Young America’s Foundation and Students for Life’s 2014 Pro-Life Student Leadership Summit Conference. Additionally, she led a variety of other campaigns, programming, and organization initiatives at the University of Dallas.

During the 2014 Senate election, Alex worked during that Summer back in Louisiana as the Northshore Field Director for the Susan B. Anthony List’s Women Speak Out PAC campaign, managing door-to-door canvassers speaking to voters about Mary Landrieu’s pro-abortion record.

Alex received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from the University of Dallas in 2015. She is completing a Healthcare Ethics Certification with the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

She and her husband, Robert, live in Metairie with their children, Yvette and Nicholas.

Email: [email protected]

Pastor Jonathan Burton

Associate Director, Black Advocates for Life

Pastor Jonathan Burton has spent his adult life trying to impact lives through sports and community development, and he’s joined the Louisiana Black Advocates for Life team as Associate Director to make even a bigger impact in the Black community.

Through his connections throughout the greater New Orleans area and the state, Pastor Jonathan believes he can help bring awareness to the problem of abortion that has plagued our communities, especially the Black community. He believes that the more church leaders and community activists who are made aware of this problem can come together and help champion the cause to save these precious lives and end abortion once and for all!

Pastor Jonathan is a former college basketball standout and national champion at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. He also played professionally before God revealed another path, so he retired early and started Cross It Up, Inc. This non-profit organization produces effective role models and leaders in today’s society by impacting the community through sports and community development programs, including the NOLA Prep Alternative Adult Education program, that empower people to “Change” their lives and “Build” bright futures.

God also showed Pastor Jonathan that it’s important that people have a place to cultivate their relationship with God and be able to continuously grow and develop on a weekly basis within a supportive, vibrant, Gospel-centered community of believers. This vision sparked the beginning phase of a church plant, Regeneration Church, officially launching in the fall of 2020 in the upper Ninth Ward.

Pastor Jonathan earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in biblical studies from Southeastern University. He is also a certified mental health professional and certified marriage coach and is currently working on completion of his Master of Divinity degree.

Pastor Jonathan lives in New Orleans with his wife, Brandy, and their three children. They have a dream to one day start their first pregnancy center in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

Email: [email protected]

Sarah Zagorski

New Orleans Director, Adoption Education Director

Sarah Zagorski rejoined the Louisiana Right to Life staff as the Special Projects Director in January 2018 after pro-life involvement in northern Colorado. There she served as the Director of Colorado Citizens for Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life and was a staff writer for LifeNews.com. Also, she worked as a lobbyist advancing pro-life legislation at the state Capitol for Colorado Family Action, a policy partner of Focus on the Family.

Sarah’s dedication to the pro-life cause stems from her own personal story of being rescued from abortion and spending nearly eight years in the Louisiana foster care system. At the age of 9 she was adopted by a loving family dedicated to the pro-life movement. In 2012, she graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Biblical Studies. Now Sarah resides in Greater New Orleans with her husband, David, and young son, Jesse. Visit her online at SarahZagorski.com.

Email: [email protected]

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Krystal Romero Rushing

Acadiana Director

Krystal Romero Rushing is a well known pro-life advocate and native of Acadiana. She is passionate about protecting the most vulnerable. As a pro-life activist, mother, and registered nurse, she felt called to accept the position as Acadiana Director for Louisiana Right to Life.

Her work experience has provided her with a comprehensive understanding of the pro-life movement, challenges and appreciation of the amazing work this organization continues to do to restore the right to life. She has worked several years at the DesOrmeaux Foundation and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Her journey began as a volunteer and advanced to Executive Assistant. 

Her background gives her valuable insight and experience running a successful nonprofit organization. Throughout her career, she experienced many different aspects of pro-life ministry. She worked in the Women’s Center of Lafayette, consulting with women seeking abortion, adoption, and parenting their babies. As the housing director of the St. Marguerite d’Youville maternity home, she interviewed and assessed every potential resident. She formulated individual care plans for each resident to fit their specific needs. The care plans ranged from obtaining a GED, starting a career, counseling, and drug rehab programs for mothers who wanted to parent. She has advocated and assisted mothers seeking to have an adoption. She has been involved in the process from assisting with choosing adoptive parents, staying at the hospital, advocating for the mother and baby, and assisting the grieving mothers when they return home without their baby.

Krystal and her husband, Shane, have three children together, but their oldest, Gracey Claire, passed away in 2009. They have two children currently living, Emma Grace and Grayson. As a mother to a son with Digeorge Syndrome (22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome), she can relate and understand everyday challenges faced with having a special needs child. Words can’t express how grateful she is for her son and the everlasting impressions that he has left on her soul. She believes every life is precious in the eyes of God and life begins at conception.

Her goals are fundraising, organizational awareness, and developing and maintaining relationships throughout Acadiana. Krystal wants to have conversations with everyone including pregnancy centers, social service leaders, superintendents, elected officials, church leaders, etc. She believes conversations are the only way to lead to conversion, which is critical in making abortion unthinkable.

Email: [email protected]

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Ashley Gilliam

Youth Programs Director, Southeast

Ashley Gilliam joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in 2021 as Youth Programs Co-Director. 

Ashley became involved with pro-life activism when she was a student at Tulane University and joined the pro-life organization on campus. She served on the executive board throughout college and led as president during her final year. Through workshops, volunteering, and conversations with students, Ashley gained knowledge and experience in pro-life advocacy and providing support to people in her community. She became passionate about educating and empowering young people to work to uphold the dignity of life. 

Ashley grew up in Arizona and enjoys exploring the beautiful outdoors with friends and family. In 2021, she graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. She lives in Metairie. 

Email: [email protected]

Kandace Landreneau

College Director; Youth Programs Director, North Louisiana

Kandace Landreneau began her activism when she was a student at LSU after hearing a speech by Bobby Schindler, who told of his sister Terry Schiavo’s life. This presentation convicted her to join the pro-life campus group the following day.

She helped grow the club and produced different pro-life events on campus. She led activism campaigns on campus with weekly pro-life apologetics teachings, with an emphasis on tabling in Free Speech Alley and dialoging weekly with students about pro-life issues. The group also offered free resources to women on the sidewalk at the Delta abortion facility in Baton Rouge twice a week. Through these encounters they saw many minds changed and lives saved.

Kandace served as the Youth Director for Louisiana Right to Life in 2014, conducting pro-life presentations at high schools and college campuses, running Camp Joshua (now Pulse Camps) and focusing on activism on campuses.

She graduated from LSU-Shreveport in May 2020 with a Mass Communications degree with a concentration in Journalism. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in Public Policy.

Kandace grew up in the pro-life movement, following in the footsteps of her parents, who passionately defended the defenseless their entire lives. She owes all of her pro-life achievements, whatever they may be, to her father, Dr. Michael D. Landreneau, and her mother, Dr. Kandace J. Landreneau.

Kandace is from Shreveport, where she spends most of her free time training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Email: [email protected]

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TJ Burgess

Special Projects Director

TJ Burgess joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in the summer of 2017, serving as a youth programs intern, and continued in that capacity until August 2019. In January 2021 he returned to the team as Special Projects Director.

TJ was rooted with a passion for pro-life activism early on in life, though he only started his advocacy in 2015. He was activated as a pro-life leader in his first year of high school when he attended one of the Louisiana Right to Life’s PULSE pro-life youth camps. He was so inspired to be a change-maker that he devoted his life to making any human rights abuse unthinkable.

As a junior in high school in 2018, TJ launched Men for Life, a pro-life organization that advocates for the protection and expansion of human rights by encouraging men to be informed, active, and purposeful defenders of life. In just a few short years, Men for Life has grown to be internationally acclaimed, and TJ has spoken at protests, press conferences, and rallies across the country.

Email: [email protected]

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Abby Rose Nichols

Cenla Youth Director

Abby Rose Nichols joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in 2021 as Cenla Youth Director through a partnership between the Cenla Pregnancy Center and Louisiana Right to Life.

After researching the topic of abortion for an assignment during her freshman year of college, Abby Rose quickly developed a passion for being a voice for the pre-born and supporting women. This led her to connecting with and volunteering at her local pregnancy center, Cenla Pregnancy Center. She served as the Event Coordinator for Louisiana College Students for Life in 2021 until she graduated, planning and coordinating bi-weekly meetings, pro-life speaking events & service project efforts. 

In 2020, Abby Rose co-founded Live to Love for Life, a ministry focused on educating and empowering individuals across the world to advocate in a culture of life. Through Live to Love for Life, she has led online pro-life trainings covering various topics such as fetal development, abortion procedures, and Planned Parenthood. These trainings have been taught to people in multiple states and countries around the world. In the summer of 2021, she organized and coordinated a fundraising drive through Live to Love for Life accumulating more than 1,000 donations from people throughout the United States and the country of Bosnia in which all donations were distributed to pregnancy resource centers across the state of Louisiana. 

Abby Rose lives in central Louisiana where she enjoys writing and meeting new people. She graduated from Louisiana College in 2021 with her Associates of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assisting.

Email: [email protected]

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Pastor Brian Gunter

Director of Outreach

Pastor Brian Gunter is the Director of Outreach for Louisiana Right to Life, and he serves as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pollock. Brian is also the Founder and President of Cenla Pregnancy Center, the first ministry of its kind in the Alexandria region.

Brian’s passion is to unite the pro-life efforts of churches across Louisiana. He has worked to establish a coalition of more than 200 pro-life churches in the Central Louisiana region, and he seeks to expand that network of churches across the state. Brian’s vision is to unite pro-life churches of all denominations into a singular effort to end abortion in Louisiana and protect the sanctity of every human life.

Brian worked with Louisiana Right to Life to start the Life March Cenla and the Cenla Pro-Life Prayer Breakfast in 2016, spurring the growth of the pro-life movement across Central Louisiana. The Life March Cenla has grown from 3,000 participants in its first year to more than 5,000 participants in 2018.

Brian earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy/Religion from Louisiana College and an Advanced Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served in pastoral ministry for over 12 years.

Brian and his wife, Trish, live in Pollock with their four children: David, Grace, Noah, and Stephanie.

Email: [email protected]

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Kelly Johnson

North Louisiana Advisor

Kelly Johnson joined the Louisiana Right to Life staff as North Louisiana Director in August 2018, after serving as a spokesperson and leader for the pro-life and pro-family movement in Louisiana and beyond for nearly two decades. She is now serving in an advisory capacity with Louisiana Right to Life.

She is also a Licensed Pastoral Counselor, a practicing member of the National Christian Counselors Association, and a certified teacher who has taught in the classrooms of some of Louisiana’s top public and private schools.

Kelly and her husband, U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.), have been called to serve in ministry together on the “front lines” of some of America’s most pivotal cultural battles. For their work in promoting the sanctity of human life, marriage and traditional family values, they have been the recipients of many honors, including “Champions of the Faith” award by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Kelly has been interviewed by and featured in many national media outlets including ABC’s Good Morning America, the CBS Morning News, TIME magazine, Citizen magazine, World magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Louisiana Tech, pursued a Master’s in Education at Centenary College, and earned her counseling license from Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling.

Kelly and Mike reside in Benton with their four children: Hannah, Abby, Jack and Will.

Email: [email protected]

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State Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of Louisiana Right to Life directs the activities of the organization.

Left to Right: William Watkins, Robert Winn, Peg Kenny, Frank Hoffmann, Michelle Gorney, John Nickelson, Sharon Rodi, Dr. Jimmy Godchaux, Celie Clark, and Ryan Verret.

William Watkins

President

William “Bill” Watkins was elected Vice President of Louisiana Right to Life in September 2007.

Watkins is a past President of Terrebonne-Lafourche Right to Life Committee and a lifelong resident of Houma, where he lives with his wife, Elizabeth.

He practices law in both federal and state courts around Louisiana with the firm of Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, Lovell & Watkins. They have 4 daughters, and two grandchildren. He credits his involvement in the pro-life cause to his mom, Shirley Watkins, who devoted many years of service and prayers.

Celie Clark

Vice President

Celie and her husband, Dan, founded the Terrebonne/LaFourche Chapter of Right to Life during their 5-year stay in Houma. She served as Federation President and Chairperson for the National Right to Life Convention hosted in New Orleans in 1987 and was also active in planning when the convention returned to New Orleans in 2015.

Celie and Dan, who have five children, live in Madisonville. Celie previously served as director of Religious Education at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Covington before retiring.

John Nickelson

Treasurer

John Nickelson is a recently-elected City Councilman, representing District C in the city of Shreveport. He is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Texas. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia, served as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge, and practiced with a national firm in Dallas before returning home to Shreveport. He and his wife, Emily, have three daughters and are active members of their church, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.

Robert E. Winn

Founder and Ex Officio Member

Bob Winn founded and was first president of New Orleans Right To Life and later expanded to Louisiana Right To Life in 1970, three years before the horrible Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. He knew that women were going to other states such as New York and Colorado where abortion was already permitted.

Bob served on the board of National Right to Life for many years as  Louisiana’s representive. He was appointed a Special Assistant Attorney General for Louisiana to defend  Louisiana’s anti- abortion laws  in the 70’s and early 90’s and also to defend Louisiana’s adoption law, perhaps the best answer to abortion.

Bob continues to serve as treasurer for Louisiana Right To Life and as president of the New Orleans Right To Life Educational Committee.

Peg Kenny

Executive Secretary

Peg Kenny has been a motivating force behind the operations of Louisiana Right to Life for many years. Heavily involved in both the Louisiana and national legislatures, she is recognized for her years of work in promoting and passing pro-life legislation.

Separate from her involvement in LARTL, Peg previously served as Director of the Louisiana Pro-Life Council, which acted as the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Sharon Ryan Rodi

Delegate to the National Right to Life Board of Directors

Sharon Ryan Rodi serves as the National Delegate to National Right to Life for Louisiana Right to Life and has been a key leader in the pro-life cause since the mid-70’s. Sharon is a retired attorney and former director of Catholic Charities Refugee Social Services program, and in 2017 she received the St. John Paul II Award by the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans for her outstanding service of human dignity.

Her husband of more than 50 years, Mark Rodi, and their daughters and spouses, Shannon Rodi Nash and Michael Nash and Erin Rodi Rotolo and Brian Rotolo, cheer Sharon on in all her endeavors.

Michelle Gorney

At-Large Director& Ex Officio

Michelle Gorney has been involved with LARTL for more than 20 years when she and her husband, Chuck, founded St. Tammany Right to Life. Michelle has been a pro life speaker on many occasions and has attended NRTL Conventions and the National March for Life several times.

Michelle previously served four years as LARTL President and currently serves as Secretary of St. Tammany Right to Life. She works as a mother and nurse in St. Tammany Parish.

James B. Godchaux, M.D.

At-Large Director

Dr. James Burton Godchaux of Lafayette was born in Houma and grew up in Opelousas. He graduated from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1972, interned at Lafayette Charity Hospital, then did a diagnostic radiology residency in Shreveport from 1973-1976. It was in those early days of legalized abortion when he and his wife, Kathleen, began to get involved in pro-life activities.

Dr. Godchaux is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology and began his practice in Lafayette in 1976 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. For a time there he served as Head of the Department of Radiology. He also held a Neuroradiology CAQ 1998-2008. In 2004 he helped to develop Envision Imaging of Acadiana, an outpatient imaging center, where he serves as radiologist and previously as medical director.

He is the father of four sons and has 14 grandchildren. He and Kathleen both serve on the boards of Acadiana Right to Life, the DesOrmeaux Foundation’s Women’s Center of Lafayette, and the Zerben Bienvenu and William Smith Fund for Pro-Life Education in Acadiana.

He is a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, where he and his wife serve as Lay Ministers.

Ryan Verret

At-Large Director

Ryan Verret is co-founder with his wife, Mary-Rose, of Witness to Love, a Catholic marriage preparation renewal ministry. Previously he served as associate director of Louisiana Right to Life and Director of the Center for Medical Ethics.

Ryan completed graduate studies in theology, clinical psychology, and medical ethics and worked for several years in the field of healthcare administration. Since 2010, Ryan has worked primarily in the development of legislative and educational efforts that develop the culture of life both in Louisiana and throughout the United States and Canada.

He and Mary-Rose have four children and live in Breaux Bridge.