BATON ROUGE, La. (February 12, 2024) – Congratulations to Neel-Schaffer engineers Dishili Young, PE, PTOE, and Joy Johnson, PE, PMP, MBA, for their recent graduation from the 2023 Leadership Louisiana program.
Sponsored by the Council for a Better Louisiana, Leadership Louisiana is a nearly year-long program that brings leaders from across the state together for training and networking aimed at producing quality leadership for future generations.
According to the Leadership Louisiana application form, “LA’s Future Depends on Quality Leadership.” To that end, “to truly move Louisiana forward, the citizen leaders of today must understand the complex issues that drive our state, recognize the opportunities that others might not see, and shape them into the reality of meaningful progress. That’s the goal of Leadership Louisiana. By enhancing the capacity of emerging and current Louisiana leaders to effectively address key public issues, it empowers civic-minded citizens to become involved in issues affecting their communities and the state.”
Dishili joined Neel-Schaffer in 2017 and serves as the firm’s Louisiana Transportation Lead. She has more than 20 years of experience in transportation planning, engineering, and program and project management. Joy joined the firm in 2023 as a Senior Project Manager for Traffic and Transportation. She has nearly 20 years of experience, including 16 with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. Both work in the Baton Rouge office and serve on the Board for the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Baton Rouge Chapter, Dishili as President in 2024-25 and Joy as Director of Membership.
They were among a group of 50 who graduated from the Louisiana Leadership program on January 19, 2024, in Lake Charles, culminating a journey that began on March 2, 2023, with a two-day meeting in Lafayette, and included two-day sessions nearly monthly in Thibodaux, Houma, New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and Lake Charles.
They met with civic leaders, state and local elected officials, business and educational leaders, local economic development leaders, non-profit organizations, and Leadership Louisiana alumni in each city. They learned about people, their state, and themselves.
Said Joy: “The experience gave me a better appreciation of Louisiana culture and the strategic partnerships that help our state thrive. My biggest takeaways were social disparity and coastal restoration. I also enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing social impact beyond engineering. I am hopeful that there are programs in place to keep our state moving forward.”
Dishili said she has a better understanding of key issues facing Louisiana and “made new connections to leaders who share my desire to serve the community, improve our economy and educational system and our ability to maintain and attract talent.”
She was impressed with innovative solutions, singling out the New Orleans Café Reconcile, which is staffed by youth from underserved communities and partners with Ochsner, which provides job training, certifications, counseling and more.
In Shreveport, she said, “Barksdale Airforce Base gave us an impressive welcome, and BRF, an economic development organization, impressed us with their initiatives to help provide a successful economy, medical research, and business growth. In Baton Rouge, I was reminded by Mr. John Spain of the great work the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) has done in the capital region. There were many equally impressive organizations within each region. I was also able to build relationships with my colleagues, with plans to keep in touch and help each other advance their causes.
“Overall, this experienced increased my motivation to work with others to tackle these difficult issues and left me with a renewed love for the place I call home and an even great appreciation for the culture.”