Our Founders & Staff
Gerald is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Directed Initiatives for Youth, Inc. A Non-Profit organization that is committed to serve the youth of New Orleans through Summer programs, Enrichment programs, and athletics. He is an ordained Minister and currently serves as Pastor for TCANOE (The Church at New Orleans East) in New Orleans and also serves as an assistant High School Basketball Coach and Middle School Baseball Coach at Isidore Newman School. He has also worked as an Advertising and Marketing Professional for over 25 years.
He received his education at Vanderbilt University in Economics and English, at Tulane University for General Studies, and Isidore Newman High School. As a Youth Development Professional since 2006, Gerald is certified as a Youth Sports Administrator by The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and is an accredited high school coach by the LHSAA and NFHSC. Gerald’s mission is to help kids discover and develop the values that define true victory in the game of life. To teach a new generation what it means to play to win. Gerald received the 2015 Community Impact Award from Zurich Insurance, North America for work done with youth in the community.
As Co-Founder, COO and Executive Director, Penny has over 20 years experience as a Youth Development Professional. Since Hurricane Katrina she has been Director of all programming for Excite. In addition to running day to day operations, Penny has developed our programming to include physical fitness, academic enrichment, cultural enrichment, and spiritual growth. Penny is also a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of a Marketing/Consulting firm–Lagniappe Promotional Planet, Inc. Previously, she worked as Executive Director of Youth Development for Building Better Communities, Inc., responsible for developing and implementing academic after school and summer programming. Penny worked as a reading interventionist with the St. Bernard Parish School System, working with elementary school children with reading deficiencies. Penny is a Certified Director and has completed numerous professional development courses. She graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. with a degree in Psychology, focusing on Industrial & organizational Psychology. Penny collaborates with other non profits throughout New Orleans with youth development projects. Penny also heads donation drives to benefit youth and families in need.
Marquez D. Williams- Director of Operations
Marquez D. Williams, is a junior at Spring Hill College, and has been with Excite for 10 years. Coach Marquez has worked as a junior counselor, assistant coach, coach, and special project leader at Excite. Marquez manages equipment and camp operations for Excite. In addition he leads special programming for youth. On the “Hill”, Marquez is majoring in Business Management and is a Spring Hill Ambassador and member of Legacy Chapter of Men of Color Council, Inc. At De La Salle, Marquez served on the Student Counsel and played Basketball, Baseball, and ran Track. Marquez was also Senior Class President, Class of 2015.
Program Director: Gerald M. Williams II, affectionately known as LG has been with Excite since its inception. LG started as a Junior counselor in 2007 and has worked in all phases of the Excite Program including Assistant Coach, Coach, Discipline, extended care and more… LG has led program activities such as the Chess Club and our Musical Theatre and Dance classes. LG is currently the Artistic Director of Excite’s StepN2theLight Theatre program and is a certified Up2Us Coach and After School program director for Excite. LG graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans and is a graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La where he obtained his degree in Musical Theatre and Dance. LG was on the Dean’s List and has been selected to the National Honor Society.
Ebony is a sophomore pre-med major at Xavier University in New Orleans and has been a staff person for three years, after being a camper at Excite for a number of years. Currently Ebony has served as an UP2Us Coach at Excite and is the lead coach for Excite Overnight Camp at Fontainebleau State Park. Ebony has been one of our lead coaches during our Excite Summer Experience and in addition Ebony served as Special Programs Director for the 2017 Summer Experience.
Juliana Wagner-Program Manager /Dance Instructor- Juliana is a Film, Theatre, and Dance Artist Based out of the Greater New Orleans Area. Inspiring audiences through lifelong passions and skill set in various fields of film, theater and movement. Capturing the city’s culture and hidden treasures through movement is her passion.
Nate LeJeune has been leading, teaching and coaching students for the past 13 years as a Student Pastor and motivational speaker. Nate uses his story to help motivate and encourage young people to find their true passions and gifts. Nate also serves as the Training Manager for the national non-profit, Up2Us and has a background which extends from fundraising as a Fundraiser Consultant, to being a small business owner, as the owner of Pets World. Nate mixes his passion for his family, people and sports, along with his story, to humorously communicate principles that help you find your greatness.
Volunteer Coordinator– Melody Logan, Excite Parent is responsible for coordinating Volunteers for Excite events and engaging parents and groups regarding volunteer opportunities at
Excite.-Americorps Vista (TBA) : Our Americorps Vista serves a one year term of service in the capacity of administrative support and volunteer management in addition to fundraising research and support. The service term for this year is August 2017 to July 2018.