Victory Arch

Mission Statement

The Mission of the Bywater Community Development Corporation is to promote the safety and well being of all New Orleans' Bywater residents by nurturing a sense of community through strong support for the arts, commerce, home ownership, and education.

BCDC Board of Directors

  • John Guarnieri is a native New Orleanian currently serving as Operations Manager at Wayne Troyer Architects. John has a history of bringing diverse community groups together for the common good and at present serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Bywater Neighborhood Association.

    John began his professional career in the music business as Asst. Manager and Head Buyer at New Orleans' Tulane University co-op record store and also worked as a DJ at both college and commercial radio stations. After relocating to Los Angeles, he was employed by several major record labels, including I.R.S. Records and E.M.I. Records in the A&R (Artists & Repertoire), Production, and International departments where he worked with the Police, the Go-Go's, R.E.M., and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Later John was label manager for the Independent record label Faulty Products, whose primary acts were the Dead Kennedys and Bangles, before moving on to handle production and artist management for The Specials and The Long Ryders. John is a Bywater resident where he owns and manages several residential properties.

  • Skip Henderson is a non-profit professional living in New Orleans, currently serving as an ex-offender employment development specialist for Odyssey House Louisiana. Mr. Henderson is the Co-Founder of the Bywater Community Development Corporation, Founder and Board C-Chair of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, a Mississippi 501( c)13 organization, former Board Member of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, YaYa, and the Bywater Neighborhood Association.

    Mr. Henderson's career also includes stints as a Juvenile Officer, Development Director for several New Orleans non-profit organizations, and over fifteen years in the music business promoting large industry based charity events, playing guitar and selling rare musical instruments world wide. Henderson, a suspected co-founder with artist Brad Benischek of the alleged Bywater Bone Boys Mardi Gras Skeleton Krewe, lives in Bywater with his wife, photographer and teacher Fontaine Alison Wells, and their three children.

  • Athena Antippas, a native New Orleanian and Marigny homeowner, is a School Counselor at the International School of Louisiana serving on both the East and West Bank campuses. She holds an MA in Counseling, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Louisiana, and is also a Nationally Certified Counselor. After Hurricane Katrina, Athena moved back to New Orleans from Boulder, Colorado and worked for several 501(c)(3) non-profit counseling organizations in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans, and in Plaquemines Parish helping families during the aftermath of the BP oil spill. Athena has served as a therapist doing individual, family and domestic violence counseling, and as a grant writer.

  • Galen M. Hair founded the firm of Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC in September of 2011. Prior to that, he worked for the international firm of Ropes & Gray, LLP in New York, and the boutique litigation firm of Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford, LLC.

    Mr. Hair earned his Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School, where he was on Law Review, a Mitchell Franklin Scholar, a General Maurice Hirsch Award recipient, and recipient of the Tulane 34 Award. Simultaneously, he served on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit dedicated to service in the Gulf Coast and Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division.

    When not engaged in private practice, Mr. Hair represents victims of domestic violence pro bono, assists in representing not for profits,and serves on several committees for various bar associations. He also participates in various mentoring programs designed to assist law students in bridging the gap from academia to professionalism. He has been an advisor to several political campaigns and still guest lectures on disaster response to legal organizations around the country.


The Bywater Community Development Corporation (BCDC) began as a series of meetings convened by James Kitto in late 1997 as the Community Development Interest Group, an offshoot of the Bywater Neighborhood Association. The Bywater Community Development Corporation was officially founded in February, 1998 by James Kitto, then a Vice President of Hibernia (now Capital One) Bank, Skip Henderson, a New Orleans non-profit development professional then serving as Development Director for New Orleans Resources for Independent Living, Denise Strong an urban studies educator at the University of New Orleans, Tim Magee, a Whitney Bank Branch Manager, Mark Gonzalez, Attorney and New Orleans community activist who served pro bono as BCDC Counsel, community organizer Kelly Caldwell, and community members Ruby Sumler, Dixie Robillard, Chita Manuel, Leonard Parker, and Refa Sawyers. The BCDC was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation on April 17, 1998.

The original focus of the BCDC was improvement of the St. Claude Avenue corridor from Press St. at the railroad tracks to Poland Avenue at the Industrial Canal. The BCDC established a Community Resource Center at 3024 St. Claude Avenue which operated from 1998-1999 under the Directorship of Dixie Robillard, conducted several comprehensive neighborhood studies and continued to build ties with the greater New Orleans non-profit community. Between 2001-2004 the BCDC was largely inactive pending re-organization as a number of Board Members were dislocated in a series hurricane evacuations culminating in the destruction of a large part of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A complete reorganization of the Bywater Community Development Corporation was undertaken in 2010 initiated in large part through the renewed guidance and expertise of Jim Kitto whose dedication to the Bywater and St. Claude Avenue neighborhoods deserves recognition with our profound gratitude.

Hot 8 Brass Band

Hot 8Hot 8 Brass Band

Bywater CDC initiated Hot 8 Brass Band Photo Project and awarded a $2500 grant to the Dinerral Shavers Education Fund, a fund established in memory of Dinerral Shavers to benefit the cause of music education in New Orleans.

PhotoNOLA is an annual festival of photography in New Orleans, coordinated by the New Orleans Photo Alliance.

A vibrant artist-driven group of exhibition spaces located in the St. Claude area of New Orleans.

Bywater Landmarks Vaughan's LoungeVaughan's Lounge Crescent Park BridgeCrescent Park Bridge Webb's Bywater MusicWebb's Bywater Music