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Krewe of Freret founder honored as Young Alumnus of the Year

June 20, 2014

Loyola University New Orleans alumnus Greg Rhoades ’06 came to New Orleans in 2002 with some apprehension. Growing up in Oklahoma, Rhoades was excited about the Crescent City’s vastly different culture, but he didn’t know anyone in the area. Any doubts were soon put to rest. At Loyola, he quickly connected with an intimate group of classmates that shared his drive to get the most out of a Jesuit education by making a difference in the community—something he continues today. For that unwavering commitment to his community, Rhoades, founder and captain of the revived Krewe of Freret Mardi Gras parade, has been named the 2014 Young Alumnus of the Year.

Rhoades will be honored tomorrow, Saturday, June 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the All Alumni Cocktail Reception as a part of Loyola’s Alumni Weekend. Hosted by the Alumni Association and open to the public, the weekend not only includes class reunions and special events for alumni, it also includes more than 20 public college-level classes taught by Loyola’s outstanding current and retired faculty and alumni. Advanced registration is closed, but walk-up guests are welcome. Check-in at the Alumni Weekend registration table in the Danna Student Center from 8-10 a.m. Saturday, or in the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“This award truly means a lot to me because Loyola shapes people who can think for themselves and discover their excellence. I'm honored to share my degree with so many talented bright individuals, from the food industry to film, law, education, music, art and more. I'm proud of the Jesuit education we received along with opportunities for leadership and service that instilled similar values,” Rhoades said.

At Loyola, Rhoades participated in many groups, including acting as SGA representative for the business school, recruitment chairman and secretary for the Inter-Fraternity Council, advertising co-chairman of the University Programming Board and social chairman and public relations chairman for Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, where the group helped feed the homeless and hosted fundraisers for breast cancer research and other efforts.

Rhoades, 30, is a director of marketing for Leviton, the largest electrical equipment manufacturer inside the U.S. with more than 6,500 employees, 25,000 products and nearly 1,000 patents. In 2012, Leviton acquired local small business Home Automation Incorporated, where Rhoades was hired after graduation. He led the transition of the company’s 50 employees to join a global corporation headquartered in Melville, N.Y. He currently sits on the Z-Wave Alliance Marketing Work Group to promote energy-saving wireless home automation devices, and he is a Green Council Member with the Greater New Orleans Home Builder Association.

His role with Leviton allows Rhoades to join the company’s significant efforts to reduce waste and preserve the environment, something Rhoades has often sought to do in his own way. With an eye always to green initiatives, Rhoades, along with fellow alumni and students, debuted the environmentally conscious Krewe of Freret as a new Mardi Gras parade this year under a name that had been absent for 20 years. The krewe is committed to gradually eliminating disposable plastic throws and replacing them with specialty artisan items people will want to keep.

“Our goal is an eventual phase out. It's tough to go cold turkey, but with the assistance of some smart people in this city, we're on our way. We have to continue to educate many parade-goers that quality truly should be valued over quantity,” Rhoades said.

As part of the krewe, Rhoades’ community involvement and volunteer service also reflect values the Loyola Alumni Association seeks for the young alumni award each year. With the krewe, Rhoades has been a strong advocate for the Crescent City, particularly the Freret community in Uptown New Orleans, with Rhoades and the others donating community service hours to the area, partnering with the Freret Neighborhood Center and the Freret Initiative. Rhoades has been instrumental in funneling in thousands of dollars to the community through meetings, food truck rallies and concerts. The krewe even donated more than $13,000 in rider dues so that the children of the Son of a Saint Foundation could experience the joy of a lifetime, as masked riders on their own float.

“I'm really proud of the fact that it all began with seven Loyola students who loved Carnival and wanted to start making waves. To us, it was important the krewe give back where possible,” Rhoades said.

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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