Where are they now: Allison B. Hudson
Allison Breanna Hudson has accomplished much in her career. She currently resides in Gonzales, La. and works as the Public Information Officer at the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office for the last six years. The Chief took the opportunity to speak with her last week to hear about her time in Donaldsonville.
First, Hudson speaks endearingly of Donaldsonville. If she could go back in time to be the editor of The Chief, she would. And she said she would not do anything differently.
"I say that because I got involved in the schools," she said. "I got out to get to know people. I got involved in the chamber of commerce, which I was president three times and served on the board of directors. I was a volunteer cheerleading coach at the high school. I tutored kids."
Moreover, Hudson was featured in Editor & Publisher Magazine's "25 Editors Under 35." She was also a "Top 40 Under 40" for Xavier University (New Orleans) Alumni and for the Baton Rouge Business Report.
Hudson has said that the City of Donaldsonville opened many doors for her during her time there. Eventually, the Rotary Club welcomed her. She served in the Donaldsonville Rotary Club from 2008-12. Then, she became president club in 2011. She explained that Rotary was "interesting."
"A lot of older business owners and community leaders were in the Rotary Club, so it was an honor for them to vote me as president that year," Hudson said. "Within that year we tried to do some different things to be noticed."
One of the club's community outreach programs extended into the schools at that time. "Back then we did a reading program in the schools," she said. "We did an 'honor roll' program where people in the Rotary Club would donate bicycles to students."
The Donaldsonville Rotary Club was small then. Relatively, it still is. Hudson explained that some Rotary Clubs had 100 members, while the Donaldsonville club had maybe 30.
Hudson said the club met once a week to discuss issues in the city, as well as in the parish. Additionally, she was the youngest member of the club at the time. She was just 25 years old as the club's president. Moreover, she served as the editor of The Chief for four years. Hudson was a one-person news team, covering all the issues and even sports. She said she enjoyed the close-knit community of Donaldsonville.
"Everybody treated me like family," Hudson said. "Learning about the [rich] history of Donaldsonville, just being from down the road in New Orleans and never hearing about Ascension Parish in general, was interesting to get to know that side of things--just to get to know the different culture of Donaldsonville and the parish. Everybody was so welcoming and inviting and took me under their wing because I was young.
"It was a good partnership. It wasn't like 'this is a little girl, and she doesn't know anything.' It was immediately respect, so that was great."
Hudson, a member of Greater King David Church in Baton Rouge, has worked as the APSO Public Information Officer for six years. She said that she wants to continue to get better at what she does, while she aspires towards certain goals.
"Personally, my aspirations are to stop domestic violence," Hudson said. "One of the things I do is I sit on the IRIS Center for Domestic Violence Board in Baton Rouge. They have a board of about 20 people. The goal is to stop domestic violence and to get victims and survivors help. I volunteer at the shelter. And we do as much as we can here at the sheriff's office, which has improved over the last couple of years."
Hudson's other aspiration is to help individuals with disabilities. She explained that it is not just people with physical disabilities that she's interested in helping, but also people with mental and intellectual disabilities.
"[I aspire] to have them be a part of our society, as they should be and not treated differently because of it," Hudson said. "Or to not have something because they have a disability."
Then it is also fitting that Hudson serves as the president of the Arc of East Ascension. She added that this year's Dancing for a Cause will be one of the biggest they have ever had, and she hopes it will also be the biggest, fundraising-wise.
"It let's us know that we are spreading the word to help these individuals, but also [because of] the potential State budget cuts that we might be facing," she said. "We can use all of the fundraising efforts we can to help keep the doors open."
Furthermore, Hudson was the first African American woman to become Rotary Club President in Donaldsonville. Last week we stated that president-elect Juanita Pearley took that honor, and we were promptly corrected by a member of the community. But Hudson said that when she became the club's president it was more about being a woman, than an African American woman.
"I don't think I realized it at the time as much as I did being a woman in a mostly male group," Hudson said. "There were six or seven of us [women]. I don't think I focused on the fact that I was the first African American woman to be president of the rotary club, because I had already--I was first African American woman to be editor of The Donaldsonville Chief. That was more of a big thing than it was for Rotary.
"I was just happy to be chosen, and that they chose this somewhat young girl to help make a difference. That spoke volumes because that spoke about what they thought about me. But I was more excited about being a woman who was voted for that."
She laughs. And although she laments not being directly involved as much in Donaldsonville anymore, Hudson sat on the Louisiana Ready Development Committee, which was a seven-year project that focused on different projects around the City of Donaldsonville and ended last year.
"We achieved all of the projects that we wanted done," she said. "The only thing I can say is that I see Donaldsonville moving in the right direction, and it will continue. I will support it in any way that I can. Working for the sheriff's office, I do serve Donaldsonville, too. Donaldsonville will always be near and dear to my heart because that's where I started my career, and it made me the person I am today. All the awards and accolades I have, I wouldn't have them without Donaldsonville."
Lastly, Hudson said she would like to thank the mayor and council and a few others by name for their love and support: Sheriff Wiley, Chief Deputy Webre, Tamiko Garrison, Becky Katz, and Debbie Peltier-Roques.