Meet Charles Rice, JD, MBA, our Professional Spotlight of the month! Every month we will highlight a black professional in the Greater New Orleans area.  Rice holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Howard University, a juris doctorate from Loyola University’s School of Law and master’s degree of business administration from Tulane University. After graduating from Howard University, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and served as a military intelligence officer with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. He now resides as the president and chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, Inc. I sat down with Mr. Rice to discuss the black professional landscape in New Orleans.

 
Age: 48
Name: Charles Rice, JD, MBA
Occupation: President and chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, Inc.,
Hometown: New Orleans
High school: O. Perry Walker
LinkedIn Profile: Charles Rice
 
Biagas: How do you feel about the the current events involving black professionals in New Orleans?
Rice: For the most part, when you’re African American in management, privilege and prominence, there’s always a spotlight on you. People look to you for a variety of things. You’re seen as a role model and that’s an obligation I take seriously. A part of that obligation for me is to make sure I give back to the community that produced me. At least in my DNA, it was taught to me by my parents that you have to give back. Anytime a young black professional reaches out to me and wants to spend some time with me, I find a way… 
 
Biagas: …to make that happen.
Rice: It’s a commitment.
 
Biagas: What’s the state of black professionalism in New Orleans. Is there a problem?
Rice: In my opinion, Pre-Katrina there was already a small black middle class/professional class compared to other cities. After Katrina, it’s gotten smaller.
 
Biagas: Do you think there are solutions to that?
Rice: People go where the opportunities are. As a result of Katrina, I remember reading a statistic in the early 2000’s…86% of people that lived here were from here. People from here didn’t have a lot of exposure to other major cities. So in some respect, I’m not your typical New Orleanian because I’ve lived in several other major cities. So I think I bring a whole different perspective to this area. Katrina gave people an opportunity to see what it was like in the rest of America. They got an opportunity to see that the world was much bigger than New Orleans. A lot of those people chose to stay. Eventually at some point they will return. I’ve left and come back twice. There’s a certain draw about this place. I’ve been fortunate enough to return and have a career. I can’t say that is the case for a lot of my friends, who had to leave . I’m one of the lucky few.
 
Biagas: How did it feel when you began to realize yourself as a professional?
Rice: Let me start off by saying I’ve always been a very serious person. I’ve always tried to conduct myself in a manner where I would not embarrass myself, more specifically embarrass my parents.
 
Biagas: PREACH!
 
Rice: So for me even as a college student, I considered myself a professional.  I was getting the tools necessary to apply my trade, whatever that trade was gonna be, for me it just happened to be becoming an army officer. So going into the army as an officer, I was required to be a professional and carry myself in a professional manner. I’ll be the first to tell you, those 4 years as an army officer is responsible for a lot of my success.
 
Biagas: What do you feel is lacking in the city for black professionals on all levels?
Rice: I don’t think there is a mechanism for young people like yourself to get an opportunity to interact with with a person like me. For people my age, we all know each other, there are organizations that we belong to where we get to interact, but I don’t think there’s an opportunity out there for people like yourself.
 
Biagas: Would you be interested, if we had something coming up, that could connect you with a 25 year-old that would be interested in meeting you?
Rice: Sure. Let me add. I know there’s an organization, 504ward. I hosted one of their dinners at my house.
 
Biagas: 504ward. I’m very familiar. I signed up with them a few years ago. I’ve gone to a few of their events. I participated in a dine around at Denise McConduit’s, black childrens author, house last year. And I was one of 2 black professionals at that event. I think that’s one of the reasons why we decided to start Nola Black Professionals.
Rice: I think part of the problem is young black professionals don’t appreciate the necessity of networking. I’m a prime example. Every major connection that I’ve gotten has been because of someone I had a relationship with, who I met and developed a relationship with and continued that relationship. When something came up, they always thought of me.
 
There’s not a enough of that. I don’t think young black professionals get the opportunity to have someone explain to them the need for networking, need to talk to people like myself and not be afraid to ask a question. What you will find out is the majority of the people will take the time. Even though they may be extremely busy, they’ll figure out a way to make it happen. You may have to meet them at 7 am in the morning…
 
Biagas: I know you touched on giving back to the black community. Can you touch on that a little bit more. What’s the importance of giving back? What does it mean to you?
Rice: I serve on the board of a number of non profits. And now I’m a lot more selective on the boards that I choose to be on. Primarily the majority I choose to serve on has one of two components. One is they deal with economic development, which I think is very very important. And two, they touch the lives of young people who don’t necessarily have the same opportunities that my children have.
 
Biagas: And how young can you remember beginning to give back?
Rice: Probably college. Ya know, at some point it all comes back to you. People will give you a little more respect when they see that you’re not afraid to be in the same environment as people that are not as fortunate as you are.
 
Biagas: What social organizations are you a part of?
Rice: Alabama and Louisiana State Bar Associations, the American Bar Association, the New Orleans Bar Association, the National Bar Association and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. In addition, I serve on the Visiting Committee of the Loyola University School of Law, Junior Achievement, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Audubon Institute, the National Conference for Community and Justice, the Kingsley House, the Boy Scouts of America’s Southeast Louisiana Council, the United Negro College Fund Louisiana Leadership Council, the Covenant House New Orleans and the Business Council of New Orleans.

As you can see this man is accomplished. If you’d like to meet Charles Rice, feel free to contact us at info@nolablackprofessionals.com and we’ll be happy to connect you.

For more information on Charles Rice, visit http://www.entergy-neworleans.com/about_entergy/CEO.aspx