2023 People to Watch in the Capital Region

The sky is the limit. Not just for the people you’ll meet in this month’s 225 cover story—but for Baton Rouge under their leadership, too. Each person in this year’s class of People to Watch has a vision to bring the city beyond its borders.

Amy Vandiver launched The Flower Fest with the hopes that it would attract competing florists and floral enthusiasts from all over the nation—while also proving there’s more to Baton Rouge’s festival circuit than food. Aaron Scruggs is booking more touring musicians and themed nights at the new Chelsea’s Live. And Visit Baton Rouge’s Jill Kidder wants to put us on the map, literally, as she aims to rebrand the city and lure new tourists.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja and Jonas Fontenot are helping cancer patients, each in their own way, near and far. As executive director of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, Lucas Spielfogel is coaching under-resourced students as they seek admission to their dream college, wherever in the country it may be. LSU and Southern University’s newly minted presidents are pushing forward two of the city’s biggest assets, with global implications.

Whether their work is in art and culture, science, education or sports, each of these individuals is making a name for themselves. Because they’re not afraid to put their heads in the clouds and dream of a brighter future.

And by the time they’re done dreaming, we can all hope to awake to a brighter Baton Rouge.

Dr. Sanjay Juneja, Chief of Oncology Service, Baton Rouge General

His TikTok fame has brought him to the White House and beyond, all because of this doctor’s purpose: helping those impacted by cancer 

Jonas FontenotCEO, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

As cancer rates rise, Jonas Fontenot brings new leadership to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center starting this month

Jill Kidder, President and CEO, Visit Baton Rouge

How do visitors see Baton Rouge? Jill Kidder is leading the charge on redefining that experience 

Olivia Stewart, President, Oxbow Estate Rum Distillery

The president of the newly rebranded Baton Rouge distillery has big visions


William Tate, President and chancellor, LSU

LSU’s president and chancellor says the university’s world-class programs are essential to Louisiana—and beyond


Dennis Shields, President-Chancellor, Southern University

For Southern University’s new president, students always come first

Flau’jae Johnson, Basketball player, LSU Women’s Basketball; Rapper, Roc Nation record label

Freshman Flau’jae Johnson is shining as both an inspiring rapper and basketball star

Lucas Spielfogel, Executive director, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition

Lucas Spielfogel’s organization has seen a seven-fold increase in student fellows during his tenure—and was recently ranked Baton Rouge’s “Best Place to Work”

Amy Vandiver, Founder, The Flower Fest Owner, Clover Creative Agency

Baton Rouge’s creativity extends beyond food, and Amy Vandiver’s growing festival about floral arts proves just that 

Aaron Scruggs, Co-owner and talent buyer, Chelsea’s Live

How a thwarted plan to revive the legendary Spanish Moon venue instead rebirthed Chelsea’s—and the dawn of a new era for local live music 

The Mallard Bay team

The fast-rising local startup has big plans to become a one-stop-shop for hunting

This article was originally published in the January 2023 issue of 225 magazine.