Release Date: 11/29/2005

Glamour magazine honored a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agent as one of their 2005 Women of the Year at a ceremony on Nov. 2 in New York City.

Sgt. Rachel Zechenelly, 35, who has been an enforcement agent since 1999, was selected by Glamour for her efforts during the search and rescue missions in the New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina.

Glamour wanted women who participated in all areas of the rescue efforts, Zechenelly said. 
The 2005 Women of the Year who participated in saving peoples lives following Katrina include Sara Faulkner, who is the only female rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard, New Orleans Charity and University Hospitals Dr. Cathi Fontenot, nurse Julie Newman, Yamily Bass-Choate, an Episcopal Priest from Mississippi, and Army Pvt. Yakima Sanderlin.

Zechenelly, who is living in Baton Rouge after her apartment near New Orleans lost its roof, took shelter at the New Orleans Convention Center the night before Katrina came ashore.   

That was my bunkhouse, she said.  Staying at the convention center allowed me to be in the city immediately after the storm had passed the next morning. 

Zechenelly proved to be a valuable asset with her knowledge of the city in helping LDWF save over 21,000 people, as she was able to direct agents to where people needed the most help.  I started finding passable routes to get our boats and trucks to locations such as the Ninth Ward. she said.

Glamour paid for the entire trip that lasted from Nov. 1 to Nov. 6 for Zechenelly and her sister.  The trip included round trip first-class airfare, accommodations at the Trump International Hotel and a private dinner at the restaurant Shun Lee hosted by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Zechenelly was able to meet Zeta-Jones, Venus Williams, Christiane Amanpour, Goldie Hawn and Melissa Etheridge who were also honored as women of the year.  She also met Michael Douglas, Tipper Gore, Meg Ryan, Steven Spielberg, Marisa Tomei, Campbell Brown and many other celebrities. 

In addition, Zechenelly was interviewed by E! Entertainment, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Inside Edition, The New York Times and several other media outlets on the red carpet.

Zechenelly said she was grateful for being able to represent this department at the awards ceremony.  Our department employs many incredible men and women who worked during the rescue efforts, so I felt honored to represent such an esteemed collection of people.  It was difficult to be singled out knowing the other men and women in our department who ran into the storm instead of running away in order to help the survivors of Katrina.

The 2005 Women of the Year issue is set to hit newsstands on Nov. 8.  The ceremony will be broadcast in the following markets:

      New Orleans WWL    CBS--channel 4        12/17/05 at 3 p.m.
 Shreveport KMSS       NBC--channel 33      12/17/05 at 3 p.m.
 Baton Rouge WAFB CBS--channel 9    12/18/05 at 1 p.m.
 Monro-El Dorado KAQY  ABC--channel 11      12/10/05 at 1 p.m. Alexandria KALB  NBC--channel 5  12/11/05 at 2 p.m.

EDITORS: For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.louisiana.gov.