Board & Staff

Staff | Board of Directors


Benjamin Clapper | Ryan Verret | Mike Johnson
Deanna Wallace
| Sandy Cunningham | Alexandra Seghers
Kathy Allen | Shanon Snyder  | Sarah Mary Toce

Benjamin Clapper
Executive Director

Clapper HeadshotBenjamin Clapper has committed his life to speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. His expertise in the pro-life movement ranges from the political and legislative realm to youth education and activism.

Benjamin currently serves as the Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life. Louisiana Right to Life, established in 1970, works through education, activism, legislation, and service to restore the right to life in Louisiana. During his years with Louisiana Right to Life, Benjamin has built a volunteer-run organization into a professional operation making an impact in Louisiana from the State Capitol to the high school classroom. During his time working to advance pro-life legislation, Louisiana has become the #1 Pro-Life State in the nation.

In addition to Louisiana Right to Life, Benjamin serves the national pro-life movement in a number of capacities. Through his work with the National Right to Life Victory Fund, Benjamin managed the "Take Florida Back for Life Campaign" during the 2012 elections. He continues to collaborate with National Right to Life. He spearheads the "Life and Leadership Youth Camp Initiative" to start pro-life youth training "camps" through the nation. To date, he has helped start youth training camps in North Dakota, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Arkansas, and of course, Louisiana.

Benjamin's dedication to the pro-life movement began in late high school in his hometown of Mobile, AL, but was crystalized in college as he actively worked with Students for Life of America (SFLA) and went on to found Louisiana Students for Life. In 2013, Benjamin was honored to receive a top-award from SFLA.

Benjamin graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in 2007 as the Ignatian Award winner for Outstanding Male Graduate. At Loyola, he was blessed to meet his future wife, Kristen, through their collaboration on pro-life activities. Kristen and Benjamin reside in New Orleans with their four beautiful daughters: Kate, Mary Rose, Julia, and Claire.


Ryan Verret
Associate Director and Director of LARTL Center for Medical Ethics

Verret Headshot

Ryan Verret joined Louisana Right to Life in 2011 to coordinate the organization's Center for Medical Ethics. The Center for Medical Ethics serves as LARTL's arm in fighting to protect the vulnerable born from both direct killing and denial of lifesaving medical treatment, food and fluids through both education and legislation across the state.  Since that time Ryan has become Louisiana Right to Life's Associate Director, coordinating numerous efforts for the organization, from education, legislation, and much more.

Ryan has also spearheaded the expansion of pro-life efforts in the Acadiana region, where he leads the Louisiana Right to Life Lafayette office currently located in the downtown Chase Tower at 600 Jefferson Street.

Ryan, a native of Breaux Bridge, completed graduate work in Theology, Bioethics, and Clinical Psychology. He has worked several years in Palliative and Hospice Care administration as well as in the Department of Health and Hospitals. The highlight of his training was working within the Missionaries of Charity AIDS Hospice in Washington, DC.

In addition to Ryan's efforts to protect the elderly and terminally ill of Louisiana, he also assisted in defeating "Question 2" in Massachusetts which would have legalized physician assisted suicide in the health care capital of the US.  He also was invited to participate in the 2013 International Euthanasia Prevention Coaltions 2013 leadership forum which took place in Toronto.  Ryan continues to work with other national and internation leaders in proactive means to protect the elderly, disabled, and terminally ill of throughout the United States.  Most recently Ryan was nominated to serve as an advisory board member of the Patient Rights Action FundThe Patients' Rights Action Fund (PRAF) provides financial and strategic support throughout the U.S. to protect the rights of patients and people with disabilities by opposing assisted suicide legalization efforts.

He is married to Mary-Rose Verret and lives in Breaux Bridge. They have three children, Azelie, Andre, and Melodie. Ryan and Mary Rose are also highly involved in marriage preperation and natural family planning instruction. They have given couples retreats, been on Life-on-the-Rock (EWTN), and are trained leaders for Theology of the Body - Gods Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage.

Direct Lafayette Number: 337-524-0044

State Representative Mike Johnson
Legal Counsel and Regional Director for North Louisiana

Click to Download Hi-Resolution Photo of Mike JohnsonMike Johnson, Esq., is a nationally recognized litigator and legal analyst who operates his private law practice from his hometown of Shreveport and serves Louisiana Right to Life as its Legal Counsel and Regional Director for north Louisiana. Mike has formerly served as: a senior attorney and media spokesman for national organizations such as Liberty Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund; founding dean of the Pressler School of Law of Louisiana College; and has practiced with prominent law firms in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

Mike has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and many federal and state courts and appellate courts from New York to California. He has litigated and won many high profile cases defending the sanctity of human life, religious liberty, marriage and the family, and has been a principal author of pro-life and pro-family legislation for many states and municipalities, and taught constitutional law seminars and continuing legal education courses around the country.

Mike has been interviewed and featured more than 1,000 times on radio and in national media outlets including The O'Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends, Hannity & Colmes, ABC's Good Morning America, NBC's Today Show, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, the BBC, National Public Radio, TIME magazine Citizen magazine, World magazine, and most major newspapers across the country. Mike has represented many of the nation's most prominent ministries, and has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2001 "Champions for the Faith" award by the Southern Baptist Convention; the 2003 Honor Guard award by the Alliance Defense Fund; the 2005 "Faith, Family & Freedom" award by the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.; the 2005 "Family Gladiator" award by the Louisiana Family Forum; and many others.

In February 2015, Mike was elected as a State Representative for Louisiana's 8th House District.

Mike earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University with many honors. He and his wife, Kelly, are the proud parents of Hannah, Abigail, Jack and Will.

Office Number: (318) 550-0372 

Deanna Wallace
Baton Rouge Area Outreach Director, Legislative Director
and Lawyers for Life Coordinator

Deanna Wallace

Deanna Wallace joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in June 2015 as the Baton Rouge Outreach Director, Legislative Liason and Lawyers for Life Coordinator. She grew up in Shreveport, where she attended Calvary Baptist Academy from K-12, and during a school chapel service she was inspired by the testimony of attorney Mike Johnson to one day become a pro-life legal advocate.

Deanna received a degree in Speech Communications from LSU-Shreveport, where she was a national and state champion debater with the LSU-S Debate Team. She also graduated from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU, where she founded LSU Law Advocates for Life. As a law student she was a law clerk with the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals, a legal intern with Gov. Bobby Jindal's Executive Counsel, the research assistant for prominent pro-life attorney and author Clarke Forscythe, and a Blackstone Fellow with Alliance Defending Freedom. In addition, Deanna's pro-life legal research on Pain Capable Abortion Bans was published in the Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review.

Deanna has been working in politics and the pro-life movement since she was 16 and has been recognized for this work by various organizations. In 2009 she was chosen by the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women to be the Louisiana nominee for the National Federation of Republican Women's "Pathfinder" award given in honor of Nancy Reagan. In 2011 and 2013 she was chosen an Eagle Forum Collegiate Scholar and was invited to speak to hundreds of America's most promising collegiate activists at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., and in 2012 she was accepted in the  University of Notre Dame's Vita Institute, an intensive training program for top pro-life activists around the country. In 2013 she was named a Wilberforce Leadership Fellow with Students for Life of America, and in 2014 she was awarded the Young Leader Award by the Susan B. Anthony List for her outstanding work within the pro-life movement.


Sandy Cunningham
Communications Director

Sandy CunninghamSandy Cunningham joined the Louisiana Right to Life team as Communications Director in July 2014. Her job includes handling media relations and audio and print communications for the organization as well as managing the LARTL website.

Sandy is a native of Washington Parish and grew up in Jackson, Miss. She returned to Louisiana after high school graduation to begin college, and she received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from LSU in 1985. After a short stint back in Mississippi after graduation, she returned to Louisiana to begin her newspaper career. She worked in the newspaper industry as a writer, editor, general manager and publisher and spent her entire newspaper career at community newspapers in southeast Louisiana. She served on the Louisiana Press Association Board of Directors for 10 years and was president of the statewide newspaper organization from 2010-2012.

Sandy and her daughter, Cassidy, live in Abita Springs and attend First Baptist Church of Covington.


Alex Seghers
Youth Programs Director

AlexSeghersAlexandra Seghers joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in August 2015 as the Youth Programs Director. She directs youth initiatives such as the Joshua Leadership Institute, Camp Joshua and the Geaux Forth Rally at the March for Life in Washington D.C. and leads LARTL youth education efforts in schools and youth organizations throughout Louisiana.

Alex grew up in Covington and was a member of St. Peter Parish’s pro-life youth club, learning pro-life apologetics and praying once a month at the Metairie abortion clinic. She left Louisiana to study at the University of Dallas, where she was an officer of the college’s pro-life club. She organized events and also represented the university at the Young America’s Foundation and Students for Life’s 2014 Pro-Life Student Leadership Summit Conference. Additionally, she led a variety of other campaigns, programming, and organization initiatives at the University of Dallas.

During the 2014 Senate election, Alex worked as the Northshore Field Director for the Susan B. Anthony List’s Women Speak Out PAC campaign, managing door-to-door canvassers speaking to voters about Mary Landrieu’s pro-abortion record.

Alex received a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics from the University of Dallas in 2015. She now lives with her husband, Robert Seghers, in New Orleans.


Kathy Allen, Ph.D
State Director, Black Advocates for Life

Kathy Allen

Kathy Allen is an advocate for social justice, both personally and professionally. She joins the LARTL team as project director for Louisiana Black Advocates for Life; an initiative designed to both increase the meaningful participation of the Black community in prolife advocacy, and also decrease the rate of abortion among Black women.

Kathy is a native of New Orleans, where as a graduate student she did research as well as grassroots advocacy outreach work in the industrial corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Kathy taught social policy courses at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and completed doctoral research on the potential for socially just economic development in Louisiana. She has served as director of an agency providing resources and referrals for people with disabilities and their families, where she developed and obtained funding for several projects focused on providing practical and moral support to family members of individuals with disabilities.

As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, Kathy understands well that every life is precious. She believes that every person in a socially just society has the right to a life in which God-given gifts and talents can be contributed to the community. She believes that this right begins in the womb.

Kathy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Orleans, and a master of Arts and Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. She continues to support her community as a development consultant and grant writer. She and her son Joshua reside in Opelousas.


Shanon Snyder
Projects Director, New Orleans Right to Life


Shanon Snyder joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in August 2015 as the New Orleans Projects Director. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he became involved with 40 Days for Life in April 2012. Since his time with 40 Days for Life he has committed himself fully to the cause of the defenseless. He became involved with Louisiana Right to Life in March 2014 as a volunteer working in various campaigns of the organization. During the 2014 Senate election he worked as New Orleans Field Director for Women Speak Out PAC — a partner of Susan B. Anthony List — managing door-to-door canvassers in Southeastern Louisiana.

Shanon is a graduate of the University of Mobile, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. He is a graduate student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is preparing for his Doctorate of Theology. He lives in New Orleans and is an active member of his local church.


Sarah Mary Toce
New England Life and Leadership Project Director


Sarah Mary Toce joined the Louisiana Right to Life team in 2014 as the Legislative Liason and Acadiana Outreach Coordinator. In August 2015 she began pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and she continues her work with Louisiana Right to Life in Boston as the New England Life and Leadership Project Director. In this new capacity Sarah Mary is collaborating with various National Right to Life affiliates in the New England area to foster more youth education and training initiatives in that area of the country.

Sarah Mary began her college career in 2008 at the University of San Diego, where she was involved in many volunteer efforts to spread social justice. She was one of three students from her freshman class meeting the rigorous G.P.A. standards chosen to prosper donor relations.  She then returned to LSU, where she began working in the Jindal administration as an executive assistant for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security.

She left Louisiana for six months to study political science at L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Aix-en-Provence, France, where she learned the French language and scored the highest mark in her class. Upon her return to Louisiana she once again served in the Jindal administration, this time as a legislative aid in the Capitol. She finished her college career at LSU in 2012, graduating Magna Cum Laude in Disaster Science and Management.


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State Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of Louisiana Right to Life directs the activities of the organization.

Executive Council
Left to Right: Celie Clark, William Watkins, Sharon Rodi, Michelle Gorney,
Robert Winn, Peggy Kenny
Pictured Below: John Nickelson
Not Pictured: James B. Godchaux, M.D.
John Nickelson
John Nickelson

William Watkins

William "Bill" Watkins was elected Vice President of Louisiana Right to Life Federation in September 2007.

Watkins is a pas President of Terrebonne-Lafourche Right to Life Committee. Watkins is a life-long resident of Houma where he lives with his wife of 29 years, Elizabeth. She is secretary of Terrebonne-Lafourche RTL, and the two together have logged many hours of right to life fundraising and presentations.

He practices law in both federal and state courts around Louisiana with the firm of Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, Lovell & Watkins. They have 4 daughters, and two grandchildren. He credits his involvement in the pro-life cause to his mom, Shirley Watkins, who devoted many years of service and prayers.

Celie Clark
Vice President

Celie returns to active duty in the Federation after years of parish ministry. She and her husband, Dan, founded the Terrebonne/LaFourche Chapter of Right to Life during their 5 year stay in Houma. She served as Federation President and Chairperson for the National Right to Life Convention hosted in New Orleans in 1987.

Presently, she resides in Madisonville with her husband and 5 children. Celie is employed as the Director of Religious Education at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Covington.

Welcome home, Celie!

Robert E. Winn

Peg Kenny
Executive Secretary

Peg Kenny has been a motivating force behind the operations of Louisiana Right to Life for the past twenty years. Heavily involved in both the Louisiana and national legislature, she is recognized for her years of work in promoting and passing pro-life legislation.

Separate from her involvement in LARTL, Peg is the Director of the Louisiana Pro-Life Council, which acts as the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Sharon Ryan Rodi
Delegate to the National Right to Life Board of Directors

Michelle Gorney
At-Large Director& Ex Officio

Michelle Gorney has been involved with LARTL for over 20 years when she and her husband, Chuck, founded St. Tammany Right to Life. Michelle has been a pro life speaker on many occasions and has attended NRTL Conventions and the National March for Life several times.

Michelle recently ended 4 years as LARTL Federation President and currently serves as Secretary of St. Tammany Right to Life. She works as a mother and Nurse in St. Tammany Parish.

James B. Godchaux, M.D.
At-Large Director

Dr. James Burton Godchaux of Lafayette, Louisiana was born in Houma and grew up in Opelousas, La. He graduated from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1972, Interned at Lafayette Charity Hospital, then did a Diagnostic Radiology Residency in Shreveport from 1973-1976. It was in those early days of legalized abortion when he and his wife, Kathleen, began to get involved in pro-life activities.

Dr. Godchaux is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology and began his practice in Lafayette in 1976 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. For a time there he served as Head of the Department of Radiology. He also held a Neuroradiology CAQ 1998-2008. In 2004 he helped to develop Envision Imaging of Acadiana, an outpatient imaging center, where he serves as Radiologist and until recently, Medical Director.

He is the father of four sons and has 14 grandchildren. He and Kathleen both serve on the boards of Acadiana Right to Life, the DesOrmeaux Foundation's Women's Center of Lafayette, and the Zerben Bienvenu and William Smith Fund for Pro-Life Education in Acadiana.

He is a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, where he and his wife serve as Lay Ministers.

 John Nickelson
At-Large Director

John Nickelson is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Texas. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia, served as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge, and practiced with a national firm in Dallas before returning home to Shreveport. He and his wife, Emily, have three daughters and are active members of their church, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. 

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** Click any of the images to download a photo of the staff member. Feel free to use these images for marketing materials promoting appearances by our staff members.