Bayou Brief Adds COO and Chief Cultural Columnist

Cayman Clevenger Relinquishes Board Seat to Become Bayou Brief COO, Lydia Y. Nichols Joins as Chief Cultural Columnist

July 18, 2019

NEW ORLEANS- In a letter to contributors, Lamar White, Jr., the founder and publisher of the Bayou Brief, announced this morning two new additions to the nonprofit news publication. Cayman Clevenger of New Orleans relinquished his position as Chairman of the Board in order to become the publication’s first Chief Operating Officer, and Lydia Y. Nichols, also of New Orleans, will join the masthead as the Bayou Brief’s Chief Cultural Columnist. The Board previously voted to phase out the position of development consultant following the successful relaunch of its new website.

Yesterday, the publication also launched a merchandise section, which will offer donors a selection of stickers and koozies designed by local artist Brooke Caillouette (who created the the Bayou Brief’s masthead and logo design), magnets based on artwork by popular Louisiana artist Simon, and a rotating selection of rare Louisiana collectibles and memorabilia. Currently, the publication is selling a mint condition collection of Simone D. Fair lapel pins from the 1984 World’s Fair, a first-edition poster of the documentary “The War Room” autographed and personalized by James Carville, and first edition copies of both of Huey P. Long’s books, My First Days in the White House and Every Man a King.

“If you have a rare Louisiana collectible, piece of art, or an item of historic value, such as but not limited to the Deduct Box, we’re happy to accept those as a way of contributing to independent journalism for Louisiana,” said Clevenger, who is also a fine art appraiser specializing in Louisiana art.

In his capacity as COO, Clevenger will be responsible for all contract monitoring, regulatory compliance, and event planning. 

“Cayman has been an integral part of the Bayou Brief from the very beginning,” said Lamar White, Jr. “He actually pitched the publication’s name, and he has been advising me and working with our web design and development consultants every step of the way. There seemed to be a unanimous consensus we were spending too much on consultants and not enough on content, and we both understood it would save a significant amount of money to bring all of this in-house.”

Clevenger is a native of Many, Louisiana and attended elementary and high school in Shreveport, where he excelled as an amateur golfer, ultimately earning a golf scholarship from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. After a year in Waco, he decided to transfer to Tulane University and quickly emerged as a leader in student government. Following Tulane, he matriculated into the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, where he became passionate about legal writing,* international dispute resolution, and animal law. His law review article, “Baby Doe and the LSEA,” received the school’s prestigious Peggy Sue Award.**

After graduating cum laude, Clevenger returned to New Orleans. He is a practicing lawyer and a real estate agent, but he primarily works as a professional art dealer for his company, Louisiana Art ( His wife Sarah is also a lawyer, and together, they have a daughter, Evangeline Marie.

The Bayou Brief is also proud to announce Lydia Y. Nichols will serve as its Chief Cultural Columnist and will become a part of its masthead. Nichols, a New Orleans native, responded to a request for freelance contributors the Bayou Brief distributed prior to Hurricane Barry, and immediately after reading her cover letter and sample work, Sue Lincoln, the Chief Investigative Editor, and Lamar White, Jr. agreed to compensate her for two columns about the storm.

When Nichols sent the first draft of her first column, White decided to offer her a paid position and a prominent role as an opinion columnist. That column, “Listen to the River: A Change is Gonna Come,” quickly went viral and became one of the most acclaimed stories the Bayou Brief has published, garnering an international audience.

“With all due respect to reporters, Lydia is something that requires much more skill and talent and daring. She’s a writer,” White, Jr. said. “She has a sense of lyricism and cadence- the music of prose- that can’t be taught. People were mesmerized. James Carville texted me from across the Atlantic to tel me how much he liked it.”

Bayou Brief had received contributions for coverage of Barry, but after Nichols’ first column, he decided to set those funds aside to pay for her next six columns, “As some may know, I lamented the loss of Jarvis DeBerry to Ohio, and had been actively looking to hire a reporter who could document perspective. But that’s not what happened here. I didn’t find a reporter. I discovered the best damn young opinion writer, white or black, male or female, in the entire state. No pressure or anything.”

Lydia Y. Nichols is an award-winning writer and researcher whose work about contemporary art, literature, culture, and social justice has been featured in 64 Parishes Magazine, The Lens, Pelican Bomb, and The Grio – among other outlets. In 2016, she co-authored a report about the impact of short-term rentals on housing access and affordability in New Orleans that, for better or worse, catapulted the topic into the public consciousness. A fifth generation Uptown New Orleans native, she now hails from Treme where she lives with her toddler son and an addiction to lavender oil.