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November Agent Spotlight: Katie O’Leary

Katie O’Leary combines school smarts with people skills to minimize the stress of real estate transactions—and maybe even make them fun.

A fifth-generation New Orleanian, Katie is well-versed in the Big Easy’s different neighborhoods. “I’ve lived all over the city,” she says, “so I’m a New Orleans hometown kind of girl.” In 1998, she graduated from the longstanding local high school Mount Carmel Academy.

Higher education achievements paved her path to success. Katie earned her bachelor’s in education psychology from Mississippi State University in 2002, matriculating magna cum laude. In 2006, she graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law—in the top eight percent of her class.

These impressive credentials led to an administrative position that shaped her approach to real estate. Before earning her realtor license in 2017, Katie worked for a decade at Tulane Law School in charge of student life. That meant advising stressed students on job hunting, judicial clerkship applications, and even their grades and relationships. While her legal background helped her draw up real estate contracts—a critical skill—it was her experience counseling ambitious future attorneys that really sharpened her knack for supporting people by removing stress.

“My job at Tulane involved meeting with high-strung students and counseling them on their problems,” Katie explains. “I enjoy helping people. Real estate is a similar sort of problem-solving.” She loves listening to families’ various needs and figuring out ways to meet as many of them as possible within budget.

Like law school, buying a home is a huge expenditure; it’s understandable to feel tense over it. “But,” she says, “my aim as an agent is to make the process as stress-free as possible. If people are patient, calm, and remember their goals, they can pretty much always accomplish what they’re looking for.”

Now that she’s been a realtor for nearly six years, she counsels beginning realtors, too. “I enjoy mentoring new people,” she adds. “It’s fun!”

What advice would she give herself about her own future? “You have to evolve. I got better at social media recently, trying new things. I take marketing and social media courses as extra education to learn how to best market my listings. I had a goal this past year to up my social media presence and I did!” She finds that Athena’s encouraging, tech-savvy atmosphere facilitates such self-study.

And remember the fun. “Many of my clients are law school grads I still talk with,” Katie points out. “I used to counsel them in school and now I counsel them in this. You really must keep in touch with people and build long-term relationships. It makes the job fun.”

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October Agent Spotlight: Lauren Crain

Lauren Crain’s career as a realtor exemplifies the go-getter’s knack for turning local ties into opportunities. A top producer for three years and counting, she looks forward to further expanding her network in a world where historic homes and rapid change coincide.

Born in Metairie, Lauren grew up learning an appreciation for old-world Louisiana architecture from watching her father, a woodworker, restore centuries-old plantation houses by hand. Just as attentive, Lauren today takes time to understand each home’s unique quirks and pass that knowledge on to prospective buyers.

Lauren understands Greater New Orleans properties like only a local can. She graduated from Mount Carmel Academy in 2003. In 2007, she received her bachelor’s in small business management and entrepreneurship from LSU. Following some years in franchise operations and event planning, both in the region, she earned her real estate license in 2017. “Local is a different view of the community,” she says. “You have a different view of neighborhoods: how they’ve changed, how things work.”

To help families fulfill the dream of a new place, Lauren leverages her area connections to uncover little-known opportunities. For example, if a client works in a certain occupation, they may qualify for regional grants or other assistance. Continuing to deepen her hometown roots empowers Lauren to discover these hidden gems. “I like helping families find exactly where they can be comfortable, in a way that makes both emotional sense and financial sense,” she says.

Prioritizing her network has fueled Lauren’s achievements for more than half a decade, even in the face of economic fluctuations. “Working through booms and slowdowns, through COVID and other uncertainty, develops a great perspective,” she points out. “With experience, you see how things turn around, what’s important and what’s not important.” After all, local homes — and Lauren’s local connections — have been here far longer than any particular headline.

Having grown her business year after year, Lauren still focuses on strengthening her network to keep ahead of the times. She singles out marketing and communications as innovative fields where she would like to meet more people. Working for Athena, a boutique brokerage, gives her greater flexibility to pursue such goals. That matters because ultimately knowing the people of New Orleans has made her career a success.

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Alicia Lagarde Craig Joins Athena

Even after more than 16 years in the industry, Alicia Lagarde Craig still loves to learn about real estate—and apply this knowledge to serving her clients. Athena proudly welcomes this dedicated agent to our brokerage.

Growing up in St. Bernard Parish, Alicia demonstrated an early passion for education by graduating from Mount Carmel Academy high school summa cum laude. In 2007, at the University of New Orleans, she completed a double major in finance and business administration. On top of that, she added a minor in real estate.

Before finishing college, she already had her real estate license, earned in 2006. She enjoyed seeing how properties are styled, and also pricing them, a complex art incorporating her finance background.

Alicia entered the market during hard times—Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crisis—but credits those challenges with forcing her to learn everything possible about the business. To this day, she regularly attends industry conferences, subscribes to trade publications, and takes extra continuing education hours.  The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans certified her as a historic home specialist in 2010, a designation in which she takes special pride.

The opportunity to keep building her skills drew her to Athena. The boutique firm is staffed with quality agents while staying small enough that no one gets lost in the mix. “That’s good for collaboration and coming together on ideas,” Alicia says. “Communication has been top notch during the transition.”

Athena is grateful for Alicia’s knowledge and the chance to collaborate with her.

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Tanner Tafaro Joins Athena

Athena is delighted to announce that Tanner Tafaro has joined the brokerage.

A New Orleans native, Tanner attended Archbishop Rummel High School and Tulane University, graduating with a degree in strategic business consulting and real estate development. Tanner has gone on to become the General Manager of his family’s construction company, in addition to acquiring and overseeing multiple rental properties across Louisiana.

Tanner was attracted to Athena because of the balance it strikes between maintaining a close-knit group of agents who work well together and offering them the resources and tools normally available only through larger brokerages.   “In fact,” said Tanner, “Athena’s approach is more refined than some of the large brokerages.  From the software it custom developed to its suite of forms drafted by Louisiana lawyers, the company really goes above and beyond to support its agents.”

Tanner is excited about the opportunity to use his skills and extensive network to promote the culture and success of Athena—while serving Tanner’s clients.  We’re proud to have him in our corner.

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Athena proudly welcomes Joshua Hartdegen to our team!

Joshua Hartdegen’s real estate roots run deep. From the time he was just a boy, helping his father with renovations, Joshua has been surrounded by everything real-estate-related. Learning from a family of contractors and carpenters, Joshua took his passion for home projects to the next level a few years ago when he rehabbed a dilapidated 1920s home. His licensure as a real estate agent is the natural next step in his burgeoning real estate career.

Joshua graduated Jesuit High School and LSU, with a major in psychology and a minor in history and sociology. He is an avid reader and has a long history of service to the communities where he has lived, including his continued volunteer work for the Louisiana SPCA and the Take Paws animal shelter. Joshua lives in Old Jefferson with his dog, Royal, an 8-year-old husky he rescued.

Joshua joined Athena because, in his own words, “they are very down to earth, very supportive, and feverishly focused on quality representation for their clients.”

Anyone buying or selling a home in New Orleans would be lucky to have Joshua Hartdegen in their corner. We are grateful he chose to join Athena.

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Nicole Schlaudecker Joins Athena!

Athena is delighted to welcome veteran agent Nicole Schlaudecker to our team!

From her grammar school days when she sold homemade jewelry, Nicole Schlaudecker has always had a gift for sales. Since 2013, she has applies those skills as a real estate professional, helping families buy and sell homes in Metairie, Kenner, and New Orleans.

Nicole regularly works with contractors on renovation and new-construction projects.  And she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves to do what it takes to help her clients, even assisting with renovation projects.  Nicole’s clients benefit from her expertise in guiding them on sound repair and renovation decisions that yield the highest return on investment.

Born in Gretna and raised in Lakeview, Nicole attended Cabrini High School. She lives in Lakeview with her husband and their 9-year-old son. She also has a daughter who recently graduated from LSU with a finance degree and is now a loan officer.

Nicole volunteers for a local rescue shelter, and she regularly fosters dogs.  It’s not unusual to see 1-2 puppies in her home, sharing the couch with Prim, her black and grey Catahoula/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix.  Nicole is also deeply involved with her son’s school, St. Louis King of France.

Whether you’re interested in buying or selling a property, give Nicole a call. She’s as loyal as they come and can offer you a wealth of experience.

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Athena proudly welcomes Marcel Tullier to the brokerage!

Marcel was a seasoned real estate investor long before he became a Realtor. He has bought homes, built houses on spec, and even renovated a few historical buildings. He knows the costs involved in renovations and flips, and he draws upon this knowledge to help his clients grasp what they’re getting into.

A native of New Orleans, Marcel was born in Gentilly and moved to Metairie when he was 14. He attended Brother Martin High School and went on to earn a degree in Petroleum Engineering from LSU.

In 2016 Marcel developed an interest in Real Estate. He has acquired properties in many ways, from Sheriff auction and tax sales to adjudicated properties. Given his growing activity in real estate, it made sense to get his real estate license.

Marcel understands the value of a property from a construction perspective, and he’s well versed in the permit process. His hands-on approach is a good fit for Athena’s boutique business model.

Today he lives in Lakeview with his wife, three children, and their dog Louie, a rescue spaniel/border collie mix.

A lifelong Saints fan and a family man at heart, Marcel enjoys cooking, barbecues, and playing soccer and baseball with his kids. Marcel Tullier is proud of his New Orleans heritage, and eager to help you get the most out of this great city.

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Athena proudly welcomes Michelle Centanni to the brokerage!

With an eye for potential and a gift for math, Michelle knows how to spot value for her clients. Her father, a long-time investor in local real estate, taught her how to think beyond the short-term. She is passionate about helping every client gain long-term wins from the sale or purchase of their property.

“I’m not thinking about tomorrow,” she says, “I’m thinking about years to come.”

Michelle Centanni was born and raised in Kenner. She attended Archbishop Chapelle, where she held leadership positions and discovered her interest in education. These activities created a vibrant social life, and to this day she continues to make her relationships a cherished priority.

She majored in Elementary Education at LSU, and she continues to stay involved with her Kappa Delta sorority sisters.

Throughout her twenties, Michelle worked for American All-Star where she was a dance coach, choreographer, and role model for young dancers. She always sought to instill leadership, teamwork, and a positive mental attitude in her trainees. These values continue to guide her work as a REALTOR®.

Michelle eventually became a teacher and a math tutor at St. Dominic in Lakeview, where she built strong relationships with the students and their families. As many of her friends are first-time home buyers, she came to realize that she could better serve her community as a REALTOR®.

The high value she places on community led Michelle to join the Athena team.

“I chose Athena,” she says, “because they understand that less is more. It’s a very close-knit group. Instead of signing as many agents as possible, they focus on quality over quantity.”

Michelle is a newlywed who lives right on the border of Kenner and Metairie with her husband, a golden retriever named Luna, and a rescue cat named Roux. Today, she continues to draw upon her teaching experience to network and build relationships. She helps her clients make big choices that will benefit them over the long term.

 

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Alaine Wehlen joins the Athena Real Estate team

Alaine Wehlen is a natural-born educator. The skills she’s gained in eight years of teaching have carried over to her real estate career, where she acts as a trusted guide and wealth of information for a small group of loyal clients.

Buying or selling real estate is rarely a simple process, but Alaine stands by her clients, providing critical guidance and working behind the scenes to ensure success. Because she only works with a few clients at a time, she can provide a much more thoughtful, personalized experience.

Alaine is passionate about the many neighborhoods of New Orleans and well educated on their differences. She’s also a staging expert, with a keen eye for the subtle changes that make a big difference to potential buyers. She enjoys the process of working with a seller to make their home show as well as possible and ultimately sell for a high price.

Alaine was raised in New Orleans and attended LSU. She is a teacher at St. Dominic, where her three daughters also attend. She’s been married to her husband, Nick, for 15 years, and in the spring of 2020, they added a new member to their family — a rescue dog named Trooper.

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Athena proudly welcomes Corynne Lindemann to our team!

Corynne started her real estate career working for a local title company and quickly learned about the industry as she began meeting agents. She soon realized her passion was on the other side of the table–representing families buying and selling their homes.  With a strong background in marketing and relevant experience in the industry, Corynne has all it takes to be a top real estate agent in the Greater New Orleans area.

An LSU graduate and North Shore native, Corynne has ten years of experience in the South Shore, both professionally and as a homeowner. She enjoys taking her kids to City Park for beignets. She loves outdoor festivals, live music, and almost any outdoor activity New Orleans has to offer.

Corynne chose to work with Athena because she felt there was a good fit. “When I worked in the title world, I was exposed to a lot of different brokerages and I could see where I felt I fit the most. A lot of my clientele are in Lakeview and Metairie, and that’s where Athena thrives. I also knew a lot of the agents, so I had a community already. I feel like Athena really is a family more than a brokerage.”

Although Corynne has made the South Shore her home, she hasn’t forgotten her North Shore roots, and this means she can offer her clients the best of both worlds.

“I’m able to speak to the North Shore side because I’m very familiar with the neighborhoods and the schools over there. If a client wants to buy on the North Shore, I can quickly give them intel and find exactly what they need but can speak to the South Shore side as well.”

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