LuAnn Pappas’s dad taught her what it means to give back. 

And as the 2021 recipient of the Annette O’Keefe Humanitarian Award, the CEO of Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort wishes Bill Sturm could share in the recognition. Bar none, she says, he was the biggest influence in her life. 

“I will forever say I am who I am today, both personally and professionally, due to my father,” she says. “My father was a single dad to two daughters in the early ‘60s, during a time when that would not have been considered the ‘norm.’” 

Sturm often was praised for his humanitarian efforts, and Pappas has carried that tradition forward. The Annette O’Keefe award recognizes a community member for exemplary volunteer service efforts that reflect O’Keefe’s principles. After being diagnosed with mental illness herself, O’Keefe worked to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. 

Kay Daneault, executive director of MHASM, recalls that Pappas attended the Don’t Worry, Be Happy event, where the O’Keefe Award is presented, in 2008 and spoke about how she wanted to be involved. She joined the organization’s board shortly after, and according to Daneault, remains “very interested in the work we do.” 

“LuAnn has told me often that she feels taking care of your mental health is so important,” Daneault says, “as she has seen people struggle.” 

“I am driven by a need to do better today than yesterday.” — LuAnn Pappas 

While walking through Scarlet Pearl with Pappas a few years ago, Daneault was impressed by her interactions with the employees, which showed her regard and respect for them. 

“She does so much for our community and has made Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort a top-notch business,” Daneault says. “She deserves every accolade she receives!” 

Besides this most recent award, Pappas has racked up an impressive collection of honors, including the 2019 Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross, the 2020 Success Women’s Conference Top Influencer Award, New Orleans Magazine “Steel Magnolia” honors for accomplishments in philanthropy and business and inclusion in Global Gaming Business Magazine’s “25 People to Watch” list in 2017. 

“Community is extended family to me,” says Pappas, who has a 36-year career in the gaming industry. “In my profession, we touch so many in the community, whether they be customers, associates, vendors, and/or partners.” She is actively involved in the annual Heart Walk, Habitat for Humanity, and various other charitable organizations and events. 

The reward for her dedication is not always financial, but rather in making a positive impact on someone’s life or in the community. In all she does, Pappas asks herself, “Am I making a difference that truly matters?” 

“I am driven by a need to do better today than yesterday,” she says.