Role Model

Sonny Lee

Class of 2017 | Son of a Saint

Annually since 1986, YLC has selected a class of outstanding New Orleanians who serve as Role Models by actively contributing to the betterment of the Greater New Orleans region. These individuals are an inspiration to YLC’s young professional members and to the community at large.

Our 2020 Role Model Class is comprised of past role models from YLC's 34-year history. Revisiting our Role Models is an opportunity to learn about their changes in leadership, leadership lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what makes them Proud to Call New Orleans Home.

As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Son of a Saint, Bivian “Sonny” Lee III has dedicated his life to enhancing the lives of fatherless boys. Prior to founding the organization, Sonny served as chief aide to Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. He also previously served as the Director of Operations for the New Orleans Zephyrs AAA Baseball Team and Director of the New Orleans Jazz Institute. Sonny graduated with honors from St. Augustine High School and later earned a degree in Marketing and Management from the University of New Orleans. He is currently pursuing his Executive Master of Nonprofit Administration (EMNA) at the University of Notre Dame. A TEDx speaker on community service, decision-making, and the importance of education, Sonny’s nonprofit work has been highlighted on CNN, Al Jazeera America, NPR along with local television stations and newspapers. His work on behalf of his community and the Son of a Saint organization has garnered him numerous awards, including: 

  • 2020 Urban Heroes Award, The Urban Conservancy
  • 2019 “A-List” Honoree, Adore Magazine
  • 2018 Homer Hitt Alumnus of the Year, University of New Orleans
  • 2017 Southerners of the Year, Southern Living 
  • 2017 Role Model Award, Young Leadership Council (YLC) 
  • 2017 Children’s Hero Award, Children’s Bureau of New Orleans 
  • 2016 New Orleanian of the Year, Gambit Weekly 
  • 2015 Angel Award, Blue Cross Foundation 
  • 2015 Ten Outstanding Young Americans, United States Junior Chamber
  • 2014 People to Watch, New Orleans Magazine 
  • 2013 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award
  • 2013 Champion of Change Award, Crescent City Chapter of Links, Inc. 
  • 2013 Millennial Change Maker Award, Spears Consulting 
  • 2011 40 Under 40, Gambit Weekly