A Brief History 

In 1963, a small group of Tulane students began a social justice organization that would eventually form into the CACTUS we know today. The inception of Project Opportunity is what paved the way for social justice and community outreach to find its home on Tulane's campus. Funded by the Ford and Danforth Foundations and sponsored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Project Opportunity was a service project that aimed to motivate potentially high excelling students from disadvantaged backgrounds to seek higher education. 

In the beginning, Tulane students received sparse administrative support and it became apparent that in order for this project to be effective they needed additional assistance. In the fall of 1966, Mr. Donald Mintz was appointed Director of Admissions for the purpose of coordinating Tulane's community service effort. In the year before Mr. Mintz was appointed there had been 15-20 students participating in Project Opportunity; in the following year, more than 60 students participated. 

Through the persistence of Mintz and several Tulane students, the administration agreed to support an official student community service organization. Modeled after the Columbia University Citizens Council, the Community Action Council of Tulane Students, otherwise known as CACTUS, was officially born in the spring of 1968. 

Since then, CACTUS has grown tremendously through the years, adding numerous projects and smaller organizations to its membership. It has inspired social justice activism in the student body and created leaders on campus. Some projects that were originally part of CACTUS branched off due to size, such as Tulane Emergency Medical Service (TEMS). 

CACTUS is one of the oldest and largest continually running student-led volunteer organizations in the nation, and it has become a model for other universities around the world. As a volunteer, you are not only writing its history, you are creating the opportunity for an even stronger future! 

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Meet Our

Executive BoaRD

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Blayne Schenk

Chair

she/her/hers

Senior from Bethesda, MD

Sociology & Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

bschenk@tulane.edu

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Juliet Alise

Chair of Administration

she/her/hers

Junior from Baton Rouge, LA

Communications & Psychology

jalise@tulane.edu

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Zoë Ortiz

Chair of Finance

she/her/hers

Sophomore from Venice, FL

International Relations, Legal Studies,

& Spanish

zortiz1@tulane.edu

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Claire Mulhollem

Vice Chair of Events

she/her/hers

Sophomore from Lexington, KY

Political Science & Public Policy

cmulhollem@tulane.edu

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David Cheng

Vice Chair of Events

he/him/his

Freshman from Chico, CA

Biomedical Engineering

dcheng1@tulane.edu

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Sameena Ghogawala

Vice Chair of Events

she/her/hers

Freshman from Needham, MA

Public Health & International Development

sghogawala@tulane.edu

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Will Nadan

Vice Chair of Marketing

he/him/his

Sophomore from San Francisco, CA

Public Health, Spanish and Portuguese, & Latin American Studies

wnadan@tulane.edu

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Carson Sanders

Vice Chair of Marketing

she/her/hers

Senior from Monroe, LA

Political Science & Theatre Performance

csanders1@tulane.edu

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Peyton Friedlander

SBAC/USG Liaison

she/her/hers

Sophomore from Chicago, IL

Communications & Psychology

pfriedlander1@tulane.edu

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Maria Benavides

Freshman Representative

she/her/hers

Freshman from San Antonio, TX

International Development & 

Legal Studies in Business

mbenavides@tulane.edu

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Izzy Chow

Freshman Representative

she/her/hers

Freshman from Honolulu, HI

Homeland Security & Asian Studies

ichow@tulane.edu

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Shalini Kishore

Freshman Representative

she/her/hers

Freshman from Dallas, TX

Spanish & Marketing

skishore@tulane.edu

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Carson Koffler

Freshman Representative

he/him/his

Freshman from New Orleans, LA

Psychology & Linguistics

ckoffler@tulane.edu

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Anya Sastry

Freshman Representative

she/her/hers

Freshman from Barrington, IL

International Relations &

Legal Studies in Business

asastry@tulane.edu