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NOPD Sergeant Reigns as Goddess Nyx VI This Mardi Gras

by Aaron E. Looney

February 17, 2017

Categories: On the Beat, Videos

Topics: Community Policing, First District

Working as the administrative supervisor for the NOPD’s First District, Sgt. Zenia Smith-Williams wears many hats in her day-to-day duties.

Now, Smith-Williams can add another piece of head wear to her collection – a crown – as she currently reigns over the all-female Mystic Krewe of Nyx for Mardi Gras 2017 as Goddess Nyx VI.

With Nyx only forming in 2011, Smith-Williams is the sixth monarch in the krewe’s young history. However, Nyx has grown rapidly to now standing as the largest all-female krewe in New Orleans and the second-largest krewe citywide.

“It’s my responsibility as the reigning goddess to represent the krewe of 2,951 ladies,” Smith-Williams said of Nyx. “It’s a big honor.”


Smith-Williams made her debut as Goddess Nyx VI during the krewe’s annual ball, which was held on February 11, and will preside over the krewe’s annual Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 22.

“Nyx is the goddess of slumber,” she said. “It’s a realty funny story because Zeus was actually intimidated by her. It gives me a little pride to know that I’m representing someone that even Zeus himself was a little afraid of.”

In her role as Goddess Nyx VI, Smith-Williams acts as a liaison between Nyx and other krewes, speaking to many other krewes, and also represents Nyx in the community. These responsibilities reflect her work in the NOPD, as she also oversees many day-to-day working aspects of the First District.

“I’ve been with the NOPD for 15 years, starting as a communications officer before becoming a recruit and now, I’m a sergeant,” she said. “In my role, I am responsible for addressing compliance issues, consent decree adherence, managing our School Resource Officers, coordinating our Field Training Officer program and manage our district systems administrator. So, I have a lot of responsibilities keeping the district on course and making sure all of my officers are doing what they’re supposed to do.”

In addition to Mardi Gras festivities, Nyx also contributes to the community through numerous fundraisers and other programs, Smith-Williams said.

“We recently held our Corsets and Cowboys event, where we had an auction and raised funds for autism research,” she said. “A few years ago, we held a fundraiser to help combat Alzheimer’s. In addition to being Goddess this year, I’m also a float lieutenant each year. So, every year, the 55 to 60 women on my float and I gather supplies for the homeless and assemble care packages to give to them, typically during the Christmas holiday season.”


Smith-Williams said she decided to join Nyx because of the sense of unity it offered, as well as the opportunity to meet and work with a group of diverse women.

“I was looking for something in New Orleans that would include people from all walks of life,” she said, “Being a part of Nyx, I’ve met people that I maybe would have never met or have had a conversation with otherwise – people from all races, religions, economic backgrounds and of other demographics. I’ve met people from all over the world.”

Growing up in New Orleans, Smith-Williams said, she was in that number who lined up to watch the many Mardi Gras parades that trekked along the traditional Uptown parade route along St. Charles Avenue.

“As a young African-American girl growing up near St. Charles, we caught all the parades on that route,” she said. “Being at the parades and seeing only African-American girls in the marching units or other support roles and never being the royalty or anyone leading the parade, that stood out to me.”


This experience would inspire Smith-Williams to eventually join Nyx and then to apply herself to run for the krewe’s highest honor as Goddess. She said she hopes an achievement that is extremely special to her can also serve as an inspiration to others.

“For me, becoming a member of the krewe was a big accomplishment,” she said. “Running for and becoming Goddess was the ultimate achievement. Now, when we roll down St. Charles Avenue this year as Goddess Nyx VI and the monarch of such a diverse krewe of women, I hope it give other young girls of any race or background a chance to say, ‘I can do that.’”

The fellowship being in a Mardi Gras krewe allows has also offered Smith-Williams the chance to relate her experience as an NOPD officer to her fellow Nyx members.

“Not many people can say that they know a police officer, so it gives them the opportunity to know someone on the police force and gives them someone to ask if they have any questions.”

Being able to balance her career with NOPD and her obligations to Nyx is a balance that Smith-Williams said she relishes.

“Work is work, but Nyx is play and I have a great time playing,” she said. “I enjoy being with my sisters and being out and about representing the krewe. We’re excited about rolling in our parade this year.”

The Krewe of Nyx parade rolls at 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 22, traveling the traditional Uptown New Orleans parade route. Known for its elaborately designed floats and hand-designed collectible purses as throws, the parade begins at the intersection of Jefferson and Magazine Streets,