Sister Anne Catherine Bizalion was the Executive Director and Co-Founder of SMHA. Sister Anne, a rural French Dominican nun, came to Louisiana in the mid-1950’s to work to end poverty in the state. She graduated as the first Catholic nun to obtain a Masters of Social work from Tulane University, after which she became the first professional social worker at the TB Annex of Lafayette Charity Hospital.
Before founding SMHA, Sister Anne directed a Headstart program and worked closely with Father A. J. McKnight, a Louisiana civil rights leader, to establish educational and cooperative programs. In 1969, she and Co-Founder Lorna Bourg developed SMHA to expose flawed systems in Louisiana and then to improve them. SMHA has taught rural sugar cane workers to help themselves through housing programs, health clinics and adult education.