Angie S. Manning

Communications Director

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB



CVB Honors Partners in Tourism

With Special Guest Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser

LAKE CHARLES, La. (June 6, 2018)—The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (LC/SWLA CVB) honored partners in tourism who have made significant contributions to the tourism industry in Southwest Louisiana at the annual award ceremony held in honor of National Tourism Week. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was on hand at the ceremony to deliver the keynote address and assist with awards.

The following community leaders were named as Partners in Tourism: Adam Carter, Bayou Rum; David Faulk, Mardi Gras Museum; Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries; and Jamison Trouth, Yellowfin Distillery.

The Photo of the Year through social media programs went to Callie Gordon for her “snow gator” photo taken during the snowfall of 2017.

The 2018 Sales Partner in Tourism was earned by Tomas Rey of Rey Royal Excursions.

The 2018 Young Professional Award went to Jiten Zaveri, president and CEP of Prosperity Hospitality Management for his vision and entrepreneurship.

The 2018 Media Partner in Tourism was earned by Antoine Aaron with KPLC for his enthusiasm and dedication.

The 2018 Hospitality Arts Tourism “HAT” Award went to Flock of Five Gift & Art Emporium with owner Lisa Reed accepting the award for going above and beyond for tour groups.

The 2018 Good Neighbor Award was presented to John O’Donnell for volunteering for a variety of organizations throughout Southwest Louisiana, including hosting the “Lake Charles Local: Meet the Locals” video series produced by the LC/SWLA CVB.

The 2018 Lasting Impression Award was given to Jerry LeBlanc with Big Daddy’s Sports Grill for his special brand of Southern hospitality and support of local athletics.

The 2018 Rhea Barnes Award was earned by the late Daniel Ieyoub for dedicating his life to bettering the community through education and a myriad of organizations including the LC/SWLA CVB, McNeese Banners, the Cathedral Parish Church office and the arts. Ieyoub was a founding member and past president of ACTS Theatre of Lake Charles; a member and past president of the McNeese Alumni Association; past president of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Catholic School Board; past president of the McNeese Outriders; past president of the Sierra Club; member of the Retired Teachers of Calcasieu Parish; board member and treasurer of the Louisiana College Academic Advisor Association; member of the Arts and Humanities Council; served on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army and was a strong supporter of Lake Charles High traditions.

The 2018 Tourism Lifetime Service Award was given to Mike Dees, general counsel of the Port of Lake Charles, having served on the board of directors of the LC/SWLA CVB for many years including the building committees for both the Lakeshore Drive Welcome Center and Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point in Sulphur.

The 2018 Tourism Leadership Award was presented to Mike Davis, director of sales at Golden Nugget Lake Charles. Spending over 20 years as sales manager and executive director of sales at The Grand Casino and Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss., he was inducted into the Mississippi Tourism Hall of Fame in 2014 and has the distinction of being an outstanding member of the year for both the Mississippi and Louisiana Society of Association Executives. He shares his knowledge and works for the betterment of the hospitality industry in Southwest Louisiana.

The 2018 Organization of the Year was earned by the Louisiana Winter Beer Fest with Sara Lasher, Nick Villaume and Mike Cironi accepting the award. Having completed the 4th successful year, the Louisiana Winter Beer Fest has grown into one of the “must be seen at” events in Southwest Louisiana. With the rising popularity of craft beer breweries across the country, the Winter Beer Fest team does a fantastic job of showcasing not only Louisiana brews, but also beers from around the US attracting thousands to the streets of downtown.

The 2018 Sports Persons of the Year went to Keith Alexander, assistant executive director for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, LHSAA. Alexander has been an asset to the Southwest Louisiana community having worked with the CVB team on events such as Marsh Madness, State Swim Championships and State Baseball Championships over the last 10 plus years.  He has always been an advocate for the LHSAA events that we host here in Southwest Louisiana.  

The Chairman’s Cup Award is given to someone who has contributed to Southwest Louisiana, in the chairman’s eyes of the board of directors of the CVB, Samuel Wilkinson. This year, the Chairman’s Cup Award was presented to Mary Jo Bayles of DeQuincy. She was instrumental in promoting and supporting programming in DeQuincy, and she coordinates the Louisiana Air Show and worked diligently to bring the airshow back to Southwest Louisiana.

The 2018 CVB Volunteer of the Year has given a year-round commitment to supporting staff at the CVB. Merline Morvant was named as the 2018 volunteer of the year. Morvant has been a faithful volunteer for 16 years. She speaks Cajun French, assists francophone visitors, and she has a deep love for tourism in Southwest Louisiana.

Congressman Clay Higgins was the recipient of the 2018 Public Service Award. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Louisiana's Third Congressional District, he is also a veteran, highly decorated law enforcement officer and serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Representative Higgins has been a passionate supporter welcoming international visitors while preserving the safety of Americans and is also an ardent supporter of building a new I-10 bridge in Southwest Louisiana.

The 2018 Southwest Louisiana Tourism Partner of the Year went to the Louisiana Pirate Festival Costume Ball Committee for their hard work in making the inaugural ball a success. The members of the committee included: Anne Monlezun, co-chair; Kathy Granger, co-chair; Jimmy Bastow, Kimberly Albrecht, George Barbier, Aaron Beale, Briggs Becton, Sandra Dartus, Mona Duhon, Russ Grantham, Amy Grimes, Randy Lanza, Mickey LeBlanc, Cyndi LeJeune, Michelle McInnis, Angel Papadimitiriou, Brant Parish, Annette Richey and Lisa Smith.


For more information on the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau and the impact of tourism on our community, log onto


The LC/SWLA CVB is the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Calcasieu Parish, dedicated to strengthening the economic fabric of Southwest Louisiana through overnight visitation. In 2017, $732 million was added to the local economy through travel expenditures; the bureau booked over 67,000 room nights, and the LC/SWLA CVB was honored with ConventionSouth’s Annual Readers’ Choice Award. The dedicated staff works to showcase the best of Southwest Louisiana through marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales efforts to bring meetings, conventions, tournaments, media tours and groups to Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana.