Visit Lake Charles celebrated the graduation of Kaitlyn Gallegos, Community Development Officer, and Kathryn Shea Duncan, Media/Public Relations Manager, from the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy (LTLA) at the Louisiana Travel Association’s annual meeting at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Jan. 26.   

The 21 members of the LTLA class spent 2020 developing leadership skills while learning from seasoned professionals throughout the tourism industry. The goal of the program is to equip each class member with knowledge and skills that will enrich their tourism-related organizations, therefore strengthening the state-wide tourism industry.   

"Visit Lake Charles continues to grow the collective knowledge and experience of our staff," said CEO Kyle Edmiston. "We have more LTLA graduates than any other organization in LA, and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of both our young members for 2020. It was not easy to complete this class with a world-wide pandemic and two significant hurricanes." 

“I am proud to be among so many emerging leaders in our industry who’ve collectively demonstrated how to adapt to unforeseen challenges and still deliver an impact,” said Duncan. “The relationships with peers, tourism trailblazers, and industry leaders that I have gained this year are invaluable. This experience has taken me on a journey toward an increased understanding of my strengths and skills that it takes to make an impact in Lake Charles and our recovery ahead.”  

“It was a privilege to be provided the opportunity to learn from everyone who participated in this year's LTLA class,” said Gallegos. “In 2020 especially, I appreciated the ability to lean on other members of the industry to discuss best practices and creative ways to overcome challenges. I look forward to using the knowledge I gained this year as I continue my career in tourism.”

Members of the class also gave back to the tourism community by selecting businesses within the industry for pro-bono projects. Collectively, the value of the class’ tourism product enhancement and marketing work exceeded $80,000.    

“LTLA has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2020 graduating class,” said Jill Kidder, LTA President and CEO. “Not only has this program individually benefited these emerging leaders, but the LTLA class projects are paying off significant dividends for the entire industry.”  

About the Louisiana Travel Association  

LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members. Tourism generated $1.9 billion for Louisiana in 2018 and employs more than 237,200 people throughout the state. For more information, visit