For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Angie Manning, Communications Director
Visit Lake Charles
Presidents’ Circle Dedication at the Visit Lake Charles’ Welcome Center
LAKE CHARLES, La. (October 19, 2021)— A new landscape feature, The Presidents’ Circle, was unveiled earlier today following renovations to the building and grounds of the Visit Lake Charles’ Welcome Center, 1205 N. Lakeshore Drive. The Presidents’ Circle celebrates the three leaders who have shaped the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau since its inception, and along with the past CEOs, a host of special guests, tourism leaders and representatives were on hand at the commemorative event.
Past leaders honored include Bernadette Monlezun (Bernadette Monlezun Ponton), executive director from 1975 – 1976; the late Marion “Butch” Fox, serving as executive director from 1976 – 1988; and Shelley Johnson (Shelley Johnson-Hurley), executive director/CEO from 1988 – 2019.
“These past leaders have all contributed to the growth and success of the tourism industry in our area. They have celebrated the rich culture, food, music, attractions, natural wonders and landscape of Southwest Louisiana over the past 50 years. It seemed fitting to create a place of honor and reflection on the grounds to recognize their contributions to Southwest Louisiana,” said Kyle Edmiston, President/CEO of Visit Lake Charles.
“I am very humbled by this honor and would like to thank the board of directors and the staff of Visit Lake Charles for their spirit that continues to drive the bureau to new heights. I would also like to extend my appreciation to Kyle Edmiston for offering recognition of the past presidents. I hope that this can serve as inspiration to others in the hospitality industry,” said Johnson-Hurley.
"Southwest Louisiana is my 'home of origin' in that the people are family and an honor to know and serve then and now...indeed a circle if you will! Thank you for this meaningful honor in the spirit of grateful remembering which is humbly accepted for those who have gone before, are with us and those who will come after us," said Monlezun Ponton.
The Presidents’ Circle is located in the front drive and visitor parking area of the Visit Lake Charles’ Welcome Center. The feature showcases a tree and bench dedicated to each of the former CEOs along with a tree placed in the center of the circle of trees, representing the deep roots, growth and vision for the future of tourism.
Those present at the dedication included current Visit Lake Charles’ President/CEO, Kyle Edmiston; Mayor Nic Hunter of the City of Lake Charles; and Jonathan Ringo, Visit Lake Charles’ Chair of the Board. Past CEOs present were Bernadette Monlezun Ponton, Shelley Johnson-Hurley, and representing the late Marion “Butch” Fox were her daughter and Visit Lake Charles’ Tourism Director, Anne Klenke, and son, Ernest Taber.
For more information on Visit Lake Charles and the Southwest Louisiana area, log onto www.visitlakecharles.org or follow #VisitLakeCharles and #LouisianasPlayground on social channels.
Presidents’ Circle Dedication Photos:
Bernadette Monlezun (Bernadette Monlezun Ponton):
Bernadette Monlezun served as the executive director from 1975 - 1976.
Marion "Butch" Fox:
The late Marion "Butch" served as the executive director from 1976 - 1988 and was represented by her daughter and Visit Lake Charles' Tourism Director, Anne Klenke, and her son, Ernest Taber.
Pictured left to right: (Mike Klenke, Anne Klenke, Ernest Taber, Sheila Taber, and Visit Lake Charles' president/CEO, Kyle Edmiston)
Shelley Johnson (Shelley Johnson-Hurley):
Shelley Johnson served as the executive director/CEO from 1988 - 2019.
General Photos from the Dedication: