Alexandria, La. (Feb. 9, 2022) – The Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) celebrated the graduation of Visit Lake Charles’ Tara Johnson, meeting sales manager, and Kristen Shiver, visitor experience manager, from the Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy (LTLA) at the association’s 2022 annual meeting. 


The 24 members of the LTLA class spent 2021 developing their 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.


“The opportunity to learn from industry leaders and travel professionals throughout the state was incredibly rewarding, and I am grateful that I was able to spend time sharpening my skills in order to bring back new ideas to the team at Visit Lake Charles,” said Johnson.


“This leadership development program really opened my eyes to the vast industry that is thriving throughout the state. Tourism is tremendously important to local economies in Louisiana, and it was interesting to see how each part of the state leverages their unique tourism products to entice visitation,” said Shiver.


Additional graduating class members of LTLA include: Abby Wise, Monroe-West Monroe CVB; Addison White, Monroe-West Monroe CVB; Aly Velasquez, Shreveport-Bossier CVB; Amy Lee, Cane River National Heritage Area; Andre Watkins, River Parish Tourist Commission; Anne Cummins, Natchitoches CVB; Chantel Deville, Houma Area CVB; Christopher Aucion-Melohn, St. Charles Public School-Lafon Arts Center; Eugenie Mitchell, Lafayette CVC; Jady Regard, Cane River Pecan Company; Kelly Shane Wells, Tangi Parish Government; Lisa Thibodaux, Baton Rouge Lodging Association; Liz Crews, Shreveport-Bossier CTB; Ray Cloutier, TRAIL; Sarah Hill, Louisiana Northshore; Serena Pandos, Louisiana Arts & Science Museum; Sibyl B. Cannon, Tangipahoa CVB; Sondra Corbitt, Houma Area CVB; Stephanie O’Rourke, Sleep Inn-AZM Hospitality; Rebecca Taylor, Louisiana Life-Acadiana Profile.


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 tourism product enhancement and marketing work produced by the class exceeded $100,000.


“LTLA has been a tremendous opportunity for those interested in learning more about Louisiana’s tourism industry, and we are proud of the 2021 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 $1.92 billion for Louisiana in 2019 and employed as many as 242,200 people throughout the state, pre-pandemic. For more information, visit