NEW ORLEANS – After a 20-year tenure, J. Stephen Perry, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, 2022.
The organization’s Board of Directors voted on a succession plan to appoint Walter J. “Walt” Leger III, New Orleans & Company’s executive vice president and general counsel, as president-elect and Perry’s successor effective Jan. 1, 2023.
New Orleans & Company is the city’s tourism and hospitality industry’s official destination sales, marketing, and trade organization. Perry took the helm of New Orleans & Company, formerly known as the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, in August 2002, later leading the organization’s renaming and rebranding.
Previously, he served as chief of staff to the late Governor Mike Foster for almost seven years.
In that role, Perry was the involved in the negotiations for the financial stability and long-term retention of the New Orleans Saints football team and also was the lead negotiator for the state on the recruitment and relocation of the original Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans) basketball team to New Orleans from North Carolina. He played a role in the building efforts of the Smoothie King Center, phase three of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and the PGA’s Tournament Players Club Louisiana, home to the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Some highlights of Perry’s tenure with New Orleans & Company include:
– In 2005, Perry personally hosted President George W. Bush to convey the region’s tourism industry needs post-Hurricane Katrina.
– Perry was selected by the Bush administration to serve on the national U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and was one of only two members reappointed by the Obama administration to serve two additional terms.
– Perry served many years on the board and was elected as chairman of Destination Marketing Association International (now Destinations International), the international governing body of destination marketing organizations.
– Perry currently serves on the board of and was a longtime member of the executive committee of the U.S. Travel Association, a national non-profit organization representing the travel industry.
“I have had a lifelong love affair with the city of New Orleans. The entirety of my professional life has focused on my love of higher education and my love of the culture of New Orleans,” Perry says. “Louisiana is my heart, but New Orleans is my soul. Leading New Orleans & Company for two decades was the greatest honor and privilege ever, and I can never thank my colleagues, industry, and board enough for the thrill and honor of being their partner for so many years.”
“I am honored by the confidence the board has placed in me, and I salute Stephen’s singular achievements that have led to record-breaking success over the past two decades. Only through innovation, creativity, and a steadfast commitment to our members and the people of New Orleans can we hope to build upon the many successes our city has seen over the years. I look forward to the challenges that lay ahead, and I pledge that no destination anywhere will outwork our team at New Orleans & Company to ensure that New Orleans remains a world-class destination with a thriving cultural economy and an improving quality of life for our residents,” Leger adds.