Saying the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for a “significant 2014 business agenda,” Chamber President and CEO Jason El Koubi gave the Acadiana Press Club an early look at a restructuring of the office. El Koubi, who joined the chamber in September, was the featured lunch speaker for the club’s November Newsmaker Forum, held Nov. 18 at Abacus Banquets & Receptions on Pinhook Road.
"The specific agenda for 2014 will be determined by our board over the next 30 days, but I anticipate it will focus on activities that address our members’ interest in stronger policy and advocacy, more opportunities for member engagement, and greater coordination across the Acadiana region," El Koubi told ABiz after the luncheon.
The restructuring involves four staff appointments, including the promotions of Bruce Conque and Nicole DesOrmeaux.
Conque, the chamber’s vice president over general operations who applied for the top post when longtime exec Rob Guidry announced his retirement last year, was elevated to VP of community development. He is responsible for leading a portfolio of community development initiatives, developing chamber-led programs to encourage good government and business engagement, and helping to build strong relationships with partner organizations throughout the Acadiana region. As part of his community development focus, Conque is leading the chamber’s efforts related to INNOV8 and the Lafayette Comprehensive Plan.
Nicole DesOrmeaux, previously the chamber’s administrative director, is now special assistant to the president and CEO, providing executive assistance to El Koubi and managing the operations of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana. She will lead other special projects on behalf of the chamber and continues to provide administrative coordination for the chamber’s board of directors and executive committee.
Jeff Bashaw, who most recently was an analyst with the State Economic Competitiveness team at Louisiana Economic Development (El Koubi’s previous employer), has joined the chamber as policy manager. He is managing public policy research, analysis, and development activities in close coordination with the chamber’s policy divisions. Bashaw prepares and presents research and analysis of specific local, state, and federal policy issues; coordinates the development of the chamber’s policy agenda; and supports strategic planning efforts with benchmarking analysis of peer organizations and communities.
Haley Armand, who recently completed coursework in the master’s in public administration program at LSU, has joined the business lobbying group as events director, responsible for the planning, coordination, and execution of all chamber events. A key element of her role involves designing and delivering events that effectively communicate the organization’s brand and engage the membership and wider community.
A native and life-long resident of Lafayette, Conque brings a diverse set of professional and personal experiences to his new community development role. His professional career spans nearly two decades in broadcast journalism, including owning and operating Acadiana’s first video production company. Prior to joining the chamber six years ago, Conque was a public relations, marketing and advertising consultant. In 2004, he was elected to the Lafayette City-Parish Council and was re-elected in 2008 and currently serves as chairman of the Lafayette Planning Commission.
A cum laude graduate of UL Lafayette, DesOrmeaux received a bachelor of arts with a major in public relations in May 2005. The Erath native joined the chamber staff in 2007 as the communications director and in September 2012 became the administrative director. She is also a graduate of Leadership Lafayette Class XXIV and was recently recognized in the Top 20 under 40 Acadiana Leadership Awards.
In his work with the State Economic Competitiveness group, Bashaw, who is originally from Boston, researched and initiated implementation of opportunities to enhance Louisiana’s business climate. Before joining LED, he served as a policy adviser to the Louisiana Criminal Sentencing Commission, working with commission members to develop a long-term, data-driven strategy. Bashaw graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia, and also earned a master of public policy from UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He expects to receive a master of science in regulation from the London School of Economics this December.
Originally from Sulphur, Armand earned a bachelor of science with honors from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business administration in May 2012. She will receive a master’s in public administration from the E.J. Ourso College of Business at LSU in December 2013. Her work experience includes events, business development and public relations roles in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, including positions with Louisiana Economic Development, the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Healthy Image Marketing Agency, Axiall, Dream Street Productions and Thrive Magazine.
Conque and DesOrmeaux have been serving in their new roles since October. Bashaw and Armand joined the chamber in November.
El Koubi says the organization is currently searching for an operations director (to oversee duties previously managed by Conque and DesOrmeaux) and this week will launch a search for a new communications director. For the OD, the chamber is seeking someone with accounting experience to provide leadership over functions related to finance, human resources, facilities, information technology and other key business processes. For the CD, the chamber will hire someone with experience in advertising, communications, marketing, public relations and social media activities.