Lambert resigns post at Tourism Commission

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The three year executive director of the River Parishes Tourism Commission (RPTC), who many consider to be the main reason the River Region is steadily bouncing back from the Katrina tourism collapse, has resigned her position effective May 9.

Jesse Lambert, who took over as director for the River Parishes tourism effort in January, 2005, will be leaving to take the position as Director of Centralized Marketing for the Louisiana Office of Culture and Tourism, a branch of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu’s responsibility.

Lambert had worked for the Louisiana Office of Tourism for nearly two years beginning in early

(See LAMBERT, page 3A)

2003, until accepting the position as executive director of the River Parishes Tourism Commission.

And now she finds herself heading back to Baton Rouge to return to virtually the same office she worked in before.

Lambert, 28, said that her decision to leave was mostly about her personal situation, since she is married and had her first baby last year, and has continued to live in Baton Rouge.

“I have to commute here from Baton Rouge every day, and ever since I had the baby, it has been really harder,” she said. “I’m the kind of person who puts 150 percent into my job, and I don’t think it has been fair for my family or the commission in recent months.”

While Lambert still handled all her responsibilities for the RPTC, she said the strain of trying to be a mother, wife and professional had gotten to be too much, opening her up to the opportunity that came along.

She was pleasantly surprised around April 1 when the Office of Tourism contacted her about the open position. Two weeks later she went for an interview, and was offered the position on April 18, accepting several days later.

Lambert, who earned $68,000 with benefits for the River Parishes Tourism Commission, said the decision to move to the state was not about the money, since she will only realize a pay raise of less than 10 percent.

“This really was all about my personal situation, and my family,” she said. “Even when the River Parish board asked me about putting in a counter offer, I didn’t even want to consider that.”

Paul Aucoin, chairman of the River Parishes Commission, was quick to say that Lambert will be hard to replace.

“I believe she is the reason that we have elevated to new heights in the River Region,” he said. “She did such an excellent job for us, and enriched everything we did here. She is a very talented, special personality who brought a lot of enthusiasm to her job. Clearly it is going to be hard to replace someone like her.”

Lambert was extremely appreciative to the RPTC board for giving her the opportunity, when she had limited experience.

She graduated from college at LSU and spent time in various sales fields before taking the position of marketing specialist for Domestic and Canadian marketing with the Louisiana Office of Tourism. She worked there for nearly two years before hearing about the executive director position here in the River Region.

“I applied for this job, interviewed, and convinced them that I was the best candidate for the position, and miraculously they hired me,” she recalled. “I’m sure some of them might have been wondering, ‘who is this kid?’ since I said I would take them to new levels. The reality is that I was willing to give 150 percent all the time, and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Lambert’s efforts not only have helped the River Region tourism slowly rebound from the disastrous Katrina effects, but the RPTC ran such impressive marketing campaigns, that Lambert led it to be named the top tourism commission in the state this year.

Moving to her new position in Baton Rouge, she said she is excited about being in charge of a $20 million budget which is used throughout seven state advertising agencies to promote Louisiana.

“Professionally this is a great move for me,” she noted. “But I am sad I will be missing a lot here. I believe you are going to see the River Region really take off with the new movie business being brought here. As for this region, the sky is the limit, so it’s sad to leave that behind, and it’s sad leaving so many friends behind. I found a niche here and I will miss it.”

Aucoin said the RPTC is currently advertising for a new director, with resumes being accepted until May 10. There is an appointment committee of attraction representatives who will review the applicants, picking the top names to be recommended to the commission. Aucoin said they hope to have a new director by the end of May.