New Tourism Chair Peggy Joseph thankful for leadership chance

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

LAPLACE — Peggy Joseph says everyone who knows her knows she has “the gift of gab.”

She also is involved in many different aspects of life in the River Parishes.

That’s why she seemed to be a perfect choice to become the new Chair of the River Parishes Tourist Commission.

Joseph, of LaPlace, was elected by the Tourist Commission’s board last week to replace Paul Aucoin, who had led the Commission for the last 16 years and was instrumental in its foundation and growth.

Peggy Joseph

Peggy Joseph

“I guess they decided to give someone else a chance,” Joseph said. “I am humbled that they saw enough in me to elect me. I think they know enough about me to know that I am a hard worker and I am an advocate for the area.”

Joseph, a legislative assistant to State Rep. Randal L. Gaines, was appointed to the Commission’ board three years ago by St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom and previously served as its secretary/treasurer. She also is the leader of the parish’s Democratic Executive Committee.

Although she no longer has children in the school system, Joseph said she maintains strong ties to the school community. She also is active in her church and leads its music ministry.

“I’m very active in a lot of different things,” she said.

Joseph said she hopes to carry on the work of Aucoin, her predecessor, and see tourism grow in the River Parishes. She plans to hold tourism workshops in all three parishes, as well as attend such events in other parishes.

“Our tourism is good,” Joseph said. “Everyone loves our history, our food. I want to see it grow even more. My goal is to attract many different people from many different states and even other countries.”

The Commission board is comprised of nine members, which includes three members from St. Charles Parish, three from St. James and three from St. John. Each parish president, council members and Economic Development Council appoint the commissioners.

Aucoin, who serves as Port of South Louisiana executive director, was there from the beginning.

“The first couple of years I was not only the chairman, I was the treasurer and the executive director,” Aucoin said. “We had no staff. We had no office. We would just go from one attraction to another for our meetings. We started with funding of $220,000 a year and now we have a million dollars in the bank and a budget of $700,000 annually. We have been able to achieve some marvelous things. Tourism is fun. I had fun.”

While proud of the growth of the department during his tenure, Aucoin said it’s the people who manage the many local attractions who have done all the work.

“They are just warriors,” Aucoin said. “Not long after we started, there was 9/11. Nobody was flying. Then we had Katrina and Rita and Isaac and the depression of 2008. These people that manage our attractions just never give up.

“Now they’re enjoying more tourists than ever. They deserve all the credit.”