Board members of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission voted unanimously Friday afternoon to name Ben Berthelot their executive director.
Berthelot, director of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Community Development Department, was a finalist along with Renee Areng, executive vice president for sales and marketing at the Baton Rouge Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The position has opened up after almost 31 years due to Gerald Breaux’s retirement. Berthelot is expected to begin June 1.
Only six of the nine LCVC board members were present for the vote: Amos Batiste, Thomas Rogers, Jimmy Thackston, Ed Buchert, Rob Robison and Lionel Prejean. Not in attendance were Charlie Goodson, Ema Haq and Kendall Banks.
"We had two great candidates, but Ben was definitely the better interviewer," says Batiste. "He was well-prepared and came to us with a 90-day plan." In general, Batiste says the plan included a staff assessment, transition strategy for reviewing the budget and historical information with Breaux, and what it will take to maximize the bureau's potential for expanding the parish's tourism base.
"He brings a good, youthful energy to the commission," Batiste says.
Because Berthelot lacks direct tourism experience, Breaux has decided to stay on an extra 45 days to help with the transition, LCVC announced in a press release. Breaux initially planned to retire June 29.