New Orleans & Company introduces Walter J. “Walt” Leger III, the organization’s new president and CEO. Leger, who succeeds J. Stephen Perry, longtime New Orleans & Company president and CEO January 1, is an accomplished attorney, former legislator and Louisiana’s youngest ever Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Perry describes Leger as “a visionary with immense talent who will be an extraordinary leader for the next quarter century.”
Leger was raised in the New Orleans suburb of St. Bernard Parish, where his parents instilled in him the spirit of public service and civic engagement from an early age. He is a graduate of Jesuit High School and Louisiana State University and Tulane Law schools. He began his career as an assistant district attorney in New Orleans, specializing in the felony prosecution of violent offenders and narcotics traffickers.
During his legislative career, Leger passed more than 100 pieces of legislation, and was one of the most prolific and successful members of his generation. He also was named legislative champion more than 40 times, highlighting his broad agenda to promote educational opportunities for children, reform the criminal justice system, support victims of crime, achieve tax and fiscal reform, improve connectivity and transportation, support economic development, promote affordable housing and protect and restore Louisiana’s coastline.
Since joining New Orleans & Company in 2019 as executive vice president and general counsel, Leger has quickly made an impact with employees, customers, members and industry partners. He has already earned a seat on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, and is leading national conversations about how to unite people through travel in these divisive times, restore international visitation to the USA and much more. He is inspired to continue to work to bring people together by the Mark Twain quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Leger takes the reins of New Orleans & Company in a city considered one of the most culturally rich destinations on the planet. Incredibly well-known for its unique brand of joy, celebrations, festivals, food, music, architecture and so much more, New Orleans is also well-established as one of our nation’s most distinguished hosts of major events, conferences and meetings.
New Orleans is truly ‘Built to Host,’ with billions of dollars in investments in hotels, new cultural attractions, a beautiful new airport terminal and $557 million in improvements at the LEED Gold-certified New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The improvements enhance their walkability and other infrastructure, which makes them such an attractive location for major events and meetings.
Welcoming others is in their DNA, which allows them to highlight and celebrate their authentically diverse people and culture, as well as their excellence in executing complex logistics for events of all types.
Many meeting professionals choose New Orleans for its authentic music, food and architecture that provide memorable and successful experiences. However, New Orleans & Company invites them to see their beloved city in a new light — for its innovation, creativity and hidden gems. For example:
The Artemis Rocket that will take the first woman and person of color to the moon was built in New Orleans at NASA’s Michoud Facility.
They offer innovative corporate social responsibility programs. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana collects shells from New Orleans restaurants to restore oyster reefs and shoreline habitats in Coastal Louisiana, and has become one of the nation’s largest shell-recycling programs.
New Orleans City Park is the 87th largest and 20th most-visited urban public park in the United States, and is approximately 50% larger than Central Park in New York City. Amid 200-year-old live oaks, City Park features the New Orleans Museum of Art, the city’s oldest fine arts institution, as well as the Bestoff Sculpture Garden, one of the most important sculpture installations in the United States.
One of the world’s top museums, the National World War II Museum, is located in New Orleans. New to the spectacular campus is Expressions of America, a first-of-its-kind nighttime sound and light experience celebrating the power of individual Americans to impact the world around them during a time of monumental conflict.
New Orleans is one of only five cities in the United States accredited as a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR Destination.
When times get tough, they get creative and excel. For example, New Orleans & Company helped create NOLAxNOLA, a citywide celebration of New Orleans music and culture to bring business to the city’s musicians when they needed it most. At one of the most difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city safely hosted more than 300 music shows at 35 venues over 10 days. It was such a success, that New Orleans & Company is making NOLAxNOLA an annual tradition. C&IT