Places & Faces
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Honors Partners in Tourism and Recently Retired CEO, Shelley Johnson
6/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

Shelley Johnson

The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (LC/SWLA CVB) honored partners in tourism who have made significant contributions to the tourism industry in Southwest Louisiana as well as recently-retired CEO of the LC/SWLA CVB, Shelley Johnson, at an award ceremony held last month.

Johnson was honored by the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the City of Lake Charles with proclamations for May 7, 2019, being officially designated as "Shelley Johnson Day.” She was surrounded by colleagues from all over the country who attended the luncheon in her honor, and many paid tributes to her, having written heartfelt letters in advance of the event.

The Tourism Lifetime Service Award was earned by Johnson. Over her 30-year career in tourism, Johnson has been a pillar for tourism not only in Southwest Louisiana on state and national levels. She has showcased Southwest Louisiana’s culture, traditions, culinary creations, festivals, resorts, wildlife and the great outdoors to everyone whom she has met throughout her life. She has also been recognized by the Louisiana Travel Association and the Southeast Tourism Association for her leadership and lifetime service to the tourism industry.

The Tourism Leadership Award was presented to Mayor Nic Hunter of the City of Lake Charles. Mayor Hunter has worked hard to create economic development districts to promote new business growth, and he has a passion for lakefront development as well as programs to promote parks. He involves the business community as well with public/private partnerships. One of the most exciting attractions on the horizon is Port Wonder, which will be an iconic beacon along Interstate 10, enhancing the lake and the downtown area.

The Organization of the Year was awarded to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. To maintain the level of youth baseball events that the area is able host, the CVB and the Police Jury worked closely with the City of Lake Charles and Ward 3 to establish a turf project to add nine more turf fields to the sports infrastructure in Southwest Louisiana. The CVB and the Police Jury also partnered on an incentive program to encourage the I-210 overlay project to move along more quickly to help minimize the traffic challenges facing the parish. 

The Chairman’s Cup Award recipient was given to Nora Popillion, director of entertainment and public relations at Delta Downs for his breadth of work in the community supporting Family and Youth Counseling agency, volunteering for events such as Live @ the Lakefront, while also lending his most distinctive emcee voice for public events and fundraisers.

The Rhea Barnes Travel Industry Award was established in memory of an exemplary employee of the CVB who passed away in 1994. The person who earns this award has shown significant contributions to tourism and the community. Denise Fasske is the 2019 recipient. She is a talented event organizer and fundraiser, able to motivate others into action. She retired from the city after serving as the Director of Cultural Events in November of 2018. 

The Lasting Impression Award winners were Matt Young and Erica McCreedy. Young and McCreedy worked hand-in-hand to create the Living History Cemetery Tour from scratch that was a resounding success. From the research on Southwest Louisiana’s history to script writing and finding actors, organizing props and period clothing to working with the cemeteries and producing a brochure, this event was first-class and captured the imaginations of people to learn more about our history and heritage in Southwest Louisiana.

The Hospitality Arts Tourism or "HAT” Award is given to someone who serves as a bridge between the arts and tourism communities. The 2019 HAT award was earned by 2-time GRAMMY nominee, Sean Ardoin. He is an incredible ambassador for music and shares his Creole heritage. Ardoin worked with the communications team at the CVB and collaborated with the City of Lake Charles on a Creole Culture video.

Volunteer of the Year Awards were given to Donnie Martin and Colvin LeDoux. No matter if it’s a tailgate event at McNeese, hosting a team during Marsh Madness or just about any other event, Martin and LeDoux are eager to assist. LeDoux has also become a big part of the CVB’s hold on LHSAA Championship events from his work as a team host and team host coordinator at the Marsh Madness Basketball Championships to putting his "made for radio” voice to work on the mic at the LHSAA Softball and Baseball Championships

The Public Service Award was earned by the Lake Charles Police Department Traffic Division. The division provides motorcycle police escorts for travel writer media tours and events, always ready to assist the bureau by being proud representatives of the area and the City of Lake Charles. 

The 2019 Sports Person of the Year was awarded to Jean Evans. Evans is one of several team hosts to assist the CVB with Marsh Madness for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. She goes over and above with hosting, creating welcome bags and gift cards for the teams and making them feel at home in Southwest Louisiana.

The Media Partner in Tourism award was earned by Olivia Vidal with KPLC. As the co-anchor of Sunrise and co-host of the Fox 29 Morning Show, she proactively reaches out to the communications team to assist with spreading the word about the CVB’s activities, events and promotions occurring throughout the area. She is also available to help with events in varying capacities, such as being a celebrity judge for contests.

Krickett Racca, marketing director at Crying Eagle Brewing Company, was named as the Young Professional of the Year. Racca goes out of her way to accommodate each request when groups or media are in the Lake Area. She serves on the Arts Council Board of Southwest Louisiana and participates in the marketing college program, presented by the Southeast Tourism Society. 

The Social Media Photo of the Year was awarded to Tammilee Tillison of Spokane, Wash., a travel writer who was in town during Mardi Gras. She captured a colorful image during the Mardi Gras Iowa Chicken Run that became popular on social media platforms.

For more information on the impact of tourism on Southwest Louisiana or to hear what locals have to say about how tourism works for Calcasieu Parish, log onto

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