Thirty-four participants graduated from the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Council’s Leadership Ouachita program at a celebration at Bayou DeSiard Country Club on Nov. 4.

This was the Leadership program’s 32nd graduating class. The purpose of Leadership Ouachita is to develop and empower the emerging leaders of Northeast Louisiana to transform the region into a place recognized as one of the best places to live and do business. Class members engage in a series of sessions focused on education and workforce development, economic development and infrastructure.

The program also provides insight on public decision making, practical and in-depth discussions on public issues pertinent to Ouachita Parish, an expanded knowledge and understanding of the community in which we live, and the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with growing and established leaders in a neutral environment.

Since the class inception thirty-two years ago, over 850 people have graduated from the program. Brent Henley with the Pyramid Group and facilitator for the Leadership Ouachita Program and John Landry, incoming Chairman for the Monroe Chamber were on hand to present the awards.

The 2020 Leadership Ouachita graduates are: Mark Kent Anderson Jr, Mid-South Extrusion; Kinya Bennett, City of Monroe; Allie Brasher, Atmos Energy; Erin Bumgardner, Century Next Bank; Clay Butler, Drax; Travis Chatman, Morehouse Parish School Board; Beth Cosenza, BancorpSouth; Katie Davis, ANGUS Chemical; James DeTiege, City of Monroe; Kim Fields, JPMorgan Chase; Amber Fife, Wells Fargo Advisors; Billy Joiner, Centric Federal Credit Union; Melissa Kiper, ULM; Heather Lee, Lumen Technologies; Alison Lolley, Les Tesors du Monde; Essie Maxwell, Pat Moore’s Office; Hunter McFadden, Green Qube; Ashley McTurner, Newcomer Morris & Young; Robin Meredith, MOEbiz; Tyler Neal, Specialty Management Services of Ouachita; Jessica Nugent, Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union; Nicole Owens, Ochsner LSU Health Monroe; Hank Pipes, Guaranty Bank; Jose Ponce, The File Depot; Evan Puckett, Once Upon a Child/Plato’s Closet; Taylor Richard, Acadian Ambulance Service; Ryan Richardson, Harrell Lake Timber Company; Andrew Rowe, Ouachita Parish Assessors Office; Shelby Sims, Thomas & Farr; James Stephens, Reeves, Coon & Funderburg; Charles Stevenson, LA Delta Community College; Brandon Sutherland, Lincoln Parish Schools; Jada West, Origin Bank; and Matthew Wilson, City of West Monroe.

During the ceremony, Damon Marsala was named the 30th Annual James M. Shipp, Jr. Memorial Young Business Leader of the Year. This prestigious award is presented annually to a young man or woman in Ouachita Parish who has displayed outstanding leadership and service.

The award was named in honor of James M. Shipp, Jr. Jim was the IMC general manager that was tragically killed during the explosion at the IMC plant in Sterlington in 1991.

He was a Monroe Chamber board member and an active leader in the community.

Past recipients of this prestigious award include: Brent Henley, Tom Nicholson, David Cattar, George Cummings, III, Harvey Hales, Ed Major, Debbie Sawyer, Mike Ryan, Bruce Hanks, Dr. David Uth, Terry Baugh, Jerry Daigle, Taylor Cagle, Jim Crotwell, Judge Wendell Manning, LJ Holland, Aimee Kane, Christian Creed, Stephen Harrison, Kevin Woods, Stewart Keyes, Michael Echols, Laura Kilpatrick Marchelos, Ashley West, Jeff Laudenheimer, James Moore, III, Matt West, Alberta Green and Jeremy Harrell.

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