Who are the most powerful people in Lafayette?

In an endeavor to identify Lafayette's leading figures for 2023, the Power Poll, a civic engagement platform established in 2019, gathered insights from its influential members. The platform, since its inception, has aimed to engage with powerful leaders across various sectors to understand their collective positions and thoughts on pivotal issues. Starting from Nashville, TN, the Power Poll has expanded its presence in over 15 markets, surveying more than 45,000 participants monthly.

For this specific Lafayette ranking, a total of 2,789 votes were tallied, reflecting the collective understanding and insights of 113 participating Power Poll Lafayette members. These members, drawn from a broad spectrum of sectors, put forth names showcasing profound influence within the community.

So who made "the list?"


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Dr. Joseph Savoie, President of the University of Louisiana At Lafayette, spearheads the educational sector, with other notables including Anne Falgout, Director of Strategic Communication, South Louisiana Community College, Unitech CEO Noah Brandon, and Mary Farmer-Kaiser, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Louisiana.


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In governance, Gerald Boudreaux, Senator for District 24, Page Cortez, Louisiana State Senate President, Senator, District 23, Josh Guillory, Mayor and President of the City of Lafayette, Ben Berthelot from the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission, and Ken Ritter, Mayor of the City of Youngsville, stand out.


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The nonprofit arena is represented by Carlee Alm-LaBar, Executive Director of the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation, Missy Andrade, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Acadiana, Kim Boudreaux, CEO, Catholic Charities of Acadiana and Katrena King from the Leadership Institute of Acadiana.

Arts and Culture:

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Lafayette's arts and culture vibrancy is reflected in names like Barry Ancelet, Founder of Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, Clare Cook, Creative Director at Basin Arts, and Samuel Oliver, Executive Director of the Acadiana Center for the Arts.


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In the media sector, luminaries like Christiaan Mader, Founder and Editor of The Current, Rob Perillo, Chief Meteorologist at KATC, KLFY anchor Darla Montgomery, and Townsquare Media Brand Manager and nationally-syndicated radio host Brandon Journet (aka DJ Digital) enhance the city's media representation.


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Anita Begnaud, CEO of Downtown Development Authority/Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, Mandi Mitchell, President & CEO of Lafayette Economic Development Authority, and Troy Wayman, President & CEO of One Acadiana lead in the development sector.

Business, Marketing and Communications:

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Matt Stuller of Stuller and Richard Zuschlag of Acadian Companies are prominent in business along with Giles Automotive CEO Bob Giles, while the marketing and communications domain includes Jaci Russo of brandRUSSO, Cherie Hebert of BBR Creative, and Marie Centanni of Centanni Communications.

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Other sectors comprise biotechnology with Tides Medical CEO Joe Spell, community development with Tina S. Bingham, Executive VP, McComb-Veazie Coterie, real estate with Jim Keaty, owner of Keaty Real Estate, healthcare with SCP Health Executive Chairman Dr. Kip Schumacher, law enforcment with Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber and Lafayette Marshal Reggie Thomas, and sports with Bryan Maggard, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics.

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This comprehensive list, underpinned by the methodology of the Power Poll and its engaged members, aimed to showcase the diverse sectors and influential figures interplaying to define Lafayette's dynamic identity.

Missing the Mark

But while some nods were expected, the poll didn't hit the mark with everyone in the community—specifically over a number of notable omissions that have sparked debates.

Dissenting voices from the r/Acadiana Reddit thread have primarily pointed to the survey's perceived flawed methodology and limited representation. This sentiment, coupled with criticisms of outdated job titles and crucial community figure omissions, casts doubt on the poll's legitimacy for many.


For instance, the exclusion of community staples and philanthropists like Red Lerille and Sharon Moss drew scrutiny from one user. Another participant noted the inherent challenges in defining "power", while others dismissed the poll as merely a "popularity contest." There were even some who were surprised to find themselves listed, with one user sharing, "I'm on the list... I find the word 'powerful' to be an interesting term to associate myself with."

Regardless of one's perspective, the 2023 PowerPoll survey has indeed sparked a vibrant discussion on who truly holds influence in Lafayette.

See the full list of Lafayette's Most Powerful People for 2023 here via Power Poll.

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