. Chairman of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority to Step Down | Northstar Meetings Group

Chairman of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority to Step Down

Melvin Rodrigue was the organization's longest running chairman.

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The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, which oversees the city's convention center, announced that chairman Melvin Rodrigue will be stepping down. He will be succeeded by Walt Leger III, a former state representative and the current general counsel for New Orleans & Company.

With 12 years of service, Rodrigue was the authority’s longest running chairman. His accomplishments include the adoption of a five-year, $557 million capital improvement plan to transform the convention center district, promoting workforce development within New Orleans' hospitality industry and championing upgrades to the convention center

Rodrigue is stepping down to focus on his role as chairman of the National Restaurant Association, which has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. He will remain as a commissioner of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, replacing Steve Pettus.

"Melvin’s visionary and selfless commitment to the success of not only the convention center, but also the entire hospitality industry in New Orleans is something that stands as a national model to be admired.  Rarely has there ever been this level of performance and length of commitment by a chairman of an enterprise such as ours in this country," said Mike Sawaya, president and general manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, in a statement. "Not only does our company offer him its gratitude, but the entire national tourism industry that has been positively affected by his leadership. We continue to be motivated by the pursuit of the vision that he has led us toward."