J. Stephen Perry, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, has announced plans to retire at the end of next year. Walter Leger III, executive vice president and general counsel for New Orleans & Company, has been named as Perry's successor.
Perry has headed the CVB, formerly known as the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, since 2002. He has led the city's tourism industry through multiple crises, including the recovery of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
"Many people think tourism dollars just happen, but it actually must be fought for and earned, and that is the role of New Orleans & Company," said David Bilbe, chairman of New Orleans & Company's 2021 board and general manager of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. "Under Perry's leadership, the city achieved record-breaking visitor levels, won Super Bowl, Final Four and NBA All Star games bids, created tens of thousands of jobs and careers in hospitality, secured critical recovery investments and won multiple national and international awards."
Perry's other achievements including creating and implementing a unique private-sector funding model for the CVB, and overseeing its rebranding to New Orleans & Company. He has served on many industry boards, including those of the U.S. Travel Association and Destinations International.
"I have had a lifelong love affair with the city of New Orleans," said Perry. "Leading New Orleans & Company for two decades was the greatest honor and privilege ever, and I can never thank my colleagues, industry and board enough for the thrill and honor of being their partner for so many years."
Perry will retire from New Orleans & Company, effective Dec. 31, 2022. Walter Leger III has been appointed president-elect by the board and will take over on Jan. 1, 2023. Leger is an attorney and former state legislator. He joined New Orleans & Company in 2019, and currently serves as executive vice president and general counsel.
"I am honored by the confidence the board has placed in me and I salute Perry's singular achievements that have led to record-breaking success over the past two decades," said Leger. "Only through innovation, creativity and a steadfast commitment to our members and the people of New Orleans can we hope to build upon the many successes our city has seen over the years. I look forward to the challenges that lay ahead, and I pledge that no destination anywhere will out work our team at New Orleans & Company to ensure that New Orleans remains a world-class destination with a thriving cultural economy and an improving quality of life for our residents."