Louisiana’s Bayou Region (Thibodaux, LA / April 9, 2024) – The South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC) is preparing for a leadership transition as Vic Lafont, the long-standing CEO who has led the council through more than three decades of growth and challenges, announces his retirement at the end of 2024. Christy Zeringue, currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer, will succeed Lafont as CEO, heralding a new era for the council and economic development in the Bayou Region.

During his tenure, Lafont’s accomplishments include aiding the expansion of small and mid-sized businesses, which has in turn supported numerous families throughout the region. He has been at the forefront of fostering a collaborative and creative culture at SLEC, leading the council and its constituents through multiple economic challenges, including significant downturns and natural disasters. The outcome of these efforts is a robust business community, now equipped with a strong foundation for future growth.

Lafont has shared reflections on leadership and growth, underscoring the importance of the CEO’s role as a position of service rather than self. He advises his successor to embrace the role as one of perpetual duty to others, a perspective that he has embodied throughout his tenure. As he prepares for the next chapter, Lafont intends to dedicate more time to family and, in addition, will work as a consultant, leveraging his extensive network and experience. He will continue his tradition of service through targeted volunteer work.

As he envisions the future of SLEC, Lafont sees a resilient organization poised to take on the region’s most pressing challenges, promote its assets, and safeguard a way of life that holds global appeal. His final message to SLEC’s staff, stakeholders, and the community at large is a call for ongoing vigilance and unity. He articulates that strength and progress in the region stem from cooperation and the ability to reach consensus despite diverse views.

The Board of Directors, represented by Chett Chiasson, Executive Director of Port Fourchon and SLEC Board President, expressed their full support for this transition. “We are immensely grateful to Vic Lafont for his years of dedicated service and are excited to welcome Christy Zeringue as our new CEO. Her innovative approach and deep commitment to our region’s economic development make her the ideal leader for the future of the South Louisiana Economic Council,” Chiasson stated.

As part of a carefully crafted strategic succession plan, the SLEC Board, alongside outgoing CEO Vic Lafont, have established a detailed transition framework. This blueprint is designed to facilitate an orderly and effective transfer of leadership to ensure continuity and stability within the council.

Christy Zeringue is set to assume the CEO role, bringing with her extensive regional knowledge and a strategic vision for economic integration and advancement. With a history spanning four decades in the Bayou Region, Zeringue’s deep-rooted commitment to its economic prosperity is evident. “Assuming the CEO position at SLEC is a profound honor. My commitment is to cultivate a unified regional approach, optimize our collective assets, and confront our communal challenges to secure a thriving future for the region,” Zeringue has shared.

In her capacity as COO, Zeringue has garnered valuable insights into the Council’s inner workings, positioning her well to address the evolving challenges and opportunities she will encounter as CEO. Her strategy includes promoting a cohesive regional economy while drawing on the successful frameworks of other economic development organizations to amplify the Bayou Region’s collective economic voice.

Intent on enhancing the legacy of her predecessor, Zeringue is poised to capitalize on the region’s diverse industrial base, strategic infrastructure, and cultural wealth. Her focus will also address the imperative challenges of insurance cost escalation and the retention of the younger demographic.

In her new leadership role, Zeringue intends to amplify SLEC as the central force for economic growth and resource distribution, enhancing its status as the leading entity in economic development in the region. Her approach, which emphasizes inclusivity, underscores the necessity of incorporating diverse perspectives to foster trust and achieve shared goals.

Looking forward, Zeringue recognizes the Bayou Region’s unique position to leverage advancements in the energy sector, supported by a capable workforce, strategic infrastructure, and academic partnerships. Her intent is to work in close collaboration with SLEC staff, stakeholders, and the wider community to synchronize efforts and advance the Council’s goals.

SLEC looks forward to this new chapter under Zeringue’s leadership, confident in her ability to guide the council towards continued growth and success. This transition represents not only a change in leadership but a renewed commitment to the economic vitality of Louisiana’s Bayou Region.