People & Flashes - May 2008

Katie Chiasson, director of economic and business development at Cleco, has been certified as a Professional Community and Economic Developer from the Community Development Council. Chaisson has been involved with community economic development for 20 years, having held leadership positions at chambers of commerce and remaining active on regional economic development boards. She is also a member of the Louisiana Economic Development Council. Chaisson is a part of the Louisiana Department of  Economic Development’s initiative to customize the approach that smaller parishes and communities use to maximize their economic development potential and strengthen their efforts to grow. Chiasson has been with Cleco since 2001. She works with the company’s economic development team.

Cox Greater Louisiana has named Dan Braun vice president of field operations, Munzer Qaddourah vice president and general manager for Cox Media, and Rhonda Taylor vice president of people services. Braun has more than 26 years of service with Cox, having held a progression of technical operations’ roles within the company. Qaddourah has more than two decades of experience in sales leadership, including 10 years of experience in cable advertising. He has served in sales management with Cox Media for the last eight years, most recently as the general sales manager for Cox Media in Northern Virginia. Taylor joins Cox from Citigroup, where she served for more than 21 years in a variety of leadership roles in the human resources arena. Most recently, she was senior vice president of human resources in Coppell, Texas. Cox Greater Louisiana also announced the promotion of three managers to the level of director — Melissa Blake, director of governmental affairs, Monte Danos, director of marketing, and Vickie Peak, CPA, director of accounting. Blake, who has a juris doctorate from LSU, has served as manager of government affairs for the past six years. Danos has more than 14 years experience in the telecommunications industry. He joined Cox in 1997 as a promotions producer, most recently serving as product development manager. Peak was most recently system controller, having joined Cox in 2003 as business manager.

Coast Capital Mortgage, which specializes in first-time home loans, recently added loan officers, bringing its loan origination team to 10 members. Arlene Bodoin has 17 years of mortgage lending experience in Acadiana. The Opelousas native is a member of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association. Sheri Guidry has 26 years of experience in mortgage lending. The Saint Martinville native is vice president of the Acadiana Mortgage Lenders Association and an affiliate member of the Realtor Association of Acadiana. Jennifer Madson has worked in the mortgage lending business for 10 years and has additional real estate experience. The Breaux Bridge resident also is a member of LMLA. Coast Capital Mortgage is a 46-year-old company that has been based in Lafayette since 1993.

DSF Wealth Management, an affiliate of the local CPA firm Darnall, Sikes, Gardes & Frederick, was recognized for its achievements in wealth management at 1st Global’s 16th Annual National Conference, held recently in Tucson, Ariz. Titled “Making Your Mark in Wealth Management,” the conference recognized top professionals and firms for their accomplishments over the past year during an awards celebration gala. DSF Wealth Management’s Larry Sikes, David Strother and John Armato were honored for their achievements with the BMS Eagles Gold Level award. For the 5th consecutive year, the firm itself received the Advisory Services Award for 2007. This award is for significant achievement and service in investment advisory accounts.

Leslie Wooters has joined Firefly Digital as account service manager. She has a degree from UL Lafayette in English and a minor in communications. She previously worked in utilities and retail and is originally from north Louisiana.

Connections has honored Rose Hoffman Cormier of the Woman’s Foundation with its 2008 Career Achievement Award, an honor presented to women in the Acadiana area who represent professional accomplishment and achievement, and who present themselves as desirable role models. These women have received peer professional awards based on achievement or advancement in their particular field of endeavor. Cormier just celebrated her 20th year anniversary with the non-profit Woman’s Foundation.

Don P. Hargroder of Courtesy Buick-Pontiac-GMC and Jesse Luquette Jr. of Service Chevrolet Inc. were named General Motors Dealer Of The Year in New York City and presented with the prestigious Jack Smith Leadership Award. These dealers are among only 115 GM dealers — out of 6,700 in the U.S. — who were recognized for their exceptional sales performance and superior customer service. The Jack Smith Leadership Award is named after the retired GM chairman and CEO who founded the Dealer Of The Year program. The award, a Steuben crystal obelisk, represents excellence and high achievement. Hargroder, who has been an automobile dealer since the age of 25, is also a horse farmer and races thoroughbreds. He is active in the community, supporting United Blood Services, UL Lafayette and United Way. Service Chevrolet has been in business for nearly 40 years. Luquette is involved with the Coastal Conservation Association and also is a UL supporter.

LITE Technical Director Marty Altman has been named artist in residence at UL Lafayette’s College of the Arts and associate producer of the university’s Cinematic Arts Workshop. As artist in residence, Altman will work closely with the visual arts department, the School of Architecture and Design and the Cinematic Arts Workshop. As associate producer at the Cinematic Arts Workshop, Altman is encouraged to take advantage of the unique creative, instructional and technical resources provided by the workshop and to pursue collaborative opportunities with his fellow associates.

Stacy Russo-Nichols of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network of Louisiana has earned the Chartered Life Underwriter designation from the American College. Founded in 1927, the American College, based in Bryn Mawr, Penn., is the nation’s oldest and largest nontraditional institution for higher learning dedicated exclusively to the academic studies of life insurance and related financial services. With a CLU designation, Russo-Nichols is now a specialist in retirement and estate planning, group insurance, employee benefits, pensions and comprehensive planning. Russo-Nichols, who works out of Northwestern Mutual’s Baton Rouge and Lafayette offices, has a BA in business management from UL Lafayette.

Coldwell Banker Pelican Real Estate celebrated another record-breaking year and honored the success of its sales associates for 2007 at its annual awards banquet at the City Club in River Ranch. Recognized during the event were top producers in several categories, including top commercial agent Hamilton “Hammy” Davis, who amassed gross sales far in excess of any other single sales agent at Coldwell Banker locations across the state. Davis was named overall top producer and top commercial agent, as well as tops in commercial buyer controlled sales and commercial listings sold. Hope Kidder was named the company’s top residential salesperson and swept most of the company’s residential awards, including listings sold and total units sold. Wendy McCombie received the award for top producer, residential buyer controlled sales. The overall top producers were awarded by office, St. Mary office, Kidder; Breaux Bridge office, Susan Dupont; Broussard office, Susan Coté; Eraste Landry office, Alisa Melancon; New Iberia office, Angi Trahan; and Opelousas office, Vince Nicholson. Top 10 producers for 2007 were: No. 10, Dee Cormier; No. 9, Sandy Thibodeaux; No. 8, John Kenney; No. 7, Midge Parker; No. 6, Thomas Hayes; No. 5, John Romero; No. 4, Wendy McCombie; No. 3, Coté; No. 2, Kidder; and the overall top producer, Davis.

Firefly Digital is pleased to announce the recent addition of Mallory Juneau as office assistant. Juneau has a BA in communications from the UL Lafayette. She is originally from Bunkie and formerly worked at Pippin McGee. Also at Firefly, Aimee LaVergne has been promoted to administrative office manager. LaVergne is currently a junior in marketing at the UL Lafayette. LaVergne was originally hired as office assistant and was promoted to account service manager last year.

Whitney Bank has named Lexi Baldridge branch and business banking manager for its new River Ranch banking office. Baldridge has 30 years of local banking experience. She is a member of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and is on the board of Junior Achievement. The new branch, located at the corner of Camellia Boulevard and Settlers Trace, is scheduled to open early June 2008. The bank will offer the full array of Whitney services that include mortgage lending, business, personal and private banking, as well as trust and wealth management.