NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC) has received the 2023 New Orleans CityBusiness Empowering Women Award for its commitment to elevating and supporting women. The annual award honors companies that exhibit innovative efforts to help advance women in the workplace and within the community.
“The women in leadership positions at the Convention Center play an integral role in the strategic direction of one of the state’s most valued assets and economic impact drivers,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President and CEO. “Our Center offers significant opportunities for growth and advancement to women, and has for many years provided upward mobility as a preferred hospitality employer. As a leader in contemporary initiatives such as innovation and diversity, our advancement opportunities are expected to grow exponentially, as our business expands through this era of dramatic growth and facility modernization,” Sawaya continued.
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center continues to achieve success with women leaders at the forefront of various projects. From sustainability and innovation to communications and financial operations, almost half of NOENMCC leadership positions are held by women, each one with notable accomplishments that have helped elevate the organization.
Prioritizing the promotion of women into executive positions and leadership roles is paying off. Under the direction of NOENMCC Chief Administrative Officer Alita Caparotta, the Convention Center maintained financial stability — and kept all staff fully employed — throughout the pandemic when the travel industry shut down. In 2023, Caparotta was recognized as a “Power 20” Leader in tourism and hospitality by New Orleans CityBusiness.
“When seeing women in leadership roles is not an exception but the norm, that’s real progress,” said attorney Geri Broussard, Vice President of NOENMCC governing body The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. “As a major economic engine for the city of New Orleans, the Convention Center is leading by example — proving that hiring and promoting women is more than a mandate; it’s an important key to the organization’s continued growth and success.”
The NOENMCC continues to make strides to ensure that women have opportunities to advance and succeed. In 2019, it launched the Small and Emerging Business (SEB) Program to promote diversity, inclusion and small business development at the Convention Center which has an emphasis on women owned businesses. In January 2023, the NOENMCC promoted its former SEB Director Rocsean Spencer to Chief Diversity Officer, making it the first Convention Center in the nation to establish this position. Under Spencer’s leadership, the Convention Center is working to implement more diverse, equitable and inclusive policies and practices across the organization.
“Having more women in the workforce, at every level, is good for business,” said Sandra Lombana Lindquist, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, founder of the Chamber’s monthly Women’s Business Alliance and the annual Women’s Leadership Conference. “And it’s especially important to see women in high-level, visible roles at an organization like the Convention Center, which serves as an ambassador for our city. We want visitors to experience the best hospitality New Orleans has to offer, and the women decision-makers at the Convention Center are getting it done.”