Leadership is a big deal in business. It’s actually a business all its own: Companies big and small operate executive training programs and the world’s most successful entrepreneurs write best-selling books about how they got to the top and what it means to be a real leader in business.
LIA operates several programs designed to connect professionals to Lafayette and Acadiana and, more importantly, how they can get involved. The flagship program, is approaching 40 years of cultivating new leaders. And the program has a reputation as a springboard for public service, not just in elected office but in community organizations.
Katrena herself is a cautionary tale. She graduated in leadership class 34 and threw her hat in the ring to run it. In 2021, she got the job as Executive Director. A a lawyer by training, Katrena previously worked in planning for local and regional government agencies. She’s also pursuing ordination as a deacon.
The U.S. Military might be the nation’s oldest leadership program. And for veterans, the American Legion is a way to keep their service going. Stephanie Hanks is the first woman commander of American Legion Post #69, a job she’s piled onto her busy workload as a realtor and a legal assistant.
Stephanie joined the service a little later than most, enlisting in the Navy at 26 and serving in a cryptology unit. After leaving the Navy she joined Post 69 but didn’t get too involved until she was pressed for duty as a junior Vice Commander. And in 2019, she became Commander.
The post has been busy under her leadership. Its 145 members help with disaster relief and volunteer for community projects. Times have changed and so have the needs of today’s veterans, Stephanie says. And there are a lot of vets in Acadiana, around 31,000. Stephanie is originally from Virginia and is now one of Acadiana’s 3,000 women veterans.
Out to Lunch Acadiana was recorded live over lunch at Tsunami Sushi in downtown Lafayette. Photos by Dylan Babineaux.