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Jay Sharplin and Rebecca Blankenbaker elected as Directors of Louisiana Travel Association’s board

Alexandria, La. (Feb. 9, 2022) – Jay Sharplin, President of Sharpco Hotels Group and Rebecca Blankenbaker, Executive Director of Cane River National Heritage Area was installed as Directors of the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA) Board of Directors at its annual meeting –in Alexandria. 

"It's an honor to continue to serve on LTA's board of directors representing Louisiana's public lands and attractions," commented Rebecca Blankenbaker. "The Louisiana Travel Association serves as the voice of Louisiana's travel industry, advocating for travel businesses of all sizes across every sector of the industry, ensuring that travel remains an important part of conversations concerning the most pressing issues of our state and nation," continued Blankenbaker.

New officers installed on the executive board committee include the following: Kyle Edmiston, with Visit Lake Charles, as chairman; Alana Cooper, with Monroe-West Monroe CVB, as vice chairman; Ralph Ney, with Baton Rouge Marriot; Donna O’Daniels, with Louisiana Northshore CVB, as secretary; and Dickie Brennan, with Dickie Brennan & Company, as immediate past chair.

"2021 was quite the comeback for tourism in our region and the state.  I look forward to assisting the LTA board in continuing this momentum this year,” said Jay Sharplin.

The executive board also includes representatives from each organization who join LTA as a Chairman’s Circle member: Visit Baton Rouge, Houma Area CVB, Lafayette CVC, Visit Lake Charles, Monroe-West Monroe CVB, New Orleans & Co., Louisiana Northshore, Shreveport-Bossier CTB and Tangipahoa Parish CVB. 

New members on the board of directors are Ralph Calhoun, with the Biedenharm Museum and Gardens of Monroe; Cody Gray, with the Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou; and Aaron Dirks, with the Limousine Livery. 

Returning members on the board of directors are Jay Sharplin, with SharpCo Hotels; Rebecca Blankenbaker, with Cane River National Heritage Area; Jeremy Cooker, with New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.;  Kevin Dolliole, with Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport; Joanna Folse-Alexander, with Sunrise Hospitality; John Crook, with Vernon Parish Tourist Commission; Stephen Watson, with National WWII Museum; Jady Regard, with Cane River Pecan Company; Morgan Moss, with The Myrtles Plantation; Mike Buckley, with the Golden Nugget Casino and Resort; Chris Landry, with LBA Hospitality; Stacy Brown, with Shreveport- Bossier CTB; Carla Tate, with Tangipahoa CVB; Stephen Perry, with New Orleans & Company; Paul Arrigo, with Visit Baton Rouge; Sondra Corbitt, with Houma Area CVB; Ben Berthelot, with Lafayette CVC; Nimesh Zaver, with Hotels of Lake Charles; and Nelson Gumm, with AJR Media.

“Our executive committee and board of directors are responsible for helping us meet the needs of our members and making sure we accomplish our goals of providing educational and marketing opportunities while also advocating on the industry’s behalf,” said Jill Kidder, LTA president and CEO. “We are excited to be starting off another year with a great group of industry leaders that represent the entire state.”

Officers on the executive committee and members of the board of directors are elected during the annual meeting. Each year, the chairman of the board selects a nominating committee that is comprised of members who are not up for re-election and who are not seeking office. This committee is responsible for presenting a slate to the members of the association that recognizes all regions of the state and all segments of the tourism industry.

About the Louisiana Travel Association

LTA is a trade association leading and strengthening Louisiana’s vibrant tourism industry through promotion, education, and advocacy on behalf of our members. Tourism generated $1.92 billion for Louisiana in 2019 and employed as many as 242,200 people throughout the state, pre-pandemic. For more information, visit