El Koubi Gone; One Acadiana Envisions New Leader in Place by '17's End

One Acadiana's leadership envisions a five-month search to find a replacement for its former president and CEO.

Chairman Frank Neuner said leaders of the nine-parish, business-led development organization began meeting Tuesday to seek the next president and CEO, following Jason El Koubi's departure for a new position in Virginia. His last day was Friday.

The executive committee and board of directors proposed a plan that involves hiring a search firm, developing and finalizing a job description, launching an executive search and conducting interviews with finalists. A recommendation for a new leader is expected in November or December.

Neuner said because El Koubi led the creation of the regionwide organization, One Acadiana is seeking not "a change agent" but a leader who can execute on established organization plans. One Acadiana is in the midst of a five-year plan.

Leaders from five of the nine parishes comprise the search group; those 13 leaders include people who, collectively, do business in all nine parishes.

The search panel will be led by co-chairs Kathy Bobbs of Women's and Children's Hospital; Don Broussard of The Lemoine Co.; and Neuner, the ex-officio member. Search panel members include Julie Dronet, Cox; Sue Durand, Washington State Bank; Rob Eddy, the Pinnacle Group; Anita Fontenot, Southwest Fidelity Corp.; Chris Fox, LHC Group; Natalie Harder, South Louisiana Community College; Cecil Hymel, McIlhenny Co.; Ken Lazard, Destiny of Faith Church; Danny Nugier, The Southwest Group; and Ronnie Petree, St. Martin Bank & Trust Co.

Neuner said the larger group discussed traits they were seeking in El Koubi's replacement and the need to continue One Acadiana's regionalization. 

"He left it better than he found it," Neuner said of El Koubi, whose leadership extended almost four years and included a transformation from what had been the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce into the regional organization.

Smooth transition the goal

El Koubi, who attended Tuesday's meeting, said when it became possible he would leave Lafayette — he has taken the No. 2 job in the state of Virginia's economic development organization — he talked with volunteer leaders and staff members and was reassured that the transformation would be smooth.

Jim Bourgeois, executive director of Business Development, is leading the staff until a permanent replacement is found.

"Although Jason is leaving," he said, "we have a set of initiatives we are going to execute no matter what."

Neuner said the next leader will take the organization to "the next level." In this case, he said, El Koubi and his staff have prepared the region by advancing the number of sites for investment and development; the next leader will be charged for attracting that development here.

Neuner also said among One Acadiana's other pressing goals is to continue improving public education. 



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