Previous Executives of the Year

2016 Executives of the Year

All year long Biz New Orleans highlights business people who are out there succeeding and making a difference in our region. Here are a few of our favorites from 2016.

2017 Executives of the Year

The “Great Eight,” these leaders are taking on our coastline, our waistline, and everything in between. this year, Biz New Orleans celebrates our second-ever business people of the Year — individuals that are taking their companies and industries to new markets and new frontiers in efforts that are gaining them recognition not just at home, but on the National stage.

2018 Executives of the Year

2018 was a year of beginnings — a year where we began building upon our region’s strengths across so many industries at one time that one can’t help but be excited for what 2019 will bring. And leading that charge into the future are these eleven professionals that Biz New Orleans is honored to celebrate as our third-annual Business People of the Year. Within this group are leaders seeking to grow our record-setting tourism numbers even further by transforming our downtown landscape, giving our airport a $1 billion facelift and creating an anniversary celebration felt across the globe. In healthcare and biotechnology, we’ve got young entrepreneurs bringing exciting new ideas to the market aimed at not just improving quality of life, but saving lives in ways no one has seen before. In sports we saw the loss of our beloved Tom Benson, but thanks to his wife, Gayle, his legacy is continuing as strong as ever. We saw one of this country’s fastest-growing business schools open a $35 million expansion, one of our top tech companies go public and Jefferson Parish celebrate its most successful year in decades. Finally, just over four years after gracing our first cover as “Mr. Business,” we welcome Michael Hecht back as our CEO of the Year. Continually stepping up his game to bring Southeast Louisiana to new heights, he and GNO, Inc. were integral in bringing our region its two biggest successes of the year, projects whose impacts will continue to ripple outward for generations to come. Here’s to our “Elevating Eleven,” and to a very prosperous and exciting new year.

2019 Executives of the Year

It’s a challenge to look back at an entire year of business in Southeast Louisiana and come up with a small group of standouts given the fact that, once again, this has been a year where almost all industries have seen tremendous growth. There are some, however, that have emerged as clear leaders in their fields. For our fourth-annual class of Biz New Orleans Business People of the Year, 13 is indeed a lucky number, but it’s much more than luck that has brought them this far. Within these pages we celebrate leaders that are safeguarding and growing our cherished institutions, like the 166-year-old New Orleans City Park and the annual Sugar Bowl — first played in 1935. We also honor home-grown companies that continue to reach beyond our borders and into the national scene, grabbing honors like “Top Architectural Firm in the Country” and “First New Orleans Tech Company to hit the $100 Million mark.” While the region as a whole continues to prosper, that prosperity has been a lot slower to reach some in our community. Thankfully, there are some that have made it their mission to help spread the wealth and opportunity to all, and we are proud that almost half our class this year are devoted to just that — expanding support for female entrepreneurs, continuing to strengthen the only historically black and Catholic university in the country, and reaching into neighborhoods like New Orleans East to bring new opportunity and growth. Finally, we honor the clear man of the hour, the person responsible for delivering the region the airport it deserves. One can’t help but feel proud to have such a welcome mat greeting visitors to our fine city and welcoming us all back home again. Here’s to this year’s “Transformative Thirteen,” and to a very prosperous and exciting 2020

2020 Executives of the Year

Adversity is never welcome, but in the right hands, it can be transformed into innovation. It can spur us to step out of our own little worlds and reach out in a desperate effort to create a little light in the darkness. It can break us down, only to build us back in a way we never could have anticipated. It can teach us how far we can be pushed, and show us what matters, and what really doesn’t. It is in times of adversity that leaders of quality are formed, and within these pages you’ll find some of the top in our region right now. They are the people who have long been leading the charge to eradicate poverty and provide more affordable housing and are now finding their mission more critical than ever. They are the people that stepped up to make sure all of our communities had the testing and medical care they needed this year, who led our healthcare heroes and who made sure our small businesses had the guidance they needed to get the resources to keep them afloat. They are the leaders who dared to think differently in industries that have been hit the hardest — to use this crisis as permission to change the way things have long been done, and yes, even to test the boundaries of how much fun can be had on a Zoom call. Please join us in celebrating Biz New Orleans’ 2020 Executives of the Year

2021 Executives of the Year

Each year, we face the difficult task of selecting our CEO and Executives of the Year. The task is difficult simply because New Orleans is so rich in leadership, innovation and ideas. This year was no different, except for the fact that our leaders faced monumental obstacles in 2021, from pandemic pivots to hurricane delays. Despite all, each one excelled in their field and provided unparalleled services to the New Orleans business community. We look forward to a new year, one which we are sure will be rich with opportunities and continued development.

2022 Executives of the Year

What does it take to be one of Biz New Orleans’ Executives of the Year? Each year we look at the biggest issues, the biggest stories of the year and we find the people behind them getting things done. We look for the leaders whose dedication to their region is evident. Those that are innovating and excelling in their field. The superstars. This year, we recognize two leaders responsible for bringing back local institutions — one after two long years, the other after eight. We honor another that is at the top of his game, and the best at bringing the biggest games to our doorstep. While another continues to lead the largest and busiest mall in the region to success, even in a challenged marketplace. We honor a professional that has taken on multiple large roles in the community in order to address equity problems and another that is, quite literally, reaching for the stars. Please join us in celebrating Biz New Orleans’ 2022 Executives of the Year.


CEO of the Year: Melissa Sawyer

“I want you to meet Julian,” says Melissa Sawyer as she jumps up from her desk and eagerly welcomes a young man into her...

Jay Cicero

For 25 years it has been Jay Cicero’s job to bring the biggest games in sports to New Orleans. This year, however, he personally...

Jennifer Boland-Masterson

“Shooting for the moon” is a common aspirational metaphor. For Jennifer Boland-Masterson, director of manufacturing and site leader for the Boeing Space and Launch...

Brian Lade

A lot has changed in brick-and-mortar retail in recent years as online shopping has grown in popularity — spurred on by the pandemic. According...

Adam Anderson

In a region perpetually in search of economic diversification and revitalization, nothing symbolizes the opportunity for progress more than the rebirth of the former...

Quint Davis

There is no bigger stage in the city than the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and for Quint Davis, the festival’s producer/director, there...

Dr. Takeisha Davis

While taking on two leadership roles in the same year might seem daunting to many people, Dr. Takeisha Davis sees them as ideal complements...

CEOs of the Year: Tech Titans

While greater New Orleans was fortunate to avoid any major water events in 2021, it was nevertheless a watershed year for area tech entrepreneurs....

Larissa Littleton-Steib

Larissa Littleton-Steib is chancellor of Delgado Community College, but she calls herself “the chancellor of crisis management.” “We’ve had one hit after another, but we...

Max Swetman

Max Swetman, a managing partner at MG+M The Law Firm, is one of only a handful of attorneys in the United States who has...

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