Gonzales, LA – The Ascension Chamber of Commerce recently completed its 29th year of the Leadership Ascension program. Before a crowd of over 100 community leaders, alumni, supporters, and sponsors, the Chamber honored the Class of 2024 graduates in a ceremony, sponsored by Bonfanti Investment Services, at the Parc 73 Reception & Conference Center.

Leadership Ascension, like similar programs nationwide, is designed to develop responsible and informed community leaders. Recognized and emerging leaders in the community are selected to represent the diverse demographic of the Ascension Parish Community. Since its inception in 1996, Leadership Ascension has graduated over 800 individuals from business owners to community leaders and government officials.

The 33 participants in this year’s Leadership Class were divided into four groups. Each group was then tasked with developing and implementing a volunteer-based project that would positively affect the Ascension Community. This year’s projects included:

Bridging Ascension- Focused on impacting and improving lives for the Council on Aging

Fellows of Ascension- Assisted the Fellowship Center with improvements to their facilities, outreach and assistance

Grounded & Growing- Highlighted the support and resources in Ascension parish for those in recovery from substance abuse disorder. While spotlighting the sober living home, Each Day A New Beginning, by advocating and improving the quality of living of the residents.

Work of Arc-Increased awareness of the Arc of East Ascension’s On and Off-Site Work Services

 While we consider each team and our Ascension community all winners, our judges could only choose one proposal to be the 2024 Leadership Ascension Project of the Year, and this year’s winners are the Fellows of Ascension. The team members are Jamie McKnight, Samantha Rothschild, Vickie Rogers, Nicolas Schexnayder, Jodi Runfalo & Tamika Westbrook.

Photos by Crawford Photography

Leadership Ascension Class of 2024

Christopher Achee, Ascension Parish Library

Megan Babin, Ascension Parish Government

Micha Ballow, EA/EI Catholic School Partnership

Adam Brasseaux, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office

Nicole Brown, Ascension Credit Union

Toni Carlton, Shell Chemical

Jason Cheek, TruBlue Water

Ethan Daigle, RJ Daigle & Sons

Katie Decker, American Cancer Society

Travis Drago, BASF

Michelle Garbiras, Hannis T. Bourgeois

Tamiko Garrison, BCBS Medicare Team

Jaycee Gill, City of Gonzales/Price LeBlanc PACE Center

Sheena Hayes, The Arc of East Ascension

Lynelle Johnson, Community Steel Co.

Kolbie LeBlanc, Domain Architecture

Lynette Matherne, Ochsner Health System

Jamie McKnight, CSRS

Jeremy Muse, Ascension Public Schools

Landon Richard, Neighbors Federal Credit Union

Vickie Rogers, REV

Samantha Rothschild, Methanex

Jodi Runfalo, Clayton F. Runfalo M.D.

Justin Schexnayder, HNTB Corporation

Nicolas Schexnayder, McKim & Creed, Inc.

Maegan Schmidt, BASF

Bree St. Germain, CF Industries

Resa Tureau, Ascension Clerk of Court

Ynohtna Tureaud, Anointed Hands Center for Hair Loss

Tamika Westbrook, Our Lady of the Lake Ascension

Ellen Whitehead, River Parishes Community College

Leadership Ascension contributes the program’s success to the many sponsors and support committees who volunteer their time and resources.  The Chamber would like to recognize and thank the following for their support for the Class of 2024:

Ascension Economic Development Corporation
Ascension Parish Assessor’s Office
Ascension Parish Government
Ascension Parish School System
Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Department
Baton Rouge General- Ascension
Bridget Hanna, Ascension Parish Clerk of Court
Bonfanti Investment Services, LLC
CF Industries
City of Donaldsonville
City of Gonzales
Crawford Photography
Domain Architecture
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Our Lady of The Lake Ascension
Ochsner Ascension
Percy, Skias & Schutte Attorneys at Law
River Parishes Community College
Representative Tony Bacala
The Leadership Ascension Committee
The Leadership Ascension Foundation

Leadership Ascension started in 1996 with the mission of preparing emerging community leaders for leadership positions in local government and business. The 10-month program accepts students by application only and offers team-building and educational sessions covering topics such as Economic Development, Healthcare, Project Management Training and Cultural Diversity. To learn more about Leadership Ascension, visit www.ascensionchamber.com.