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SONDRA CORBITT – PRESIDENT/CEO
I sit on the following boards:
• Houma Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce
• Houma Restoration District – Secretary
• Downtown Development – Treasurer
• Houma Terrebonne Rotary
• Louisiana Travel Association Executive Committee and Board
• Louisiana Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
I am a member of the following:
• Houma Elks Lodge
• Houma Terrebonne Rotary
• United Houma Nations Tribe
BUSINESSES’ RECENT SUCCESSES/ACHIEVEMENTS:
Explore Houma won the following awards in 2023:
• Obie Award with Out of Home Advertising of America
• Two of the coveted Louey Awards (Explore Houma nominated for these awards that won)
• Rougarou Fest for 2023 Fest of the Year
• Hache Grant Association for 2023 Community Partner of the Year
What led you to the role you currently hold in your company? Did you see yourself in this position when you started out in the workforce?
When starting out in the workforce, I never imagined myself as the President/CEO of a travel and tourism company. I worked in government, handling the billing/budgeting side of operations until I switched over to the travel and tourism sector. When the executive director announced her departure, I was a little hesitant on applying for the role; however, I found the position to be an exciting challenge, one necessary to take my career to the next level. After several months of training and mentoring, I became the executive director in January 2018 and recently had a title change to President/CEO to reflect continuity within the industry.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced over the years and how did you meet it?
The biggest challenge I have faced since taking on this role is getting the public, industry partners and legislature to understand what exactly our position is in the community as the travel and tourism sector. This has been an ongoing effort since day one, but by educating on how we promote our area and boost economic sustainability, advocating for funding and educating legislature on how dollars are spent, we are confident that we are on the right path.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wanted to be an airline stewardess when I grew up. I loved the idea of traveling to new places all the time. While I obviously didn’t pursue that career, I did end up in the tourism industry where I have the opportunity to travel all over to promote this wonderful place I call home.
What was your first job and what lesson did you learn from this job? When I was 16, I held my first job as a student worker through the United Houma Nations mentorship training program. I worked in the medical records department at Leonard
J. Chabert Medical Center. I’m extremely grateful that I had that opportunity as it taught me more about my heritage with the Tribe and the importance of being a working, contributing member of society.
What piece of advice do you share with your team regularly?
One piece of advice I always drive home for my staff is that there is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question. I have an open-door policy and encourage them to see me at any time to ask questions, pitch ideas or simply to vent.
What was your most fulfilling career moment?
My most fulfilling career moment took place when I proudly earned my bachelor’s in business degree from college. I was later into my 20s when I completed my courses to graduate, and I did so while working a full- time job and with a brand-new baby. It was challenging to say the least but so rewarding when I was able to finally say I did it!
What is the best part of working here in the Bayou Region?
The best part of working in the Bayou Region is being surrounded by the incredible and unique food and culture. Not only do I get to enjoy indulging in it, but I get to promote it to people around the world. Oftentimes we take the beauty of our area for granted, but seeing Terrebonne Parish through the eyes of visitors gives me a whole new appreciation for the place I grew up in.
Who are your greatest influencers?
I’m very fortunate to say I have several wonderful people who have positively influenced me both professionally and personally. In my professional life, Louise Billiot with United Houma Nations and Richard Ledet with PFG Caro were great mentors who were instrumental in shaping me into the leader I am today. And of course, I wouldn’t be where I am without my parents, Carroll and Jeneal Carrere. They always demonstrated a tremendous work ethic that was also expected of me and showed an unwavering amount of support all throughout my life. I couldn’t have done any of it without them.
How are you going to impact the Bayou Region in 2024?
I am going to impact the Bayou Region in 2024 by continuing to lead my team at Explore Houma to promote Terrebonne Parish as a premier destination for visitors. The travel and tourism industry boosts economic impact and sustainability for our community by driving business to our local partners.”