Women's Leadership Award Recipients 2019

(Denham Springs, La.) – The Livingston Parish Chamber Announced the 2019 recipients of the Women’s Leadership Awards on Friday, Sept. 20 at the Women’s Leadership Event. The awards rounded out an event with three dynamic speakers, Judge Zoey Waguespack, Dr. Mari Ann Callais and Wendy Rodrigue, who moved attendees to laughter and tears.
The Awards were presented to six women who live, work or volunteer in Livingston Parish and have exhibited excellence in their area of expertise and paved the way for the success of other women.
Meet the recipients:
Erica Ard - Livingston Parish Sheriff
Ard has been in her current position for over 18 years. She does not seek out attention, but sees herself as a true team player, preferring not to be in the spotlight. In 2012, she took the lead on the Christmas Crusade which provides gifts for underprivileged children in Livingston Parish ages 12 and under. Through that program, in 2018, 1,393 children were served from 645 Livingston Parish families. The ultimate reward is when a family that is helped, after getting back on their feet, comes back and volunteers to help others through this program.
Lisa Roache - CEO - Gainey's Concrete Products
 Roache's career began abruptly when she was asked to take on the role of CEO following the sudden death of her father, the Gainey's founder. At 24 years old, with little experience in the business, she took advantage of every educational opportunity to learn about business, construction and the concrete industry. Since 1994 she has grown the business to 100 employees. Among those employees are a higher than industry average number of women who she encourages to not be a victim of life but to take responsibility for both good and bad. She has made being a woman in a male-dominated industry positive.
Her community involvement includes sponsoring TARC’s Tickfaw River Regatta, as well as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, collecting and donating toys to the Town of Albany for Christmas, local school programs and donating time and resources there. She is also involved in her church and much more.
 Dr. Lizette Leader - Northshore Technical Community College
In Leader's position, she had the opportunity to influence programs that helps to shape the future of the communities where Northshore Technical Community College is located. She has been able to develop programs and provide services that enhance the educational experience in Livingston Parish.
She is involved in her church’s youth ministry programming. Informally, she mentors people every day as it is entrenched as who she is as an individual.
Lynda Gardiner – Primerica
Gardiner's work with her former employer as the community involvement coordinator allowed her to engage in numerous community projects. She was there recognized as an associate of the year. In her current company, she was promoted to district leader within three months of joining the team.
For her community efforts, she has been engaged in Keep Livingston Beautiful for 18 years. She also serves on the Denham Springs Main Street Board and on the Livingston Parish Chamber’s Education Committee.
Sommer Purvis – Livingston Parish Public Schools
Purvis' implementation of new breakfast models to students increased participation, the highest participation percentage increase in the state, and revenue for the Child Nutrition Programs through the school system. She also initiated a joint venture to provide after school meals, Feeding Young Minds, that has served 8,000 meals to date. She also volunteers at the program and through her church where she serves on event planning committees.
Melissa Ott – Pelican State Credit Union
In 2000 Ott started with Pelican doing clerical tasks, then administrative tasks where she worked with the CEO, VP and Board of Directors. Those interactions ignited her passion. She held positions as the Accounting Manager, Marketing, Financial and Outreach and Business Development departments, and grew into her current position as CFO. She worked with the Denham Springs Merchants Association to grow her business presence by providing volunteers for downtown events.
About the Chamber: The Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce is the largest and longest-standing business organization in Livingston Parish. We represent the business community and coordinate community initiatives and programs which make Livingston Parish better. The Chamber is 501C6 nonprofit association serving Livingston Parish and each of its municipalities and communities.