Charles Sonnier will be among the honorees on Nov. 15.

Charles Sonnier honored as Philanthropist of Year

LAFAYETTE – Charles R. Sonnier is the recipient of the 2018 Leaders In Philanthropy Award for Vermilion Parish, an honor presented by Community Foundation of Acadiana (CFA) and Hancock Whitney Bank, and sponsored by Gulf Coast Bank and SLEMCO.
He will be recognized during an awards luncheon on Thursday, November 15 at the Cajundome Convention Center. Seats and tables to the event can be purchased online at
Sonnier is a lifelong resident of Abbeville. He is a SLI/Tulane Law Graduate and continues his law career of 55 years that began in 1963 in Abbeville. During this time, he served as the First Assistant District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, Abbeville City Attorney and the founding member of the Sonnier Law Firm.
Consideration for this selection included his significant lifelong participation in numerous community activities. Sonnier has demonstrated passion for sharing by lending his leadership skills to numerous fundraising endeavors, including St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Vermilion and Mount Carmel Catholic schools, UL Lafayette, and Ducks Unlimited.
Sonnier and his wife, Mary Ellen, a 2014 Leaders In Philanthropy honoree, served as co-chairs to raise more than $4 million to renovate St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. He and his siblings also donated the funds to illuminate and enhance the beauty of the historical and iconic Church.
As sole trustee of a small charitable foundation, Sonnier was instrumental in the purchase of additional class rooms for Vermilion Catholic and participated in the ongoing capital building campaign of Mount Carmel.
Sonnier has served as the President and a member of the UL Foundation Board of Trustees for more than 28 years. His dedication to the University is demonstrated by his substantial gifts to the University in the form of an endowed first-generation scholarship in music and an endowed facility fund in music business.
As an avid outdoorsman, he has been a member of the premier conservation group known as Ducks Unlimited. A member for more than 50 years, he has served in the capacity as state chairman, senior vice president for the Southwest Mississippi Flyway, and other National offices in the organization. Sonnier has reached the level of a Diamond Life Sponsor in perpetuity and is the recipient of the Don Doiron Achievement Award. He is also currently serving as an officer and board member of several major business organizations.
Sonnier has been married to Mary Ellen McKay for more than 54 years and has three children and seven grandchildren.
Leaders in Philanthropy Awards are presented annually to outstanding individuals or couples from each of the eight parishes of CFA’s primary service area who have made a philanthropic impact in their communities through substantial charitable contributions to or by attracting substantial contributions for nonprofits, churches or schools.
“Our annual Leaders in Philanthropy Awards Luncheon is an appropriate way to recognize those who have contributed so much to our communities through charitable giving or philanthropic work,” said Raymond J. Hébert, CFA President and CEO. “We appreciate the community’s help in identifying worthy recipients through this nominations process.”
Community Foundation of Acadiana is a tax-exempt, donor-centric, entrepreneurial foundation whose core purpose is building legacies and improving communities by connecting generous people to the causes they care about. CFA is south Louisiana’s premier philanthropic organization benefiting our region, with a particular focus on the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin and Vermilion. Learn more at

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