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Vermilion Chamber of Commerce President Megan Landry-Lalande (far right) welcomed speakers (L-R) Dr. Phyllis Dupuis, Dr. Tina Chargois and Ashley Mudd to Thursday’s event.

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More than 30 woman attended Thursday’s Vermilion Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Luncheon at L’Eglise.

Vermilion Chamber event celebrates women leaders

Whether in business, within civic organizations, or as part of government entities, there are women in leadership roles throughout Vermilion Parish.
As the 100th president of the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce, Megan Landry-Lalande wanted to help create an event that would not only recognize those women leaders but would help encourage other women to take a step to become leaders in the community.
That event came to fruition Thursday as the Vermilion Chamber played host to the first-ever women’s leadership luncheon, which took place at L’eglise.
More than 30 women in attendance heard the event’s theme, “Energize. Inspire. Celebrate. Women Leaders!”
“We are so grateful to be able to bring this kind of event to our members and guests,” Lalande said. “When I became president earlier this year, one event I felt so led to initiate was a summit for women. In Vermilion Parish, I feel our women are always seeking growth, always looking to network. There are several businesses and organizations that have women leading the way.
“We thank you, and we encourage you to continue to help our parish flourish.”
Attendees heard Thursday from three women who have flourished in leadership roles. Ashley Mudd, executive director of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana, Dr. Phyllis Dupuis, former chancellor of South Louisiana Community College, and Dr. Tina Chargois, supervisor of Distance Learning for the Vermilion Parish School System, each spoke on different aspects of leadership.
Chargois, who served as the keynote speaker, spoke about her life growing up in Kaplan, being a mother of three and all the work she put into becoming the leader she is today.
“I know each of us here today has a story about our journey to leadership,” Chargois said. “Looking at my bio, I’m sure it seems unusual for a person to list primary caregiver of her 81-year-old mom and being mother of three in a professional bio.
“Those are the very things that make us the unique leaders that we are.”
Chargois said leadership is not about separating a career from home.
“We multitask at work,” Chargois said. “Then, we go home for our second shift and start multitasking all over.
“This is one of the many things that make women uniquely qualified to be great leaders.”
Chargois said the home is where strong leaders can begin to grow. She said she received inspiration from her mother, Delores Broussard, the first woman elected to the Kaplan City Council.
“I bet most of you come from a line of strong women,” Chargois said.
Volunteering can strengthen one’s ability to become a better leader. Mudd, a graduate of Abbeville High, said community service is essential to her.
“I have built my entire career around this,” Mudd said. “My first job was as the office manager of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Acadiana. I really got to see the importance of having dedicated citizens who want to make the world a better place by volunteering their time.”
Volunteering can bring you in contact with people you may never otherwise meet.
“I would say that 90% of my profession and personal circle today,” Mudd said, “comes from relationships that were built through giving back in the Acadiana area.
“I would say that the friendships and bonds you can make through this type of work can be so much stronger.”
Mudd said it is no small thing to bring little ones along when volunteering.
“If you have an opportunity to bring your kids along,” Mudd said, “bring them. My mom, Annette Mudd, is in Rotary. She has always done those sorts of things. That is the message she always sent to us.
“If you care about the community you live in, you are going to go out to try to make it a better place, whether you’re paid to do it or not.”
Having a better understanding of strengths is something Dupuis said can help make a better leader. Dr. Dupuis is a certified Emergenetics associate for Enspire Consultants.
“Many of you have been in our workshops before,” Dupuis said. “We want people to understand their strengths and preferences. We want people to understand what they do well.”
Dupuis said that listening to opposing views and ideas is vital to leadership.
“A successful leader is one who understands their preferences,” Dupuis said, “and then surrounds themselves with people who are different from them.”
Women take different paths to leadership. Chargois said the key for all of them is always to press forward.
“Like most women,” Chargois said, “I know what it’s like to be overlooked and underestimated. Change is hard. We love predictability and consistency. Change is the catalyst for great things. If I had said no to quitting a job to pursue my doctorate, I would not be the person I am today in the name of predictability and consistency.”
Lalande said she hopes Thursday’s event can be something that has an impact well into the future.
“My hope is that as women, we can continue to create opportunities for ourselves,” Lalande said. “I want us to flourish, not only in our homes but to expand that into our communities. Let’s work together to mold a greater future for those who are going to follow the groundwork that we are leaving today.
“I look forward to seeing many of you become a bigger part of our Parish.”

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