New Orleans, LA-Based Leader Recognized by Economic Development Industry


Leslie Jacobs, Vice Chair of the New Orleans Business Alliance, was awarded the Citizen Leadership Award by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for her extraordinary commitment in promoting economic development. The honor was presented on Tuesday, October 21 during IEDC’s Annual Conference in Fort Worth, TX.

“The Citizen Leadership Award celebrates a community or business leader, or an individual who is not an economic development specialist, but who plays a major leadership role in economic development pursuits,” said William C. Sproull, IEDC chair. “Ms. Jacobs is a fine example of such an individual.”

As a native of New Orleans, Ms. Jacobs has spent the past 25 years supporting economic development in her community. One of the most impressive and respected themes of Ms. Jacobs’s civic and professional career is the drive to effect change in innovative ways.

As the founder of Educate Now, a non-profit dedicated to preserving New Orleans schools, Ms. Jacobs understands that education reform is a critical foundation in building long-term workforce development. Ms. Jacobs played a leading role as a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in reshaping public education statewide. She successfully worked to establish a new accountability system and moved struggling public schools to charter status. Since the enactment of these sweeping changes, New Orleans public schools have seen incredible progress in meeting educational goals and have become a national model for successful public school reform.

In addition to her steadfast work in education improvement, Ms. Jacobs has also made a strong and lasting impact in the New Orleans business community. Her wide-ranging areas of interest include: entrepreneurship, workforce retention, and supporting the development of the City of New Orleans strategic plan for economic development. Ms. Jacobs has been a direct supporter of economic development initiatives in the City of New Orleans and the region by serving on the boards of several economic development organizations, such as the New Orleans Business Alliance and Greater New Orleans, Inc. Ms. Jacobs’ tireless support and leadership of these organizations has allowed them to successfully attract several important companies in recent years.

Ms. Jacobs also served as the Co-Chair of the committee charged by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to develop a citywide economic development strategic plan that would ensure a more prosperous New Orleans by the city’s tri-centennial anniversary in 2018. The resulting plan, ProsperityNOLA, engaged over 200 local business and civic leaders. Ms. Jacobs’ role as a leader and architect in establishing the vision, and her continuing work to ensure its successful implementation cannot be overstated.


About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,400 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions.

The Jewish Light