Business Honors for Feb. 16


Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas has received the A.B. Paterson Medal for an Engineer in Management from the Louisiana Engineering Society.

The medal is awarded for distinguished service in management by an engineer and is designed to inspire other engineers to pursue a role in business management.

Tracy Francis, destination sales manager at Visit Baton Rouge, has earned the Certified Travel Industry Specialist designation from the American Bus Association.

The certification is based on courses administered by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in partnership with the ABA.

Don LaBonte, a sweet potato breeder and director of the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, was presented the 2014 Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Sweet Potato Council.

The award recognizes career-long contributions and service to the national sweet potato industry. LaBonte was recognized for his work in the advancement of technology and science and the sustainability of the Louisiana and national sweet potato industries.


Aaron Ryan, of Manning Architects in New Orleans, has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ND accreditation.

Ryan completed the neighborhood development exam. The LEED ND credential integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into a national system for neighborhood design.

Robert “Bobby” Savoie, chief executive officer of Geocent in Metairie, has been named the University of New Orleans 2013 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

Savoie earned a doctoral degree from UNO in engineering and applied science in 2009. Geocent is an information technology and engineering services company.

Under Savoie’s leadership, Geocent has grown by more than 400 percent and added more than 200 professionals in the past five years, while attracting millions of dollars in federal investment and research to greater New Orleans and the state.

He won NASA’s 2011 Distinguished Public Service Medal and was named a Junior Achievement Hall of Fame 2011 Laureate.


The Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction is inducting as inaugural members Dennis R. Aucoin Sr., of Clinton, for forestry; Clarence Berken, of Lake Arthur, rice, soybean and wheat farming; and Ellis S. Martin (posthumously), of Alexandria, forestry.

Aucoin is owner of Slaughter Logging and was inducted into the Louisiana Loggers Hall of Fame in 2012.

Berken was named Rice Farmer of the Year in 2013 and serves as president of the Louisiana Rice Council.

Martin was known as a mentor in the Louisiana forestry industry and served as president of Martin Timber Co. and Roy O. Martin Lumber Co.

The inductees will be honored during a banquet at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction is presented by Louisiana Radio Network in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter.

The Louisiana Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management has installed five new Certified Property Managers: Tina Sandrock, with Jones, Lang, LaSalle; Clayton Peterson, Iberia Bank; Heather L. Guichet, Corporate Realty; Jolie Bunol, Sealy Co.; and Neill D. Buie, Whitney Bank.