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Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board for the past 13 years, has resigned from his position, according to published reports.
In a letter to the board’s chairman, Chef John Folse, Smith noted he had “reached a time in both my life and career where new challenges and opportunities must be explored,” adding that he had come to the decision to resign “with a very heavy heart.”
During his time on the Baton Rouge-based board, Smith spearheaded such innovative marketing initiatives for the Gulf seafood industry as the Oyster Eating Challenge, the Louisiana Seafood Festival and the Great American Seafood Cook Off, the last of which aired on PBS and the Food Network. He also coordinated signature po-boy builds at the Super Bowl and the White House, garnering more national attention for the industry.
“Your leadership and accomplishments over the years [have] produced unimaginable results,” Folse responded to Smith’s letter. “I for one have valued your leadership and friendship and have been often inspired by your tenacity and style. You have a unique quality to move people toward accomplishment, which is so evident by the results of your work.”
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has asked Folse and the board to move quickly to fill the vacancy in a timely manner. State law requires the board to submit a list of nominees for the position to the lieutenant governor, who will make the selection.
In other seafood industry news, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has appointed Alexa Tonkovich to take over as international program director, effective immediately. In her new role, Tonkovich, who has worked as the institute’s Asia and emerging markets manager for almost four years, will manage all of ASMI’s overseas marketing efforts and an approximately $8 million budget.
Tonkovich is based in the Juneau office of ASMI, a public-private partnership between the state of Alaska and the Alaska seafood industry established to foster economic development of a renewable natural resource.