May 202331

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Announces 2022 Morial Award Winners


L: Dr. Brice Miller and the Taste of New Orleans Jazz Band

R: Jerry Reyes, Authority Chairman; Judge Monique Morial; Iam Tucker, President/CEO, ILSI Engineering; Cheri Morial Ausberry, Sybil Haydel Morial, Sheryl Morial; Jean-Marc Villain, System Director, Supplier Diversity & Community Engagement, Ochsner Health; Deborah Grimes, Chief Diversity Officer, Ochsner Health; Corwin Harper, Chief Growth Officer, Ochsner Health; Judy Reese-Morse, President/CEO, Urban League of Louisiana; Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President.


NEW ORLEANS – On Thursday, May 25, 2023, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority and the Urban League of Louisiana announced the 2022 Morial Award winners at a banquet inside the Convention Center’s Great Hall. The Morial Awards recognize a small business and a corporation that have demonstrated innovative growth and economic impact, as well as exceptional contributions to increasing diversity and creating equal opportunities for local communities and small businesses across the state of Louisiana.

Selected by committee, the 2022 Morial Award for Corporation of the Year went to Ochsner Health, and ILSI Engineering was awarded Small Business of the Year. The two winning companies were chosen from an esteemed group of finalists including Perez Architects, Help IT/SLT Technology, Inc., and Entergy New Orleans.

“On behalf of the Convention Center, I want to congratulate the winners of this year’s Morial Awards,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President. “As a major economic driver for the region, the Convention Center is always working to create more opportunities for local and diverse businesses. It is indeed very gratifying to have a chance to come together to celebrate the successes of companies like ILSI and Ochsner Health. Both serve as an inspiration for the work they do and the value they bring to our community. Thank you, Ochsner Health and ILSI Engineering for making New Orleans a better place to live and work.”

The Morial Awards were established in 2020 to celebrate Mayor Ernest N. Morial’s legacy as a civil rights activist and political pioneer. Becoming New Orleans’ first Black mayor in 1977, a position he held for two terms through 1986, Morial championed the Convention Center’s construction and positioned it to promote economic development, especially for local and diverse small businesses.

“The Urban League of Louisiana congratulates this year’s winners of the prestigious Morial Award,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “The impact and commitment to the community demonstrated by ILSI Engineering and Ochsner Health are great examples for companies of all sizes that value equity and understand the critical connection between business impact and its effect on the community. We are proud to partner with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to recognize businesses and corporations that share the Urban League’s commitment to addressing disparities and advancing equity.”

Small Business of the Year winner ILSI Engineering is a certified 8(a) 100% woman-owned, minority owned small business based in New Orleans with a project office in Baton Rouge. Founded in 1994, ILSI is a civil engineering, construction management and program management firm with a strong record of performance on multi-year, multimillion-dollar projects completed in the federal, state and municipal sectors. Committed to investing in the communities they serve, ILSI leadership puts a special focus supporting Black and brown businesses, a commitment that is reflected in the company mantra: Diverse Experience. Diverse Projects. Diverse People.

“We are humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Iam Christian Tucker, ILSI President and CEO. “It is more than a privilege to be recognized not only for our excellent service and delivery, but also for our steadfast commitment to excellence in diversity, inclusion, and the fight for economic parity. This recognition is also a testament to every ILSI employee, and the hard work and commitment that our team puts in for our clients every day.”

Corporation of the Year recipient Ochsner Health has been providing high-quality patient care to residents in the Gulf South for more than 80 years. Today, more than 37,000 employees and 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians are practicing more than 90 medical specialties and subspecialties in 46 hospitals and 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South. In 2022, Ochsner Health treated more than 1.4 million people from every state and 62 countries. With an increasing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, Ochsner is working to deliver care that respects the individual and while also giving its team members an inclusive place to work.

“On behalf of the dedicated healthcare professionals at Ochsner, we are honored to be recognized for our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with the Morial Corporation of the Year Award from the Convention Center,” said Deborah Grimes, Chief Diversity Officer, Ochsner Health. “As we work collaboratively to build stronger communities and a healthy state, we know we cannot have excellence in healthcare without addressing health equity and health disparities.  That’s why as an anchor institution, we are focused on supplier diversity, workforce development, education and community health initiatives.”

Grimes added, “Given their powerful legacy of service to New Orleans, it was especially meaningful to stand on stage alongside the leadership of the Convention Center and the Urban League and members of the Morial family.”

The Convention Center works year-round to create opportunities to help Louisiana’s small and emerging businesses (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) succeed. Through the Small and Emerging Business Program, the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority encourages the hiring of local vendors to provide goods and services at the Convention Center and is making it easier for these vendors to access new business opportunities through the SEBConnect app. Since the program launched in 2019, 1,300 certified vendors have registered, and more than $40 million has been awarded to area SEBs and DBEs. In 2022, roughly one-third of all payments and contracts awarded were to SEBs and DBEs.


About the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC)

New Orleans is Built to Host! With 1.1 million square feet of prime exhibit space on one level, all under one roof, NOENMCC is the sixth largest Convention Center in the United States and provides the largest single exhibit space in the country. Our recent LEED Gold certification makes NOENMCC the largest LEED-certified project in Louisiana and the largest convention center project in the U.S. certified under LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance, as well as the first convention center in the world to be awarded initial certification under LEED Gold v4.1 O+MA. A leading contributor to the city’s robust tourism economy, NOENMCC event activity has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening.

About the Urban League of Louisiana

The mission of the Urban League of Louisiana is to assist African Americans and other communities seeking equity to secure economic self-reliance, parity and civil rights. We implement our mission through programs in the areas of education and youth development, workforce and economic development, public policy and advocacy initiatives.

About the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority’s (Authority) exclusive mission is to finance, construct and operate facilities in order to attract and conduct conventions, trade shows and other events that support and expand the economy of both the State of Louisiana and New Orleans Region. The Authority is composed of a 13-member board of commissioners, ten appointed by the Governor of Louisiana, and three appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans. Since 1985, event activity at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has produced $90.1 billion in economic impact since its 1985 opening, including $5.7 billion in new tax revenue for state and local governments.