Rita Benson LeBlanc life and biography

Rita Benson LeBlanc  picture, image, poster

Rita Benson LeBlanc biography

Date of birth : 1977-01-11
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Houma, Louisiana
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-10-18
Credited as : Businesswoman, Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints NFL, Super Bowl

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Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc is the leader of the business operations of the New Orleans Saints, with responsibilities that include overseeing all sales and marketing efforts, the club’s community and youth programs, game day entertainment and stadium operations. She represents the club at NFL Ownership Meetings, where she chairs the league’s Employee Benefits Committee and serves on the NFL International Committee.

In addition to her responsibilities with the Saints, LeBlanc has taken an active leadership role in tackling the economic, environmental and community challenges that face the New Orleans and Gulf South region through serving on the boards of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region and of GNO Inc., the official economic development agency serving the 10-parish Greater New Orleans Region. She played a key role in securing the Super Bowl (XLVII) for New Orleans and serves on the Executive Board of the New Orleans 2013 Super Bowl Host Committee. Recently LeBlanc served on New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Economic Development Task Force, a group of business leaders that teamed to gather opinions from the public on how city government could help create jobs and facilitate economic development in the city.

LeBlanc is also playing a key role in the investments being made by her family in the economic development of New Orleans. Through Zelia, Inc., LeBlanc is leading the effort to redevelop Benson Tower and a new sports and entertainment partnership with the State of Louisiana adjacent to the downtown office building and across from the Superdome called Champions Square. The previously blighted and idled properties have served as a catalyst in the Central Business District. She additionally serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Media Company, which includes WVUE FOX-8, the only locally owned television station in New Orleans. Furthering her involvement in the media, television and film industries of the region, LeBlanc also fulfills a position as an executive producer with Horizon Entertainment.

She fosters the rejuvenated spirit of the city of New Orleans through her creativity not only on the Saints’ behalf but also on a multitude of civic, cultural and philanthropic levels through her passion for the city she calls home. Recently LeBlanc served as a key figure behind the Saints’ June visit to the southeastern community of Plaquemines Parish to help rally community members and provide inspiration to families, business leaders and elected officials who are faced with the catastrophic events that have taken place as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As a direct result, LeBlanc was part of a never-before initiative of raffling off a Super Bowl XLIV ring to a member of the public that is expected to result in contributions exceeding a million dollars in funds that will be distributed to those most effected by the results of the catastrophe. The commitment to the betterment of the environment is an important pillar of LeBlanc’s core beliefs, as she and the Saints have joined in partnership with several important Gulf Coast Restoration causes. The project raised over $1.4 million in resources for those directly impacted by the accident.

LeBlanc’s commitment to the community extends beyond economic development with a focus on improving the quality of life of citizens in need and environmental protection of the Gulf Coast. While overseeing more than $5 million in charitable contributions, goods and services donated by the Saints annually, LeBlanc has also led the Saints to partner with several organizations and initiatives focused on Gulf Coast restoration. The Saints have teamed up with several coastal preservation groups, including America’s Wetlands and Women of the Storm, to raise awareness and funding for this vital national resource.

She has been recognized for her work on behalf of the team and community by being named in 2007 and 2008 to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal's "40 Under 40", honoring the 40 most influential sports executives under the age of 40. LeBlanc was also honored in New York as one of three selections by vote for W.I.S.E’s (Women in Sports and Events) “Women of the Year.” In 2009 LeBlanc was honored by the organization for her efforts in leading the Saints through the tumultuous period of time associated with guiding a professional sports franchise during and after Hurricane Katrina and helping the Saints organization rise to international prominence in the years that followed the catastrophe. Furthermore in 2010 she participated in the Fortune/Time/CNN Global Forum in South Africa, which gathered world leaders to focus on substantive issues and opportunities in the addressing worldly pressing issues. Included in the forum were some of the world’s most influential people from the highest ranks of government, science and technology, business, sports, media, entertainment, and nongovernmental organizations.

In the immediate days following the storms, LeBlanc helped establish the New Orleans Saints Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, which raised over $1 million dollars to assist the citizens of the Gulf South. She also coordinated the continuing refurbishment of the Superdome and joined the New Orleans Business Council to work for economic growth and development in the area. As the city moves forward under the direction of newly elected Mayor Mitch Landrieu, LeBlanc and the Saints work in concert with spreading the message that New Orleans is viable base for businesses ranging from film and television production companies to Fortune 500 corporations.

In 2009, the Benson family again displayed their unwavering commitment to the region, announcing a new partnership with the state of Louisiana that called for the club to make a long-term investment that dramatically revitalized the neighborhood around the Superdome with the addition of The Benson Tower and Champions Square.

LeBlanc’s close working relationship with the League office has proved to be beneficial in securing League grants and programs that benefit Gulf South youth and charitable initiatives. Since 2006, the Saints have distributed over $2 million dollars to high school and youth football organizations to help in their post-Katrina rebuilding process. For her dedication and efforts in youth football development, LeBlanc was awarded the 2008 “Star Performance Award” by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society. Continuing to help foster the growth of the sport among the region’s youth through education, LeBlanc was honored with the 2008 Pop Warner Female Achievement Award by the Pop Warner Little Scholars organization.

Under LeBlanc’s direction, the Saints maintain an active presence throughout the Gulf South region by developing and implementing programs that not only allow children to experience the excitement of Saints football but also teach important life skills. As part of the Saints’ Grass Roots Programs, over 5,000 charities, schools, churches, foundations and festivals receive in-kind donations from the club annually. Over 50,000 young people are reached yearly through Saints Youth Programs, over 700 instructors, coaches and athletic directors receive training and over 130 schools and playgrounds in the region are visited. LeBlanc has also been a galvanizing figure in the ever-growing and extremely popular free concert series “Wednesday’s at the Square,” a festival-like gathering each spring that feature both local and national musical acts that has added to the economic viability of New Orleans’ Central Business District.

LeBlanc’s leadership in the local community has been evident, as she has played a critical role in securing the return of the Saints to New Orleans and helped build a World Championship franchise and one that was voted by ESPN The Magazine (June, 2010) as “the best professional organization in professional sports.” She has also directed the team’s marketing development efforts that have lead the club to new heights in season ticket sales. The club sold-out on a season-ticket basis for the first time in 2006, and has repeated the feat each year since. The team was named “2006 Marketer of the Year” by the American Marketing Association’s New Orleans region chapter and received the MAX award for its 2006 “Winning Is An Attitude” advertising campaign.

LeBlanc also committed to bringing additional international events to New Orleans in an effort to increase the city’s global exposure. She played an integral part in hosting the first U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team match in the state when the USA Women played against the Brazilian Women’s National team on July 13, 2003. The contest marked the first international soccer match in the state, and was televised live by ESPN both domestically and internationally. LeBlanc has serves on committee's that have helped draw the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four to New Orleans, as well as the 2013 NCAA"s Women's Final Four to the Crescent City.

Her sports industry career has encompassed work in various areas within the Saints organization, as well as the NFL’s League office. She has served in virtually every department within the club, working in concert to insure the club’s fiscal initiatives, business development, stadium viability and enhancement projects. Her past sports experience includes roles with the NFL in New York, the NFL Properties Publishing Group in Los Angeles and NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J.

LeBlanc is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Agribusiness – studying abroad for a semester in Italy focusing on international finance and art – and also received a certificate in International Business from the Lowry Mays School of Business.

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