NEW ORLEANS (December 21, 2007) – The Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors, 22 community volunteers, visited seven citiesto build relationships in business, governmental and philanthropic communities in 2007.
The initiative generated media coverage and public awareness of New Orleans’ recovery and economic and cultural significance. Tulane University President Scott Cowen and New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow envisioned and launched the Fleur-de-lis Ambassador Program in March. They solicited participation from the city’s business, education, political and community activist community.
“We created this program to counter many of the misperceptions that we were seeing in the national media and hearing around the country,” Cowen said. “While some misperceptions remain, I feel strongly that our message that the New Orleans’ recovery is well under way and has spawned a new era of citizen activism and ‘democracy in action’ is making a positive impact.”
Fielkow agreed and said each ambassador’s commitment to New Orleans and its recovery was responsible for the program’s success. “We successfully secured editorial board meetings with, and coverage by, many of the most respected and influential media in the country, in addition to meeting with many key governmental, business, and philanthropic leaders,” Fielkow said. “The simple fact that so many significant organizations spent their valuable time meeting with us and learning more about our ongoing recovery shows just how compelling our message is and that our fellow Americans support our efforts.”
NBC Nightly news anchor Brian Williams met with the group in New York in October after he had made 14 trips to New Orleans since the storm to report news.
"The ambassadors represent a cause greater than themselves – a great American city,” Williams said. “They all have a stake in New Orleans, as do all Americans. I met with them when they were in New York because we owe it to them to hear their vital message, and to help."
The Ambassadors visited New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and Birmingham, Ala. They made recovery presentations before the Aspen Institute and the National League of Cities, too.
The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg TV, CNN Headline News, NPR’s “Diane Rehm” show, Boston Globe, Fortune magazine, The Economist magazine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, The Rockefeller and the Wallace foundations, all helped the program with coverage and audiences.
Cowen said the Ambassador Program will have a new incarnation in 2008, including a fresh class of ambassadors and a new slate of markets to visit. Details will be announced after Mardi Gras.
“This has been a very encouraging year in which our city has reached numerous milestones, and we have many great stories to tell that should help keep our recovery front and center before the rest of the country,” Cowen said. “This year’s Ambassadors were tremendous in representing the city, and Arnie and I want to thank them for their leadership and service to New Orleans.”
Funding for the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors Program is being provided by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the New Orleans Business Council, Tulane University, and Bill Goldring, Republic Beverage. In-kind support was also provided by ExpressJet. The program is named after the fleur-de-lis, a stylized representation of an iris with three petals tied by a band, which has become an enduring symbols of the city of New Orleans.