Name: Clair Marceaux
Position: Director, Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District
Education: UL Lafayette, bachelor’s degree in English language and literature
Clair Marceaux’s degree in English literature may not have exactly prepared her for directing a major port system, but it took a nontraditional path for her career to come full circle. After studying British literature in the Graduate School of UL Lafayette and teaching English in Lafayette for a few years, the devastation of Hurricane Rita called her home to Cameron Parish. A job with FEMA led to her administering grant funds through the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, working with Entergy Louisiana and finally the Cameron Parish Port, where she was hired as director in May of 2016. “I do not believe I could have landed in economic development without each of the work experiences I have had,” she says.
— Erin Z. Bass
What led to your job as port director?
Cameron Parish is in the midst of tremendous development in areas like the export of liquefied natural gas and coastal restoration and protection. Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque offered me an opportunity to come to work for the Police Jury as director of economic development, which eventually allowed me to serve as port director.
You managed more than 11,000 FEMA temporary housing units after Hurricane Rita. What did you learn from that experience?
I learned that disaster management can be an overwhelming, complex and frustrating experience, but I met mentors, friends and allies who have changed my life and made me a better human being. I learned that even disaster can polish us, help us uncover our gifts and give us a chance to leave a positive mark on our community.
What is your typical workday like?
No two workdays are the same for me, but I often find myself working closely with my colleagues in agencies like the Coast Guard, at engineering firms, a variety of developers, landowners, local, regional, state, federal and global officials. I get to fly in helicopters, ride in boats, help people learn more about Cameron Parish and connect to the resources they need. I get to do what I love, which is help others every day.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
I would like to think I have not yet experienced my greatest professional accomplishment, but if I pick one thing I’ve done that may have had the greatest positive impact, it would be helping to build the SEED Center, where business connections are made in southwest Louisiana and companies like Waitr have been created and housed.
What has been the toughest challenge in your career?
I’d say my toughest challenge has been knowing when to stay in a job and when to move on. For me, realizing when I’ve done what I got hired to accomplish and deciding to move forward to my next job challenge, so I can grow, is not easy, but my career is a testament to the great rewards that come from doing what is uncomfortable and unexpected.
How would you characterize the state of Cameron Parish Port in today’s economy?
Our port is ripe, ready and poised to grow more rapidly than perhaps any public port authority in the world. We are becoming the clean energy capital of the world. Our nation’s energy independence is in large part due to the projects located right here in Cameron Parish.
What does it mean to you to be working and making a difference in your home parish?
I am humbled by this chance to do right by the people and place that raised me. I’m reminded by the lyrics in the theme song to the sitcom “Cheers” that says, “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” Well, for me, that’s true. I feel like I can make the greatest possible impact right here. I owe my very best effort to making the lives of Cameron Parish residents the best they can be. Our people are hard-working, fun loving, resilient, and with them is where I want to be.
Are you involved in the community?
I serve in the Cameron Parish Lions Club, plant dune grass with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, participate in 5K runs to benefit the preservation of our Sabine Pass Lighthouse, and I serve on the boards of Southwest Economic Development Alliance, Women’s Business Network, Propeller Club, Magnolia LNG’s Community Action Committee, Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association, Area Maritime Security Committee, Southwest Louisiana Community Foundation, Louisiana Energy Export Association and others like our regional planning commission.
What are your passions outside of work? Do you still read British literature?
My family is my greatest source of joy, and I love to run. I try to get in 12 miles a week. And yes, I still read and enjoy Jane Austen, George Elliot and the greats of British lit.