(NEW ORLEANS) – The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority has named Michael J. Sawaya as president and general manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and executive vice president of the Authority.
Sawaya succeeds Robert L. “Bob” Johnson, who retired on September 25 after ten years of service.
“We could not be more pleased with the selection of Michael Sawaya to lead our Convention Center to its next level of success. He comes to New Orleans with a skill set and experiences that are the right fit at the right time. He recently led the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center through a major renovation, including the development of a convention headquarters hotel, that has shined a bright light on San Antonio as a major convention destination. The Authority had an impressive slate of candidates to choose from in a nationwide search. The Selection Committee and my fellow Commissioners were very diligent in making the right choice,” said Melvin Rodrigue, Authority president.
Sawaya, a 40-year veteran of the hospitality industry comes to New Orleans from San Antonio, TX, where he did a stint as Executive Director of the Convention and Sports Facilities (CSF) Department for the City of San Antonio.
While in San Antonio, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, Alamodome, as well as Asset Management and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolfe Baseball Stadium, Toyota Field Soccer Stadium, and the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Prior to his gig at the convention center, he was general manager at the Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis, IN, the Omni San Antonio Hotel, and 11 other hotels around the country.
He also served as Chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, President of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council, and on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.