Chamber Announces New President

Laura2The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce announces Laura Terrell Lyles as its new President. Lyles will be responsible for leading and building upon all existing Chamber events, enhancing and building membership, and spearheading several new Chamber initiatives that will bring positive change to the Natchitoches area and its business landscape.

Being a Natchitoches native, Lyles is passionate about her hometown. She is a proud product of the Natchitoches Parish public school system and graduate of Northwestern State University, where she earned a BS in Hospitality, Management & Tourism with a minor in English. Lyles earned her MBA from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

Lyles has worked in the hospitality industry planning events in New Orleans and in Oklahoma City. She then spent 7 years working as Manager of Special Projects for an Engineering consulting firm for the US Air Force. She was integral to the evolution and growth of the company through personnel management, bookkeeping, sales forecasting, project planning, website design, and graphic design.

In 2015, Lyles together with husband, Chris, and two sons, Carson and Cooper, returned home to Natchitoches. She managed marketing and sales for her family’s business, Terrell Brothers Furniture, before settling in at Exchange Bank as a loan officer and branch manager. Lyles stated, “As hard as it was to leave my Exchange Bank family, I feel like this is the right move for me and my family. I’m excited to see what we as a business community can accomplish together.”

Lyles has been active with the Chamber since 2016, when she joined the Natchitoches Young Professionals (NYP) and became a Chamber Ambassador. In 2018, Lyles was elected Ambassador Chair, and was nominated as a Member at Large on the Chamber Board of Directors. During her year as Ambassador Chair, Lyles restructured the program to include a Vice Chair as well as Committee Chairmen, which was vitally important during the transition year the Chamber has had in 2018. She received the NYP 4 Under 40 Award at the Chamber’s 99th Award Ceremony in 2018. In her short time on the Board of Directors, Lyles joined the Education Committee and created and implemented the A+ Coalition, a collaborative effort to advance education in Natchitoches Parish.

For the Chamber Executive Committee, the decision to hire Lyles was an easy one. Past-Chairman Kirk Soileau said, “She’s been interviewing for this job for two years.” Chairman Ryan Todtenbier expressed a similar sentiment when stating, “I’m very excited to have Laura as our next President and look forward to seeing her live out the many ideas she has to move Natchitoches and the business community forward.”

The Chamber is well known for its ribbon cuttings, professional development, and networking luncheons, but it is also focused on doing what is possible today to prepare Natchitoches for success 5, 10 and 15 years down the road. The A+ Coalition is a prime example of that forward thinking, bringing key players including the School Board, the Natchitoches Community Alliance, and NSU, just to name a few, together to the table to discuss collaborative ways they can advance education in Natchitoches Parish. “There are some exciting initiatives on the forefront,” stated Lyles, “and it’s encouraging to see a community get excited and actively seek ways to get involved in what we’re doing.”

For more information about the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, visit

6 thoughts on “Chamber Announces New President

  1. The Chamber is a PRIVATE organization and serves for the best interest of its members….it’s PAYING membership. They can do whatever it wants. So, they can just name a new president, provided that paying membership is okay with it.

  2. Congratulations on selecting the new Chamber President. I perceive the manner in which this process was handled left much to be desired as it pertains to executive professionalism of the council. As a professional, I am fully capable of handling the truth. I did not receive the truth from the council members during the interview or even during the initial call because the pitch was made that the council wanted to change directions with the position. It is clear the council had already made the decision and the interview process was a check in the block for legal formality. I am not alone in this experience and it undermines the integrity of the council.

    I hope results are achieved for the betterment of our community. Legally, there was an implied contract regarding this position being an office manager position rather than the Chamber President. Based on those changes, if they were factual, an entire interview process would have had to be re-conducted for the President position.

    More than anything I am disappointed with the compromise of integrity and lack of professionalism. To lie during the interview process in hopes that candidates would lose interest in the position really sends an adverse message about how the entity responsible for promoting and developing commercial and industrial opportunities conducts business.

    Mrs. Lyles, I sincerely wish you the best and hope you can take the Chamber to new levels with sound vision. I pray you have a long tenure for the continuity we need as a community when it comes to your position. May you be blessed and I look forward to seeing you achieve the results we need for our community.

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