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 natchitocheschamber.com.