A key adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon take over as head of the LSU Foundation, the university’s main fundraising arm.
Stephen Moret, who has served as Louisiana Economic Development secretary since 2008, will leave LED to become the LSU Foundation’s president and CEO in May, the private LSU group’s board of directors announced Monday.
“Stephen brings many years of diverse leadership experience to the position, and he will be key in helping us enhance LSU’s fundraising efforts,” said LSU Foundation board Chairman T. Cass Gaiennie, of Shreveport.
Moret told The Advocate he’s still finalizing the details of his departure from Jindal’s economic development team.
“I need to wrap up and transition some projects at LED, as well as schedule some badly needed downtime with my family,” he said. “I have loved my work at LED more than anything I have done in my professional career. This is a very tough job to leave. At the same time, I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities in front of us at LSU.”
G. Lee Griffin has served as president and CEO of the LSU Foundation since 2011. He announced last year that he planned to retire, pending a successful search for a successor.
Meanwhile, Jindal is expected to name a new economic development secretary in the coming weeks. This is Jindal’s final year in office, so the announcement of Moret’s departure wasn’t unexpected and it’s possible the next person to lead LED will be temporarily in the role until a new governor takes office.
Moret, an LSU graduate and former student body president, previously served as president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. He joined the Jindal administration shortly after the governor took office in January 2008.
In that role, Moret has been one of the governor’s closest advisers, leading Jindal’s much-touted economic development efforts. Moret recently traveled to Europe with Jindal for a trade mission. Last year, they traveled to Asia for a similar overseas business-wooing trip. Based on the department’s estimates, the agency has since 2008 secured projects that will lead to 91,000 new jobs and $62 billion in capital investment. Meanwhile, two high-profile setbacks have included energy giant Sasol’s decision to delay its $14 billion gas-to-liquids plant in the Lake Charles area and Shell’s decision to scrap plans for a $12.5 billion plant in Ascension Parish.
Business leaders and others on Monday praised Moret’s hire as an opportunity to build on his ties to the business community.
“Stephen and his team at LED have collaboratively and systematically worked to improve the image of Louisiana in the minds of business executives nationwide — and they have succeeded,” Jindal said in a statement to The Advocate. “Under his leadership, LED has become one of the most respected state economic development agencies in America. We have been able to attract a wide variety of high-quality economic development projects, many of which would have seemed like remote possibilities only a few years ago; we now have one of the finest workforce training programs in the nation; and all of our state’s business climate rankings are now higher than they ever were prior to 2008. I am very proud of the great job he has done for Louisiana, and I wish him the best.”
Moret had similarly high praise for Jindal.
“I am deeply grateful to Gov. Jindal for having given me an opportunity to serve in this capacity and for his commitment to economic development,” Moret said. “As proud as I am of what we all have accomplished together over the last seven years, I am most excited about what is possible for the future of our state.”
A former assistant to LSU Chancellor Bill Jenkins, Moret’s name was floated as a possible new LSU president two years ago. The LSU Board of Supervisors ultimately hired F. King Alexander to the LSU president and chancellor position. The school has never revealed who else applied for the job, despite legal challenges from The Advocate and other outlets.
The LSU Foundation raised about $32 million in donations and grants in 2012, based on its 2013 IRS filings.
Alexander has in recent months repeatedly expressed the need for LSU to ramp up its fundraising efforts.
LSU had discussed creating a new vice president position to oversee the university’s fundraising efforts on a systemwide level.
The three biggest LSU advocacy groups — the LSU Foundation, Tiger Athletic Foundation and the Alumni Association — operate as nonprofits separate from the university, an arrangement that allows them a layer of protection from operating as public entities. The new foundation CEO/LSU System vice president job was initially floated as a position that would serve as a direct liaison to the foundations and other outside groups. Moret’s new job was similarly described but without the vice president title.