Almost from the moment he took office, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has used 2018 — the city’s 300th birthday and the year his second and final term in office will end — as a target date for the completion of plans both great and small.
When New Orleans turns three centuries old, he has said, it should be her residents who receive the gift of the city as they’ve imagined it could and should be.
Landrieu announced Monday that he has put together a commission to take on the task of making that goal a reality.
The 2018 Commission, a privately funded body, will coordinate with international, national and local partners to create programs, projects and celebrations throughout the city leading up to and during 2018, the Mayor’s Office said in a news release.
“As we approach 2018, we have the unique opportunity to thoughtfully set a course to a better city,” Landrieu said in a statement. “New Orleans is already on a roll — schools are improving, our economy is getting stronger, and murder is at a historic 30-year low. However, we still have work to do. I have enlisted the help of key leaders in our community to ensure that when we reach this 300-year milestone, New Orleans is the city we always wanted her to be.”
The commission will work in collaboration with other organizations to develop a comprehensive calendar of all events, conventions or programs related to the 300th anniversary, the administration said.
Landrieu and his wife, Cheryl, will serve as honorary co-chairs of the commission. Mark Romig, president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., will be the group’s director.
An executive committee, cast with a star-studded list of New Orleans natives, residents and enthusiasts, will advise the full commission. That committee’s members are musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle Benson; political analyst Donna Brazile; Saints quarterback Drew Brees; restaurateur Leah Chase; former Democratic strategist James Carville; actress Patricia Clarkson; musician and actor Harry Connick Jr.; retiring Xavier University President Norman Francis; former Saints player Steve Gleason; Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, hero of post-Katrina evacuation efforts; author and Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson; Saints co-owner Rita Benson LeBlanc; musician Wynton Marsalis; Republican political consultant Mary Matalin; and community leader Sybil Morial, the wife and mother of former mayors.
In addition to the executive committee, the commission will have eight committees, each focusing on a different area of the community.
The Finance Committee will be co-chaired by Warner Williams and Norma Jane Sabiston; the Cultural and Historical Education Committee by Lee Hampton and Priscilla Lawrence; the Community Engagement Committee by Jade Brown Russell and Curry Smith; the International Engagement Committee by Frances Fayard; the Media and Branding Committee by Leslie Jacobs and Michael Hecht; the Expat Engagement Committee by Deborah Elam and Tim Williamson; and the Signature Events and Hospitality Committee by Darryl Berger and Michael Smith.
The eighth committee, the Racial Reconciliation Committee, will be co-chaired by Flozell Daniels, Allison Plyer, Matt Wisdom and Carol Bebelle. It is tasked with creating forums for citizens to come together to talk about race relations in New Orleans with the goal of building a more inclusive city in 2018, the Mayor’s Office said.
The public is invited to visit www.2018nola.com to sign up to receive more information and updates on the activities.