The Board of Directors of the National Waterways Conference elected Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary P. LaGrange as the group’s new chairman.

LaGrange accepted the new role during the NWC’s 2007 Annual Meeting in Mobile, AL, which was held Nov. 7-9.

‘I am truly honored to serve this distinguished group of professionals, all of whom work hard each day to promote the importance and economic value of America’s vast waterways,’ LaGrange said. ‘More than $750 billion of our nation’s GDP comes from commerce in our nation’s maritime sector and we must strive to secure the investment we deserve.’

During a luncheon speech at the annual meeting, LaGrange announced the US Senate’s override of the Presidential veto of the Water Resources Development Act to an ecstatic audience.

‘Most of the individuals in attendance were key players in the effort to pass our nation’s first Water Resources Development Act in nearly eight years,’ LaGrange said. ‘This group has worked tirelessly to reach members of Congress to secure the votes necessary to override the President’s veto.’

LaGrange’s commitment to the maritime industry is reflected in the numerous leadership posts he’s held at every level. He most recently served as chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities, an alliance of 350 ports in the Western Hemisphere. He also serves on the boards of the Gulf Ports Association of the Americas, Waterways Council, Inc., and is past chairman and past president of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association. LaGrange, who previously led the Port of West St. Mary (La.), Port of South Louisiana, and the Port of Gulfport (Miss.), was named ‘Man of Steel’ in 2006 by the American Institute of International Steel and received the Leadership Award for Post Katrina by the International Maritime Association Hall of Fame at the United Nations in New York.

As NWC chairman, LaGrange succeeds Scott Robinson, director of the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, who held the post since 2005.

Based in Arlington, VA, NWC is an advocacy group dedicated to a greater understanding of the widespread public benefits of the American Waterway System. The 192-member organization, serves as the secretariat for the National Waterways Alliance, a coalition of trade and regional associations, cooperatives, businesses, industries, ports, waterways services and labor organizations that have an interest in national waterways policy issues.