Former New Iberia Mayor Hilda Daigre Curry will be the new chief executive officer for the Southern Mutual Help Association beginning Jan. 1.

SMHA, a nationally-recognized and award-winning not-for-profit community development corporation based in New Iberia, made the announcement at its 50th Anniversary celebration at Rip Van Winkle Gardens Thursday night.

Approximately 100 local residents, volunteers, SMHA board members from around the United States and nation and state organizations that have partnered with SMHA attended the event at Rip Van Winkle Gardens at Jefferson Island.

Co-founder and current Chief Executive Officer Lorna Bourg will transition to president of the corporation in 2020 as Curry, who served three terms as New Iberia’s mayor, assumes the role of CEO.

“I’ve known and worked with Hilda for the past 20 years, when she was Dean of Students at the community college where I served on the Advisory Board and when she was mayor, and really came to understand what a great ‘fit’ she is with Southern Mutual during the past three years as she’s worked with us on various initiatives in a contract capacity,” Bourg said in a prepared statement. “She is skilled, she is experienced, and she is the right person at the right time to work with me and our Board of Directors in positioning Southern Mutual Help Association for success for the next 50 years.”

“I am so honored to be chosen by the Southern Mutual Help Association Board as the next CEO,” Curry said. “I know I have very big shoes to fill as some truly remarkable women have come before me, but I am excited to work with the Board and staff on moving Southern Mutual Help forward into the next half-century while staying true to the organization’s mission, history and commitment to families and communities.”

IBERIABANK’s Taylor Barras, the former state Speaker of the House who recently ran unopposed for Iberia Parish Assessor, was the guest speaker at Thursday’s anniversary celebration and was introduced by state Sen. Fred Mills, a board member of SMHA. Before Mills took the microphone to roast Barras, he yielded the floor to Dixie Horning, who donated $50,000 from friends in California to continue the work SMHA has done.

IBERIABANK and Southern Mutual Help Association have worked together deploying capital and improving communities all over Louisiana over the past 25 years, the statement said.

The event was catered by Nash’s Restaurant with live music provided by Jeremy Benoit “JB Saax.”

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