The Daily Iberian’s 2020 Citizen of the Year was honored Thursday afternoon with an open house and reception at the newspaper’s office on Main Street, with dozens of community leaders attending the event.

Paul Schexnayder was presented with a framed plaque of his Citizen of the Year announcement at the reception, where friends, family and past Citizens of the Year were in attendance to congratulate Schexnayder on his accomplishment.

Daily Iberian Publisher Shanna Dickens said the Citizen of the Year honor has been presented every year since 1993 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.

“It was a way for the paper to celebrate the people in our community who were champions for change and betterment,” Dickens said. “During that time we have honored some of our community’s most distinguished leaders.”

Past Citizens of the Year include Larry Hensgens in 2019, Erroll Babineaux in 2018, Ray Escuriex in 2017, Donald “Doc” Voorhies in 2016, the Berry Queens in 2015, Dave Feldman in 2014, the New Iberia City Park Playground Enhancement Project in 2013, Phanat Xanamane in 2012, Cathy Indest in 2011, Zachary P. Mitchell Sr. in 2010, Bernice “Chic” Borel in 2009, Jeff Jolet in 2008 and the late Brudley Kibodeaux in 2007.

Schexnayder, a local artist and community activist who has served on numerous civic and cultural boards, was selected for his tireless work in the community.

“From his art to his community projects, it’s all about celebration and preservation,” Dickens said about Schexnayder. “Everything from the boards that he has founded, chaired, co-founded or co-chaired, to the murals he is splattering around the city, he certainly makes New Iberia a much more colorful place to live.”

Schexnayder thanked those in attendance for being present for the reception, as well as the family, friends, volunteers and local residents who have helped him during his years of service to the community.

“Thank you for listening and helping my crazy ideas happen,” Shexnayder said. “We are what we make and we make New Iberia better together.”

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