New Orleans Names Sawaya GM/President

Michael J. Sawaya takes over Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

  • by VT Staff
  • Published: January 8, 2018

MichaelSawaya200x140.jpgMichael J. Sawaya.

Michael J. Sawaya has been named president and GM of New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and executive vice president of Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. He succeeds Robert L. “Bob” Johnson, who retired on Sept. 25 after 10 years of service.

Previously, Sawaya served as executive director of the Convention and Sports Facilities Department for the city of San Antonio. In that role, Sawaya oversaw operations of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, Alamodome, and asset management and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolfe Baseball Stadium, Toyota Field Soccer Stadium, and Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Sawaya’s career with the city of San Antonio began in 2003, when he was hired to merge the Convention Facilities and Alamodome departments. Most recently, he directed the $325 million expansion of the convention center— the largest single capital improvement project in the history of the city, and recently completed a $60 million renovation of the Alamodome. Sawaya served as interim aviation department director during 2008–09 before returning to his role as executive director.

Before joining the city of San Antonio, Sawaya served as GM of the Omni Severin Hotel, Indianapolis; the Omni San Antonio Hotel; and 11 other hotels around the country. He also served as chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, president of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association; as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council; and on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Sawaya holds a BBA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and is a Certified Hotel Administrator.

The authority has also contracted with JD Russell Consulting to review, evaluate and recommend best practices to improve the effectiveness of the convention center’s recently launched small and emerging business program. Other elements JD Russell will address include program and policy review, outreach, advertising, tracking, reporting, and community engagement.

  • by VT Staff
  • Published: January 8, 2018