Retirement of Wayne Leonardby Former Senator Mary L. Landrieu
Posted on 2013-02-28
LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I rise today to honor Wayne Leonard, who
served as Entergy's chief executive officer from 1999 and chairman/CEO
from 2006 until January 2013. Over the course of those years, his
visionary leadership as Entergy's top executive also encompassed
impassioned advocacy for issues such as climate change, poverty and
social justice. To a great extent, his compassion for people from all
walks of life and his desire to protect the environment for future
generations came to define his tenure at Entergy.
When Leonard was named CEO in 1999, he began calling for action by business, community, and political leaders to break the cycle of poverty that has stunted economic growth in the mid-South region for generations. Since that time, Entergy has donated more than $50 million to charitable initiatives and advocacy efforts that successfully helped move low-income residents toward self-sufficiency. Among them were campaigns to improve early childhood education programs and financial support of a matched-savings program that has helped 19,000 people and created an economic impact of $69 million over the last decade.
Leonard pioneered the pursuit of sustainability within his industry. Early on, he recognized the importance to the industry's future of operating in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner. His achievements include a number of landmarks that set the standard and shaped the future for the energy industry. Under his leadership, in 2001 Entergy became the first utility in the United States to commit to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, work force safety, customer satisfaction, and strong regulatory relationships were always top priorities for Leonard. Entergy has delivered top-quartile shareholder return--the overarching financial goal Leonard set for the company--since he was announced as CEO in 1998.
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Leonard led the restoration not just of a company but also a city and its surrounding region. Entergy and its charitable foundation donated more than $20 million to nonprofits working to rebuild the physical, intellectual, and cultural assets of New Orleans. When Katrina's damages prompted Entergy to consider relocating its corporate headquarters, Leonard lobbied to keep Entergy in New Orleans and take a lead role in the city's revitalization and renewal.
Leonard has personally received numerous national honors in recognition of his outstanding leadership, including Platts Global Energy CEO of the Year, the Anti-Defamation League Torch of Liberty Award, and the National Wildlife Federation Achievement Award. During his tenure, Entergy was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years for demonstrating strong financial performance and outstanding leadership in environmental and social commitment.
Leonard's passionate commitment to building a strong, sustainable company, community, and energy industry never wavered in 14 years. In honor of his legacy, Entergy endowed a $5 million charitable fund upon his retirement to continue his work on climate change, poverty, and social justice issues. The fund is being endowed through shareholder- funded donations to the Entergy Charitable Foundation, with Leonard serving as an adviser.
While I will miss working with Wayne to improve both New Orleans and Louisiana, I applaud the work he has done to leave my city and my State stronger, healthier, and on the path to a brighter future.