This is the third in a series of five stories during National Women’s History Month 2015 about Junior League members who have made a very visible mark on their communities through their election as the first woman mayor of a major city.
Willie Landry Mount may be best known for her service to Louisiana through her elected positions however, her service to her community began much earlier and is still having a powerful influence with organizations such as the Junior League of Lake Charles, where she served as president in 1986-1987 and more recently as sustaining advisor.
When JLLC was profiled in The Jambalaya News in February 2011 on the occasion of their 75th anniversary, then-Senator Willie Mount said, “The Junior League provided an opportunity for me to develop and enhance my abilities and skills through training. I use my Junior League training each and every day, and I am immensely grateful for the mentoring and training I received in the League,” she added.
Born and raised in Lake Charles, Willie was awarded a BS degree in Business Administration from McNeese State University, after which she worked in real estate and owned a successful small business. She ran for mayor in 1993, with a promise to implement civic improvement and revitalize economic development. Willie was elected the first female mayor of Lake Charles and served in that capacity from 1993-1999. During her tenure, she managed a budget of over $70 million and 800 employees. She served as president of the Louisiana Conference of Mayors, and testified before Congress in support of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1999 which supports restoration efforts following hurricanes.
In 1999, Willie resigned as mayor after being elected to the Louisiana State Senate, becoming the first woman ever to represent Calcasieu Parish. In the senate her important work for the people of Louisiana continued. She chaired the Senate Committees on Coastal Restoration & Flood Control, Revenue & Fiscal Affairs, and Health & Education, and served as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Education.
While in office, Willie was known to sponsor legislation on health and public service. She supported bills that would identify sex offenders, create a childhood and family learning center, and develop a state-run database to provide information on the quality of healthcare providers. She was also responsible for the legislation that made water fluoridation mandatory in Louisiana. Owing to term limits, after serving three terms in the senate, she left office in 2012.
In addition to Willie’s strong commitment to JLLC, she has always been active in a variety of organizations including the Calcasieu Community Clinic Board of Directors, the Calcasieu Parish Library Foundation, McNeese State University Foundation Board of Directors, National Hurricane Museum & Science Center Board, and the Board of Trustees of Women & Children’s Hospital. She has received awards from numerous community organizations and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business in 2013. More recently, she was a 2014 recipient of a “Pinnacle Light of Hope” award from the Family & Youth Counseling Agency for her service to Children Advocacy Centers which assist Southwest Louisiana children alleged to have been sexually or severely physically abused.