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Photo of Kristin McLaren

Handling Crises,
Managing Money

Presenting before the Department of Commerce, Kristin McLaren, assistant executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, briefs department officials on the results of joint program between the two agencies that she managed.

Common Themes Shape a Diverse Career: Handling the Crisis, Managing the Money

Two themes reoccur throughout Kristin McLaren’s career of public service and private industry.

One is crisis management. The other is fiduciary responsibility. And often, they go hand-in-hand.

To hear her tell it: “The major roles I’ve had in the private and public sectors dealt with management of high-profile issues, many of which were of a crisis – either of a short-term or long-term nature.”

That’s especially true today in her job as assistant executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

  • In a crisis – such as the recent Hurricane Isaac – she knows how to gather and assess data to help leaders make informed decisions fast – when livelihoods are at stake.
  • With money – especially millions of dollars in BP grants – her careful tracking and spending of funds ensures fiduciary responsibility to benefit the seafood community.

Photo of Kristin McLaren

Before arriving at Louisiana Seafood, McLaren’s career moved from a FORTUNE 500 software company to a Chicago ad agency to the Louisiana legislature to work as a political consultant to becoming executive director of the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition.

Along the way, her ability to deal with crises of all kinds and manage money kept her in demand – from Chicago to St. Kitts in the West Indies, Roatán in Honduras, Australia, England and finally Louisiana.

As her work ended with the coastal coalition — formed with BP funds after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – she called Louisiana Seafood, asking executive director Ewell Smith, and Harlon Pearce, the board’s chairman, if they needed help with their $30 million in BP dollars.

Hired first as a contractor, McLaren became assistant executive director in November 2011. When Hurricane Isaac struck in 2012, it put 15 parishes in the disaster area and impacted more than 7,000 commercial fishermen – or 65 percent of Louisiana’s fishing industry.

Facts and figures are McLaren’s forte. So, she gathered data to build a relief case – from the number of fishing areas closed to vessels damaged to fishermen out of work. “One fisherman in each parish I talked to pretty much had their hand on the pulse of what’s going on there.”

She armed Smith and Pearce with information as they talked with congressional leaders, soliciting help to rebuild Louisiana’s fishing community damaged once again in recent years.

To be sure, McLaren isn’t shy when it matters. She says experience has taught her it’s essential to get your story out there to survive – and prosper – for those you represent.