BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Her last name is a Louisiana standard, "Richard." But Denella Ri'chard never heard her name pronounced correctly.
"I added the apostrophe because people outside of Louisiana do not know how to say my name," she explained.
Ri'chard will be in New York City March 16 to be honored as one of The Network Journal's 2018 Influential Black Women in Business. Ri'chard's international business reach comes in her role with the cruise line Holland America, a Carnival Cruise Company.
"I am Senior Director of Trade Communications and Engagement for Holland America Line," Ri'chard said. "My role is all about empowering our travel agents. Travel agents still account for the majority of business booked through cruise lines. My department is responsible for developing deep and broad relationships with travel agents and the trade through innovative technologies, trade communications, marketing, social media and training which contributes to agent's career professional development and empowers them to grow their cruise business. Additionally, I speak at a lot of industry conferences and I am endeared and am known for my motivational style of speaking."
Ri'chard can be proud of the path she took to reach this lofty height in business. She was bitten by the travel bug soon after graduating in 1995 from Southern University with a degree in broadcast journalism.
"My last year at Southern University, I studied abroad in Harare, Zimbabwe and loved it. From that experience, traveling the world remained in my heart and became my passion," Ri'chard remembers. "In 1999, I moved to Brussels, Belgium for three years to launch an online travel company called 'Leisureplanet.' Upon my return to The States I went to work for Hilton Worldwide Corporate (Memphis, TN) in Global Marketing where I launched the Hampton by Hilton brand in Canada, the United Kingdom and several other European countries."
Ri'chard says her Baton Rouge home life and her mother assured her education and made sacrifices to provide for her children.
"My mother is my inspiration!" she exclaimed. "At 36-years-old my father, Daniel J. Richard, died in a car accident one block from home on Harding Blvd. My mother immediately became a single mother of two kids. On a secretary's salary at Southern University she managed to still send my brother [Jamie Richard] and I to Catholic school [Redemptorist High] and to college at SU. She maintained our family home and she completed her degree from Southern University at 67-years-old in 2013. Her positive loving, motivating spirit keeps me going."
Ri'chard moved to treat her mom after mom scored a diploma. Denella took her mother on a cruise of the Adriatic and Greece. On return from that mother--daughter trip, opportunity came knocking.
"I met the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line and I was recruited to work in the cruise industry. Two years ago, I received an offer to work for Holland America Line a Carnival Corporation company. My Carnival Corporation CEO, Arnold Donald is from New Orleans. I guess you can say, these Louisiana folks like the cruise industry!"
Ri'chard's life is shared with a "significant other" in Florida, Federal Judge Donald Graham. Ri'chard says she accompanied him on a philanthropic tour of Kenya, as Graham volunteered with Lawyers Without Borders.
"On that trip we visited a Maasai village where I had the privilege of meeting a mid-wife who had the most beautiful loving spirit and smile. I wish I could have spent hours being in her presence."
South Louisiana can watch Ri'chard's star continue to rise. She will be profiled in the Spring 2018 issue of The Network Journal, and as she sits in a banquet with some of the top minds in business, you can be sure Ri'chard will use her gifted communication skills to expand her network of contacts and friends.