Creole Heritage Center director named one of “North Louisiana’s finest”

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Loletta Wynder

Loletta Jones Wynder, director of the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University, was among the recent recipients of the “North Louisiana’s Finest” Award presented by the Chatham Community Support Group.

The award presentation was part of the organization’s annual fundraiser, entitled “Louisiana Spectacular Seafood Extravaganza.”

Family Doctors

The Chatham Community Support Group is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide state of the art services designed to enhance the quality of life for families living in the rural areas of Jackson Parish and North Louisiana.

Wynder joined the staff of the Creole Heritage Center as project coordinator in 2003.  Her job duties included coordinating conferences, meetings and workshops as well as balancing the budget; processing paperwork for funding for NSU, the Cane River National Heritage Area and other granting agencies and maintaining the records for CHC memberships, donations and pledges.

Wynder planned and presented conferences across Louisiana and in California, Chicago and Las Vegas on such topics as Creole culture, language, music and foodways. She did outreach in Alabama, California, Illinois, and Texas and connected with the international Creole community through the International Magazine, Kreol.

In 2005, Wynder coordinated a project with Gilbert D. Fletcher, an artist originally from New Orleans, to document on canvas his version of the Cane River Creole Legacy. The collection of 20 oil paintings were displayed at the McKenna Museum of Art in New Orleans where they were initially unveiled and around the state While on display there, Wynder had to rescue the paintings from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, when it was thought that they had been destroyed.

She became the Center’s director in 2017. Under Wynder’s leadership the Creole Heritage Center celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. About 350 people attended the celebration which was themed “Struggles and Persistence: But Still We Rise.” Wynder was able to secure Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Russel Honore’ as the banquet guest speaker.

In 2019, Wynder spearheaded a campaign and authored a resolution to posthumously recognize Natchitoches Parish artist Clementine Hunter. Thanks to the support of State Rep. Kenny Cox, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed the concurrent resolution, designating October 1 as Clementine Hunter Day in the state of Louisiana.

In September, Wynder coordinated the 21st annual CHC celebration. The theme for the event was “Let Your Legacy Live on: Faith, Family, Fitness, Food, and Fun.”  Following a successful sponsorship campaign drive, she secured Emmy Award Winning Actor Robert Richard as the special guest ambassador for this event.

Wynder has worked tirelessly to document and present Creole culture in all of its diversities. Because of her contributions to the Creole community, she was inducted into the Kreole Hall of Fame in 2018 after being nominated by Grammy nominee Sean Ardoin.

Wynder is a native of Natchitoches who grew up on Cane River. She is married to Larry Wynder Sr. and has two daughters, Ramona and Tamika, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.