Owner, New Orleans Saints & Pelicans
Gayle Benson provides leadership for the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. She succeeds her late husband, Tom Benson, who passed away on March 15, 2018, after serving as Owner of the Saints since 1985 and the Pelicans since 2012. The New Orleans native is an accomplished business professional and philanthropist with strong ties to the local community and is dedicated to contributing to the growth and enhancement of the Gulf South region.
Benson was born Gayle Marie LaJaunie, the daughter of Francis J. LaJaunie (January 5, 1924 – July 18, 2010), and Marie Folse LaJaunie (1924 – May 30, 2010). Benson grew up in Algiers, New Orleans, and attended St. Joseph, St. Anthony and Holy Name of Mary schools. She graduated from Martin Behrman High School in 1966.
Benson began her career in receptionist and secretarial positions while doing interior design before buying and renovating businesses. Due to her success with interior design, Benson continued an interior decorating business called Gayle Bird Interiors, Ltd. In the first ten years, Gayle and her then-husband Thomas Bird, renovated one hundred properties.
Community investment and giving back have been hallmarks of Mr. and Mrs. Benson’s ownership of the Saints and Pelicans. This tradition continues under Mrs. Benson’s stewardship, sharing her late husband’s vision and passion for helping others. She has further enriched the New Orleans community through her support to causes in the health and wellness, cancer care, education, arts and faith-based sectors.
As dedicated corporate citizens, the Saints and Pelicans annually put millions of dollars back into the community in financial support, in-kind donations, charitable appearances and donations of goods and services. Mrs. Benson’s philanthropic leadership has been recognized far and wide since becoming Owner.