Larry Payne grew up in north Louisiana before enjoying a majorly successful career in the energy industry, but it was the years he spent as a student at Grambling State University that made one of the biggest impacts on his life.
Now a retired 38-year career in the energy industry, Payne is still making an impact as CEO of LESA & Associates, LLC, a private Energy Consulting Company.
But Payne might have made an even bigger impact at Grambling State University in recent years, including a $10,000 donation made earlier this month to his college alma mater. Payne’s story of philanthropy at Grambling State has been years in the making.
Born in Ruston, Payne’s family moved 20 miles north to Farmerville when he was starting seventh grade and he ended up graduating high school there at Eastside High School. After a year-and-a-half detour to Baton Rouge and Southern University, Payne transferred back home to GSU, where he graduated with a business degree in 1969. He also met his wife, Dr. Eleanor Collins Payne of Jonesville when they were both students at GSU.
After graduating college, Payne was drafted into the Army and later was sent to Vietnam, returning home to the States in 1970 with another year-and-a-half of service left to do. He completed his service at Fort Dix in New Jersey before moving to Houston and beginning a job in the energy industry in 1972.
During his career, much of which was spent in Houston with stints in Denver and then Tulsa, where he and his wife now live, Payne held various executive positions such as COO, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and Vice President for companies such as SemStream LP, Williams Midstream Marketing and Risk Management, Texaco NGLs, Enterprise, Aux Sable Liquids, and Ferrell North America.
At LESA, Payne has continued working on various projects for private clients such as Magnum Development, a portfolio company of Haddington Ventures, LLC; and Caliche Development Partners, a portfolio company of Energy Spectrum Capital. Both of those projects involved midstream start-ups and at Magnum, Payne served as interim CEO of Magnum Natural Gas Liquids through that company’s financing and the CEO search.
Currently, Payne is a member of the board of Unit Corporation, where he is a member of the audit, nominating, and governance committees, and the advisory board of Haddington Ventures. He also served on the board of Buckeye Partners GP from 2014 until its sale on Nov. 1, 2019.
In 2017, Payne decided it was time to give back to Grambling State, and he started by making a $50 donation to the university. He followed that up with donations of $10,000 in 2018, 2019, and 2021 before making his most recent $10,000 donation to the university earlier this month.
“Some of the earlier donations I know went to the Gap Scholarship Fund, but I’m not worried about what the money goes toward as long as it can help the university I love,” Payne said. “Being a GSU graduate means a lot to me, and my wife, too, and at this point in our lives just being able to do that and make an impact there is something we want to do. I’ve been blessed and that’s where we got our start. Grambling [State] provided the foundation for us, and we want to help make sure that foundation stays strong into the future.”