Ava Dejoie is executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. She was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in January 2016.
As executive director, Dejoie is responsible for providing the strategic vision to enhance the growth of Louisiana’s economy and its workforce, by putting people to work in fulfilling, family-sustaining careers. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and job-seekers and oversees worker compensation benefits. The LWC also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.
Dejoie has more than 15 years of leadership experience in public administration and is passionate about finding solutions that make Louisiana an outstanding place in which to live, work and grow a business.
Her focus on the public policy field took root when she served as an intern in the office of U.S. Sen. John Breaux, D-La.
Dejoie joined the LWC in 2012 and most recently was statewide coordinator of its Rapid Response Team. In this role, she directed resources to workers displaced by corporate layoffs, shut-downs and other job-reduction actions. She earlier served as director of LWC special projects in the New Orleans area, including supervising the Avondale Employee Transition Center.
Dejoie’s extensive background in Louisiana workforce development includes experience as a business liaison for the Louisiana Department of Education. In addition, she served as a board member of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System from 1998-2007.
Dejoie also served as vice president of the Welfare to Work Partnership, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in New Orleans that provides innovative workforce solutions for companies through the hiring, retention and promotion of welfare recipients and other unemployed workers. Dejoie supervised creation of the partnership’s law project, and was recognized for the accomplishment by President George W. Bush in ceremonies at the White House. While with the partnership, she also helped secure funding for a process technology laboratory at L.B. Landry High School in New Orleans.
Dejoie is a native of New Orleans and graduate of Ursuline Academy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and government from Loyola University of New Orleans.<Close>
Kenneth A. Burrell
Deputy Executive Director & Chief of Staff
Kenneth A. Burrell is a senior level professional with both government and private sector experience. As a government official he was responsible for operations and finance, and also oversaw disaster response and recovery. In the private sector Burrell secured and managed contracts in excess of $100 million. Mr. Burrell joined the LWC in January 2017 as Deputy Executive Director.
As Deputy Executive Director, his duties are defined by the executive director; currently duties include strategic planning and implementation as well as overseeing cross-cutting agency initiatives.
Kenneth Burrell’s civic engagement began with the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD). This included voter registration, GOTV for hundreds of candidates and officials on local, state and national elections. He was elected to the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee from 1986 to 2000 and the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee from 1996 to 2007. He is a member of the DNC and serves as Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Times-Picayune Doll & Toy Fund.
Burrell holds a bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of New Orleans.
Mr. Burrell is a native of New Orleans and is located at the LWC’s headquarters in Baton Rouge.<Close>
Chief Financial Officer
Office of Management and Finance
Bennett “Benny” Soulier has extensive experience in public administration both within and outside of the LWC. He joined the LWC’s predecessor, the state Department of Labor, in 2004 and served in several critical roles supervising workforce development, budget and finance, human resources and administrative services. Most recently he was the LWC’s deputy chief financial officer.
As chief financial officer, he oversees the LWC Office of Management and Finance, which includes human resources and other administrative services. Soulier holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and management from the University of Southwest Louisiana, the predecessor of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
A native of Lafayette, he is located at the LWC’s headquarters in Baton Rouge.<Close>
Office of Workforce Development
Shannon Brown Joseph is a dynamic and accomplished workforce development liaison with experience in federal and state funded programs. As director, Joseph oversees all workforce development programs of the LWC, including the statewide network of Business and Career Solutions Centers, business services, worker training, apprenticeship, veterans’ services, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, Rapid Response, labor programs and state administration of the Community Services Block Grant.
Prior to her appointment, Joseph served the LWC as the Industry Sector Coordinator where she successfully fostered a major partnership with Ochsner Health Systems, MA Now Program. This partnership has and will continue to provide medical training and employment opportunities for long-term unemployed citizens. She also developed partnerships with Delgado Community College which has ensured intensive services for eligible veterans and spouses, specifically veterans who are homeless, re-entry, disabled, low-income, recently discharged from the military and/or lacking a high school diploma. This partnership includes fulltime Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialists strategically placed on campus for student assistance.
Joseph received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing from Loyola University in New Orleans and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Business Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.<Close>
Office of Workers' Compensation Administration
Sheral C. Kellar has served at the Louisiana Workforce Commission (formerly the Louisiana Department of Labor) as a Workers’ Compensation Judge since 1991 and as Workers’ Compensation Chief Judge since May 1999. In July 2015, Judge Kellar was appointed to the new Louisiana State Bar Association’s Access to Justice Commission, co-chaired by the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. In March 2014, she was inducted as a fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. Since 2007 she has been a member of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judges and serves on its Board of Directors and its Curriculum Committee. She is also a member of Baton Rouge Bar Association and the Louisiana State Bar Association. In 2009 she was elected the recording secretary for the Louisiana Center for Civil Justice, a state-wide call center that facilitates the provision of pro-bono and low-fee civil legal assistance to Louisiana’s poorest citizens. Also, in 2009 Judge Kellar was appointed Chair of the Access to Justice’s Gap Assessment Sub-Committee, where she spearheaded an Economic Impact Study detailing the tremendous positive financial impact Louisiana’s legal services programs have on the state economy. From June 2004 to June 2008, she served as co-chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association Access to Justice Committee. In June 2007 she received the Louisiana State Bar Association President’s Award for her many contributions to the Bar Association and her exceptional service as Co-Chair of the Access to Justice Committee. She is a former member of the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, board member of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and at-large member of the Louisiana State Bar Association Board of Governors having been appointed in 2002 to a three year term. She is a former Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA volunteer). Judge Kellar speaks frequently on issues of workers’ compensation and professionalism. She received her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from Louisiana State University.<Close>
Renita Ward Williams
Office of Unemployment Insurance Administration
Renita Ward Williams serves as director of the Office of Unemployment Insurance Administration for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. In this role she oversees the delivery of unemployment insurance and related services to businesses and individuals throughout the state of Louisiana.
Williams joined the LWC in 2007. Prior to her appointment as UI director in March 2016, she served as chief of UI Support, responsible for the drafting of unemployment insurance legislation, policy and rules and for the oversight of quality control, benefits payment control and the UI technical support units. During her tenure at the LWC, she has held the positions of benefits specialist, administrative law judge and managing administrative law judge of the Louisiana Board of Review.
Williams has extensive experience in employment law research, ethics law and policy drafting. Her background includes work as a legal researcher for an employment law firm, an investigator for the Louisiana Ethics Board and as executive assistant to the senior vice president of finance and administration of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
A native of Natchitoches, La., Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University and a juris doctor degree from the Southern University School of Law. She has completed coursework toward a master of public administration degree. Williams has been a certified mediator since 2008, receiving certification through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.<Close>
Rob Roux is executive counsel for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. In this role, he offers counsel to the agency’s executive director on a variety of legal issues.
Roux has been the agency’s lead attorney in workforce development issues for more than 25 years. He was instrumental in Louisiana’s enactment of federal job training programs, including the Job Training Partnership Act, the Workforce Investment Act and, most recently, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In addition, he has participated in crafting administrative regulations and workforce-related legislation at the state level.
Roux is a New Orleans native and graduate of Jesuit High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University and a juris doctor degree from the LSU Law School. Before joining the LWC, he served as a public defender and practiced insurance defense law. He also has been an instructor on legal issues in human resource management at LSU’s E.J. Ourso School of Business.
Roux is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Baton Rouge Bar Association and is active in community volunteer projects. He is based at the agency’s headquarters campus in Baton Rouge.<Close>