BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie announced today the appointments of Cathy Wells as LWC deputy executive director and chief of staff, Sheral Kellar as director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration and Bennett Soulier as chief financial officer.
Wells most recently served as a senior staffer for the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Committee and is recognized by legislators, colleagues and industry experts as a leader in shaping policy and crafting legislation. A consensus builder, Wells joins the LWC team with nearly 25 years of legislative experience in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the state Senate.
“Cathy Wells will be a true asset to the Louisiana Workforce Commission,” said state Senator J.P. Morrell. “Beyond her incredible work ethic, years of valuable experience and earned respect from her colleagues in state government, Cathy welcomes every challenge with integrity and passion. It is this integrity and passion that the citizens of Louisiana need in their public servants and she will no doubt meet the need. I look forward to continuing to work with her for the betterment of Louisiana,” Morrell said.
LWC Executive Director Dejoie said Wells has excelled at multiple levels of government relations. “Cathy brings to LWC an unparalleled depth of experience working with key statewide stakeholders and local authorities that will be invaluable,” Dejoie said.
“Having served on the Companion Animal Alliance Board with Cathy, I can certainly attest to her ability to combine her strategic vision with an unparalleled work ethic,” said Cristel Slaughter of SSA Consultants. “Her leadership and excellent understanding of fiscal and legal matters has positively impacted the quality of life in our community and I look forward to her having an even greater impact throughout our state.”
Kellar, a licensed attorney with more than 25 years of experience in labor, employment and workers’ compensation law and most recently the Workers’ Compensation chief judge, will oversee the adjudication of claims under Louisiana’s workers’ compensation laws and related matters. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors and the Curriculum Committee of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. In July 2015, Louisiana Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson appointed Kellar to the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Access to Justice Commission.
Said Dejoie, “Sheral is an active and respected member of the legal community with a proven commitment to Louisiana’s businesses and workers. Her extensive knowledge and experience in the workers’ compensation system will be critical in leading reforms to provide Louisiana citizens the best and most efficient care they need to get back to work.”
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.
“Benny Soulier brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position having a successful track record of streamlining LWC operations and focusing the agency on metrics and key performance measures as a guidepost to new initiatives and reforms,” said Executive Director Dejoie.
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.
Dejoie also announced that Bryan Moore and Dayne Freeman will remain with the agency in their current roles as director of the Office of Workforce Development and director of the Office of Unemployment Insurance Administration, respectively.
“I’m honored to work with this diverse, talented and experienced group of public servants,” Dejoie said. “With a meaningful breadth of knowledge from inside the agency and new perspectives from outside, we’re well positioned to move Louisiana’s businesses and people forward.”
About the Louisiana Workforce Commission
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is an agency of state government that administers programs designed to enhance workforce growth and provide family-sustaining jobs for Louisiana residents. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and employees and oversees worker compensation benefits. The agency also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.
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