LWC Executive Leadership
Ava Cates is Secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission. She was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in January 2016.
As Secretary, Cates 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.
Cates 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.
Cates 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.
Cates’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.
Cates 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. Cates 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.
Cates 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.
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 undersecretary, 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.
Rob Roux is Executive Counsel for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. In this role, he offers counsel to the agency’s secretary 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.
Office of Workforce Development
Office of Workers' Compensation Administration
Office of Unemployment Insurance Administration
Office of Occupational Information Services