According to Act 743 of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session, the council is comprised of members from stakeholder groups, which are business and industry, organized labor, state and local government and community organizations. The members must be owners, chief executive officers (CEOs), chief operating officers (COOs) or other high-ranking officials.
Bruce Busada <More info>
Bruce Busada serves as the President of Ayers Institute as well as Diesel Driving Academy.
As a founding member of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association and the Commercial Driver Training Foundation, Bruce is committed to educating Louisiana residents for the needed work in the fields of transportation and logistics. Bruce has also served as a member of the Board of Louisiana Association of Private Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Motor Transportation Association, Career Education Colleges and Universities, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance Commission, Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority, Shreveport Jaycees, Ark-La-Tex Ambassadors, Inc., Better Business Bureau, and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
David St. Etienne <More info>
David St. Etienne is the President and CEO of Ultimate Technical Solutions, Inc. At UTSI, Mr. St. Etienne provides overall management to the organization as well as providing strategic planning, budgeting, sales forecasting and overall operations and leadership.
In addition to his nearly 40 years of Executive Management and leadership of UTSI, David also completed multiple programs of study at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire after majoring in Industrial Engineering studies at Delgado and working as an Industrial engineer at the beginning of his career.
Mr. St.Etienne is currently a member of the Jefferson Workforce Development Board an Chairman of the Black Chamber of Commerce New Orleans. He is a past Board Member of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Minority Business Council, and Board of St. Georges Episcopal School. He also serves the Jefferson Business Council, Young Leadership Council and the Light House of the Blind.
Gov. John Bel Edwards <More info>
The governor grew up in Amite, Louisiana as one of eight children. With four Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs in his lineage, he learned the importance of public service at an early age.
Governor Edwards graduated in 1988 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The governor served eight years as an Airborne Ranger on active duty with the United States Army and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He went on to graduate Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University Law Center and set up a civil law practice in his home town of Amite.
In 2008, he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 72, where he served for eight years until the voters of Louisiana elected him governor in November 2015.
Governor Edwards and his wife, First Lady Donna Edwards, have three children: Samantha Bel, Sarah Ellen, and John Miller.
Ava Cates <More info>
Secretary, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Ex-Officio
The Secretary 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.
Cates joined the LWC in 2012 and most recently was statewide coordinator of its Rapid Response Team. 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, Vice President of the Welfare to Work Partnership, 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.
Joseph Ardoin <More info>
Joseph T-Boy Ardoin has served the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America for the past 15 years. Before joining the national Brotherhood, T-Boy served the Local 1098 of the Carpenters and Joiners. For the local he worked 16 years as the Business Agent.
T-Boy has not only worked in the trenches of the battles for fair wages and safe working conditions for the people of Louisiana but also during that time pursued advanced education through the George Meany Labor Law Center.
Mr. Ardoin did all this after having worked in the construction sector in early adulthood.
Paul J. Arrigo, CDME <More info>
Paul Arrigo assumed the role of President & CEO with Visit Baton Rouge in August, 2002. Prior to that time, he served as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Arrigo is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has over 46 years of experience in hospitality marketing. Previously, Arrigo was Director of Sales Operations, Eastern Region for the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. He opened and operated the Washington, D.C. office of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau for nine years. Arrigo is co-founder of the Washington D.C. – Mid Atlantic Chapter of University of New Orleans Alumni Association and is a member of Delta Sigma Pi Professional Commerce Fraternity and Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Arrigo was inducted into the American Italian Cultural Center’s Hall of Fame in 2020 honored with the Joseph I. Giarrusso Civic Award. Paul and his wife Melanie reside in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with their daughter Lauren. Arrigo received his B.S. in Marketing from the University of New Orleans in 1974. He received his C.D.M.E. (Certified Destination Marketing Executive, the only certification offered by Destination Marketing Association International) in 1999. Arrigo was the recipient of the Sales & Marketing Executives 2009 Marketer of the Year Award.<Close>
Valeria Aymond <More info>
Valerie Aymond is the CRO (Chief Resource Officer) for Gilchrist Construction Company, a Louisiana based heavy highway contractor. Her oversight includes the company’s resource divisions, including Human Resources, Information Technology, Organizational Development, Safety & Risk Management, Transportation, and Equipment.
Val has served on the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since 2013, and chaired Chamber Board in 2016. She is active in the Central Louisiana economic development community and serves as a board member and also on the Executive Committee for (CLEDA) Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. Val is also a board member for the Rapides Workforce Investment Board and the Rapides Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors. She is a member of the Central Louisiana Technical and Community College Institutional Advisory Committee and the Alexandria Downtown Rotary Club.
Melissa Bayham <More info>
Melissa Bayham is the Rehabilitation Services Director for Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), an Office of Workforce Development unit at the Louisiana Workforce Commission. She graduated from Louisiana State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, and she also earned a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of North Texas in 2007. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and has over fifteen years of experience in public vocational rehabilitation.<Close>
Keith Brand <More info>
Governor Appointed, Organized Labor Representative
Keith Brand is an electrical apprenticeship instructor at the Louisiana Technical College. He recently retired as the Training Director for the Baton Rouge Area Electrical JATC. He has been a certified Journeyman Inside Wireman for over 40 years. Keith has served as a member and officer or board member for the Louisiana State Apprenticeship Council, the Apprenticeship and Training Administrators’ Association of Louisiana, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 995, the Louisiana AFL-CIO, the Baton Rouge Area Building and Trades Construction Council, the National Electrical Training Directors’ Association, Louisiana’s Statewide Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, and the WIC in some capacity since 2008 either as a member or advisor.<Close>
Dr. Cade Brumley <More info>
Ex-Officio, State Superintendent
Representative Barbara Carpenter <More info>
Speaker of House Appointed
Conrad Carriere <More info>
Conrad Carriere has 35 years of experience in Operations Management from various industries. He has 20 years of experience as a business owner and operator, 18 years of experience working in asset reliability and strategic performance optimization in the Electric, Petro-Chemical and Nuclear industries, 13 years of experience as coach, mentor, and park operator in the New Orleans Recreation Department and Orleans Parish High Schools, 4 years of experience as Parish Council President, teacher, and mentor in an Orleans Parish Church and 8 years as a member of the Knights of Columbus Troop #3343 – (Secretary for 24 months). Mr. Carriere has worked with the construction, information and technology, chemical, retail, and service sectors of business and industry giving him a wealth of knowledge to lend to his already considerable public service work.<Close>
Jason E. Cobb <More info>
Jason has over twenty-eight years of experience in healthcare with twenty-three of those years in the state of Louisiana. In 2013, Jason joined Rapides Regional Medical Center and Rapides Healthcare System as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Prior to joining RRMC, Jason held positions as CEO of Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington, Louisiana; Chief Operating Officer at West Houston Medical Center in Houston, Texas; Vice President of Operations at Tulane University Hospital and Clinic in New Orleans; Vice President & Administrator at Willis-Knighton Health System and Willis-Knighton Pierremont Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana; and Administrative Internships at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, and Christian Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.
Throughout his career, Jason has actively participated in many organizations to support business, healthcare, and community. Currently, he is Vice Chair of the Louisiana Hospital Association and Chair of Louisiana Central. He serves on the LSUA Foundation Board and Louisiana College Board of Visitors. He is also on the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council. He has served as Chair of the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the local American Heart Association.
Jason holds a Masters of Health Administration from Washington University School of Medicine and a Masters of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. He attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas. He has also completed four programs on “Strategy” at Harvard University. In addition, Jason is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has been a member since 1994.<Close>
Michael Danahay <More info>
Mike is Mayor of the City of Sulphur. Prior to his mayoral duties, he served as District 15 Representative for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury from 2000-2007. In 2007, Mike was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 33 and served three unopposed terms until 2018. During his tenure as legislator, he was the Chairman for the House and Governmental Affairs, and participated in the Legislative Budgetary Control Council committee. Mike graduated from Sulphur High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from McNeese State University. He is a member of West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce, SWLA Chamber of Commerce, McNeese State University Alumni Association, Knights of Columbus, IMCAL, Louisiana Workforce Investment Council, and the Louisiana Municipal Association Legislative Committee. Mike and his wife, Daphne Ann Fish Danahay, are the proud parents of two daughters, Kate and husband Craig Robinson, and Mary and husband Casey Lafargue; and have five grandchildren: Alice and Benjamin Robinson; and Landon, Brice, and Braydon Lafargue.<Close>
Stephen David, Jr. <More info>
Stephen David joined the Hancock Bank (now Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank) Management Associate Program in 2005 shortly after completing his marketing degree at Louisiana State University in 2004. During the next decade, he quickly evolved as one of Hancock and Whitney Bank’s most recognized and admired young leaders.
Stephen currently serves as Regional Retail Manager, managing all locations in Livingston, Ascension, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana Parishes including Lafayette, Lake Charles as well as all locations West stretching to Houston, TX.
He is currently serving as immediate past chair after serving two terms as chair of the Board of Directors of the City of Central Chamber of Commerce, which he also served as first vice-chair and treasurer and business relations committee co-chair. He is also on the board of directors for the Sales and Marketing Executives.
Jason Dedon <More info>
Jason Dedon works as the Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 995 in Baton Rouge, where he has also serve on the union’s Executive Board in the past. He also serves as the Secretary Treasurer for the Greater Baton Rouge AFL-CIO Central Labor Council and is a Board Member on the Baton Rouge Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. He lives in St. Amant with his wife, Ashlie, daughter Reace, and son, Ty.<Close>
Jason Engels <More info>
Jason Engels is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Central South Carpenters Regional Council, which represents 5,500 skilled carpenters from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Mr. Engels collaborates daily with business, labor and industry to create a productive workforce that makes the region’s construction community more competitive and puts more people to work with a rewarding career that supports a good quality of life. Mr. Engels is also steering an aggressive recruitment campaign to bring more skilled carpenters to the area to address manpower shortages in the industrial sector. Mr. Engels is a native of Louisiana and a graduate of Louisiana State University. He earned the position to lead the Central South Carpenters in 2004 by making his way through the ranks as a professional carpenter. He is well known in the construction community for his sound leadership, business acumen, and technical proficiency.<Close>
Thelma French <More info>
Thelma Harris French is the President/CEO of Total Community Action, Inc., New Orleans’ federally designated anti-poverty agency. She has served as the Director of Board Operations and Intergovernmental Relations for the Orleans Parish School Board and Executive Assistant for Federal and State Programs for former mayors of New Orleans, Marc Morial and Ray Nagin.
She has served as a workforce trainer, a consultant, and a national task force member. She has participated in several national demonstration grant training teams, and presented at numerous state, regional and national conferences in the areas of organizational and performance management, sustainability and team building. She is a graduate of Dillard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters in Sociology from the University of Houston, with further study at Louisiana State University’s Governmental Services Institute. She is a member of several boards and commissions and is active in her community.
Rep. Larry Frieman <More info>
House Speaker Appointed
Randy Hayden <More info>
Randy is president of Creative Communications, Inc. and one of the most experienced and respected public relations practitioners in Louisiana. As a former award-winning journalist, he brings unique knowledge and perspective to any campaign. His media and crisis management seminars have been used to train petro-chemical industry leaders, Chamber of Commerce executives and dozens of state and local politicians. Randy earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University. He is a former delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business and has won numerous industry awards, including A.P. and U.P.I. awards for broadcast journalism, an ADDY award for Advertising and two American Chamber of Commerce Executives Awards for public relations. His company received the prestigious TORCH award by the Better Business Bureau for Ethics in Business. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Louisiana Clean Fuels, is Chair of the Manship School of Mass Communication Hall of Fame Committee, and is the acting Executive Director of the La. Propane Gas Association.<Close>
Charles "Chuck" Henderson <More info>
Chuck Henderson began his career early in life at his family’s owned business. Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from LSU in 1976, Chuck returned to Welsh, LA, to manage Henderson Implement. The Case-International Harvester Farm Equipment Dealership grew to three locations in Southwest Louisiana. Chuck’s career accelerated over the next twenty years when in 1995, he became President of Henderson Implement. Recognizing that the agriculture market was trending down, Chuck expanded its product line by offering sales and service for Tracker Marine Boats and Mercury outboard motors. Consequently, Henderson Implement changed its name to Henderson Implement & Marine. In 2010, Henderson Implement & Marine was awarded Top Six Tracker Dealer in North America.
In 1999, Chuck’s career took another leap forward when he established TK Pizza as a distributor for Hunt Brothers Pizza. Chuck focused on growing the distributorship throughout Louisiana and Texas. He didn’t disappoint. Within ten years, Chuck led his team in the opening of over 470 pizza locations. Currently, TK Pizza has 625 locations in Louisiana and Texas.
Today, Chuck resides with his wife Karen in Welsh, Louisiana. The family business continues to grow with their three children. Kelly works as the Henderson Storage Director, and her husband, Lance, is the company’s Equipment Division Director. Tyler, their son, is the Henderson Wholesale Division Director living in Lake Charles, la. with his wife and three children. Recently, the Times of Southwest Louisiana featured Chuck’s company as one of the Top 10 privately held businesses in the area. Chuck was also the recipient of the Outstanding Business Person of the Year for Jeff Davis Parish. Throughout it all, Chuck has repeatedly proved his ability to lead through diverse and challenging situations.<Close>
John Hopkins <More info>
John was a member at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 446 in Monroe, Louisiana for 43 years and then retired in July 2012. He was the Assistant Business Manager for 3 years and then served as the Business Manager/Financial Secretary of the local Union for 18 years before retiring. Although he is retired, John Hopkins remains active as the Training Director for the Monroe Electrical Apprenticeship and Training.<Close>
Gina Jones <More info>
Speaker of House Appointed
Mayor Edward R. Jones <More info>
Edward R. Jones was sworn in for his second consecutive term as the 7th mayor of the city of Grambling, Louisiana, on December 30, 2014 . He had previously served eight years (two terms) on the Grambling City Council and as mayor pro tempore during his second term. He later joined the English faculty at Grambling State University, a position from which he retired after twenty-five years of service. He is the owner of a Cingular and Sprint franchise. His professional affiliations include the World Conference of Mayors, Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, Board of Directors; Grambling Economic Development Corporation, president; Grambling Legends Square Taxing District, and the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce. He was a 2015 honoree of the Louisiana-Mississippi Salute to Black Elected and Appointed Officials and Public Servants and was bestowed Honorary Mayor of the City of Tuskegee, Alabama, by Mayor Johnny Ford.<Close>
Leigh King <More info>
Leigh King joined Cox in 2004 as Vice President, Cox Business, the company’s service provider for small, medium and large businesses, as well as governmental and non-profit organizations. Since joining Cox, he has overseen the merger of Cox’s Acadiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans sales forces into a Louisiana team. Under his leadership, COX Business Louisiana has seen significant growth in new Business Subscribers, Revenue, and Profitability.
Prior to Cox, King served as General Manager for Adelphia Business Solutions where He was responsible for all of Adelphia’s Assets in Louisiana and Mississippi. King began his career in the Telecommunications Industry in Houston with GTE Mobilnet (now Verizon). King has over 23 years of Telecommunications experience building, launching and growing Business Units for Teligent, Winstar, Urban Media, Adelphia and now Cox Communications. King has overseen Telecommunications, Networks and Operations in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Nashville, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, LA. and Jackson, MS.
Norisha Kirts <More info>
Norisha Kirts is an experienced development and communications professional with expertise in fundraising, planning, project management, public outreach, community and public relations, and data analysis and research. Norisha is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). She owns and operates NRK Construction, a fully licensed general and specialty contractor firm. Norisha previously served as Director of Development for the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, where she led a number of key initiatives on behalf of the college focused on collaboration with business and industry stakeholders. Most recently, Norisha led the energy initiative in conjunction with the dean, faculty, and industry executives and launched an energy program for students, to meet the hiring needs of the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry. Norisha is active in the Baton Rouge community. She serves as Board President of THRIVE, Louisiana’s first public boarding school specifically targeted to serve students from underserved populations, and is active in the Junior League of Baton Rouge, where she has led several projects and key initiatives.<Close>
Kirk Lacour <More info>
Speaker of House Appointed
James LeBlanc <More info>
James M. Le Blanc has worked as a civil servant to the State of Louisiana as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections for over 40 years. Starting his correctional career in the Business Office at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in 1973, Le Blanc promoted through the ranks with a commitment to working hard and making a difference. Throughout his career, he’s been known for the in depth research and analysis he’s conducted in implementing programs that were “evidence based” even before the description existed. Some examples include the Department’s Youthful Offender Program, Faith and Character Based Housing Program, and the beginning of the Department’s reentry initiative, then known as Corrections Organized for Reentry (CORe). It was in January 2008 when Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Le Blanc to the Cabinet position with responsibility for statewide correctional operations. In 2016, he was reappointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to continue to lead the charge in corrections for a third term.<Close>
Robert J. (Bob) Lobos <More info>
Bob has over 35 years of combined executive and senior level leadership experience in retail, manufacturing, professional and service industries. He is a graduate of Marquette University and a retired Air Force/National Guard Officer with additional experience in training, administration, and management.
Bob has been employed in the corporate world as well as owned, operated and grown his own businesses, including a children’s clothing and school uniform company, printing company, manufacturing plant, wholesale distribution company, and a business growth and sales force development company. He currently owns and operates the Wolf Creek Business Growth Institute, a regional sales force development and business growth company, and has done so for the last seventeen years.
Bob and his wife, Mary, have six children and thirteen grandchildren. They enjoy playing tennis and providing entrepreneurial training and credit counseling throughout south Louisiana for first-time business owners as part of Project Raise Louisiana.
Melissa Mann <More info>
Roy O. Martin <More info>
Roy O. Martin III is Chairman, CEO and CFO of Martin Sustainable Resources L.L.C., Martin Timberlands L.L.C., and Martco L.L.C. He is also director and co-founder of Indigo Minerals, LLC, a Houston-based oil and natural gas exploration company.
Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, Mr. Martin is a 1978 graduate of Bolton High School. He graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1982 after receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (Tau Beta Pi). He continued his education at LSU, obtaining his MBA in 1985. Mr. Martin was inducted into LSU’s Halls of Distinction of Alumni, School of Business, School of Engineering, as well as Tiger Athletic Foundation. He is currently on the Business School’s Dean’s Advisory Council and the LSU Flagship Coalition.<Close>
Gerry Mims <More info>
Gerry Mims has served the United Steelworker Local 1505 for 40 years. Mr. Mims served on the Louisiana Paper-worker Council as President of Jackson Board for 27 years. Gerry has lived a life committed to helping working people to have better working conditions. He has an additional commitment to children and their access to get a better education. Gerry worked in paper industry for Westrock for many years but his true work has been in the service to the people of Louisiana.<Close>
Brent Moreland <More info>
Brent Moreland is the Business Manager of IBEW Local 194 in Shreveport, Louisiana and is a Vice President of the Shreveport AFL-CIO. As a 2007 graduate of the Shreveport Area Electrical JATC, Brent has decades of successful experience in the electrical industry from working as a foreman for various contractors and as a past Training Director to currently serving as Business Manager.
Being a representative of the Louisiana State Apprenticeship Council, Louisiana Workforce Investment Council and the Workforce Development, Brent is constantly bringing new ideas to the table and thrives in keeping the industry booming. Brent is a very dedicated member of his profession and serves on occupational advisory committees for the Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College.
Brent is currently in Elm Grove, Louisiana where he lives with his wife and young daughter. Brent enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family.<Close>
Susan East Nelson <More info>
Susan East Nelson is Principal/Owner of PFD Consulting, a small-business consulting firm that supports organizations with legislative drafting and analysis as well as government relations and grant writing. Ms. Nelson is also an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.
Ms. Nelson has over 20 years of experience in journalism, politics, community development and public policy. Prior to starting her own business she worked as an Associate with the worldwide consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton where she spent over five years in government project management and acquisition consulting. Ms. Nelson’s experience in workforce development began in 1997, and she previously worked with the National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, D.C., by helping workforce investment boards throughout the country leverage their public-private partnerships for workforce success. She has also supported union apprenticeship solutions to make regions 21st century workforce ready.
Senator Barrow Peacock <More info>
Senate President Appointed
Sonia Perez <More info>
Sonia Perez is President of AT&T Louisiana, responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T’s corporate activities in the state. Since 2010, Sonia has lead AT&T’s state workforce of more than 4,200 employees and 6,300 retirees, oversees AT&T’s operations, and directs teams responsible for implementing public policy, legislative, regulatory and philanthropic initiatives. She is the first woman to serve as President-AT&T Louisiana. Sonia currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Xavier University of Louisiana and also holds positions as Chair of Louisiana’s business roundtable, The Committee of 100 and as Secretary of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Additionally, she has had the distinction of being appointed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as Chair of his Economic Development Transition Team and to the Workforce Investment Council. In 2006, she was the first Latina elected President of the Texas Exes, alumni association for the University of Texas at Austin.<Close>
Don Pierson <More info>
In January 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards appointed Don Pierson to serve as Secretary for Louisiana Economic Development (LED). Pierson served as Assistant Secretary and Senior Director of Business Development for LED since January 2005. With executive-level leadership, his duties include the implementation of domestic and international economic development programs and job retention and creation efforts for the State of Louisiana. He is Governor John Bel Edwards’ primary representative to governmental officials, local communities, and site selector consultants on all economic issues. Pierson has over 27 years of economic development experience, and is a certified economic development professional.<Close>
Dr. Kim Hunter Reed <More info>
Commissioner of Higher Education
Kim Hunter Reed, Ph.D., is Louisiana’s Commissioner of Higher Education. She is the only female in the country currently serving as a state higher education lead who has led higher education in more than one state. Reed was recently recognized nationally with the 2020 Exceptional Leader Award by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Working with the Louisiana Board of Regents, Reed is leading the state’s efforts to increase educational attainment by developing its talent base to result in a more prosperous Louisiana. To reach the state’s goal of doubling the number of credentials awarded by 2030, she focuses on collaborative efforts that increase access, equity and completion in line with the Regents’ talent imperative. Reed is a nationally recognized student advocate with extensive higher education and government experience. In addition to leading the Colorado Department of Higher Education, she served in President Barack Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education and led the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Collectively, Reed has served in various senior leadership roles with four governors. A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the state’s policy director. She also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents, adjunct faculty member and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, as well as a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University. Reed is a wife, proud volleyball mom to her favorite Millsaps College student and Louisiana’s chief advocate for talent development.<Close>
Louis Reine <More info>
Louis began his career as an apprentice, graduating from the apprenticeship program as the outstanding apprentice. As an active member in his local union, he served as an Apprenticeship Instructor, and later as an Apprenticeship Director. After brief employment with the U.S. Department of Labor, he returned to Carpenters Local1098 to be the Administrator of their Health and Welfare and Pension Benefits Funds. In 1997, he became Assistant to the President of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, and in 2002 he gained the responsibilities of being the Director of Legislative Activities and the Statewide Political Director for the Louisiana AFL-CIO. In October 2004, Louis was appointed Secretary Treasurer by the Executive Board, and in 2005 was elected to that position by the delegates at the 2005 Annual Convention. On February 25, 2014, He was unanimously elected to serve another term as President of the Louisiana AFL-CIO. He serves on numerous boards and commissions on behalf of working men and women of organized labor.<Close>
Ronald Rosser Jr. <More info>
Ronald got his start in construction in 1991. He then attended Sullivan Vocational Tech, Bogalusa campus in 1993, where he took welding classes. In 1998, he became a member of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60, and worked for Lou-Con Inc. as a pipewelder at Murphy Oil Company.
In January 2003, Ronald went to work for the Tri-State Pipe Trades as a Union organizer. In March 2004, he was elected as President of the St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parishes Central Trades and Labor Council. In 2012, he was elected President of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60 where he still serves today. He also serves on the Louisiana State AFL-CIO Executive Board.
Tracey Schiro <More info>
Richard "R.B." Smith <More info>
As a native of New Orleans, R. B. Smith did not begin his life in Southwest Louisiana, but he got here as fast as he could. A resident of Lake Charles since 1976, R. B.’s career has included working in retail, wholesale, service, and educational industries. He retired in 2011 after 30 years of service working at Sowela Technical Community College in technical education and workforce development. Smith currently holds the position of Vice President of Business and Workforce Development for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. His focuses include recruiting, retaining, and expanding businesses, and facilitating better communication between the business and education communities of southwest Louisiana to identify needs and resources for building a 21st century world class workforce in our region. He holds degrees from McNeese State University and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Active in religious, professional, civic, and fraternal organizations, in his spare time, he enjoys travelling with his wife, Stephanie and children, Robert and Emily.<Close>
Joshua Sonnier <More info>
Dr. Monty Sullivan <More info>
Monty Sullivan was selected as the fourth President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) in February 2014. Prior to being selected president, he served as Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans. He also served as Executive Vice President for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Before joining LCTCS, Sullivan served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Research for the Virginia Community College System.
Monty is married to Kelley Miles Sullivan, a Registered Nurse and a graduate of John Tyler Community College. The couple has four daughters.
Sandra Thompson Herman <More info>
Sandra Thompson Herman is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished women in Louisiana governance. Sandra designed the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and served as the first cabinet-level Secretary. Later as Director of the Atchafalaya Basin Program, she wrote legislation that passed unanimously in the Louisiana Legislature, authorizing $83 million in state funds to match federal funding of $250 million. Those funds were used to build a number of welcome centers, parks, boat landings and water management projects throughout the eight parishes of the Atchafalaya region.
Recognized as a trailblazer, Sandra’s experience and success go far beyond her work in government. Sandra’s career in the private sector is extensive, including founding, owning and managing an oil field services company. Most recently, she worked for the group designing and building the new Four Seasons Hotel in the World Trade Center in New Orleans.
A prominent public figure, Sandra donated her legacy papers in March of 2020 to the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The documents are available to students and historians for research, providing a window into Louisiana political life, especially that of women.
In 2019, Sandra launched New Orleans Entertainment Coalition, a 501(c)(3) for which the mission is to promote global awareness, education and celebration of the arts and culture as a means to enhance quality of life, support tourism and strengthen the economy. The coalition brings together a network of arts, culture and educational initiatives with a broad spectrum of services, opportunities and support.<Close>
C. A. Buck Vandersteen <More info>
Buck Vandersteen is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, a private trade association representing landowners, loggers, and the forest industry. He is a professional Forester and Tree Farmer. His responsibilities include: public relations, governmental affairs, membership development and education, and promoting the practice of forestry in Louisiana. Buck is involved in the forest products industry in various capacities, including growing, harvesting, and using forest resources. He served with the Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa, as an advisor to that government in forestry-related matters. He received the Distinguished Service to Forestry Award in 1996 from the Louisiana Society of American Foresters and became a Fellow in the Society in 2004. In 2008, he was awarded Member of the Year by the Louisiana Society of Association Executives. In 2013, he received the Presidential Award for Leadership by the Louisiana Society of American Foresters. Mr. Vandersteen has been inducted as a member of the Louisiana Agricultural Hall of Distinction.<Close>
Secretary Marketa Walters <More info>
A national leader in the field of children and family services, Marketa Garner Walters has worked for more than 20 years to improve the lives of children. From 1996 to 2004, Walters served as CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. Once elected, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco tapped her to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Social Services, Office of Community Services, which was Louisiana’s child welfare agency.
After serving four years under Governor Blanco, and another year under Governor Bobby Jindal, Walters served as Director of the Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center, a national technical assistance center focused on best practices in child welfare. She served as a child welfare consultant until Governor John Bel Edwards appointed her Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services in January 2016.
Ada Womack-Bell <More info>
Ada Womack-Bell is the Director at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and A&M College. In addition, Mrs. Bell is responsible for the management and operations of a 7-parish coverage area, as well as, providing consultation services for startup and existing businesses in the capacities of strategic planning, business development, financial evaluation, marketing and a variety of concentrated business components. Mrs. Bell’s areas of expertise are inclusive of business development/expansion, training, program development, strategic planning, developing partnerships and team building.
Furthermore, Mrs. Bell has received multiple awards pertaining to working with small businesses and recognition awards for exceptional performance in entrepreneurial training, development and community champion awards for assisting small businesses. In 2020, The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University received the Small Business Development Center Service and Excellence and Innovation Center Award Presented by U.S. Small Business Administration.
Mrs. Bell has over 16 years of experience in working with small businesses in the private and public sectors. Also, Mrs. Bell serves her community as founder of IMPOWER SMART and is a successful entrepreneur. Mrs. Bell received an MBA from the University of Phoenix, a BS in Business Administration from Louisiana State University, a certification in Office Systems Technology and Training and a certified facilitator with the Edward Lowe Foundation “Peer-Spectives” and Kauffman Fast Trac program.<Close>
Tom Yura <More info>
A native of Austin, TX, Tom Yura has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon completion of his studies, he joined BASF’s Freeport, TX manufacturing site. Tom has responsibility for BASF’s Geismar site, the largest of the corporation’s North American manufacturing locations. In this role, he oversees the daily operation of 25 plants that manufacture 25 different products, including urethanes used in foam insulation, shoes, and furniture; chemical intermediates used in adhesives, coatings, plastics, water and gas treatment; and surfactants used in detergents. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Tom’s civic and charitable work includes serving on the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers. He is also on the board of the Louisiana Chemical Association and chairs its Safety and Health committee, is vice-chair on the board of directors of the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance, as well as being on the board of directors for the Capital Area United Way, Boy Scouts of America Istrouma Area Council, Ascension Parish Chamber of Commerce, and Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce.<Close>
Vacant <More info>
Vacant <More info>
Vacant <More info>