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Coastal Louisiana leaders gather to plan for resilient communities

Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy was host to the "Planning for Resilient Communities" Executive Leadership Training for a newly formed cohort of Southeastern Louisiana Disaster Resilient Leadership Fellows in a five day workshop from November 14-18th. The fellowship program is supported by the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

The purpose of the program is to strengthen capacity of local resilience leaders to build a shared framework across the Southeastern Louisiana coastal region and engage with community stakeholders to resource and implement plans for resilience building activities that ensure sustainable livelihoods and protect the region's invaluable natural resources. The workshop will be facilitated by well-experienced and recognized subject matter experts involved in resilience leadership from the CRGC, Tulane DRLA, and Southeastern Louisiana.

The workshop took place at the newly opened Tulane River and Coastal Center river-front campus, home to the Tulane University ByWater Institute located at 1370 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans 70130. The Bywater Institute is also a member of the CRGC.

Via a nomination process steered by a five-person Louisiana Leadership Advisory Council chaired by Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, fifteen (15) fellows were selected from the coastal parishes of Saint Bernard, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes representing a cross-section of constituencies such as government agencies, business sector, academia, community-based organizations and NGOs.

On Monday, November 14, 2011 at 8:30 am, a press event was held to provide an introduction of the fellows, members of the Leadership Advisory Council (LAC), sponsors, the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities, and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Tulane President Michael Fitts as well as members of the Tulane ByWater Institute. 

Lt Gov. Nungesser was in attendance Monday morning and provided opening remarks about his experience as Plaquemines Parish President during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the continued need to strengthen leadership capacity at all levels to deal with current and future threats.


  • Kelly DiMarco, Plaquemines Parish, Safe Schools Career Technical Education Coordinator, Plaquemines Parish School Board
  • Earl Eues, Terrebonne Parish, EOC Director, Terrebonne Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (TOHSEP)
  • Jennifer Gerbasi, Terrebonne, Recovery Planner, Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government
  • Michelle Gonzales, Jefferson Parish, Director Department of Floodplain Management, Jefferson Parish Government
  • Lin Kiger, Lafourche Parish, CEO, Lafourche Chamber of Commerce
  • Adrienne Labat, Lafourche Parish, Chief Building Official, Lafourche Parish Government
  • Guy Laigast, Plaquemines Parish, Major, Homeland Security Plaqeumines Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Jeffrey Leuenberger, Lafourche Parish, Senior Planner, Lafourche Parish Government
  • Maryal Mewherter, Terrebonne Parish, Community Organizer and Tribal Council Leader, United Houma Nation District #6
  • Sandy Nguyen, Jefferson Parish, Executive Director, Coastal Communities Consulting
  • Julie Olsen, Plaquemines Parish, Executive Director, Plaquemines Parish Care Center
  • Stephen Reuther, St. Bernard Parish, CEO, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce
  • Matt Rookard, Terrebonne Parish, CEO, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority
  • Joni Tucks, Lafourche Parish, Grants Administrator, Greater Lafourche Port Commission
  • Darla Duet, Lafourche Parish, Floodplain Manager

Part-time participation

  • Vic Lafont, Lafourche Parish, President and CEO, South Louisiana Economic Council

These fellows were identified and nominated by a Leadership Advisory Council, comprised of:

  • Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser
  • State Representative Jerome “Zee” Zeringue
  • Joshua Batkin, FEMA Federal Liaison
  • Robin Barnes, GNO, Inc.

Lanor Curole, United Houma Nation