NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the eight Orleans Parish citizen nominees to serve on the new Board of Directors for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB). In October 2013, Orleans Parish voters overwhelming approved a City Charter amendment to reform the governance of the board including requiring professional qualifications, reducing its size, shortening term lengths, and imposing term limits. A selection committee representing local universities and civic associations reviewed the qualifications of 90 Orleans Parish residents who applied for appointment. The nominees to the new board represent a diverse group of local professionals with experience in engineering, law, financing, and other relevant fields in addition to consumer and community advocacy. Each Council District is also represented.
“The Sewerage and Water Board’s mission is to ensure we have safe drinking water and protect our homes and businesses from flooding, but for too long politics delayed adequately funding infrastructure improvements that have left us with antiquated system we are working with today,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Over the last 18 months, we have committed to strengthening this important public utility by reforming its governance, increasing its accountability and transparency, and improving its operations and performance.”
Landrieu continued, “Today’s announcement represents another significant milestone as we continue our work in building a stronger New Orleans. The nominees for the new Board of Directors for the Sewerage and Water Board we put forward today represent a cross-section of well-qualified citizens with relevant professional experience and backgrounds in consumer and community advocacy. This major, citizen-driven reform effort is a huge win and will build confidence as this new board leads us into the future– including a multi-billion dollar infrastructure improvement program that will serve as a catalyst for job creation and improvements in customer service.”
In order to reform the governance of the S&WB, changes were required to both Louisiana State law and the New Orleans City Charter by a vote of the citizens of Orleans Parish.
During the 2013 Louisiana Legislative Session, State Senator J.P. Morrell and Representative Walt Leger, III passed Senate Bill 47 which reduced the S&WB from 13 to 11 members with reduced terms of service from 9 to 4 years and limits to serving two consecutive terms. This legislation eliminated three seats previously held by New Orleans City Councilmembers and added a new citizen appointment made by the Mayor.
The new board would be composed of the Mayor, two syndicated members of the Board of Liquidation, City Debt, and eight citizen members appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the New Orleans City Council. Five of the citizen members will each represent one of the five New Orleans Council Districts with one citizen serving as an At-Large representative. Two of the citizen members must be consumer advocates with community advocacy or consumer protection experience or experience in a related field. In addition, the nominees must demonstrate expertise in architecture, environmental quality, finance, accounting, business administration, engineering, law, public health, urban planning, facilities management, public administration, science, construction, business management, or other pertinent disciplines.
In July 2013, the New Orleans City Council unanimously approved placing the reform proposal on the October 2013 ballot which was later overwhelmingly approved by the Orleans Parish residents.
On January 1, 2014, the S&WB issued a Declaration of Vacancies, announcing there would be vacancies on its Board of Directors and began accepting applications for persons interested in serving. As stipulated by the newly passed State law and City Charter change, to fill the eight citizen member seats on the newly constituted Board of Directors, a Selection Committee was assembled. This committee was composed of representatives from seven local universities representing Delgado Community College, Dillard University, Loyola University, Southern University of New Orleans, Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University and three civic associations representing the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, and Urban League of Greater New Orleans.
The Selection Committee met twice in February and reviewed 90 applicants. For each of the eight open Board seats, the Selection Committee recommended three individuals for the Mayor to choose from and then send to the New Orleans City Council for approval.
Today, Mayor Landrieu nominated the following eight citizens to serve on the S&WB:
Council District A: Scott Jacobs
Council District B: Robin Barnes
Council District C: Kerri Kane, JD
Council District D: Marion Bracy
Council District E: Mark Moody
At-Large: Tamika Duplessis, Ph.D.
Consumer/Community Advocate: Kimberly Thomas, JD
Consumer/Community Advocate: Joseph Peychaud
These nominees will be considered at May 22, 2014 Regular Meeting of the New Orleans City Council.
Scott Jacobs (Council District A)
Scott Jacobs has spent the last twenty-four years in the insurance and risk management industry. Since 2003, he has served as the Chief Administrative Officer of Strategic Comp, a division of Great American Insurance Group. He is also a former Executive Vice President at Hibernia Rosenthal Insurance (now HUB International). He is a graduate of Cornell University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and completed a Masters of Business Administration at Tulane University.
Robin Barnes (Council District B)
Robin Barnes is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Greater New Orleans, Inc., the regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana. There she oversaw administration of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, a resiliency study of St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes which provides a vision and implementation plan for addressing stormwater, groundwater, and subsidence. She was also served on President Barack Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as Senior Policy Advisory for Small Business and Economic Recovery. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
Kerri Kane, JD (Council District C)
Kerri Kane is an attorney serving as Counsel at Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore LLC since 2005. There, she has worked in areas of complex litigation, pharmaceutical defense, medical device litigation, and personal injury defense. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences and Loyola Law School where she served as the Substance and Citation Editor for the Loyola Maritime Law Journal. She was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 2004. She has served on the Board of Directors to the S&WB since 2012.
Marion Bracy (Council District D)
Marion Bracy is Vice President for Facility Planning and Management at Xavier University of Louisiana. Mr. Bracy has overseen the $200 million restoration of the Xavier University campus after Hurricane Katrina and help increase FEMA funding participation from $5 million to over $100 million. He is a graduate of Dillard University and the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) Leadership Academy and has completed the curriculum of the APPA Institute for Facilities Management. He has served on the Board of Directors to the S&WB since 2011.
Mark Moody (Council District E)
Mark Moody is Lead Engineer in the Rocket Propulsion Test Program Office at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. His duties include providing guidance and technical expertise on NASA rocket propulsion test facility capabilities and utilization. He also serves as an Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve. Since 2011, he has served on the Board of Liquidation, City Debt and on the Board of Directors to the S&WB.
Tamika Duplessis, Ph.D. (At-Large)
Dr. Tamika Duplessis is Lead Chemistry Instructor at Delgado Community College, where she has taught since 2009. She is also a Collaborator/ Contributing Scientist with Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy where she does research on breast cancer. She is a graduate of Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (cum laude) and received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology with concentration in Biochemical Mechanisms of Cancer Etiology from Tulane University.
Kimberly Thomas, JD (Consumer/Community Advocate)
Kimberly Thomas is currently a Funding Project Manager/ Public Assistance Program Specialist with Jacobs/ CSRS, a construction management company with expertise in disaster recovery services. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of Algiers Economic Development Association. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and received her Juris Doctorate from the Southern University Law Center.
Joseph Peychaud (Consumer/Community Advocate)
Joseph Peychaud is a lifelong resident of New Orleans with over forty-eight years of continuous service as a community advocate and activist, educator, facilitator, and public and private sector administrator. Since 2011, he has served as President of St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School (formerly Xavier University Preparatory) where he has overseen all operational components of the school including budget, plant and facilities, development, public relations, staffing, capital projects, parental involvement, and community outreach. He is also President of the Climana Neighborhood Association. He is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts in Education/ Liberal Arts and the University of New Orleans with a Masters in Urban Studies.
COMMITMENT TO REFORM
Since taking office, the Landrieu administration has successfully secured federal dollars for key infrastructure projects including more than $200 million in new funding from FEMA for repairs to thousands of water and sewer lines, pumps, and pump stations. In addition, $150 million in FEMA Hazard Mitigation funds has been secured to help repair the aging S&WB power plant.
In December 2012, Mayor Landrieu, with the support of local business, political, and community leaders worked with the New Orleans City Council to pass a water and sewer rate increase that will generate $583 million and help fund a large portion of the S&WB’s $3.3 billion infrastructure improvement program composed of over 600 projects that will create 25,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. As a direct result, Standard and Poor’s Rating Service upgraded S&WB’s bond rating which will save the S&WB millions of dollars.
The S&WB has already implemented a number of internal reforms to improve its performance and accountability. The S&WB now hosts public meetings to report out on its performance and key department heads and program managers get feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change. To improve coordination, the S&WB and the Department of Public Works engineers are now working in the same room so that they can work hand in hand to fix pipes and streets in a coordinated and timely manner. And to improve reliability, the S&WB has enhanced its Water Help Program for elderly and low-income customers and is moving forward on implementing electronic metering to help detect water leaks.
Since taking office, the Landrieu administration has streamlined, eliminated, or reformed 19 boards and commissions, including the Public Belt Railroad and the New Orleans Recreation Commission, decreasing the number of City boards by 17%.