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Governor names DNR Secretary Thomas Harris

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gov. Edwards Announces Additional Personnel Appointments

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Thomas F. Harris

Commissioner of Conservation Richard Ieyoub

January 29, 2016


BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the following additional key cabinet appointments for his administration:

Secretary, Department of Children and Family Services – Marketa Garner Walters
Secretary, Department of Natural Resources – Thomas Harris
Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority – Michael Ellis
Commissioner of Conservation – Richard Ieyoub
Gov. Edwards' Designee, Delta Regional Authority – Leslie Durham

Gov. Edwards also announced the following appointments to his executive staff:

Legislative Director – Noble Ellington
Press Secretary, Governor’s Office – Shauna Sanford

“We are facing challenging times in Louisiana, but with this experienced team, there are no challenges we can’t meet,” said Gov. Edwards. “This team represents the very best talent Louisiana has to offer and I look forward to the collaborative and innovative solutions they will bring to the work of my administration.”


Cabinet Appointees:

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. As a public servant, a national consultant, and an advocate with deep roots in her home state of Louisiana, Walters has been able to create meaningful change in the lives of family and children over the years. Walters is currently the President of M & Company, a consulting firm with expertise in child and family issues, disaster planning, policy development, public speaking and strategic development. She previously served as the Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research where she specialized in emergency preparedness, juvenile justice, safe schools, and child welfare implementation. During the Blanco administration, Walters served as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Community Services in what was then called the Louisiana Department of Social Services. Walters has a Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Dedicated to improving the environment, Thomas Harris currently serves as Administrator of the Technology Assessment Division with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR). He has held that post since 2014. Prior to working for the LDNR, Harris spent nearly a decade with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. While there, Harris developed the state regulation and remediation standards for the evaluation and corrective action of regulated sites. Harris has more than 20 years of executive management experience in the oversight of environmental programs, human health risk assessment, environmental toxicology, and environmental regulatory compliance. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Louisiana State University and a Masters of Science in Public Health in Environmental Toxicology and Human Health Risk Assessment from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. 

Michael Ellis currently serves as HDR Engineering’s Louisiana Manager and is primarily focused on coastal sustainability projects and municipal water and wastewater projects. He previously served as the Program Manager for the Baton Rouge sanitary sewer consent decree program. His responsibilities included management of 85 program team members and multiple sub-consultants and overseeing 100 design and construction projects valued at approximately $1.5 Billon. He is licensed to practice engineering in the State of Louisiana and has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University. His nineteen years of experience in engineering and environmental consulting includes managing large scale civil engineering and construction projects, Louisiana coastal restoration, and US Army Corps of Engineers remediation projects.

Richard Ieyoub, Sr. of the Baton Rouge firm, Couhig Partners, was the attorney general of Louisiana from 1992 to 2004 and the Calcasieu Parish district attorney in Lake Charles from 1984 to 1992. During his tenure as district attorney, he headed the national Commission on Model State Drug Laws. He was active in the fight against narcotics through the Louisiana Coordinating Council on the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Abuse and worked closely with the National Council Against Drinking and Driving. He established a statewide school safety program and created a high-technology unit that targets sexual predators on the Internet. Richard received his bachelor's degree in history in 1968 from McNeese State University and his Juris Doctor degree in 1972 from Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Leslie Durham was born and raised in Tensas ParishShe attended ULM in Monroe and is a graduate of the Delta Regional Authority Leadership Institute, 2005. She previously worked for Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as Director of Renewal Communities and Delta Regional Authority Designee. Mrs. Durham was the Public Relations Director for the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance (NELEA). She served on the local level as the Economic Development Coordinator for the Tensas Parish Police Jury. Recently, she was Deputy Clerk of Court for Tensas Parish and was a Driver’s Education Instructor with Delta Safety Driving School. Mrs. Durham is the current President of St Joseph Arts, Inc. and Music School, Board Member for the Tensas Community Health Center, and member of the Tensas Garden Club and Tensas Revitalization Alliance. During her time as Delta Regional Authority’s Designee for Governor Blanco, Mrs. Durham was named Louisiana Planning and Development District’s Person of the Year 2007.

Staff Appointments:

Noble Ellington joined the Department of Insurance as Chief Deputy Commissioner in 2012 with a strong background in legislative and business matters, having served 24 years in the Louisiana Legislature and owned a cotton company for the past 40 years. During his time in the Legislature, Noble held numerous committee chairmanships. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Labor, Judiciary A, Judiciary B, and Transportation Committees. As a member of the House, Noble was chairman of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council. Noble also served as National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council and chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference Rural Development Steering Committee. He was twice named Legislator of the Year by the Rural Hospital Coalition and honored with Outstanding Legislator awards by the Louisiana Association of Educators and Jobs for America’s Graduates. Noble received his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture business from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA.

A native of Louisiana, Shauna Sanford is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience in radio and television in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She has covered the Louisiana legislative sessions for many years as well as contributed to the award winning coverage of some of the biggest stories that have earned statewide and nationwide attention, including high profile criminal and federal cases and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Her reporting has helped earn Emmy awards and nominations for WAFB Channel 9 and WLPB as well as the prestigious George Foster Peabody, duPont-Columbia and Edward R. Murrow awards for WWLTV’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Shauna grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. Incredibly curious by nature, it’s not surprising that she became fascinated with television news at an early age. As a result of pursuing a career in journalism she has traveled to many places near and far and met some of the most fascinating people that she would otherwise have never had the pleasure of meeting. Shauna earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from Howard University in Washington D.C.



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