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Leadership Team

Changing Course’s Leadership Team includes leaders in Louisiana’s civic, industry, and academic communities along with national experts in coastal resiliency, engineering and design. The team will serve as the highly visible face and “client” throughout the competition.

Team members will play a role in shaping the structure of the initiative, selecting competing design teams, judging the Phase 1 and Phase 2 submissions, and selecting the winning submissions.

The Leadership Team is responsible for ensuring the design solutions are:

  • Equitable and beneficial to the human, cultural, economic and natural resources of the Lower Mississippi River Delta;
  • Comprehensive, transparent and inclusive;
  • Parallel, synergistic, and additive to official master planning efforts, and;
  • Truly engaging of all the science, stakeholder and community interests required.

The Leadership Team is

Don Boesch

Professor of Marine Science and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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Stephen Cassell

Board Chair, Van Alen Institute and Principal, Architecture Research Office

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Steve Cochran

Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund

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As the Director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration project, Steve Cochran works to restore the natural functioning of the river while addressing the needs and health of southern Louisiana’s diverse communities and economic infrastructure. With local, state and federal attention turning towards this delta, executing a strategy for its timely and responsible large scale restoration is crucial. In addition, Steve works within Louisiana and nationally to encourage communities, economic interests and political leaders to see delta restoration as a fundamental priority to the nation.

Steve spent two years as Executive Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and seven years with Louisiana Congressman and then Governor Buddy Roemer. He served as Legislative Director in D.C., then Field Director, and ultimately Chief of Staff to the Governor.

In his prior role as Vice President of Climate and Air at Environmental Defense Fund, Steve Cochran managed EDF’s domestic and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. Steve served as the Executive Vice President of our 501 c(4) organization, the Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDAF), and was the Political Director of EDAF’s Political Action Committee. He formerly served as the director of the National Climate Campaign. Prior to that, Steve managed EDF’s media, legislative and Internet advocacy work and served as Environmental Defense’s legislative director.


Maurice Cox

Director, Tulane City Center and Associate Dean for Community Engagement, Tulane University School of Architecture

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Maurice Cox, a nationally respected community designer and leader of the public interest design movement, has been named director of the Tulane City Center as well as the new associate dean for community engagement at the Tulane University School of Architecture in New Orleans. In his new roles, Mr. Cox will oversee a wide range of initiatives with Tulane architecture faculty and students throughout the New Orleans community

Mr. Cox, who studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York under the guidance of John Hejduk, comes to Tulane from the faculty of University of Virginia. A co-founder of the national SEED (Social, Economic, Environmental, Design) Network, Cox served as design director of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC from 2007-2010. In that capacity, he led the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the Governor’s Institute on Community Design and oversaw the award of more than $2 million a year in NEA design grants across the United States.

Mr. Cox’s appreciation of the civic process led him to serve as City Councilmember and then mayor of the City of Charlottesville from 1996-2004. During Cox’s mayoral term (2002-2004) the city was ranked as the “#1 Best Place to Live in the USA & Canada” by Frommer’s Cities Ranked and Rated. The city was also the smallest in America to maintain a AAA-bond rating for excellence in fiscal management with a municipal city budget of $100 million. Under his leadership, Charlottesville completed several large projects, including the passage of an award-winning zoning ordinance in support of mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development; new infill residential neighborhoods and mixed-income, higher-density housing; and the design of a two-mile, federally funded parkway entrance into the city.

Ella Delio

Director of Environmental and Regional Initiatives, Greater New Orleans Foundation

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Ella Delio joined the staff of the Greater New Orleans Foundation as director of Environmental and Regional Initiatives in September 2014. Previously, she was Executive Vice President and Managing Partner at Savior Media, a Boston-based strategic communications firm. Prior to that role, Ella worked in Washington, D.C., at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, where she served as Global Director of the New Ventures program. New Ventures provided business development and investment facilitation services to innovative environmental enterprises in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Ms. Delio received her MBA and MPA degrees from the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School and her Management Engineering and Economics degrees from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. She was awarded the Don K. Price Award by the Harvard Kennedy School for academic distinction and leadership in public service. She serves on the board of Propeller, New Orleans’ social enterprise incubator.

Sean M. Duffy

Executive Director, Big River Coalition

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Sean M. Duffy, Sr. assumed the duties of Executive Vice President – Maritime Advocate with the Louisiana Maritime Association in 2011 and was hired to promote improvements beneficial to maritime stakeholders along the Lower Mississippi River. He was also chosen to lead the Big River Coalition and accepted the role of Executive Director. Mr. Duffy served as the President and Chief Executive Office for the Gulf States Maritime Association from 2005 to 2011. During his previous tenure, he became a proponent for local industry and specialized in lobbying Capitol Hill for supplemental funds for maintenance dredging and waterway maintenance and on efforts to fix the broken Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund mechanism. Or “Taxation Without Channelization.” As the third generation of his family to work in the maritime industry, Mr. Duffy began working on the docks in the Port of New Orleans in his early teen years during breaks from school. Previous employment experiences include various management duties, Boarding Agent, Deckhand, Stevedore General Superintendent and Marine Surveyor. Mr. Duffy is intimately familiar with obstacles faced by the maritime industry, both nationally and those specific to Louisiana, and he has become an expert on coastal restoration and maintenance dredging. The Big River Coalition under his tutelage has grown and now represents navigation interests across the entire Mississippi River Basin. He continues in this role to passionately represent the economic engine of navigation on the largest and most dynamic river system in the world. The term he prefers is the “world’s economic superhighway”.

Carlton Dufrechou

General Manager, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

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Carlton Dufrechou has been coordinating public-spirited projects and programs for over twenty-five years. Mr. Dufrechou received both his B.S. degree in civil engineering and his M.S. degree in civil/environmental engineering from Tulane University. Immediately following school, Mr. Dufrechou had experience in civil and architectural design and real-estate development.From December 1986 through early June 1992, Mr. Dufrechou was a planner and project manager with the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Dufrechou participated in the planning, implementation, and management of water resource, environmental restoration, and flood control projects in central and southern Louisiana. The projects include rural and urban flood control in central Louisiana, marsh creation and wetland restoration in the Mississippi River delta region, hurricane protection in the New Orleans metropolitan area, delta building in Atchafalaya Bay, and environmental enhancement projects in the Atchafalaya Basin.In June 1992, Mr. Dufrechou became Executive Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. As director, he coordinated the overall planning and implementation of efforts to restore and preserve the ecology of the 10,000-square-mile Pontchartrain Basin surrounding metro New Orleans. Pontchartrain’s restoration activities include water-quality improvement, coastal restoration and storm protection, habitat preservation, and education/outreach projects. The projects ranged from construction of livestock waste retention lagoons to creation of the 16,000-plus-acre Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge to development of the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy to preserve our coast. The projects have received numerous recognitions including The National Watershed Award, two EPA Environmental Excellence Awards, and a Presidential Environmental Education Award.In August 2009, Mr. Dufrechou was selected as General Manager of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission. He is now responsible for all operations of the “world’s longest bridge” including emergency response, traffic control, maintenance, administration, and future planning.

Mr. Dufrechou has and continues to participate on numerous regional, state, and national committees and task forces dealing with water quality, coastal and storm protection, and environmental issues. Currently, he serves on the Coastal Advisory Committee of the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, the Non Flood Assets Management Authority, the American Public Works Association’s Sustainability Task Force, and the Pontchartrain Basin Foundation Board. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, American Planning Association, Society of American Military Engineers, and the Society of Tulane Engineers.

He is a Rotarian, a Paul Harris Fellow, and recipient of numerous awards including the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans Role Model Award, Gambit’s Best of New Orleans Award, Coastal Stewardship Award, and White House Champions of Change Award.


Robert Gorman

Executive Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux

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Robert Gorman is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (Louisiana) where he has worked since 1982.

Mr. Gorman is a founder of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and its first Chair. He remains an active board member. He is a founder of the Tri-City Interfaith Stewardship Initiative, the past Chair of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference (LIC) Commission on the Stewardship of the Environment and the current Chair of the LIC Public Policy Task Force.

He served on the National Advisory Committee for the United States Catholic Conference Environmental Justice Program and has worked since its formation with the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He has been active in assisting communities in Grand Bois, Gibson, and Morgan City in opposing toxic and hazardous waste operations. He is the founder of Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), a congregation-based community organization working on coastal issues, and a founder of TRAC, the longest continuously operating community-based disaster recovery nonprofit in the United States.

Mr. Gorman has testified and conducted workshops on environmental justice and environmental stewardship issues throughout Louisiana and other parts of the country, including testimony to the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, to the President and Vice President at the White House and to a national interfaith gathering at Baylor University.

Mr. Gorman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Board Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a member of the Academy of Clinical Social Workers. He lives in Thibodaux, Louisiana.


Kyle Graham

Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

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Kyle Graham is the Deputy Executive Director for Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority with responsibility for establishing policies, programs, and projects consistent with the State’s goals of a sustainable coastal area. Prior to joining the State of Louisiana, Mr. Graham worked as a wetland scientist, restoring streams and wetlands, permitting impacts and preparing environmental documentation. He holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina and a M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University.


Nancy Kete

Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

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Dr. Nancy Kete joined the Rockefeller Foundation in January 2012. As Managing Director, Dr. Kete leads the foundation’s global work on resilience including developing strategies and practice for infusing resilience thinking throughout the foundation’s work.

During her 25 year career in government, civil society, and private sector, Dr. Kete brought technical, institutional, and managerial leadership to bear on a number of major environment and societal challenges. She has been a diplomat, a climate change negotiator, a social entrepreneur, and a highly successful fund-raiser.

Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Kete spent thirteen years at the World Resources Institute (WRI), first as Director of the Climate, Energy, and Pollution Program and then as founder and Director of EMBARQ, a distinguished program that catalyzed environmentally sustainable transport solutions to improve quality of life in cities in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey and the Andean region.

She also served on President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. In her role as Senior Advisor on Corporate Safety and Risk Management, Dr. Kete provided recommendations on unilateral steps the industry should take to improve safety above and beyond what the regulations would require.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Kete worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency where she led the development of the acid rain control title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the first and as yet most successful application of market instruments for pollution control.

Dr. Kete holds a PhD in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s in Geography from Southern Illinois University.


Merritt Lane

President and CEO, Canal Barge Company

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H. Merritt Lane III has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Canal Barge Company, Inc. since 1994 and as a director of that company since 1988. Mr. Lane is actively involved in industry affairs, including serving as Past Chairman and current Treasurer of the board of directors of the American Waterways Operators, as a Vice-Chairman of the Waterways Council Inc., and as a director of the National Waterways Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation. He also serves on the board of directors of Hibernia Homestead Bancorp, a publicly-traded company, and Pontchartrain Materials Company, a privately-owned company based in New Orleans, Louisiana.Mr. Lane is active in numerous civic organizations, including the Business Council of New Orleans & the River Region and the Young President’s Organization. Mr. Lane is the current Chairperson for the Board’s Audit Committee and a member of our Nominating and Governance Committee.


Stacy Methvin

Retired Vice President, Refining Margin Optimization, Shell Oil Company

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Stacy Methvin is currently the Board Chair and President of the Girl Scouts San Jacinto in southeast Texas. She recently retired from Shell Oil Company, after a 33-year career, the first 19 years working in the Upstream followed by 14 years in the Downstream. Her last role was Vice President, Refining Margin Optimization, where she was responsible for crude selection and scheduling for Shell’s refineries globally.She began her career with Shell in 1979 as a geological engineer in the Exploration & Production (E&P) offices in New Orleans. Ms. Methvin held several managerial positions in E&P including President of the Shell Louisiana Company. She moved to Shell’s Downstream business in 1998 as President of Shell Deer Park Refining Company and then President of Shell Pipeline Company LP in 2002-2003. In 2004, Ms. Methvin was appointed Vice President, Base Chemicals North America and Global C4C5’s. She served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Shell Chemical LP., from 2006 through 2008. She was then appointed as Vice President, Global Distribution responsible for Shell’s terminals and trucking operations in more than 35 countries in 2009-2010.Ms. Methvin’s board experience includes serving on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Board for Coastal Restoration, Protection and Conservation since 2003, the Houston Zoo Board, a trustee for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, the finance committee for Memorial Hermann Hospital System, and the American Chemistry Council Board. She is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum Class XXI. Ms. Methvin graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and Geophysical Sciences.


Anne Milling

Founder, Women of the Storm

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Anne McDonald Milling, attended Newcomb College and continued her education as a Woodrow Wilson Scholar at Yale University, where she received a Masters of Art. Married to R. King Milling, retired Whitney National Bank president, they have lived in New Orleans where they raised their three sons.

Her entire adult life has been dedicated to improving the community in which she lives. Her numerous volunteer activities have enabled her to hop-scotch across the city, providing her an opportunity to work side by side among the diverse people of New Orleans. She has served as president pro temp of the Sewerage and Water Board of the City of New Orleans, chairman of the Bureau of Governmental Research; chairman of Loyola University’s board of trustees, president of the Junior League of New Orleans, president of Longue Vue House and Gardens and a member of the boards of the New Orleans Museum of Art, Second Harvesters Food Bank and Project Lazarus, the first residential facility for people with AIDS in New Orleans.

After the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, Mrs. Milling founded the grassroots organization Women of the Storm, an economically, socially and ethnically diverse group of women from metropolitan New Orleans and south Louisiana, with a simple mission … .invite and encourage our national leaders to see first-hand the devastation and challenges which the region faced! And indeed, they did just that! After several journeys on charter flights to Washington, 58 Senators and 142 members of the House of Representatives accepted the Women of the Storm invitation to visit New Orleans; the Road Home money was secured and revenues from offshore oil and gas leases were approved for coastal restoration.

With the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, the Women of the Storm broadened its base to include women from across the five Gulf states and have played a significant role in advocating the successful passage of the RESTORE Act. In addition they will monitor the allocation and expenditures from any of the BP oil spill fine dollars.

She currently serves on the board of the Tulane Medical School Board, the New Orleans Advocate, Entergy New Orleans Advisory board and Louisiana Children’s Museum national advisory board.

Mrs. Milling has received numerous honors and awards, among them the Times-Picayune Loving Cup in 1995.


Denise Reed

Chief Scientist, The Water Institute of the Gulf

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Denise Reed, Ph.D., is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in coastal marsh sustainability and the role of human activities in modifying coastal systems. She has studied coastal issues in the United States and around the world for over 30 years.

Dr. Reed has worked closely with Louisiana’s state government in developing coastal restoration plans. Her experience includes helping monitor natural resources in the Pontchartrain Basin and researching ecosystem restoration and planning in the California Bay-Delta.

She has served on numerous boards and panels addressing the effects of human alterations on coastal environments and the role of science in guiding restoration, including a number of National Research Council committees.

Prior to joining The Water Institute of the Gulf as Chief Scientist, Dr. Reed served as Director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences and as a professor in the University of New Orleans’ Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

She is a member of the Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board and the Ecosystems Sciences and Management Working Group of the NOAA Science Advisory Board. She earned bachelor and doctoral degrees in geography from the University of Cambridge.


Steven Stockton

Director of Civil Works, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.

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Steven L. Stockton has served as the Director of Civil Works, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in Washington, D.C. since June 2005. In this position he shares the responsibilities of the Deputy Commanding General, Civil and Emergency Operations, under the policy guidance of the Chief of Engineers and the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), for managing and directing the policy development, programming, planning, design, construction, emergency response, and operation and maintenance activities of the Army Civil Works Program, a $5 billion annual program of water and related land resources of the United States.

He previously served in a number of positions in the South Pacific Division of USACE in San Francisco, California. Principal areas of responsibility include planning and management of flood damage reduction, navigation, ecosystem restoration, regulatory, and emergency response programs. From May to November 2004 he was temporarily assigned to the Gulf Region Division, in Baghdad, Iraq, as the Director of Business Management. From January 1996 through July 1998, he served as Chief, Engineering Division, Civil Works Directorate, Headquarters, USACE, in Washington, DC. In this position, Mr. Stockton was responsible for oversight and management of the engineering functions supporting the Civil Works program. He previously served as Chief, Planning and Engineering Division, Portland District, USACE, in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. Stockton received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University in 1971. Mr. Stockton is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oregon and a member of the Senior Executive Service.


Clinton Willson

(Chair of Technical Team) Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University and Director of the Engineering Design and Innovation Program, The Water Institute of the Gulf

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With more than 15 years’ experience in applied research in water resources and environmental engineering, Clinton Willson, Ph.D., P.E., is an expert in numerical and physical modeling systems that test river management proposals. He joined The Water Institute of the Gulf as Director of Engineering Design and Innovation to develop innovative concepts, technologies, and projects that protect communities from large storms while improving the effectiveness of coastal restoration efforts.

In addition, Dr. Willson is a professor at Louisiana State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and serves on the university’s Coastal Sustainability Studio executive board. At LSU, he oversees construction of a new, large-scale physical model of the lower Mississippi River that will be used to test the effectiveness of various river management strategies.

Dr. Willson is also chairman of the technical team for the Lower Mississippi River Design Initiative and has served as a reviewer for several federal agencies. In 1997, he was a visiting professor at the Laboratory for Soil and Environmental Physics at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dr. Willson earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a master’s in environmental health engineering and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Texas. He spent seven years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Learn more about our technical team.