The CPEX board comprises a formidable set of passionate community leaders with extensive backgrounds in planning, law, legislation, economic development, entrepreneurship, marketing and communications, crime prevention, healthcare and philanthropy.
Cordell Haymon, Chair
Senior Vice President, SGS Petroleum Services Corp.
Cordell Haymon is a Baton Rouge attorney and businessman. He has a B.A. in Economics from Rice University and a J.D. from the LSU Law Center. He was engaged in the active practice of law for 25 years and served as President of the Baton Rouge Bar Association and on the Board of Governors of the Louisiana State Bar Association. He is a member and past President of the Louisiana State Law Institute.
For over 20 years Mr. Haymon was principal owner and CEO of Petroleum Service Corporation which does barge and ship loading and unloading, marine dock operations, and industrial product handling. In 2004 the company was acquired by SGS, a global firm based in Geneva. Mr. Haymon continues to serve as Sr. VP of SGS Petroleum Service Corporation and on the Board of SGS North America.
Mr. Haymon has been an advocate for proactive planning and, while serving on the Board of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, chaired the committee which created a plan for the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge (Plan Baton Rouge) in 1998. He has also served as chair of Teach for America – South Louisiana since 2004.
Mr. Haymon is married to Louisiana’s Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon, has two children and three grandchildren, and attends University Presbyterian Church.
Preston J. Castille, Jr., Vice Chair
Partner, Taylor Porter
Preston J. Castille, Jr. is a partner and a member of the Taylor Porter Law Firm’s Executive Committee. He joined Taylor Porter in 1994 and is engaged primarily in business litigation and transactions. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Castille worked as an economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In addition to being an experienced litigator in both state and federal court, Mr. Castille assists clients with matters involving the Louisiana Legislature, the Louisiana Public Service Commission and other state and local governmental entities. Mr. Castille is ranked in Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Administrative Law and Insurance Law. Mr. Castille is active in various education-related organizations including New Schools for Baton Rouge and several charter school organizations. He serves on the Greater Baton Rouge Area of Chamber of Commerce Business Advisory Committee.
Robert Schneckenburger, Treasurer
Senior Regional President – Western Region, Hancock Whitney Bank
Robert Schneckenburger, a New Orleans native, has been a resident of Baton Rouge since 1993, when he started at JPMorgan Chase Bank (Premier Bank) as a Vice President of Commercial Banking with a focus on healthcare and senior living. In December 2010, he assumed the role of President of the Baton Rouge Market for JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. In March 2016 Robert began at Hancock Whitney Bank and currently serves as the Senior Regional President, overseeing all of Hancock Whitney’s operations in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Texas.
Robert graduated from LSU with a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1980 and a Master of Science in Economics in 1982. He has served on the United Way Campaign (Healthcare Division), the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Mary Bird Perkins Fundraising Campaign, the Womans’ Hospital Foundation Fundraising Campaign, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber Board of Directors, and the Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation.
Robert is married to Whitney Vann Schneckenburger and they have two children.
Deborah sternberg, Secretary
Chair, Young entrepreneurs academy Baton rouge
Deborah Sternberg is an entrepreneur and former president of Starmount Life Insurance Company, where she oversaw and led the digital transformation of the company’s individual insurance division. She also headed the corporate communications, compliance, marketing and human resources teams. Sternberg also served on the senior leadership team of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, another Unum Group business.
Before joining Starmount, she was vice president at public relations firm Goodman Media International and associate producer for CBS Network News, both headquartered in New York City. She also served as Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
President and ceo, capital area united way
George Bell, an accomplished nonprofit executive and Louisiana native, leads Capital Area United Way. Mr. Bell is a recently retired health care executive with 30 years of progressive management experience in physician practice management, business development, and hospital administration. He has worked for Baton Rouge General from 1999 until December 2015, where he served in a number of executive level positions, most recently as Administrator, Baton Rouge General – Mid City. Prior to that, he served as Sr. Vice-President, Physician and Community Relations, including BRG’s Arts in Medicine Program; Vice-President of Physician Relations; and President of Baton Rouge General Physicians, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of General Health System which he grew from 14 physicians to 85+ physicians over 12 years.
Mr. Bell is a native of Thibodaux, LA, and is a 1981 Hall of Fame graduate of Nicholls State University with a B.A. degree in Political Science. He also attended The Ohio State University, where he studied graduate level courses in Public Policy and Management, and Wharton School of Business, Health Care CEO Talent Development Course. He recently became a Certified Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma in December 2015.
Mr. Bell has been active in the Baton Rouge community, having been presented the Camelot College Community Award of Excellence in 2015, and the 2016 Medical Professional of the Year Award by Mu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. He currently serves or has served on the following boards: Salvation Army Board of Advisors, Immediate Past Chairman; Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, Board Member, 1st Vice-Chairman; Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX), Board Member; Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Treasurer; BR Transit Coalition, Task Force Member and Qualification Review Committee; Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Board Member, Education Committee Chair; Urban Congress, Steering Committee Co-Chairman; Mid City Merchants, Board Member; Kid’s Orchestra, Board Member.
In addition to his professional calling, Mr. Bell has maintained a lifelong passion for music. He plays the trumpet regularly as a member of the music ministry at his church, Word of Life Christian Center, and occasionally performs and volunteers in local schools to promote and support music education. He has also produced and performed over 12 concerts at the Manship Theatre with his George Bell and Friends ensemble.
Mr. Bell resides in Baton Rouge, LA, with his wife, Terri. Together, they have one son, Gordon (Dana), and three grandchildren, Talia 16, Seyan 14, and Grant 12.
Owner, Brandt + Associates
Jim Brandt is the managing principal of Brandt & Associates, a consultant firm offering professional services in public policy research, fund raising and development, special event planning, and strategic communications for nonprofit organizations.
He has over forty years of experience in government administration, public policy research and nonprofit management. He served as President of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) from 1999 through 2010, when he retired from PAR. He was the author or co-author of scores of research reports in the areas of governmental finance, public administration, and constitutional issues.
Prior to his work with PAR, Mr. Brandt was President and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) in New Orleans from 1987 to 1999. His previous professional experience also includes serving as the Deputy Director of the Downtown Development (DDD) in New Orleans, and as Director of Planning for the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.
He was an adjunct member of the faculty at the University of New Orleans College of Urban and Public Affairs in public administration and at Tulane University in planning and grant development.
Mr. Brandt is the immediate past chair of the 2012 Community Fund for the Arts Campaign in Baton Rouge. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for both CPEX and the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families, also serving as an officer with the Partnership and on their state Policy Council.
His professional affiliations have included: the Governmental Research Association (GRA), where he served as President of the national organization from 1995-1997; the American Society for Public Administration, the American Planning Association, and the National Taxpayers Conference. He was also a member of the faculty at the LSU Academy of Politics and a graduate of the Council for a Better Louisiana’s 2000 Leadership Louisiana program.
Mr. Brandt is a Phi Beta Kappa honors graduate of the University of Colorado, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree (majoring in history and political science). He received a Master’s Degree in Community Organization and Planning from Tulane University.
He resides in Baton Rouge with his wife, Janie Rhorer Brandt.
Director, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
The Coalition’s mission is reconnecting the River with its Delta – to protect people, wildlife and jobs. Its primary partners are the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Steve began leading the Coalition in 2014.
He is also in his 22nd year at the Environmental Defense Fund, now serving as Associate Vice President, Coastal Resilience. After growing up in Louisiana, Steve joined EDF in Washington DC in 1997, where he has served in a number of roles. Prior to EDF, Steve served in government and non-profit roles at the state and federal levels.
Steve received his B.S. from LSU in 1976. He began his career in the private sector in Louisiana, spending five years negotiating oil and gas leases for an independent energy exploration firm. He makes his home in New Orleans. Current community involvement includes founding chair and current board member for New Harmony High School, advisory board member for Foundation for Louisiana, Governor’s appointee on the Governor’s Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation.
Helena Cunningham founder and CEO, National Housing Consultant Services
Ms. Cunningham is the founder and CEO of National Housing Consultant Services, LLC (NHCS). NHCS is a full service housing and community development consultant firm. We work closely with non-profit, for-profit developers and organizations to promote home ownership, housing and community development, project management, preservation of affordable housing and sustainable quality communities for low- and moderate- income persons.
Ms. Cunningham was formerly the NHP Foundation’s (NHPF) Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the affordable housing programs in the Gulf Coast Region. She oversaw the rehabilitation of 1,000 units and the development of 2,000 new units of multifamily affordable housing in the region, at an estimated cost of $300 million.
As the former President and Appointing Authority of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, Ms. Cunningham began her career with the Agency as its General Counsel from November 1997 until she filled the position of Vice President in December 1999 and subsequently elected President in April 2001.
Holding a certification as a Certified Public Accountant and a Juris Doctorate degree, Ms. Cunningham has combined her education with over 15 years of varied experience in financing, development and construction of low to moderate and mixed income housing. Bringing her unique perspective of seeing development from government’s viewpoint, as well as a private developer, she has the ability to understand the goals and objectives of the state and translate that into real measurable outcomes.
Ms. Cunningham's affiliations include membership in the American Bar Association, the National Association for Bond Lawyers, the Louisiana State Bar Association, and the Baton Rouge Bar Association. She has served on the advisory committee for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, Baton Rouge LISC and Mid South Delta LISC. Currently, Ms. Cunningham serves as a board member for the East Baton Rouge Mortgage Finance Authority, as well as a member of theExecutive Committee of the Louisiana Association of Affordable Housing Providers. She is married; mother of two and an active member of many social and community organizations.
kelsey kornick Funes
Partner, phelps dunbar llp
Kelsey Kornick Funes is a partner in the Baton Rouge office of Phelps Dunbar LLP where her practice focus is construction law. Ms. Funes currently serves as the practice coordinator of the Baton Rouge Litigation practice.
She represents owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and design professionals in state and federal courts in Louisiana, as well as mediation and arbitration across the Gulf Coast region. Ms. Funes also regularly counsels clients in the drafting and negotiation of construction contracts. Ms. Funes regularly speaks at seminars and briefings on construction-related topics. She is also the author of a number of published works relating to Louisiana construction law, the use of electronic documents in Louisiana and Louisiana’s rules of professional conduct.
Ms. Funes is an active member of the American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law and is an arbitrator on the American Arbitration Association’s Construction Panel. She is the listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business and has an AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
A native Louisianan, Camille Manning-Broome is internationally recognized for her expertise in resilience and adaptation planning. Her leadership on issues of land loss, coastal community sustainability, climate change resilience and adaptation as well as resident-led community planning has contributed to the transformation of cities, towns and parishes throughout Louisiana and has created knowledge of interest to peers throughout the U.S. and the globe, from South Africa to Scotland to Denmark.
Having spent time in various parts of the state throughout her life – summers in Natchitoches, graduate school work in lower Plaquemines Parish, and now raising a family in Baton Rouge, Camille’s driving passion is planning for a Louisiana her kids will be proud to call home. She invests her personal and professional energy into engaging local and state leadership in support of resident-driven planning efforts. Through this work, Camille prioritizes resilience, equity, and preservation of cultural and social ties for all residents, with emphasis on populations facing challenges associated with historical disinvestment, land loss and changing climate conditions.
As President and CEO, Camille oversees CPEX’s multidisciplinary team as they develop plans and provide technical assistance, data and research, policy guidance, communications support and thought leadership to communities seeking to make thoughtful decisions about how they develop and grow. Camille works closely with the CPEX Board of Directors to set the organization’s vision and advance CPEX’s mission to bring people and planning together to make great places.
In her previous role as Senior Vice President, Camille guided CPEX’s planning and implementation team in developing comprehensive plans, model land-use tools, and implementation strategies for more than 30 Louisiana communities. She built CPEX’s coastal resilience line of work by engaging coastal communities in creating a vision for the future of the working coast and developing the strategies, programs, and resources necessary to make progress toward that vision. Camille managed CPEX’s business development activities and has cultivated and maintained strategic relationships with funders, project partners, consulting clients, and stakeholders.
Camille’s prior career experience includes work in nonprofit, private and government sectors. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, she was among the first planners on the ground, working across 36 parishes to develop the Louisiana Speaks regional plan. She served as Assistant Deputy of Operations for FEMA’s Long-Term Community Recovery group and was later recruited to the Shaw Group where she co-authored Louisiana’s first Coastal Master Plan. She has attended Congressional delegation trips to the Netherlands and Japan to study water and disaster management.
Camille has a B.A. in Art History and an M.A. in Environmental Science with an emphasis on Disaster Science and Management from Louisiana State University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Sciences at LSU; her dissertation research is focused on community adaptation to climate change.
Expertise: Climate Futurist, Adaptation Planning, Resilient City Design, Disaster and Resiliency Planning, Environmental Management, Facilitation, Strategic Planning
Dr. Kenya lenoir messer
associate vice provost, lsu office of diversity
Dr. LeNoir Messer has served as an Educator and University Administrator in positions ranging from The Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University, NY to the Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Management at Wilberforce University, OH. Prior to LSU, Dr. LeNoir Messer was a senior member of the development team at the University of Pennsylvania, PA., where she led the University’s efforts with parent outreach and development. In addition to her administrative history within Higher Education, she is a published author, researcher and lecturer. She received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in dance from Union College, NY; a master's degree in counseling and student personnel administration from Columbia University, NY; a doctorate of education, from Columbia University, NY and completed research and study in London, England, Athens, Greece and Rome, Italy.
Dr. Messer is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic initiatives including, strategic planning, outreach and communications and central diversity education efforts and reporting with Deans, faculty, staff and students; leads the unit's fundraising and advancement efforts; provides oversight and guidance for the National Diversity Advisory Board; and manages partnerships pertaining to special initiatives with local, national and international constituents.
Somesh Nigam, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief Analytics & Data Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
With more than 25 years of experience at major technology, pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies, Somesh Nigam oversees all analytics and data functions at BCBS. He is transforming how the organization gets, stores, analyzes and uses data to improve the health and lives of Louisianians.
Before moving to Louisiana in 2017, Nigam was vice president of Information and Data Governance and Health Informatics with IBM’s Global Chief Data Office.
Before joining IBM, Nigam was senior vice president and chief informatics officer at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. Nigam is a sought-after speaker at national healthcare analytics conferences and forums. He earned his Master of Science and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.
senior consultant, cornerstone governmental affairs
Paul W. Rainwater most recently held the title as Governor Jindal’s Chief of Staff. He resigned in February of 2014 to pursue a career in the private sector and shortly thereafter joined Cornerstone Government Affairs.
Prior to his latest position, Paul held the title of Commissioner of Administration. Before that, he served as Governor Jindal’s deputy chief of staff. Prior to that, he served as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). Previously, Paul served as legislative director and chief of operations for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. From June 2006 to January 2007, he served as director of hazard mitigation and intergovernmental affairs at the LRA, where he managed program policies, served as team leader and coordinated with state and federal agencies to set mitigation priorities. From July 2000 to June 2006, Paul served as the chief administrative officer for the City of Lake Charles.
Paul also formerly served as manager of governmental affairs for Conoco, Inc., Gulf Coast Business Unit in Baton Rouge from 1998 to July 2000; as manager of public affairs for ARCO Chemical in Lake Charles from 1995 to May 1998; and as administrative aide to the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury in Lake Charles from 1988 to 1996.
In addition to his public service duties, Paul also serves as a colonel with the Louisiana Army National Guard in the Joint Director of Military Support for Disaster Response Unit. He previously served as a lieutenant colonel in the Congressional Liaison Office of the Louisiana Army National Guard and as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserves’ 336th Finance Command. For his military service, Paul has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in government from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, and is certified as a local government manager by Louisiana State University.
Partner, Phelps Dunbar LLP
Randy is a partner in the business group in the Baton Rouge office of Phelps Dunbar LLP. His general business practice is concentrated in the areas of real estate, banking, and commercial transactions.
Prior to joining Phelps Dunbar, Randy was a certified public accountant for Arthur Andersen & Company in New Orleans from 1978 to 1981. He served a judicial clerkship for the Honorable E. Grady Jolly, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans from 1984 to 1985.
Ashley Shelton President and CEO, Power Coalition
Ashley K. Shelton is the Executive Director of the Power Coalition, a spin off organization of One Voice. As the Louisiana Director of One Voice, She led a series of coordinated campaigns and anchored and supported the development of the 501c3 table that is now the Power Coalition. The Power Coalition serves as a catalyst for real collaborative work between policy and community organizing groups. The Power Coalition uses a broad-based strategy that combines base building, popular education, and organizing all while increasing the capacity of community based organizations throughout the state to sustain and hold the work.
She also was the former Vice President of Programs at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LDRF), now the Foundation for Louisiana. In the fight for an equitable and inclusive recovery for the Gulf Coast it remains clear that much work needs to be done at the state level to achieve equity and inclusion for Louisiana's most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
In her role at the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Ms. Shelton managed a system of integrated, value-added programs with the goal of creating a better Louisiana for all of its citizens in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In her role at LDRF, she designed, initiated and coordinated a comprehensive policy strategy, which led to a systemic, multi-pronged approach to equitable policy development on a local, state and national level. Utilized a participatory model that engaged local, state, and national partnerships to develop and nurture civic engagement throughout the state. Ms. Shelton provided leadership, and key philanthropic knowledge of Louisiana based nonprofits to put more than 8,000 families back into homes and restore more than 4,000 small businesses after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Prior to this, Ms. Shelton served as Director of Grantmaking for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Ms. Shelton has received many honors, including selection as a 2005-2006 Fellow in the Emerging Leaders Program at Duke University and the University of Cape Town, and was appointed in 2003 to the Foundation for the Mid South's Commission to Build Philanthropy. Ms. Shelton attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications.
James E. A. Slaton Member, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, LLC
James E. A. Slaton is a Member of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. and practices out of its Baton Rouge office. He concentrates his practice in commercial real estate, including sales and acquisitions, development, land use and zoning matters and financing.
James is a fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and a member of the American Bar Association Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section, in which he served as chair of the section's Land Use and Environmental Group from 2016-2018. In 2017, Best Lawyers in America named James the "Lawyer of the Year" in Baton Rouge for real estate law. He received his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and B.A. from Louisiana State University.
EVP, Baton Rouge Area Foundation
John Spain is the executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, where he oversees projects that aim to solve fundamental problems across South Louisiana. John’s work has included health care and education reform, economic development and renewal of inner city neighborhoods. Recently, he spearheaded a project that created the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, which won $60 million in federal tax credits for inner city rebuilding in its first try.
Prior to moving to the Foundation, John was the managing director of The Powell Group, a private holding company with thirteen diverse subsidiary companies.
John started his professional career in the field of broadcasting and worked at WBRZ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baton Rouge for 23 years. He served in various capacities including investigative reporter, news director and station manager.
Dr. Robert Twilley
executive director, Sea grant louisiana
Dr. Twilley is currently the Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and a professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at LSU.
Dr. Twilley was the director of the Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute at Louisiana State University at Lafayette, and a professor with the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science. Most of Dr. Twilley's research has focused on understanding the ecosystem ecology, management practices and biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands both in the Gulf of Mexico (from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula) and throughout Latin America. He works on the nutrient biogeochemistry of wetland and coastal ecosystems, and on coupled ecological models of ecosystem management. Dr. Twilley has published over 75 articles in journals and book chapters on his research. In 1999 he co-edited The Biogeochemistry of Gulf of Mexico Estuaries, in 2001 he was lead author of Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast Region: Prospects for Sustaining Our Ecological Heritage, and 2002 he was co-author of a report by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change entitled Coastal and Marine Ecosystems and Global Climate Change. Presently, Dr. Twilley is member of the Louisiana Framework Development Team that is developing a comprehensive restoration plan for the Louisiana Coastal Area. He was the recipient of the 2000 Distinguished Professor Award at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and holds the Board of Regents Professorship in Coastal Biodiversity. He is active in the Estuarine Research Federation having co-chaired the ERF’99 conference in New Orleans, and was program chair of the 2003 annual conference of the Society of Wetland Scientists. He has served on several scientific program and review panels including National Science Foundation, EPA, NOAA, World Wildlife Fund, Gordon Conference, and US Climate Change Science Program, as well as on the editorial board of three professional journals.