Paul G. Aucoin was born and raised on the Westbank of St. John the Baptist Parish in Wallace, Louisiana. He attended Loyola University for undergraduate school and received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Loyola University Law School in May of 1970. Aucoin has practiced law since graduating from law school, acquiring his own private practice in May 1971. He maintains his private law firm to this day. Aucoin is the proud father of two girls, Shelley and Leah.
In July 2013, Paul was selected to serve as Executive Director of the Port of South Louisiana. A year prior to his appointment as Executive Director, he was the Port’s Legal Counsel. He has long-standing affiliations with the American and Louisiana State Bar Associations. Furthermore, he has served as Director and Chairman of various organizations and boards including the 29th Judicial District Indigent Defender Board, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, the South Central Planning Regional Loan Foundation, the River Parishes Community College, the River Parishes Tourist and Visitors Commission, the River Region Chamber of Commerce, the St. James Bank and Trust Company, the St. James Bank Corporation, and the St. James Parish Economic Development Board. He has close ties with other local groups like St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Pastoral Council, the River Region Arts and Humanities Council, and the New Orleans Chamber River Region Committee.
Paul was appointed to the Board of Directors of the World Trade Center of New Orleans and participates in the organization’s Government Affairs, International Business and Transportation committees. Most recently he was appointed to the Louisiana Board of International Commerce and the Louisiana River Pilot Review and Oversight Board.
Paul was named as one of the “21 of Industry’s Most Influential Leaders of the Corridor” in 10/12 Industry Report in 2016. He was honored to receive the World Trade Center 2017 Eugene Schreiber Award and the Plimsoll Mark Award at the World Trade Center International Jubilee.
Area Port Director, DHS/CBP/OFO
Mr. Mark Choina was appointed as an Assistant Area Port Director in the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana in July 2009 in the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations. In this role he has oversight of trade compliance, security and enforcement operations in six (6) CBP ports of entry throughout the State of Louisiana.
Mr. Choina began his CBP career (formerly U.S. Customs Service) in 1996 as Customs Inspector. He was promoted to a Supervisory CBP Officer in 2004 and served as Operations Specialist in the New Orleans Field Office from 2006 – 2009 where he coordinated Border Security Operations with federal partners throughout the New Orleans Area.
Mr. Choina has served in senior leadership roles in Department of Homeland Security Incident Command Centers, several times responding to natural disasters as well as “Operation Haitian Response” in Miami, Florida in 2010.
Mr. Choina has been awarded two (2) CBP Commissioner’s Blue Eagle Awards and one (1) CBP Commissioner’s Unit Citation Award.
Mr. Choina is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and a graduate of the University of New Orleans where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Foreign Languages. He resides in New Orleans with his wife Kathy and two (2) sons, Andrew and Matthew.
Commissioner, Office of Multimodal Commerce
Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development
Tommy Clark, a Shreveport-Bossier City, LA native, was appointed August 3, 2016, by Governor John Bel Edwards as the first Commissioner of Multimodal Commerce, a newly formed office within the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to enhance the state’s focus on multimodal transportation.
Tommy began a 25-year career in 1977 with Kansas City Southern Railway Company, a class-1 rail transportation company. His diverse railroad career consists of various management positions, including operations, marketing, industrial development, total quality management, public safety, community relations and government affairs.
He formed his own consultancy firm in 2001, Clark & Associates, LLC, specializing in government affairs, multimodal transportation, and economic development. During this time, Tommy represented several small, medium and large companies, non-governmental and governmental organizations, was appointed by two Louisiana Governors to four gubernatorial boards and commissions, among them, the La. Investment in Economic Prosperity Commission, Louisiana Community and Technical College Board of Supervisors, and Chairman of the I-49 North Funding and Feasibility Task Force.
Tommy was recruited in 2011 to join Petrohawk Energy, responsible for managing government and external affairs in the Haynesville Shale. Later that year, BHP Billiton acquired Petrohawk, he was subsequently appointed and relocated July 1, 2013, to BHP’s North American Headquarters office in Houston, as Head of Corporate Affairs, responsible for government & external affairs, communications, issues management, stakeholder engagement and social investment for all onshore shale development operations in North America. In addition, Tommy has held leadership roles on numerous civic, community and state boards, as well as several industry trade associations. He currently serves as the Governor’s designee to the Southern Rail Commission, La. Business and International Commerce, the La. International Deep Water Gulf Transfer Terminal Authority, and chairs the Multimodal Advisory Commission and Red River Waterway Commission.
Tommy and his wife, Marie, reside in Baton Rouge, have two children, and three granddaughters.
Founder & CEO, CoverSix Training Academy
Joey Comeaux is the Founder and CEO of CoverSix Training Academy. He is a Louisiana native born into a military family that drove him to a career of saving lives. He has over 8 years experience including Emergency Logistics Response, Law Enforcement and Active Shooter Response Training. He has worked on scene in every natural disaster in the US and Haiti between 2007 and 2011. Through his years of disaster response and law enforcement he saw firsthand the need to educate the law enforcement and general public community on active shooter training. With a lot of research and help from many people he decided to open CoverSix Training Academy to the public. CoverSix has currently trained over 5,000 people in three short years across several states. His mission for Coversix is to help saves as many lives as possible through proper training.
Commercial Officer, US Commercial Service, US Export Assistance Center, New Orleans
Mr. Desai is currently on a domestic assignment with the U.S. Export Assistance Center in New Orleans having most recently served as Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. He previously served as Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul where he and his team were awarded the Silver Medal, the second highest recognition in the Department of Commerce. Prior to that, he served at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. His private sector career spans various domestic and international engagements, primarily as Principal Consultant, with Fortune 500 companies where he led multinational initiatives to improve competitiveness through business process redesign and strategic use of technology.
Manoj holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Northeastern University, Boston, MA and an MBA in International Marketing from Thunderbird, School of Global Management, Glendale, AZ. Manoj is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He speaks Gujarati, Hindi, Portuguese, Turkish, and Spanish as varying levels of fluency.
Edward T. Hayes
Partner, Leake & Andersson, L.L.P.
Edward T. Hayes is a partner at Leake & Andersson, L.L.P. where he leads the firm’s international trade and business practice. The firm’s international trade and business practice focuses on a wide variety of international issues, including customs matters; import/export transactions; international sales of goods and services; disputes under bilateral investment treaties; antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings before the Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission; and World Trade Organization dispute settlement. Mr. Hayes also maintains an active international public policy and government relations practice, where he advises businesses and local governments on international trade capacity and international economic development issues, including the business implications of international multilateral and regional free trade agreements.
Mr. Hayes has published numerous articles and papers on international trade topics and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Tulane University Law School, where he teaches a Seminar on World Trade Organization policy and practice. Mr. Hayes previously served for eight years as a cleared advisor on the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee at the Office of the US Trade Representative and for seven years on the Louisiana District Export Council of the US Department of Commerce. Mr. Hayes is an active arbitrator and currently serves on the North American Free Trade Agreement Chapter 19 (antidumping and countervailing duty) roster.
In January, 2014 the country of Ukraine appointed Mr. Hayes to serve as the Honorary Consul to Ukraine for the State of Louisiana. Mr. Hayes is charged with promoting and preserving the interests of Ukraine and her citizens throughout the State of Louisiana.
Director, Michoud Assembly Facility
Keith Hefner is director of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, one of the world’s largest manufacturing plants. Named to the position in January 2017, he oversees and manages the multi-tenant facility, where key elements of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft are being built.
SLS is the world’s most powerful rocket and will carry astronauts in the Orion spacecraft, science experiments and cargo on deep-space missions. Michoud is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The facility sits on 832 acres and has over 2.2 million square feet of manufacturing space. Michoud’s tenants include other federal agencies and commercial companies.
From November 2012 to his current appointment, Hefner was associate program manager of NASA’s SLS Program Office at Marshall, managing all SLS program activities. He shared responsibility for a nationwide workforce of more than 4,200 civil servants and contractors with an annual budget of $1.9 billion. Hefner joined the SLS Program as manager of the Program Planning and Control Office. He formulated and executed all SLS resource plans, laying the foundation for efficient and affordable management of the rocket program.
From 2002 until his appointment to SLS, Hefner served as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory program manager. From 2006 to 2011, in addition to his Chandra responsibilities, he led the Space Systems Programs and Projects Office at Marshall. In these roles, he oversaw the design, development, integration, test, launch and operations of multiple science and technology development programs and projects. Hefner has extensive experience developing lifecycle cost estimates and has formulated, executed and overseen budgets in excess of $3 billion.
Hefner was assigned to the Observatory Projects Office in 1986, where he specialized in project and resource management with the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope programs. He joined NASA in 1985 as a program control engineer in the Program Development Directorate.
He has received numerous awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, a Space Flight Awareness Award, the Silver Snoopy Award, multiple Center Director Commendation awards and numerous group achievement awards.
Hefner is a 1984 graduate of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.
Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Port of New Orleans
Robert M. Landry is Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for the Port of New Orleans. In this role, he has responsibility for The Board’s revenue producing activities, including cargo and maritime leases, cruise and tourism, industrial real estate, and vessel berthing. Mr. Landry has been with the Port since 1989 and had previously served as the Director of Marketing and as Senior Manager of Operations.
As Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Landry’s focus is on increasing business volumes at the Port by means of customer outreach, new service developments, and joint venture opportunities. Mr. Landry is also responsible for working with both the State and local economic development agencies to increase maritime-related investment in the New Orleans area and the state of Louisiana.
Mr. Landry came to his post in New Orleans with nearly five years of experience as manager of marketing research for the South Carolina State Ports Authority in Charleston. Previous to that, he was a marketing instructor at LSU, Clemson University and the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where he taught International Business, Marketing Research and Consumer Behavior.
Mr. Landry holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Marketing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a board member of the Louisiana District Export Council, the International Business Committee of the World Trade Center, the Transportation Committee of the World Trade Center and the Louisiana-European Alliance Partnership, and the International Wood Products Association. He is also a member of numerous industry organizations, including the Intermodal Association of North America and American Institute for International Steel.
Mr. Landry is married, and he and his wife Terri have one son, Rob.
Executive Vice President of National Sales for IMC Companies
Donna Lemm, is the Executive Vice President of National Sales for IMC Companies, a leading provider of container drayage, equipment management and supply chain solutions headquartered in Memphis, TN. Donna has over twenty-five years in the global logistics business. Her early career was spent on the ocean carrier side in sales where she credits the foundation for her commitment and passion for the business. She joins the IMC executive team to lead the company’s national sales footprint serving every major port and rail operation in the United States.
Donna is a member of the Board of Trade in New Orleans and is a Director with the International Freight Forwarders Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans. She serves on the Advisory Board of Agriculture Transportation Coalition and recently served as the AGTC Chair of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) testifying before Congress. Donna is an active speaker on both a regional and national scale in addressing the challenges facing the U.S. shipping and intermodal community.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Bradford, England.
Director of Communications, AM/NS Calvert
Having worked in public, private and non-profit communications in Alabama, Louisiana and northwest Florida for over 25 years, Scott was named Director of Communications for AM/NS Calvert by former owner ThyssenKrupp AG in January 2008 prior to the facility’s construction. In 2014, the facility was acquired by a joint venture of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, the world’s first and second largest steel producers.
Under this new joint venture ownership, he is responsible for all aspects of internal and external communications and corporate responsibility for the state-of-the-art steel processing facility, which has an annual production capacity of 5-million tons of exposed and non-exposed material for the automotive, pipe and tube, appliance and steel service center industries. The facility employs approximately 1,700 team members.
Prior to joining the facility, he held communications and governmental affairs related executive management positions at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the State of Alabama Public Service Commission.
A native of Andalusia, Alabama, he is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mobile Area Education Foundation, the Gulf Coast Exploreum and Science Center, Mobile Baykeeper, and is 2018 Board Chair of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council.
Partner, Adams & Reese, LLP
Diana Cole Surprenant is a Partner with Adams and Reese, LLP. She advises employers on complying with state and federal anti-discrimination laws and wage and hour laws. She also provides legal advice to employers and assists in navigating complex issues in the workplace. She also develops and revises handbook policies. Additionally, Diana represents employers in arbitration proceedings, administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights, and in the state and federal courts. She also assists employers in defending against retaliation claims; collective action claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Diana also offers training and seminars to employers to address employment issues in the workplace.
Supervisory Entry Specialist, Base Metals Center
US Customs & Border Protection, Port of New Orleans
Ms. Urban is a Supervisory Entry Specialist for the Base Metals Center and the Broker Management Officer in the Port of New Orleans. Her career with Customs and Border Protection covers a span of more than 30 years with positions as a CBP Officer, Import Specialist and an Entry Specialist Team Leader.