Responsive image

SPEAKERS

 

LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE PANEL

 

 

 

 

Senator Sharon Hewitt
District - 1

A proven champion for job creation, limited government, lower taxes, and lawsuit reform, Sharon Hewitt has quickly become one of Louisiana's most trusted and effective conservative leaders.

In 2018, just two short years after she was first elected to the Louisiana Senate, Sharon was named National Legislator of the Year; by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In 2021, Sharon led the national Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and raised record-breaking funds to support state legislators across the country in their 2021 and 2022 campaigns.

Sharon serves as Senate Chair of Republican Legislative Delegation and is the current Chairwoman of the Senate and Government Affairs Committee. As Chairwoman of the Senate and Government Affairs Committee, Sharon oversaw Louisiana's redistricting efforts in 2022, taking a stand for fairly drawn districts. Sharon Hewitt also serves on the influential Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, playing an integral role in approving and managing our state's budget.

In the State Capitol, Sharon has demonstrated her unwavering support for conservative causes, leading efforts to stabilize the state budget, improve education, create high-quality jobs in STEM fields, invest in infrastructure, advocate for families, and restore Louisiana's coastline.

She earned a mechanical engineering degree from Louisiana State University and went on to become one of the first female executives in a major oil and gas company. She eventually took charge of Shell's central deepwater assets situated in the Gulf of Mexico, a division of more than 160 employees with a budget in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars a year. In that position, she oversaw roughly 10% of the oil production in the United States and was trusted with managing billions of dollars in assets.

When her children were young, she was active in efforts to improve their schools. Her work was instrumental in spearheading initiatives to expand STEM programs locally. Sharon later received the National PTA Life Achievement Award in recognition for her hard work and leadership.

Senator Hewitt and her husband, Stan, have been married for over 30 years and have two sons, Chris and Brad, who have now started their own families. They are longtime members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Slidell.

 

Senator Jeremy Stine
District - 27

Jeremy Stine is a member of the Louisiana State Senate, representing District 27. He assumed office on December 3, 2021. Stine won election to the Louisiana State Senate to represent District 27 outright in the primary on November 13, 2021, after the general election was canceled. Jeremy Stine earned bachelor's degrees in political science and government and in French language and literature from Louisiana State University in 2002. Stine's career experience includes working as the marketing director of Stine, LLC, a banker with Stephens, Inc., the manager of government and public affairs for NLBMDA and the WDMA with Smith Bucklin, and a legislative assistant with the United States Senate.

 

Representative Paula Davis
District - 69

Paula Davis was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 to serve a four-year term. Representative Davis currently serves as the first Chairwoman of the House Commerce Committee and is a member of the House Executive Committee, House Select Leadership Committee, Joint Select Committee on Louisiana Economic Recovery, and the Governor’s Resilient Louisiana Commission. During her first term, Paula served on the Insurance; Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs; Ways and Means; and Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay committees. Paula also currently serves as Chair of the Capital Region Legislative Delegation, is a member of the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Louisiana Republican Legislative Delegation.

Representative Davis was born and raised in Breaux Bridge, LA, and has been a resident of Baton Rouge for over 30 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from LSU.

Representative Davis is an active member within the Baton Rouge non-profit community, currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum, the LSU Ogden Honors College Board, and The ARC of Baton Rouge. She previously served as the 2017 President of the Baton Rouge Symphony League, Co-Chair of the 2016 Baton Rouge Symphony League Madhatters fundraiser, and Co-Chair of the Manship Theatre’s 10th Anniversary fundraiser. 

Representative Davis has been involved in Louisiana politics for over 20 years, having served as the Louisiana Deputy Commissioner of Insurance overseeing the Property and Casualty Insurance Division, and working in Association Management, Governmental and Public Relations. While at the Department of Insurance, she helped policyholders and insurance companies recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, oversaw the regulation of commercial and personal lines of property and casualty insurance, and was the Legislative Affairs Coordinator handling all of the Department’s legislative efforts, including all revisions to the Louisiana Insurance Code.

As a leader at the Capitol during her Freshman term in office, Representative Davis was recognized for her legislative efforts, including receipt of the Chamber Southwest Louisiana “LegisGator of the Year” Award, Chamber Southwest Louisiana Business Champion Award, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry “Term All-Star” Award, New Light Baptist Church Community Volunteer Award, Louisiana Hospital Association Legislative Champion Award, Louisiana Orthopedic Association Legislative Champion Award, LSU Foundation Greek Excellence Award, Louisiana Counseling Association Advocacy Award, Louisiana Appleseed Pro Bono Award, and CPAC Conservative Excellence Award. She continues to be recognized for her leadership in the Legislature, receiving Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2021 Influential Women in Business Award. 

Outside of the Capitol, Paula is a licensed commercial real estate agent with Waters & Pettit, a commercial real estate firm in Louisiana and Mississippi.  She and her husband, John Davis, have been married for 23 years and have one daughter, Hayden, a graduate of Auburn University.
 

COASTAL OUTLOOK

Kyle "Chip" Kline
LA Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA)
Director of Coastal Activities for the State of Louisiana

Chip Kline has served as Chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Board and the Director of Coastal Activities for the State of Louisiana since 2018. Kline oversees policy initiatives related to Louisiana’s coastal program and manages the day-to-day operations of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities. In this position, he is responsible for integrating the functions of all state agencies as they relate to coastal protection and has been integral in advancing the objectives of the State’s Coastal Master Plan in Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

He works closely alongside Louisiana’s Congressional delegation and the Louisiana Legislature to advance policies supportive of Louisiana’s coast. Kline has successfully negotiated policy initiatives related to permits for hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects; issues regarding the engineering, design and implementation of the mid-basin sediment diversions; strategy and negotiations related to the RESTORE Act; efforts to increase the Federal revenues coming to Louisiana through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act; and the successful passage of CPRA’s Master and Annual Plans and other legislation through the Louisiana State Legislature.

Kline represents Governor John Bel Edwards on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration, and Conservation, the Louisiana State Mineral & Energy Board, and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

 

Dr. Steven Procopio
Public Affairs Research Council of LA (PAR)

Steven Procopio joined the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana as Policy Director in 2014 where he guided PAR’s research agenda. In 2021 Steven was chosen to continue to lead PAR as the organization’s President. He previously served as Chief of Staff of the Louisiana Division of Administration where he worked on a number of transparency and fiscal issues. Prior to working at the Division, Dr. Procopio was the Director of Research and Accountability for the Lt. Governor’s office and the Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism. In that role he was responsible for research on Louisiana’s cultural economy and legislative initiatives.

Dr. Procopio is also the original Director of the Louisiana State University Public Policy Research Lab where he worked on a variety of policy issues for state agencies, nonprofits and academic researchers.

Steven is an Alexandria native with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Political Science from LSU. His doctorate in Political Science is from Indiana University. He has expertise in statistical techniques, mathematical modeling and survey analysis.

Steven is a former university instructor and lecturer who has produced a number of professional papers and publications in academic journals. For his work with the Student Government Association on hurricane response efforts, he earned the 2005-2006 LSU SGA Faculty of the Year Service Award.
 

BROADBAND-CONNECT LOUISIANA

Veneeth Iyengar, Louisiana State Executive Director
Broadband Development and Connectivity

Veneeth is the first executive director for the state of Louisiana's broadband efforts (also known as ConnectLa). He is responsible for coordinating efforts among federal, state and local leaders to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana by 2029.

He and his team are considered thought leaders in the broadband community for their rapid scale up and execution of federal dollars to impact the 1.5 million residents in Louisiana who lack high speed internet. Louisiana's efforts have been recognized and he is often asked to speak at local and national events by the Pew Charitable Trusts, National Governors Association, Former FCC officials, Fiber Broadband Association, National Conference of State Legislators, US Department of Commerce's SelectUSA Summit, National Digital Inclusion Alliance and other organizations.

ConnectLa's work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, USA Today's network of newspapers and other leading telecom publications.

Their office has also been recognized nationally and among other states in the following ways:

From 2018-2021, he was the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome. During, the parish saw the best year in history for economic development projects. His role included proactive outreach to executives from leading tech, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, articulating the case for Baton Rouge as an investment destination. In addition, he was involved in the lifecycle of Economic Development deals and he led the administration's response in helping small business owners during the pandemic.

Veneeth was asked by Governor John Bel Edwards to co-chair his Resilient Louisiana Healthcare Task Force, which included the CEOs of Ochsner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. The task force recommended approaches to create an innovative healthcare economy given the challenges posed by the pandemic. Prior to his time as a public servant, Veneeth helped build the Venture Capital/Private Equity healthcare practice for Sage Growth Partners and worked in the Office of the Honorable Robert Mosbacher Jr., former CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation under President George W. Bush.

Veneeth received the Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service in 2022, 2020 Leadership Louisiana Recipient by the Council for a Better Louisiana and 2018 Forty under 40 in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

He is on Ochsner's Health State Advisory Board with the focus of significantly improving the healthcare rankings in the state, Board of Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation and Chairman for Innovation Catalyst, a non-profit evergreen investment based in Baton Rouge that has made more than a dozen investments startups.

He received his Master of Science in finance from Johns Hopkins University and his Bachelor of Science in economics from Purdue University. Veneeth grew up in Baton Rouge and attended Baton Rouge High School.
 

TRANSPORTATION OUTLOOK

Christopher P. Knotts, P.E., FASCE
Chief Engineer - LADOTD

Mr. Christopher P. Knotts, P.E., F.ASCE, earned bachelor degrees in Engineering Technology and Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas @ Arlington.  He has over 38 years of experience, having worked in private sector prior to employment with the State of Louisiana in 1997.  He is currently the DOTD Chief Engineer, a position he has held since October 2017.

Chris is a Past President of ASCE Baton Rouge Branch (1999-00); ASCE Louisiana Section (2009-10); LES Baton Rouge Chapter (2013-14); and LES State (2019-20). 

Mr. Knotts served on the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying (LAPELS) Board from 2013-2019 and was the 2020-21 National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) President.
 

Ryan Berni, Senior Advisor
White House Infrastructure Implementation Team

Ryan Berni is Senior Advisor for Infrastructure Implementation at the White House. As part of White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu’s leadership team, he is helping oversee the delivery of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Berni previously served as a Deputy Mayor for the City of New Orleans, helping bring in new federal resources for the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina.  He has also served in several roles in the private sector.
 

STATE FACILITY AND WATER SECTOR PROGRAM OUTLOOK

Mark Moses, Assistant Commissioner
Division of Administration

Mark is Assistant Commissioner with the Division of Administration, Office of the Governor, with responsibilities over the Office of Facility Planning and Control, the Office of State Buildings and the Office of State Lands. He is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University and is a registered professional engineer. 

Mark is a Louisiana native and a career state employee with over 39 years of service with the Department of Transportation and Development, the LSU Office of Facility Services, and with the Office of Facility Planning and Control. Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Mark to the Office Facilities Corporation, and he was reappointed by Governor John Bel Edwards. 

Mark was also appointed to the Climate Initiatives Task Force by Governor Edwards. Mark is also working with the Administration and Legislature on the Water Sector Program, the Louisiana Tourism Revival Program, and the Louisiana Port Relief Program, all within the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 

Jason Sooter, Director
Office of Facility Planning and Control

Jason Sooter, a native of Pineville, graduated from LSU in 1981 with a degree in architecture. Upon graduation, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he had his own architectural firm for 17 years. It grew from a one-man operation to a firm responsible for more than 200 constructed projects in Southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean Islands. 

His body of work encompasses historic renovation, adaptive reuse, and rehabilitation work as well as additions and new construction. The American Institute of Architects has cited many of his projects for design excellence, and several architectural and construction magazines have published his work. In his spare time, Jason enjoys refurbishing old English sports cars and spending time with his family.
 

U.S. CORPS OF ENGINEERS

Christopher L. Dunn, Ph.D., P.E.

Dr. Christopher L. Dunn currently serves as the New Orleans District Chief of Engineering Division and as the District’s Levee Safety Officer. In these roles he is responsible for leading a team of approximately 250 engineers, scientists, technicians, and other support staff, in preparing quality engineering products in support of the New Orleans District Civil Works program and providing direct oversight of the District’s Levee Safety Program.

Dr. Dunn obtained his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University in 1998 and his M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of New Orleans in 2001. Dr. Dunn’s academic pursuits culminated in receipt of his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 2013 after completion of his dissertation entitled, “Assessing Levels of Reliability for Design Criteria for Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction Structures.” As a direct follow-on to his academic research, Dr. Dunn was the lead author of, “Statistical representation of design parameters for hurricane risk reduction structures,” published in Structural Safety in 2013. In August 2021, Dr. Dunn earned a Certificate in Risk Assessment and Management from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. He has been a licensed Professional Engineer in Civil Engineering in the state of Louisiana since 2002. He is also currently a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers.

Dr. Dunn’s career began with a two-year tenure with URS Corporation as a structural engineer before joining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New Orleans District (MVN) in 2000. Now in his 22nd year with USACE, Dr. Dunn has spent most of his time in Engineering Division, where he served in multiple leadership roles within Structures Branch culminating in his selection as Branch Chief in 2014. He has also served as Acting Branch Chief for the New Orleans District Hydraulics and Hydrologic Design Branch and in 2016 he was selected to serve as the Assistant Chief of Engineering Division before being selected to his current role as Chief of Engineering Division in late 2021.     

Dr. Dunn currently lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with his wife Kelly, their three daughters, and two dogs.
 

ETHICS, LAWS AND RULES FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS

John F. "Trip" McCormick, III, Director
Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr & Smith

John “Trip” McCormick diligently protects each client’s legal interests while helping grow and develop the client’s business. Trip’s legal counsel seeks not only to achieve the best legal outcomes, but also to preserve valuable business relationships and the client’s hard-earned reputation. Trip takes deep pride in the partnerships he forges with his clients, and is committed to fostering the growth and prosperity of the businesses working in Louisiana’s most vital markets.

Focused on his clients’ business success, Trip aggressively defends contractual or third-party claims, pursues debts gone unpaid, and helps craft strategic business plans by identifying and eliminating uncertainties that may stand in the way. He provides general advice and assistance to his clients in negotiating and drafting contracts, selecting insurance products and coverages, managing risk, and resolving conflicts early.

More specifically, Trip focuses his practice on commercial and construction litigation, representing a broad spectrum of clients ranging from architects and engineers to general contractors, subcontractors, land surveyors, and material suppliers. He has litigated cases arising from a variety of public, private, commercial, and industrial projects in bench trials, jury trials in state and federal court, and arbitrations. Types of matters include claims under the Louisiana New Home Warranty Act; payment claims on federal projects under the Miller Act; major public works such as storm levees and pumping stations, emergency response centers, and university classroom buildings; commercial projects, including luxury hotels, condominiums and apartment complexes, shopping centers, and hospitals; and catastrophic structural failures. In addition to the construction industry, Trip also represents clients in trucking and transportation, energy, oil and gas, real estate and property management, and regulated utilities.

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trip moved to his adopted home of New Orleans in 2001. He is a former high school English teacher and freelance writer and editor. Trip has been a player, coach, and now ardent supporter of the New Orleans Rugby Club for over 20 years. Trip, his wife Danielle, and two sons Aidan and Dylan now enjoy cheering on NOLA Gold Rugby, one of the founding franchises of Major League Rugby.

 

Henry M. Weber, Associate
Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr & Smith

Henry Weber has a valuable perspective to offer his clients, having started his career as an attorney on the plaintiff’s side of the table. It is this experience coupled with later client representation in governmental entity defense, maritime law, health care compliance and class action defense that gives Henry a broad perspective to serve his clients.

At Galloway, Henry focuses his practice primarily on insurance defense and coverage, litigation, and professional liability defense.

When not at work, he enjoys spending time with wife, Christina. Presently, Mr. Weber sits on the boards of Jewish Children’s Regional Service and Ahavas Sholem Cemetery and is fluent in several languages including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Modern Hebrew.


Thank you to our Sponsors!!

 

For more information about ACEC of Louisiana, please contact: Barker Dirmann, President & CEO

Email: bdirmann@acecl.org

Copyright American Council of Engineering Companies
1400 L Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005-3592  -  P: 202.347.7474  -  F: 202.898.0068  -  E-mail: acec@acec.org
Contact Us   -   ACEC Advocacy   -   ACEC Home  -   Coalitions Home