Speakers - Gulf Coast: Preparing for Extreme Weather

Click on a speaker name to read biography.


William D. Aaron, Jr.

(October 30, 2012) William D. Aaron, Jr. is a practicing attorney and the Managing Shareholder of the New Orleans firm of Aaron, PLC A Professional Law Corporation. He is a graduate of Duke University and Loyola University School of Law. Mr. Aaron has over 34 years of legal experience in the public and private sectors and is licensed to practice law in Louisiana, Texas and the District of Columbia. He has served as Assistant District Counsel for the U. S. Small Business Administration, City Attorney for the City of New Orleans and Special Prosecutor for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office. Prior to joining Aaron, PLC (formerly Goins Aaron) in January of 2000, Mr. Aaron was a Senior Partner in the regional firm of Phelps Dunbar, LLP.

Mr. Aaron concentrates his practice in the areas of complex and high profile civil and commercial litigation, state and municipal government law, telecommunications, real estate, banking, professional liability, civil rights and insurance. He received the New Orleans City Business Newspaper's Leadership in Law Award in 2008 and 2012, is AV rated, and is listed in the Best Lawyers in America, Louisiana Super Lawyers and Super Lawyers Business Edition.

Mr. Aaron is active in bar related activities, and is a former Member and Chairman of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (LADB). He has served as an Assistant Bar Examiner with the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions for over a decade. A prominent figure in local business circles, Mr. Aaron is also a member of the Jefferson Business Council, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Active in the rebuilding of the New Orleans Area, Mr. Aaron is an Organizer and Director of First NBC Bank, a highly successful commercial bank headquartered in New Orleans and chartered by the State of Louisiana less than a year after Hurricane Katrina.

William Aaron, Jr., Managing Shareholder
Aaron, PLC
Larry S. Buss, P. E., CFM, D. WRE

(October 30, 2012) Larry S Buss has over 39 years of experience serving with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a senior advisor/national expert in flood risk management and nonstructural flood risk reduction. Mr. Buss retired from the Corps of Engineers as Chief of Hydrologic Engineering, Omaha District, having led a team of 50 people with expertise in such areas as Water Control, Water Quality, Hydraulic Structure Design, Statistical Analysis, River Ecosystem Restoration, Flood Plain Management, Emergency Flood Fighting, Flood Control Design, Sediment/Erosion Control, Watershed Modeling, Flood Warning Systems, Nonstructural and Structural Flood Mitigation, and Hydrographic Surveys.

He is currently involved on National task force teams dealing with levee security, levee safety, flood risk management, and implementation of nonstructural measures. Mr. Buss also serves as Co-Chair of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers Committee on Flood Proofing/Retrofitting. This committee is responsible for promoting and providing expertise on flood proofing and retrofitting of structures to reduce flood risk.

Mr. Buss is a past Chair of the US Army Corps of Engineers National Nonstructural/Flood Proofing Committee, whose responsibilities consist of promoting the development, implementation and proper use of non-structural flood mitigation techniques as well as providing a source of expertise in the use of non-structural techniques throughout the United States.

He is a Registered Professional Engineer and a licensed real estate broker in the State of Iowa. He is also a member of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers and a Certified Flood Plain Manager. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska.

Larry Buss, P. E., CFM, D. WRE, Retired, Chief of Hydrologic Engineering, Omaha District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Sidney Coffee

(October 30, 2012) Sidney Coffee joined the America's WETLAND Foundation in early 2008 as senior advisor. Prior to that, she headed the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities under Governor Kathleen Blanco and chaired the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana. In this position, Ms. Coffee helped lead creation of the state's Master Plan for Coastal Restoration and Protection and the reorganization of state government to more comprehensively address coastal restoration and protection efforts.

While serving Governor Mike Foster, Ms. Coffee worked in Washington, DC, on legislation to fund and authorize the state's coastal restoration efforts, including the sharing of Federal offshore oil and gas revenues with coastal producing states.

Sidney Coffee, Senior Advisor
America's WETLAND Foundation
Michael Cohen

(October 8, 2014) Michael Cohen is the Vice President of Government Affairs for RenaissanceRe, a global provider of reinsurance and insurance to cover the risk of natural and man-made catastrophes.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Cohen was a director of industry and state relations at Freddie Mac. He also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House Community Empowerment Board in the Clinton White House, was the White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and ran the Office of Special Actions for HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cohen was a legislative assistant in U.S. House of Representatives and has held various other positions both in and out of government.

He grew up in Miami, Florida and earned a B.A. at Columbia University and a J.D. at Emory University School of Law.

Michael Cohen, Director
RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation
Jennifer Gerbasi, J.D., CFM

Terrebonne Parish Department of Planning and Zoning - Recovery Assistance and Mitigation Planning Division

(October 30, 2012) Jennifer Gerbasi joined the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government Department of Planning and Zoning, Houma, LA in July 2008 to complete the Hazard Mitigation Plan Update and implement the Long Term Recovery Plan goals for the Parish. Toward that end, Jennifer has developed successful applications for $39M FEMA hazard mitigation grant programs, drafted the Gustav/Ike Recovery Plan for over $135M in Community Development Block Grant funds and is implementing $56M in programs for elevations, acquisitions, reconstructions, marine debris removal, and five critical facility hardening projects.

Jennifer's earlier work included policy and advocacy work in the areas of soil and water protection in Tennessee and the Mississippi River Basin, water rights, and international trade. She has earned degrees in law from the University of San Diego, a Master's of Professional Sciences from Cornell University, a Masters in Advocacy from Georgetown Law School, and has earned certifications as a Water Operator and Floodplain Manager.

Jennifer Gerbasi, J.D., CFM, Senior Planner
Terrebonne Parish Department of Planning and Zoning - Recovery Assistance and Mitigation Planning Division
Pamela Jenkins

(October 30, 2012) Pamela Jenkins, Ph.D., is a Research Professor of Sociology and faculty in the Women's Studies Program at the University of New Orleans. She is a founding and associate member of UNO's Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology. Before Katrina, her research interests were diverse but focused on how communities respond to a variety of problems.

Her research interests post Katrina include documenting the response to Katrina as part of a national research team on Hurricane Katrina evacuees. She has published on first responders, faith-based communities' response to the storm, and the experiences of elderly during and after Katrina. At a community level, she is involved in several projects that work directly with best practice for violence prevention including domestic and community violence.

Pamela Jenkins, Research Professor, Sociology
University of New Orleans
Susan Kaderka

(October 30, 2012) Susan Kaderka is the Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation's South Central Regional Office. Since 1999 she has overseen NWF's conservation and environmental education initiatives in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Iowa, with a particular focus on the conservation and restoration of water resources.

In 2001, she launched the Texas Living Waters program, a multi-year collaborative effort that has successfully advanced more sustainable water management and use in Texas. Susan has also led NWF's advocacy on behalf of the restoration of coastal Louisiana. She has served on the Louisiana Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration and Conservation, and has advocated for federal support for an ecosystem-scale restoration program for the area.

Susan has more than 18 years of experience in environmental program management, in both the non-profit and state government sectors, and six years' experience as a consultant and trainer for non-profit organizations. She also spent five years as a policy analyst and as director of policy research for the Texas House of Representatives. She holds a Master's degree in Journalism and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, both from the University of Texas at Austin.

Susan Kaderka, Regional Executive Director
National Wildlife Federation's South Central Regional Office
The Honorable Mitchell J. Landrieu

(October 30, 2012) The Honorable Mitchell ("Mitch") J. Landrieu was sworn in as the 61st Mayor of New Orleans on May 3, 2010. He has pledged to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for the people of New Orleans. Mitch knows it will be a long, hard road to overcome the City's challenges, but together we can create jobs, improve schools and make streets safe.

Mitch's governing philosophy is rooted in his Jesuit education, where he learned to be committed to service. He was educated at Jesuit High School, Catholic University, and earned a law degree from Loyola University.

Mitch had a successful law practice for 15 years. He became an expert mediator, focusing on alternative dispute resolution. In life, law and government, he always seeks to bring people together to find common ground.

As a State Legislator, Mitch represented the Broadmoor neighborhood for 16 years. During his tenure, he made his mark as a reformer who could get the job done. As Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Mitch served as an executive, managing a $127 million budget and 800 employees. To deliver results, he put in place strict standards of accountability.

After Hurricane Katrina, he led the effort to rebuild the tourism industry and the thousands of jobs it creates. And when other government agencies failed, Mitch's team got more than $22 million in grant money from Congress into the hands of hundreds of homeowners quickly. During his tenure, Mitch focused on creating jobs. He launched the Cultural Economy initiative to grow jobs through our culture, music, food, film and art. The cultural economy accounts for 144,000 jobs in our state.

The Honorable Mitchell Landrieu, Mayor
New Orleans
Valsin A Marmillion

(October 30, 2012) Val Marmillion is recognized as one of the top campaign strategists in the country. Under his leadership, Marmillion + Company has emerged as one of the nation's premiere marketing and strategic communications firms.

A highly skilled professional facilitator, his vast experience includes moderating panel discussions, focus groups and strategic planning sessions for such esteemed clients as the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Jobs for the Future, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Counties, The State of Louisiana, The Academy of State and Local Governments, The National Conference of State Legislators, The National Endowment for the Arts, UCLA and the Office of Senator Mary Landrieu.

Valsin A Marmillion, Managing Director
America's WETLAND Foundation
R. King Milling

(October 30, 2012) R. King Milling was elected Director of Whitney National Bank on March 22, 1978 and Director of Whitney Holding Corporation on February 13, 1979. Mr. Milling is a graduate of Washington & Lee and Tulane Universities. Mr. Milling served as President of Whitney National Bank and Whitney Holding Corporation from 1984 until April 2007 and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors from April 2007 until December 2008.

Mr. Milling is a lifelong resident of New Orleans and is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He serves on the boards of LSU Health Sciences Center, Dillard University, and Greater New Orleans Education Foundation. He is a member of the Tulane Law School

Dean's Advisory Board and is a member of the board of directors of the New Orleans Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is the Chairman of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection and Restoration, and the America's WETLAND Foundation and serves as a member on the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and is a Director of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation.

R. King Milling, Chairman of the Board
America's WETLAND Foundation
Ray Misomali

(October 30, 2012) Ray Misomali is an Emergency Management Planner within the Miami-Dade County Fire Department's Office of Emergency Management where he is the chair of the county's Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Working Group and is also the LMS Coordinator. Working with a variety of agencies, including educational, private sector, health care, non-profit, local, state and federal government, he coordinates the county-wide strategy to reduce the impact of hazards on Miami-Dade County.

Serving as Infrastructure Branch Director within the Emergency Operations Center, he coordinates the resumption of services for infrastructure agencies and also overseas damage assessment and debris clearance and removal operations following a disaster. In addition, he coordinates the county's evacuation program and critical infrastructure and vulnerability assessment.

Ray has worked for Miami-Dade County for close to five years. Prior to that, he worked in the private sector as a consultant. Ray's experience is in an all-hazards comprehensive emergency management environment where he is involved in all phases of emergency management.

Ray has participated on various panel discussions and recently was part of the team working to contribute to the formulation of the Mitigation Framework in support of Presidential Policy Directive 8. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas.

Ray Misomali, Emergency Management Planner
Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management
Ann Roberson

(May 16, 2013) Ann Roberson, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, has been employed with the South Carolina Department of Insurance for 14 years. She serves as the Executive Assistant to the Director for External Affairs and Public Information Officer. Among her responsibilities, she works as the Liaison to the South Carolina Building Codes Council and the State Emergency Management Division. She also serves as the agency representative for the Interagency Coordinating Council for the State Hazard Mitigation Plan. Ms. Robinson also manages the SC Safe Home Mitigation Grant Program which was created by the Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Act in 2007.

Ms. Roberson is a 2003 graduate of the South Carolina Executive Institute. She has always been very interested in outreach and education. The state-wide outreach program she developed for the department entitled Held in Trust, A Child Safety Seat Awareness Program, received the Governor's Year of the Child Community Hero Award in 2001.

Prior to joining the staff at the department, Ms. Roberson worked for the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Lowcountry Council of Governments and the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a grants and special projects coordinator and public relations manager.

Ann Roberson, Public Information Officer and Manager, SC Safe Home
SC Department of Insurance
Julie Rochman

(June 2, 2016) Julie Rochman joined IBHS in late 2007, with nearly 30 years of public affairs and advocacy experience representing major corporations, research and safety organizations, and issue-based coalitions. She is often quoted by both traditional and digital media outlets on a wide variety of topics.

Under Julie’s leadership, IBHS has become a world-class research and communications organization; significant accomplishments include creation of the unique, $40 million IBHS Research Center in South Carolina.

Prior to IBHS, Julie held senior positions at a leading Washington, D.C.-based strategic communication and advocacy firm; at the American Insurance Association; and at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. She serves on several advisory councils and the National Fire Protection Association Board of Directors – and previously served on Boards for the International Hurricane Research Center, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

A native of Omaha, Julie has a BA in International Relations from Tulane University, and a MA in American Government from the University of Virginia. She resides in Tampa.

Julie Rochman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
Josh Saks

(October 30, 2012) Josh Saks serves as National Wildlife Federation's Legislative Director, helping set strategy and coordinate outreach to Members of Congress on key campaign priorities, including clean water and wetlands issues, energy policy, federal appropriations for wildlife conservation and protection of public lands in Alaska and the Rocky Mountain West.

He joined NWF in 2010 as a Senior Legislative Representative for water resources campaigns where he worked on aquatic ecosystem restoration of America's Great Waters, Clean Water Act defense, Army Corps reform and more. He has been invited to speak on environmental issues before the House Democratic Caucus, the House Finance Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus and an array of clean water conferences including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake and Restore America's Estuary Conference.

Prior to NWF, Mr. Saks was the federal affairs associate for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and a Policy Analyst at the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia.

Mr. Saks has a B.A. from Ithaca College and is currently pursuing an M.A. in applied economics at the Johns Hopkins University.

Josh Saks, Legislative Director
National Advocacy Center
Larry J. Schweiger

(October 30, 2012) Larry Schweiger is President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation. He returned to the National Wildlife Federation in March 2004 with a commitment to confront the climate crisis and to protect wildlife for our children's future. National Wildlife Federation is America's most effective conservation organization, with 48 affiliates and more than four million members and supporters.

Previously, Larry served for eight years as President and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, where he pioneered watershed restoration and promoted ecological research, land conservation and community outreach. Prior to that, Larry was the Executive Secretary of the Joint House/Senate Conservation Committee for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs at National Wildlife Federation, and 1st Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Larry is an active community leader, having served on more than 40 governing boards, commissions and committees. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of The Climate Reality Project; The Climate Reality Action Fund; the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; BlueGreen Alliance; and National Wildlife Federation Action Fund.

In 2011 Larry was awarded the Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future Visionary Award for his leadership in raising awareness about the critical impacts of climate change throughout the world and commitment to employing clean energy solutions. He was selected as Pennsylvania's Environmental Professional of the Year in 2002, Pittsburgher of the Year in 2000, and he received a Conservation Service Award from the Christian Environmental Association in September 1995. Larry is married to Clara Schweiger and has three adult daughters, three sons-in-law, and four grandsons. Larry's book on global warming and wildlife, released by Fulcrum Publishing in September 2009, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth, was awarded First Prize for Non-Fiction by the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in 2011 and can be found at http://www.nwf.org/lastchance.

Larry Schweiger, President & CEO
National Wildlife Federation
Craig Tillman

(October 8, 2014) Mr. Tillman serves as President of WeatherPredict Consulting Inc., a U.S.-based RenaissanceRe affiliate that provides intelligence on natural perils to a range of entities. In his current role at WeatherPredict, he directs a team of advanced scientists with specialties in oceanography, meteorology, wind engineering, structural engineering, seismic risk and computer simulation. Mr. Tillman also serves as President and Director of RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation Inc., a non-profit foundation that supports advanced scientific research in natural catastrophes, the development of risk mitigation techniques to safeguard communities, efforts that reduce the economic turmoil following disasters, and organizations that preserve coastal habitats.

Mr. Tillman currently serves as an Executive Director for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. Mr. Tillman is also a Director for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. He holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Mathematics, as well as the Associate in Reinsurance (ARe) and Risk Management (ARM) designations. He is a longstanding member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

Craig Tillman, President
WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.
Jeff Williams

(October 30, 2012) Jeff Williams is Director, Climate Consulting for Entergy Corporation. In that capacity he plays an important role helping Entergy manage carbon risk, help business units develop strategy to build resilient communities, prosper in a carbon constrained economy and execute future sustainable growth opportunities. Jeff has been a strong advocate for taking proactive, responsible action to manage climate risks and build cost effective resilience to a changing climate.

Jeff Williams, Director
Climate Consulting for Entergy Corporation
William W Windle

(October 30, 2012) Bill Windle is a Managing Director for RenRe Energy Advisors Ltd., a subsidiary of RenaissanceRe which offers a range of energy and weather-related risk management products around the world. He is responsible for leading all origination activities in the development and execution of risk management products for corporate clients.

Prior to joining RenRe Energy Advisors Ltd., Bill was a founding partner of Takara Capital Management LP, an alternative investment fund focused on weather-centric arbitrage strategies. He has previously held senior positions at Swiss Re Financial Products Corp., Enron Global Markets and Koch Energy Trading, Inc.

Bill attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, receiving his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.B.A. from the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. Mr. Windle also is a holder of the CFA designation and holds the rank of Captain in the United States Navy Reserve. He is the former President of the Weather Risk Management Association.

William Windle, CFA, Managing Director
RenRe Energy Advisors Ltd
Maura Wood

(October 30, 2012) Maura Wood is the Partnership Manager for National Wildlife Federation's Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign. She works to characterize stakeholder perspectives and engage with stakeholders, agencies, and officials to advance coastal restoration goals and projects.

She holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Oceanography and Coastal Science from Louisiana State University. In 2011, she was honored as a "Woman of the Gulf" by the National Audubon Society for her work on the BP Oil Spill.

Maura Wood, Partnership Manager
National Wildlife Federation's Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign
Jerome Zeringue

(October 30, 2012) Jerome Zeringue currently serves as the Executive Director of the Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). The CPRA's mandate is to develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. The CPRA is also directed to implement the integration of hurricane protection, storm damage reduction, flood control, infrastructure, and coastal protection and restoration efforts in accordance with the master plan and annual plans. In partnership with federal, state, and local government, including levee districts, the CPRA is working to establish a safe and sustainable coast to protect Louisiana's communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come.

After serving as the Executive Director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District for over a decade, Zeringue joined the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities in May 2008 to serve as Director of Policy and Programs. Soon thereafter, Zeringue assumed the role of Deputy Executive Director of the CPRA and as such, was responsible for organizing, motivating and leading the integration of more than 150 staff that transferred from the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities to form the implementation office for the

CPRA. This was a crowning achievement as it marked the first time in Louisiana's history that a single state entity was responsible for integrating and implementing coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects. In addition, Zeringue serves as Louisiana's Incident Commander for coastal flood fighting during hurricane and high water events.

Zeringue's work with the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District included the effort to build comprehensive storm surge protection and wetland restoration projects for Terrebonne Parish and lower Lafourche Parish has served him well in fulfilling his current responsibilities. He also worked as a fisheries biologist at LSU Sea Grant, and assisted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on seafood regulations, then as the coastal resources director for the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, helping establish the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge before taking on the role as the director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.

Zeringue was recently named the new management Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance; taking an active lead on behalf of Governor Bobby Jindal. A native of Thibodaux, Zeringue holds a bachelor's degree in Zoology and a master's degree in Fisheries Biology both from Louisiana State University.

Jerome Zeringue, Executive Director
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

"We are grateful to our eminent speakers who volunteered their time to help Forum participants learn more about disaster safety and help advance the disaster safety movement's mission of making coastal communities safer."

Stephen Weinstein, Chairman of the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation

close this window