Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni Names Former Regional Planning Commission Director Walter Brooks as COO; Says Experience Will Help Launch Big Vision Projects
JEFFERSON, LA. – Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni announced on Friday, Dec. 28, that Walter Brooks, former executive director of the Regional Planning Commission has been appointed as his new chief operating officer. Details were shared in a press release.
Brooks served with the commission from 1976 until retiring this past September. He was credited with much of the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
“Walter Brooks is an accomplished, highly-respected administrator with the experience to help us launch major vision projects for Jefferson Parish. We are very fortunate to have a manager of his caliber help move us forward," said Yenni. "I worked with Walter when I was chairman of the RPC, and I already know that we have similar goals for Jefferson. We will work well together to strengthen our position in this region.”
As RPC executive director, Brooks oversaw planning for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes, and presided over a 54-member board of local elected officials and citizen members, appointed to manage regional issues. Brooks, who holds degrees from both Tulane University and the University of New Orleans, served on the Louisiana Recovery Authority’s Infrastructure Task Force and was co-chair of the Land Use Committee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission. He also served on the city of New Orleans’ Parish Recovery Committee.
Prior to joining the commission, Brooks worked as a district planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority serving the neighborhoods of Charleston, South Boston and East Boston. Brooks is a past member of the New Orleans Regional Business and Industrial Park Board, ex officio member of the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce Board, and a member of the World Trade Center’s Intermodal Committee. He is a past director of the Metro New Orleans Section of the American Planning Association; past president of the Louisiana Planning Council; and a former board member of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Public Works Association.
Along with Brooks’ hiring, Yenni promoted Michele Morel to deputy chief operating officer. Morel, the deputy parish attorney in Jefferson, joined the Parish Attorney’s Office in 2017. Before that, Morel served as Jefferson Parish assistant district attorney for more than 16 years, managed her own law firm, taught domestic law to deputies, and taught French to middle school and high school students.
In 2012, Morel was elected Judge in Louisiana’s 29th Judicial District Court in St. Charles Parish to fill an unexpired term.
"Michele knows the inner-workings of government," said Yenni. "She has a congenial and yet compelling way of managing contentious matters. She offers a can-do spirit with a strong work ethic, admirable resume, and forward-looking mindset. It is good to have the bench strength in a team player like Michele who is well-trained to assume this new role.”
Morel earned her bachelor of arts degree in French from Louisiana State University and graduated from Loyola Law School. She served as a legal counselor for the South Louisiana Port Commission, St. Charles Parish and the St. Charles Parish Humane Society. She is a passionate advocate for animal rights as a member of the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Yenni developed a transition team to quickly prepare Brooks for his new role in Jefferson Parish government. That team includes: Public Works director Jose Gonzalez; chief administrative assistant and former parish attorney Mike Power; and finance director Tim Palmatier.
Morel assumed her duties on Dec. 29. Brooks will transition into his office on Jan. 4.