The Bureau of Governmental Research has picked a local lawyer to take over for retiring longtime CEO Janet Howard.

The good-government watchdog group chose Celeste Coco-Ewing, who handled complex litigation at Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver for 12 years.

Before that, she worked for Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann and clerked for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She began her career working for former U.S. Sen. John Breaux.

BGR conducted a national search led by the vice chairman of its board, Hardy Fowler. “Ms. Coco-Ewing has the right talents to make BGR even more effective,” Fowler said.

“This is a great opportunity to use my experience to serve the public interest in New Orleans,” Coco-Ewing said. “I am proud to join a team with a history of excellence in research and reform.”

BGR, founded in the 1930s, has remained a prominent voice in local politics. Under Howard, who has served as president and CEO for 14 years, the group pushed successfully for a consolidated assessor’s office in New Orleans and helped torpedo plans to privatize operations at the Sewerage & Water Board.