Guest column: River should be harnessed for restoration _lowres

Jeff Hebert

Jeff Hebert, New Orleans' chief administrative officer and chief resilience officer, is leaving Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration this month for a job with the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Hebert, who became Landrieu's second-in-command last year, will serve as the Water Institute's vice president for adaptation and resilience, according to a news release. 

He will start work at the Water Institute in January. The Baton Rouge-based, nonprofit research and technical organization seeks to help communities with coastal restoration and reducing the risk of flooding due to climate change and sea-level rise.

"Jeff has led so many of our initiatives to move the city forward toward what we always knew she could be and to prepare our city for our tricentennial," Landrieu said in a written statement. "As my CAO, Jeff has been critical in continuing our legacy of a smart and efficient government that delivers strong fiscal stewardship."

Judy Reese Morse, a longtime Landrieu aide who serves as deputy mayor for citywide initiatives, will take over as CAO as the mayor closes out his second term, ending in May. 

Hebert has served in the administration since shortly after Landrieu took office in 2010, starting as the point person for developing and implementing the city's blight reduction strategy.

He then took the reins of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, refocusing what was a troubled agency on putting 4,000 properties back into use during four years as executive director.

While in that role, Hebert also became the city's first chief resilience officer, a position created as part of the Rockefeller Foundation's Global Resilience initiative. In that role, he oversaw the drafting of the city's so-called "resilience strategy" and led the team that put together the Gentilly Resilience District, a project that was awarded a $141 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hebert retained his role as resilience officer after being promoted to chief administrative officer last year when CAO Andy Kopplin left the administration to head the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The chief administrative officer oversees much of the day-to-day operation of city government.

Morse, Hebert's replacement, now oversees a number of the city's initiatives including the NOLA For Life campaign to reduce murders. Having led Landrieu's transition into office in 2010, she is also in charge of the handover of power to Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell. 

"As the longest-serving senior member in my administration, Judy is an experienced and respected leader widely recognized for her high-level strategic thinking, planning and execution," Landrieu said. "She will ensure that the remaining priorities across all departments are met and that we finish strong on behalf of the people of New Orleans."

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​