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Women’s Coastal Leadership Breakfast


Each year more and more women become involved in Louisiana’s coastal issues. From elected officials, academics, engineers, public agencies to private firms and community organizers, women are playing prominent roles in various aspects of our land loss crisis.

CRCL’s Women’s Coastal Leadership Breakfast recognized the dedication, innovation and leadership of these women while providing inspiration and networking opportunities for women in the field. SOC’s Inaugural Women’s Coastal Leadership Breakfast was a morning of inspiring conversation with some of Louisiana most influential women.

There was no cost to attend this one of kind event.


Cynthia Duet

Cynthia is the Deputy Director of Audubon Louisiana. She interacts with government agencies, Louisiana legislators and congressional staffers, and coastal landowners and stakeholders to advance coastal policy, funding, and project implementation. A former deputy director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, Cynthia has nearly 20 years of Louisiana-specific experience in coastal policy development, strategic coastal planning, and environmental project management and education. She is the policy and legislative analyst for Audubon’s state office and also serves as the liaison for coastal landowners and leaders of the state’s coastal restoration and regulatory programs. Cynthia is a member of the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition and the Rainey Conservation Alliance, a strategic landowner advocacy group focused primarily on conserving and restoring approximately 185,000 contiguous private acres of marsh and shoreline in Vermilion Parish—parts of which are held in ownership by the National Audubon Society. She is also a participating member of the state’s Coastal Master Plan Framework Development Team and Landowner Focus Group, and various other standing committees.

Keala J. Hughes

Keala Hughes is the Director of External Affairs & Tribal Relations, at the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). Keala has 13 years of external affairs experience with the federal government. She previously worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coordinating Gulf Coast stakeholder meetings after the BP oil spill, and as a liaison for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Congressional, State, Local and Tribal leaders for hurricane disaster recovery information. Keala earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the Xavier University of Louisiana and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Norma Jean Mattei

Norma Jean Mattei is Interim Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of New Orleans and professor in UNO’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has been active in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for more than 20 years in local, regional and national leadership roles and was elected by the Society’s membership as the 2017 ASCE President. In 2012, President Obama named Mattei one of three civilian members of the Mississippi River Commission, which researches and provides policy and work recommendations covering flood control, navigation and environmental projects. In that capacity, she helped oversee a drainage basin that covers 41 percent of the nation. The governor of Louisiana appointed her to the state’s licensing board for professional engineers — LAPELS. She also serves on the board of directors the Louisiana Transportation Research Center Foundation and served on the Louisiana Technology Council’s Board. Mattei earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1982 and a doctorate in 1994, both from Tulane University.

Denise J. Reed

Denise J. Reed is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in coastal marsh sustainability and the role of human activities in modifying coastal systems with over 35 years of experience studying coastal issues in the United States and abroad. Dr. Reed has served as a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of New Orleans and spent five years as Chief Scientist at The Water Institute of the Gulf. She has served on numerous boards and panels addressing the effects of human alterations on coastal environments and the role of science in guiding restoration and has been a member of the USACE Environmental Advisory Board and the NOAA Science Advisory Board. Dr. Reed received her B.S. degree in Geography from Sidney Sussex College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from University of Cambridge.

Jessica Vallelungo

Jessica Vallelungo is a native of St. Bernard and currently serves as the Career and Technical Education Coordinator for the St. Bernard Parish Schools. She received her BFA in Graphic Design and worked as a web and print designer for several years. Her passion for working with young people brought her to change careers. Jessica returned home to lead the school district’s new JumpStart program, connecting students to career opportunities. She has been instrumental in growing parish, regional, and state wide-partnerships and has been a leader in shaping change for Career and Technical Education in Louisiana.