We can all learn and be inspired when ordinary people are suddenly thrust into extraordinary events. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, the devastation, death and human suffering was unimaginable. Many observers predicted the community would never recover. However, today New Orleans is in the midst of a booming recovery and continues to exceed expectations.
C. Ray Nagin grew up of modest means as his father worked as a janitor at City Hall. He was a very successful businessman before becoming mayor with no prior political experience. As the federally built hurricane protection system collapsed, Mayor Nagin was thrust into the largest man-made and natural disaster in history. Without a comparable precedent, he took up the ultimate challenge of steering New Orleans through near total destruction, stabilization and recovery.
In August 2005, he ordered the city’s first ever mandatory evacuation in its almost 300 year history. During the immediate storm aftermath, he never left his post and demanded action for his stranded citizens. Mr. Nagin also successfully lobbied for billions of federal recovery dollars for a state of the art hurricane protection system, unprecedented housing repairs and other critical infrastructure enhancements.
C. Ray Nagin then guided the city through several near bankruptcies and left the city in stable financial condition with all bond ratings at or above investment grade. He pushed innovative green technology initiatives that include two of the largest LEED certified affordable housing communities in the country. The city also has biofuel city buses and vehicles, energy efficient public facilities and libraries. During his time in office, New Orleans also won one of the coveted official solar city designations.
Mayor Nagin has testified before Congress on such issues as Emergency Management, Disaster Recovery, Economic Development, Infrastructure and the Stafford Act that governs federal response after disasters. The State Department recently asked Mr. Nagin to lead a delegation to work with Haitian officials to develop a recovery plan after their catastrophic earthquake disaster. The approved plan led to over $5 billion is donor nation pledges.
Ray Nagin had a very successful career in Corporate America. He held various accounting, auditing and management positions. Before becoming Mayor he transformed Cox Communications’ Louisiana from one of its poorest performing into one of its most profitable assets. Mr. Nagin earned a MBA from Tulane University, and a B.S. Degree in Accounting from Tuskegee University.
Mr. Nagin has served on many boards and commissions, primarily in leadership positions. He has also received numerous awards to include the 1995 Young Leadership Council Role Model Award, 1997 Spirit of Greatness Award, 1998 Gambit Weekly New Orleanian of the Year, 2001 National Telly Award, 2004 Big Brother of the Year Award, 2006 National Conference of Black Mayors Valiant Award, 2006 International Black Broadcasters Association Leadership Award, 2007 National Newspaper Publishers Association News Maker of the Year Award, 2008 Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership, 2009 Asante Legend Award and the 2009 MBA of the Year Award.
C. Ray Nagin resides in New Orleans with his wife Seletha and their three children: Jeremy, Jarin and Tianna.