The Business Council of New Orleans & the River Region has selected lawyer Coleman Ridley to be its new managing director.
Ridley will transition into the position, working with current managing director Bob Brown until the end of the year, said council chairman Suzanne Mestayer.
“It’s a very important position for us. We feel lucky because we have the transition time and we have some really talented people working with us,” said Mestayer, CEO of ThirtyNorth Investments.
Mestayer said Ridley’s commitment to the city set him apart during the council’s search that began after Brown announced his departure in April.
“We found him to be incredibly impressive and focused on the future of New Orleans,” she said.
Ridley, a graduate of Tulane Law School, gained experience in business litigation as a lawyer with Jones Walker. He joined the firm in 1999 and became partner in its business and commercial litigation practice group in 2006.
Ridley spoke by phone about his new job Saturday while on a break at the Crescent City Schools’ board retreat.
About six years ago, Ridley joined the charter school board of Akili Academy of New Orleans and continued his service when the school joined Crescent City Schools. The nonprofit charter management group now oversees three charter schools in the city: Akili, Harriet Tubman Charter School and Paul Habans Elementary School.
“This gives me a platform not only to help set education policy in the city, but public policy on a broader scale,” Ridley said of his new job. “That’s what intrigued me about the position. It’s a chance to work with the chief business leaders in the city — some of New Orleans’ best and brightest.”
Brown leaves the position after six years in his role as managing director. In January, he’ll transition into a consulting role with the council.
The council, created by business leaders in 1985, is focused on quality-of-life issues in the New Orleans region. The council helped start Forward New Orleans, a coalition of business and civic groups with the same goal to improve the city through reforms and advocacy.
The council’s current major areas of interest include: the Sewerage and Water Board, flood protection, the master plan for public school facilities, crime issues and the city’s budget.
Ridley offers the council a “visionary approach to the job,” Mestayer said in a news release. “He is committed to the principles which guide our work, and we know he will add a new perspective to the development of all our important initiatives.”