University of New Orleans professor Norma Jean Mattei chairs the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has studied flood-prone areas of the city, and knows the importance of the Mississippi River — for everything from flood protection to commerce and the environment.
Which is why President Barack Obama has nominated her to join the Mississippi River Commission.
“What really makes a big difference to me as a New Orleanian — I’m born and raised here in New Orleans — is the impact that the Mississippi, and how we manage it, has played in really causing problems along coastal Louisiana. And New Orleans, my hometown, really suffered a big hit with (Hurricane) Katrina, in part exacerbated because of what has happened to our coastline, which is our first line of defense against storm surge.”
The commission was established by Congress in 1879. It provides direction and policy advice to the administration. Three members represent the Army Corps of Engineers, one the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and three civilians.
Mattei’s nomination must now be approved by the Senate.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: November 29, 2012
This article originally reported Mattei was nominated to head the Mississippi River Commission. She has been nominated to join the commission as one of three civilian members, but not lead it.