Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Retired judge joins law firm

Judge Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, retired chief judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, has joined the law firm of Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, located at 723 Broad St.

Thibodeaux’s practice will consist of select personal injury, workers’ compensation and maritime claims. His practice will also include felony criminal defense.

Thibodeaux is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Tulane University School of Law where he excelled academically, receiving numerous honors including Earl Warren Scholar, and induction into the Tulane Law School Hall of Fame.

During his 28 years on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, Thibodeaux was awarded the Judge Leon Higginbotham Award for Judicial Excellence, the Thurgood Marshall Award by the National Bar Association, and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s President’s Award.

In addition to his legal accomplishments, Thibodeaux has been recognized for his work in the field of education as founder of the charter school movement in Calcasieu Parish.

Sarro named to state board

BATON ROUGE —Melanie K. Sarro of Lake Charles has been appointed to the Imperial Calcasieu Human Services Authority by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The Imperial Calcasieu Human Services Authority provides behavioral health and development disability services to the residents of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis and Cameron parishes.

Sarro is an occupational therapist for Sarro Therapeutic Services. She will serve as a member who is a parent in the field of developmental disabilities.

Aucoin, Thomas join Operation HandUP

The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance/Chamber SWLA announces the addition of two staffers who will lead Operation HandUP — a new agency initiative that will provide technical assistance to small and disadvantaged businesses in need of operational support.     

Michael Thomas will serve as the program’s business coordinator and Donna Aucoin will serve as a data input specialist.     

Thomas has more than 30 years of business leadership and entrepreneurial experience. He has been an active member of Phi Beta Sigma, a store manager, a loan officer and a business owner.

As a business owner, he was recognized as Diamond Elite franchise owner generating more than $350,000 in gross sales. Thomas has been a mentor and coach to many small local businesses in the region. He has been active with young football athletes in the Lake Charles area for over 25 years.

He is a 1994 graduate of McNeese State University with a degree in business.

In his role, Thomas will work directly with businesses enrolled in Operation HandUp. His duties will include business interviews, assessments, and the creation of action/service plans for businesses enrolled in the program.   

Aucoin has 34 years of work experience in bookkeeping, training, public relations, human resources and office management.

She is a graduate of Sowela Technical Community College. Her duties will be in support of Thomas.