Retired Lt. General Russel Honoré will give a talk at the University of West Florida at 7 o'clock this Thursday evening at the UWF Conference Center. Honoré, who is best known for his efforts to restore order in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, is the featured speaker for UWF’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance.
“We’re excited to have him come and speak to us and the community and share some of thoughts and visions and maybe offer some inspiration and some lessons learned,” says Stephanie Ellis. Ellis is a Technology Services Coordinator for the Academic Technology Center at UWF and she’s the current President of the university’s Black Employees Association, which co-sponsors the event.
It was Ellis who thought of asking Honoré to speak, saying she wanted to know more about the man who’s been referred to as the black John Wayne and the Ragin’ Cajun. “Certainly, he has a compelling personality and a way with words that wasn’t seen on the national seen. So, when he came in and took charge after Katrina, it left an impact on me,” says Ellis.
The 3-star General, donning fatigues and a beret, was memorable as he headed up “Task Force Katrina.” Most notably, he coordinated the response to the chaotic situation at the Louisiana Superdome.Honoré retired in 2008 after 37 years of military service. He’s a CNN contributor and has written books focusing on emergency preparedness and leadership. “One of the challenges of being a leader is getting people focused and going in the same direction. A leader looks to unite, not to divide. A leader wants everybody on the team, and sometimes that requires some compromise. Remember change is hard” said Honoré during a November 2013 speech before the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. The topic of his talk at UWF is the “Price of Leadership.” And, of course Martin Luther King, Jr. paid the price for being the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.The program is normally held on the Saturday before MLK Day, but was moved to this Thursday to encourage students to attend. Gen. Honoré will speak at 7 o’clock in the UWF Conference Center. Afterward, he’ll sign copies of his newest book, Leadership in the New Normal.