St. John CAO stepping down July 1

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2011



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom announced Wednesday that her chief administrative officer will be leaving her post at the beginning of next month.

Marie Brown-Mercadel, who was hired in 2010 when Robottom took office, is resigning as CAO so she can move with her husband, an active duty member of the United States Marine Corps who has been transferred to San Diego. Mercadel’s last day in office will be July 1, according to a parish release.

“Marie has done an excellent job as chief administrative officer, serving admirably during a very difficult time in our parish’s history,” Robottom said. “Her leadership and guidance were instrumental in moving St. John forward.”

With an election just around the corner, and the possibility of a new administration and a new appointment for the position, there was consideration to leave the position open. Robottom said, however, she could not afford to have another vital administration vacancy as the parish enters hurricane season.

“We needed to fill a void, especially considering that we have a vacancy at public safety director,” Robottom said. “I felt that I needed someone right away who has the same work ethic and understanding of policies and procedures that I have. Someone that I know and trust.”

Taking over for Mercadel will be Theresa Rodgers, a Prairieville native and veteran of the Ascension Parish School System. Robottom and Rodgers have served on various state boards and panels together and have known each other for more than 25 years. Rodgers will begin as CAO on July 2.

Mercadel said Friday she definitely has mixed emotions about leaving the position she has only held for about a year.

“I am happy with the way things are progressing in this administration, and I wish Natalie and Theresa the best,” Mercadel. “There were still some things I would have liked to have gotten done, but when the government calls, and it is time to move on, I have to go.”

Rodgers has more than 30 years of experience in the Ascension Parish School System, with the last six years spent as supervisor for special education.

Rodgers has also worked as the direct supervisor for Ascension Parish School Board employees and was responsible for annual evaluations as well as hundreds of formal observations and employee performance reviews. Rodgers’ other responsibilities included securing funding, federal and state reporting, compliance and data management, personnel-needs assessment and interviewing and workshop design and implementation.

Rodgers holds a master’s degree in speech-language pathology as well as an education specialist’s degree in learning disabilities from Louisiana State University.  She has completed post-graduate work in administration and supervision at LSU and Southeastern Louisiana University.

“I am extremely pleased to have Mrs. Rodgers join our team and continue the progress we’ve made,” Robottom said. “The groundwork for continued progress in St. John has been laid, the foundation is strong and this will be a very smooth transition. We have changed the policies and direction of this parish, so there should not be any let up with this personnel change.”