With a promise to bring efficient, effective and ethical governance to the office, Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Dwight McKenna has hit the ground running, announcing that he will soon release a 90-Day plan to address any deficiencies or concerns as he continues his audit of the office’s operations.
In a printed statement released shortly after the May 7 inauguration, Dr. McKenna said, “I will spend the next several days continuing my assessment and audit of all aspects of the current operations at the coroner’s office, examining ways the office can and must improve to better meet the needs of the community. One of my first actions as your coroner will be the release of a 90-day plan that will outline proactive steps, plans and timetables to rectify any deficiencies, aligning the office with best practices, to ensure the coroner’s office is operating efficiently, effectively and ethically. Throughout this process, I will reach out to you for your valued input and invaluable support.”
Dr. McKenna has also vowed to reach outside the walls of the coroner’s office and into streets of the city, with plans to host workshops on conflict resolution in schools and neighborhoods in an effort to stem the tide of violence in New Orleans.
Dr. McKenna is the first African-American coroner for the city of New Orleans in its 300-year history. He is only the second African-American elected coroner in the United States. A graduate of St. Augustine High School and Meharry Medical College, Dr. McKenna has always been a champion of the African-American community. From banking to healthcare to housing and education, to cultural preservation, he has substantially and generously embraced by word and deeds the causes and issues that he believes in.
He completed a residency in general surgery at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. And upon completion of his military duty in the U. S. Army, where he achieved the rank of Major, he returned to New Orleans in 1973 to establish his medical practice and set about affecting change within the community.
While the official swearing-in of new city leaders took place on Monday, May 7, Dr. McKenna held a special inaugural celebration on Friday, May 4, at the George and Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art.
Keynote speeches were delivered by Radio One founder Cathy Hughes, U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Vice Chairman Dr. George McKenna, and Meharry Medical College President Dr. James E. K. Hildreth.
Surrounded by images of his family in the museums Legacy Gallery, Dr. McKenna took the oath of office administered by Civil District Court Judge Herbert Cade and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Edwin A. Lombard.
Rev. Jay Augustine, pastor of the Historic St. James AME Church, gave the invocation. And Dr. Stephen McKenna led the gathering in singing a rousing rendition of the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. Camille Whitworth was mistress of ceremony.