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Range will replace Favre at MDES

Les Range

Les Range

Deputy executive director for Department of Employment Securities takes over at month’s end


Tommye Dale Favre is retiring as executive director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), ending a memorable six-year run. There have been sweeping changes at the MDES under Favre’s leadership. Fortunately, the agency’s new leader was there through all of those changes, and is prepared to lead the MDES into the future.

On Sept. 8, it was announced that Gov. Haley Barbour had appointed Les Range, the MDES’ current deputy executive director and chief operating officer, as Favre’s replacement. He will take over the reins at the end of this month when Favre officially steps down.

“Les has been on board since 2004, leading the agency’s workforce and unemployment insurance programs,” Barbour said. “He is already very knowledgeable, and will do an outstanding job in this new position.”

Named deputy executive director and COO in 2006, Range has spent the last three years focusing on aligning the plans and operations of the state’s workforce system, improving customer service and developing new strategic alliances to leverage workforce training resources.

“I appreciate the opportunity to lead this vital agency at a time when there is such a great need for our services and resources,” Range said. “I realize the urgency that comes with this assignment and I will continue our team’s efforts to strategically focus on increasing employment for our citizens.”

Range has a wealth of management experience with state government agencies, regional and local economic and community development organizations, colleges and universities and as a business owner. As an administrator and member of the President’s Cabinet at Tougaloo College, he was in charge of fundraising, development, alumni relations, special events, public relations and marketing.

He has worked as a consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid-South Delta Initiative, and provided hands-on technical assistance in the areas of management, proposal writing, program planning, organizational capacity building, community action planning, leadership, team development and regional networking.

As program leader for economic development and public policy for the Delta Partners Initiative at Delta State University, he managed programs aimed at building partnerships between groups, organizations and individuals in the Mississippi Delta.

At the local level, he served as city planner and economic development director in the small, rural Delta town of Mound Bayou. At the state level, he worked at the Mississippi Research and Development Center as special projects officer, manager for black economic development and communications director.

While Range holds an MBA from Delta State, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism from Northeastern University in Boston, and his is well known for his writing. He began his professional career as a newspaper reporter with The Christian Science Monitor in Boston. And, he served for a number of years as a regular contributing columnist to The Clarion-Ledger.

Range’s experience at the MDES will be a plus. He has large shoes to fill, and no one is more aware of that than Range.

He arrived at the agency in 2004 at the same time as Favre, who was handed a big task. In 2004, agency formerly known as the Mississippi Employment Security Commission was restructured as the MDES with legislative passage of the Workforce Development Act of 2004 in the first year of the Barbour Administration. It was a sweeping reorganization of the state’s workforce training efforts that put the agency under the governor’s supervision.

Barbour gives her high marks.

“Tommye Dale’s tenure has been marked by tremendous improvements in the scope and structure of this important agency’s operations, and I appreciate her dedicated service,” Barbour said.

Favre, a former human resources executive for Mississippi Power Company, was charged with strengthening partnerships with business, WIN Job Centers and community colleges through the state agency. The new agency’s mission, “Increasing Employment in Mississippi,” was selected to reflect the significant change in direction and purpose of the agency serving both businesses and the job seekers.

Favre created the Office of Business Outreach to connect businesses with the many employment and training services and programs offered through the network of the WIN Job Centers and to help defray the workforce and human resource development costs of new and existing businesses. The collaborative effort featured partnerships between MDES, state agencies and other entities, including the Governor’s Office, Mississippi Development Authority, State Board of Community and Junior Colleges and the four Local Workforce Investment Areas. Among other mandates, Favre was tasked with merging the State Workforce Development Council, overseer of state workforce dollars, with the State Workforce Investment Board, which oversees federal workforce dollars. “In 2004, the governor gave me two charges: to better align Mississippi’s workforce system and to make the Mississippi Department of Employment Security a more progressive, customer-focused agency. I hope I have done both. I have certainly enjoyed trying,” Favre said.


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About Wally Northway

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