William N. LaForge is President of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Appointed April 15, 2013, by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning, he is serving as Delta State’s eighth president.
Before returning to his hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi, Mr. LaForge enjoyed a 36-year career, in both the public and private sectors in Washington, DC, that spanned the fields of government, law, business, higher education, and public policy.
In the private sector, he was an attorney, registered lobbyist, and principal of LaForge Government Relations, and three different law or public policy firms previously, where he specialized in federal government relations, and represented businesses and other organizations with public policy interests before the United States Congress and federal executive branch agencies.
On Capitol Hill, Mr. LaForge served as senior legislative counsel to Republican and Democratic lawmakers in both houses of Congress. He was chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, and culminated his government career as Chief Legislative Counsel and Chief of Staff to United States Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Previously, he served as Congressional Liaison for the Peace Corps and as a legislative assistant to Mississippi Congressman David Bowen. He has also advised and organized political campaigns for major office holders in both political parties. Mr. LaForge is the author of the award-winning book, Testifying Before Congress, a comprehensive treatise on preparing and delivering congressional testimony, published by TheCapitol.net in 2010.
Mr. LaForge is a member of the bars of Mississippi and the District of Columbia, and he is Past National President of the Federal Bar Association. For more than 30 years, he was an adjunct professor at George Washington University where he taught courses in the fields of commercial law, public policy, lobbying, and business-government relations. He has been a visiting professor of law at universities in Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia, where he served as a Fulbright Fellow.
Mr. LaForge grew up in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he attended public schools and graduated with honors from Delta State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, received an LL.M. in international law from Georgetown University, and studied international law at Cambridge University. He received fellowships to study government and public policy in the European Union and at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of laws from the Stetson University College of Law.
While a student at Delta State, Mr. LaForge was a faculty scholar, president of the student government association, charter president of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honorary society, and one of the first four students inducted into Delta State’s Student Hall of Fame. As an alumnus, Mr. LaForge has served as national president of the Delta State University Alumni Association and a trustee of the Delta State University Foundation. He was selected Delta State’s Alumnus of the Year in 1992 and a charter member of the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.
A daily runner, Mr. LaForge is a veteran of 61 marathons, including 24 Boston Marathons, and he has logged more than 70,000 miles running. He was named 1999 Athlete of the Year by the University Club of Washington. He and his wife, Nancy, have two adult children—Caroline and Clayton—both attorneys.