Deano Orr Brings His Authentic Self to Work Every Day

Deano and his family. From left: daughter Atyah, Deano, his wife Coronda “CoCo,” son Aaden and daughter Aubrey Grace.

​​​​​​​When you hear the term ‘influencer,’ you may immediately think of social media celebrities. But Deano Orr has been an influencer all his life, lobbying for our industry at all levels of government. Today, he’s our Gulf Region manager for Advocacy and Philanthropy (formerly known as the Government Affairs team).

Deano’s story is firmly rooted in a mission of leadership. He grew up in the small community of Courtland, Alabama, watching logging trucks roll through town on their way to the local paper mill, where his father worked. A three-sport high school athlete, Deano was recruited and went on to play football at Ole Miss, where he lettered all four years and earned Academic All-SEC Honors.

Image of Deano and Coco takinga  break while working on their shared hobby of renovating their historic home.

Deano and Coco take a break while working on their shared hobby of renovating their historic home, which was built in 1830.

After college, he returned to his hometown and was hired by Champion International as a community relations coordinator. He started out working with local politicians, eventually moving up to the county level, then the state level. And he didn’t’ stop there.

“First, I’m working with mayors,” he says. “Next thing I knew, I was in Washington D.C., spending time with congressional members, governors, vice presidents and presidents. It’s been a rewarding career but an unusual career path; I never knew where it was going to take me.”

Champion was eventually bought by International Paper, and Deano later retired from IP after a 23-year career. He returned to Alabama to help care for his mother and to obtain a master’s degree in ministry and biblical leadership. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy in retirement, he worked as a substitute teacher and assistant high school football coach, served as a chaplain at local senior living communities, and even ran for county probate judge.

“I missed politics and I wanted to influence things again,” he says. “When I heard that Monte Simpson, my predecessor at Weyerhaeuser, was retiring, I knew it was an opportunity to get back into the industry, to influence legislation and promote policies that support healthy environments and communities. I love how perfectly it fits into my personal mission to make everything around me better. I’m proud to bring my authentic self to work every day because it aligns with Weyerhaeuser’s culture. I don’t have to change who I am to represent this company.”

Image of Deano with Alabama state Senator Arthur Orr.

Deano with Alabama state Senator Arthur Orr in Montgomery, Alabama.


Why did you choose Weyerhaeuser?

There’s an old saying that people don't leave companies; people leave people. And the same truth holds for choosing to join a company. Sometimes it's the people at the company that make you think, "Man, if I ever had an opportunity to work with this person, I'd definitely take it." Nancy Thompson was that person for me. We’d teamed up when I was a lobbyist with International Paper to advance some legislative issues, and I knew I wanted to join Nancy’s team.

What do you do as Gulf Region manager for Advocacy and Philanthropy?

I rely on my 23 years of experience in the areas of community relations, government affairs, corporate social responsibility and philanthropy to influence legislation with lawmakers. I work with legislators in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. There are thousands of bills introduced every year in each state, so there’s a new issue every day. I never have to worry about getting bored.

Image of Deano, Diane Meyers (VP and assistant general counsel), and Ron Crear (director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion).

Deano, Diane Meyers (vp and assistant general counsel) and Ron Crear (director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) toured the 16th Ave Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, as part of internal DE&I discussions for leadership.

How do you describe what you do to your family and friends?

People rarely understand the role of a lobbyist, but that’s my primary job for the company. As a lobbyist, I have the distinct opportunity to educate lawmakers about legislation they're voting on, and to help them understand the impacts those pieces of legislation could have on the bottom line of our company, our operations and on our employees — their constituents.

What’s been the most challenging so far?

Some states are more challenging than others for lobbyists. But I’m backed up by a good team to help me navigate any issues I encounter.

Image of Deano with U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama.

Deano with U.S. Congresswomen Terri Sewell of Alabama.

What’s been your favorite project so far?

When you work in public affairs, most of your time is spent responding to problems, issues or challenges. But every so often, you get an opportunity to work on something entirely positive and fun. And for me, that’s working with our diversity, inclusion and equity efforts. I was fortunate to be selected to serve on our Reflections of Color (ROC) employee resource group leadership team. Diversity and inclusion are two of my passions, so I’m excited about the work ahead!

What makes Weyerhaeuser a good fit for you?

It’s the culture. This company cares about our communities — even the way we respond to natural disasters is amazing — and I enjoy working to make my little community a better place. Even shifting the focus in our team’s name from Government Affairs to Advocacy and Philanthropy says a lot about our internal culture at Weyerhaeuser.