The Office of the Chief Administrator serves as a vital link between the Mayor’s Office, City Council, department directors, and other entities to facilitate outcomes consistent with the overall vision and mission of the City of Gulfport. The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) oversees the city’s more than 10 departments and is responsible for oversight and management of city operations, ensuring efficiency, accountability, and productivity in the city’s commitment to deliver quality services through the daily operations of municipal government.

Leonard Papania

As a lifelong resident of Gulfport, Leonard J. Papania is invested in improving the quality of life for its citizens. He started his career with the City of Gulfport in 1991 as a Reserve Police Officer.  After three years, he became a full-time Police Officer for the Gulfport Police Department.  During his career with the Gulfport Police Department, Leonard served in the Patrol Division, the Proactive Unit, and the Narcotics Division.  He was a Task Force Agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and later served as a Task Force Officer with the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

He quickly rose through the ranks. In 2002, he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and was assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit.  Two years later he made, the rank of Lieutenant and served as the Officer in Charge of the Internal Affairs Unit.  Following that, he was appointed as the Operations Bureau Commander.  In 2009, he was appointed as Deputy Chief of Police, which was, of course, a precursor to him being appointed as the Chief of Police in May of 2013. Community engagement was central during his tenure and created the environment for the development of initiatives like D.R.I.V.E. (Diversity Requires Inclusion Valued by Everyone) and the Homeless 2 Housing Gulfport Hub.

In August 2020, Leonard retired and entered the private sector to work as the Law Enforcement and Community Outreach Liaison for Oceans Healthcare.

However, the desire to continue work is his home city never left him. July 2021 saw the return of Leonard to the City of Gulfport when Mayor Billy Hewes appointed him as the Chief Administrative Officer. In this role, he will continue to focus on collaborative efforts between the public, private entities, and nonprofits to better our community.

He is a graduate of St. John High School (Gulfport).  He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Leonard is a 2007 graduate of the Southern Police Institutes Administrative Officers Course at the University of Louisville (Kentucky). He has also received training through the Harvard Business School. He continues to advocate for better communities through improved mental health resources and substance abuse programs.

Leonard is the son of Bernard and Estelle Papania.  He is married to Angela Papania. They have four children, and two grandchildren.



Requests for appearances, proclamations, letters, or certificates must be submitted 2 weeks in advance. The request will be subject to review/approval.



CAO Contact

Leonard Papania
P.O. Box 1780
Gulfport, MS 39501
(228) 868-5700