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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Jim Donelon
Commissioner, Louisiana Department of Insurance

Prior to becoming Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Insurance, James J. Donelon served the Department in leadership positions as chief deputy commissioner and executive counsel.

Donelon was born in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Jesuit High School, the University of New Orleans and Loyola School of Law. In 1986, he became the first recipient of the Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award for the University of New Orleans.

Donelon retired as the state judge advocate for the Louisiana Army National Guard, where he held the rank of colonel and received the prestigious Legion of Merit medal, among many other citations, for his contributions during his 33 years of military service.
In 1975, Donelon was the elected Jefferson Parish Council chairman and, from 1981 to 2001, he represented Jefferson Parish in the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he rose to the leadership positions of chairman of the Committee on Insurance and co-chairman of the Republican Legislative Delegation. In 2001, Donelon joined the staff of the Louisiana Department of Insurance. He currently serves as the NAIC vice president.

Donelon is the Vice President of the National Association Of Insurance Commissioners and presently serves on the board of directors of Hope Haven Boys Home, Friends Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the Blood Center for Southeast Louisiana.

Donelon is married to the former Merilynn Boudreaux. They reside in Jefferson Parish and are the parents of four daughters and the grandparents of five granddaughters and one grandson.


Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

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     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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