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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Gerri Hobdy
Director of Partnership Relations Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Louisiana

Gerri Hobdy is the Director of Partnership Relations for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. In that role she serves as the administrator of the Foundation’s disaster relief funds after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Hobdy provided oversight for response programs including the InCourage Program , a mental health initiative for people impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

Hobdy facilitates the Foundation's partnership with the Louisiana Association of Non Profit Organizations (LANO), members of the regional Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster (VOAD) and other non-profits critical in response efforts. Some of the members of the VOAD include the Capital Area Food Bank, Capital Area Red Cross, Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge, the Salvation Army, Louisiana City Year, Capital Area United Way, and Volunteer Baton Rouge!

Hobdy's recent work includes convening non-profits and Faith Based organizations to prepare for future disasters. Following Katrina, Hobdy was responsible for the distribution of Lincoln Center's Higher Ground Fund that assisted over 200 musicians displaced by the Hurricanes and numerous music service organizations.

Hobdy also managed many other disaster funds including the Mercy Corps Fund, the Starbucks Coast Fund that supported community resiliency efforts, and the Avon Disaster Fund that supported domestic violence programs across the Gulf South Louisiana. She served on grant advisory committees for the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps and the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Hobdy is a founding member of the Greater Baton Rouge Funder's Circle and the Council on Foundation's Literacy Funders Network. Former position's include a 10 year tenure as the Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and State Historic Preservation Officer in the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

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?

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     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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