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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


John Warner Smith
Secretary of Labor Louisiana Department of Labor

John Warner Smith has been appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Labor.

His background features an array of high-profile positions of public trust, with noteworthy accomplishments in both the public and private sector.

In his most recent position, Smith served as vice president of Bank One where he was responsible for developing and managing banking relationships with public and non-profit clients such as universities, state agencies and local governments in four metropolitan markets.

He also served as Assistant City Manager of Development and Transportation Services for the City of Tallahassee, Fla. In this position he administered the development arm of the city, comprising the departments of growth management, planning, public works, economic development, aviation and transit.

Smith's previous positions include Chief Administrative Officer with Lafayette Parish Government/Lafayette Consolidated Government and Economic Development Manager for the City of Lafayette. He also served as Undersecretary of the Louisiana Department of Labor.

Smith received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from McNeese State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

His affiliations include: Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Board of Trustees; Leadership Louisiana, Council for a Better Louisiana; and Leadership Lafayette, Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

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)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     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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