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Sunday, August 19, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


John Neely Kennedy
Treasurer of the State of Louisiana

John Kennedy was elected without opposition to his fourth term as State Treasurer in September of 2011. As Treasurer, he oversees the state’s $10.6 billion investment portfolios. He also oversees local and state bond issues and returns millions of dollars in unclaimed property each year.

In 2009, Mr. Kennedy served as one of the ten members of the Louisiana Streamlining Commission established by the Legislature and tasked with helping the state prepare for the projected 3 billion dollar budget shortfall it would face by 2011. Among the Commission’s recommendations was to encourage more scrutiny of state contracts as well as a 10% annual reduction in their cost. HB142, sponsored this session by Rep. Jerome Richard, I-Thibodaux was prompted by this recommendation. Mr. Kennedy has been a vocal supporter of the bill which provides a 10% reduction of all state professional, personal, and consulting contracts with the savings deposited into the Higher Education Financing Fund.

Prior to his position as Treasurer, Mr. Kennedy served as Secretary of the Department of Revenue, Special Counsel to Governor Roemer and Secretary of Governor Roemer’s Cabinet. He was also an attorney and partner in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans law firm of Chaffe McCall.

Mr. Kennedy graduated magna cum laude in political science, philosophy and economics from Vanderbilt, was president of his senior class, and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and his B.C.L. degree from Oxford University in England where he was a First Class Honors graduate.

Mr. Kennedy is an adjunct professor at LSU Law School and is a substitute teacher for East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. He resides in Madisonville, Louisiana, with his wife Becky and their son, Preston. They are founding members of the North Cross United Methodist Church.

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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