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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Mark Cooper
Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana

Mark Cooper, formerly of Bossier City, was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal as Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in January of this year after spending almost 20 years in California.

Previously, he served as a Deputy Fire Chief with the Los Angeles County Fire Department since 2003 and has over 18 years of public safety and emergency management experience. While with the Fire Department, he served as the department’s Emergency Coordinator and managed a one billion dollar budget, human resources for 4,200 personnel, and provided IT support for the department’s dispatch center. The Los Angeles County Fire Department is one of the largest in the nation and provides fire protection and lifeguard services to over three million residents, 165 fire stations, and 72 miles of coastline.

While with Los Angeles County, Cooper developed emergency plans and programs to support the Department's role in the County's Emergency Operations Center while serving as a member of the Emergency Management Council subcommittee and representing the Fire Chief. He also helped lead an LA County team deployed to New Orleans for four weeks in response to Hurricane Katrina to assist with continuity of Government and mass fatality management. From 2002 to 2003, Cooper served as the Division Chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors over their business operations. He also served as the Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles County Police Department from 1998 to 2002, establishing their emergency operations center and developing emergency management plans for the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Cooper previously served as the executive assistant to the Fire Chief of Los Angeles County from 1993 to 1998, developing fire safety recommendations for the county following the 1993 wildfires, coordinating demobilization and support of the Urban Search and Rescue team deployed to the Oklahoma City Bombing and managing employee assistance following the Northridge earthquake.

From 1991 to 1993, Cooper served as a Division Chief for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Department, serving as their first department emergency manager and coordinating response efforts to the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest. He also developed emergency management training programs for Universal Studios, NBC Studios, the California Specialized Training Institute, as well as local government in Los Angeles County.

In 2006, Cooper was named LSU Distinguished Alumni of the Year for the E.J. Ourso School of Business and Public Administration. He has also been recognized in Los Angeles County for his emergency management contributions including the 2000 Inaugural Award of Excellence in Emergency Management. In 2001, he received his Professional Development Certificate in Emergency Management from the Federal Emergency Management Association and has a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Masters in Public Administration from LSU.

He has been married for fourteen years. He and his wife, Sandra, have four children, Sarah, Sam, Seth, and Sophie.

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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