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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Marylee Orr
Executive Director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network

Marylee Orr has led LEAN for most of its nineteen years. Marylee became an activist when her youngest son was born with a respiratory illness. Prior to working on environmental issues, she was involved with Head Start programs and owned a small business. She is one of the cofounders of LEAN in 1986. Marylee administers the organization's budget, manages its fundraising efforts through grants and membership development. She coordinates member groups, board, and staff activities.

Ms. Orr organizes member groups' participation in public hearings, coordinates its media strategies on the local, state and national level, and serves as the environmental community's voice with local, state, and federal agencies.

She organizes events related to issues of LEAN members, coordinates annual conferences for citizens, legislators, and other grass roots organization leaders on topics ranging from health issues to political activism. Ms. Orr was featured in Family Circle Magazine, the Lifetime movie of the week, Taking Back Our Town, and in numerous articles about successful environmental activists.

An EPA report credits LEAN and its executive director Marylee Orr with giving a voice to the people concerned about releases of toxic chemicals from local facilities. Marylee attributes her motivation to the constant positive pressure from the members, board, and staff to hold polluting facilities accountable.

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.

Thank you to our sponsors!
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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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