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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden
City of Baton Rouge

Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden was overwhelmingly re-elected to his third term as Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish in a primary victory on November 6, 2012. Under his leadership, East Baton Rouge Parish has achieved unprecedented top ten national rankings: the #1 best city for business growth; #4 for new corporate facilities; #3 best performing city for salary growth; #7 best city for jobs; #8 best place to live in America; one of top 25 places in America to retire and a top 10 city for young adults.
In 2012, Mayor Holden worked with the District Attorney to launch the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination project – called BRAVE -- a local initiative to reduce violent crime. Working with the District Attorney, School Superintendent and Sheriff, he opened the Family and Youth Service Center, the parish’s first truancy center to improve school attendance and reduce juvenile crime.

The Mayor’s Green Light Program has committed over $500 million to street improvements, with nearly 30 projects completed by the close of 2012. Active in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Holden launched a successful “Healthy BR” program in partnership with the Healthy Cities Initiative. His Healthy BR Initiative promotes better nutrition and active lifestyles, and has tackled the critical problems of childhood obesity and access to healthy food, making a difference in the quality of lives of children throughout the parish.

Prior to 2004, he had achieved a 20-year distinguished career in public service, elected Mayor-President by a broad, diverse base of support throughout the parish to become the first African American Mayor-President in parish history on January 1, 2005.

Much of the success of his first term in office can be traced to the foundation laid by a diverse team of over 100 community leaders, citizens and university students Mayor Holden assembled immediately after his election in 2004 to form his “Green Light Baton Rouge Citizens Council” to help develop the “Framework for Progress”, a planning document which serves as the basis of his administration’s goal to make Baton Rouge America’s next great city.

With experience on the Metro Council and as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate, Mayor Holden has extensive knowledge of East Baton Rouge Parish government.

Born in New Orleans on August 12, 1952, Mayor Holden is married to Lois Stevenson Holden and is the father of five children, Melvin, II; Angela; Monique; Myron and Brian Michael. He is a member of Greater King David Baptist 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?

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