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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Mike Womack
Director, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Mississippi

Governor Haley Barbour appointed Mike Womack Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in December 2006. Womack previously served as MEMA's Deputy Director and as the agency's Response & Recovery Director.

During Hurricane Katrina, Womack was designated as the State Coordinating Officer and coordinated the state's resources as well as the massive amount of resources provided by other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. He continues to serve as the Governor's Authorized Representative for the continuing Hurricane Katrina recovery.

He has also served as the State Coordinating Officer for Hurricane Ivan and as Deputy State Coordinating Officer for two additional major disaster declarations.

Womack has an extensive operations and management background and brings this knowledge to the emergency management setting. He retired in 2001 after serving 29 years in active and reserve military service as a full time Lieutenant Colonel for the Mississippi Army National Guard. During his time in the National Guard Womack developed plans and exercises in support of states mission for Emergency Response. These exercises fully incorporated the National Guard's support to civilian authorities.

Womack began his career with the Mississippi Military Department in 1985 as the senior active duty officer supervising a 1,000 man armored cavalry squadron. In 1994 he was promoted to the senior full time officer position in the 4,000 solider, 155th Armored Brigade.

Womack has received numerous awards for his military service. Among those awards is the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, which is the highest peacetime award presented by the state . He is also the recipient of multiple Army Commendation Medal awards and Meritorious Service Medal awards.

A native of Hernando, he has a Bachelor's Degree in music from the University of Mississippi and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga.

Womack is a member of the Mississippi Civil Defense/Emergency Management Association, Regional Vice President for the National Emergency Management Agency and serves on their Legislative Committee, member of the Board of Directors for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, the National Guard Associations of Mississippi and the United States, and the United States Army Armor Association where he holds the Order of St. George, signifying significant contributions to the advancement of the Cavalry and Armor Units.

Womack is married to the former Jonie Eatwell of Hernando. The couple has a daughter, two sons and four grandchildren.

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?

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     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

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