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Friday, August 17, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Sen. Karen Carter Peterson
(D)- New Orleans

Senator Karen Carter Peterson represents New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish in the Louisiana State Senate. She is currently Chair of the Louisiana Women’s Caucus and Senate Select Committee on Women and Children. She also serves on the Senate Judiciary B, Insurance and Local and Municipal Committees. In 2012, she assumed the Chair position of the Louisiana Democratic Party, the first woman in Louisiana history to do so.

Over the 11 year of service, Sen. Peterson has been also recognized by many organizations and publications for her work, including being awarded the Legislator of the Year Award by the Alliance for Good Government in 2000 and 2004. Sen. Peterson has also been honored with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government's New Frontier Award and the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Service. In recent years, she is been recognized as one of New Orleans City Business Women of the Year. In 2011, the NewDEAL recognized Senator Peterson as an emerging pro-growth progressive leader. She was also presented with the Louisiana Association of Justice Public Service Award in 2011. She also serves as a commissioner on the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission.

During her time in the Louisiana House of Representatives, Sen. Peterson established herself as a powerful, worthy asset to the legislature, serving on the House Appropriations Committee, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the House Governmental Affairs Committee, and most recently, she served as House Speaker Pro Tempore. During her service in the House, she was also the first woman to chair the House Insurance Committee.

Sen. Peterson is a 1991 graduate of Howard University School of Business, where she received a degree in International Business and Marketing, and of Tulane University Law School, where she was afforded the opportunity to attend both Boston College Law School and the University of Virginia's Law School as a visiting student.

Sen. Peterson has many present and past professional and civic activities on her resume. She has been a board member and volunteer for a wide variety of organizations. Beginning at the age of 18 through the year 2008, she served as a delegate to Democratic National Conventions. She and her husband Dana are members of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church and live in downtown New Orleans.

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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     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

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