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Sunday, August 19, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Sherri McConnell
Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment

Sherri McConnell serves as Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment, a division of Louisiana Economic Development. Her office administers the highly successful tax incentive programs for film, music, digital interactive media, and live performance.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon of American parents, Ms. McConnell traveled the world until settling in Louisiana in 1978, where she attended LSU and began a career in governmental relations as a consultant and association manager with the Bud Mapes Firm. In 1982 she started her own firm, continuing to represent clients before the Louisiana Legislature and related governmental agencies.

Since joining LED in January of 2007 she has used her 25-plus years of experience in Louisiana governmental and political affairs, organization management, marketing and economic development, and her passion for the creative industries, to grow one of Louisiana’s greatest natural resources and supercharge Louisiana’s Entertainment industry. Her guidance has led to industry activity in the state expanding exponentially when measured by activity in the Entertainment office. For example, Louisiana Entertainment received more applications for motion picture tax credits alone in 2010 than in the first five years of the program combined. As a result of this acceleration, the office expanded from three to twelve people (still only half the size of most states’ but shouldering twice the workload). Louisiana Entertainment now serves as the major conduit for entertainment business development in Louisiana.

Sherri spearheaded development of a long-range strategic plan to build a permanent entertainment economy in Louisiana that capitalizes on the state’s native creative culture and provides sustainable, well-paid jobs in both above-the-line and below-the-line segments of the industry. Under her leadership, Louisiana’s entertainment industry has grown to its current stature, contributing approximately $1.5 billion to the state’s economy between 2008 and 2010. The state continues to hold a leadership position in attracting new entertainment economic development projects.

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?

Recent Topics


     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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