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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Tony Russell
Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) Region VIII (Louisiana Panel)

Mr. Russell is currently serving as the Acting Director of FEMA’s Louisiana Transitional Recovery (LA TRO) in New Orleans. In this role, he is committed to making certain the needs of Louisiana disaster victims are met. He is also dedicated to promoting a positive work environment at the LA TRO that fosters mutual respect and support among all members of the local FEMA team.

Mr. Russell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a Federal Coordinating Officer. With over six years of FCO experience, he coordinates the Federal response and recovery support to state and local emergency management officials after a presidentially declared disaster.

He has managed various complex disasters in Washington, Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois, New Mexico and Montana to name a few. Prior to assuming the position as FCO, he served in numerous emergency response and recovery positions.

Mr. Russell has over a quarter-century of experience in emergency response procedures, methodologies, seminar facilitation and course development. His audiences have included national and international responders, such as Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Russell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of New Mexico. He has also earned a Masters of Arts in Management and a Masters of Business Administration from National University and a Masters in Homeland Security Studies from the Naval Post Graduate School. Mr. Russell also holds the Certified Emergency Manager designation.

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)

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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