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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Valerie Keller
Chief Executive Officer, The Outreach Center

As CEO of the Outreach Center based in Lafayette, Valerie Keller leads a dynamic team dedicated to restoring shattered lives through comprehensive social services including housing and employment assistance, skills training, and substance abuse recovery programs for more than 5,000 low-income citizens each year. The Outreach Center's campus also features social enterprises and plans are underway for a mixed-use, mixed-income housing development.

Appointed by former Governor Blanco to the LA Housing and Economic Development Task Force and the Louisiana Recovery Authority Housing Task Force, Keller also serves on the boards of the Louisiana Housing Alliance, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL) Regional Advisory Board, the Louisiana Alliance of Information and Referral System (LAAIRS), the Louisiana 211 Coordinating Council, and serves as co-chair of the Louisiana Advocacy Coalition for the Homeless (LACH) and the Louisiana Supportive Housing Coalition. She is a recipient of the “Chase Bank 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition” award, the Change Agent Network's Humanitarian of the Year award, and is alumni of Leadership Louisiana and Leadership Lafayette.

A Summa Cum Laude graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Keller continued post-graduate work through executive education at Harvard’s School of Business and the Kennedy School of Government.

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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