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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Walter Brooks
Executive Director of the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes

Mr. Brooks is the Executive Director of the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes. He has been with the Commission since 1976 and holds degrees from Tulane and the University of New Orleans.

As the Metropolitan Planning Council, the RPC has been very active in the Post-Katrina re-building effort. Mr. Brooks is a member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority's Infrastructure Task Force and was co-chair of the Land Use Committee of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission. RPC continues to provide technical assistance to federal (FEMA), state (Louisiana Speaks), and local communities in the planning and recovery efforts. Mr. Brooks' current activities have been directed to securing FHWA Emergency Relief funds for the restoration of transportation infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Prior to coming to the Commission, Mr. Brooks worked as a District Planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority serving the neighborhoods of Charleston, South Boston and East Boston. Mr. Brooks directs RPC's unified planning work program activities in transportation, infrastructure, economic development and environmental areas. His work involves extensive outreach and coordination with business, civic, and governmental entities at the local, state, and federal levels.

Mr. Brooks is active in the New Orleans community. He is a member of the New Orleans Regional Business and Industrial Park Board, ex officio member of the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce Board, and a member of the World Trade Center's Intermodal Committee. He is a past Director of the Metro New Orleans Section of the American Planning Association; past President of the Louisiana Planning Council; and a former board member of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

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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