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Covid-19 Louisiana’s Response

Live from the LPB studios in Baton Rouge, Governor John Bel Edwards and a team of experts discuss the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response. Questions submitted by viewers will also be answered.

Our Panelists & Host:

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Sally-Ann Roberts, Host

For 40 years, Sally-Ann Roberts worked in news television, serving 25 years as co-anchor of WWL-TV’s popular Eyewitness Morning News in New Orleans, before retiring in 2018. She has been honored with received Lifetime Achievements Awards from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters and Press Club of New Orleans. In 1998 Sally-Ann was part of the reporting team that earned WWL-TV the coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for late-breaking news. She has been inducted into the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 1994 Sally-Ann co-founded with Cathy Harris the mentorship organization Each One Save One, with the idea that it only takes one person to change the trajectory of a child’s life. For nearly 25 years Each One Save One has trained, screened, and placed hundreds of caring adults in New Orleans public schools to encourage children.

John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Governor

Serving a second term as Louisiana Governor, Governor Edwards was first elected in 2015. In 2008, the people of House District 72 elected him to the Louisiana House of Representatives, where he represented the people of Amite, Greensburg, Kentwood and Hammond for eight years before being elected governor in November 2015. Gov. Edwards attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and retired from the Army with the rank of captain, serving as an Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army, commanding a parachute infantry regiment in the 82nd airborne He moved back home and earned a law degree from Louisiana State University before opening a civil law practice in his hometown of Amite. He and the first lady, Donna Edwards married in 1989, and have three children: Samantha Bel, Sarah Ellen and John Miller.

Alexander Billioux, M.D., Louisiana Department of Health

Dr. Alex Billioux is Assistant Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health's Office of Public Health. He is a primary care internist focused on improving individual and community health through innovative public health approaches, including cross-sector population health strategies, private sector engagement, and sharing data to foster coordinated, learning health systems. Dr. Billioux has led the development and implementation of Louisiana’s Hepatitis C Elimination Program and oversees the State’s first-in-the-nation modified subscription model for hepatitis C treatment. Dr. Billioux served as Senior Advisor to the Director of the CMS Innovation Center and Director of the Division of Population Health Incentives and Infrastructure in the Preventive and Population Health Group. Dr. Billioux received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins University and his D.Phil. in clinical medicine from the University of Oxford. He holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

Catherine Smith O'Neal, M.D., Our Lady of the Lake Hospital

Catherine Smith O'neal is a physician based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana specializing in Infectious Disease. Dr. O’Neal completed a fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical School, graduated from medical school at Louisiana State University School of Medicine and doing her residency Earl K. Long Medical Center. She is American Board of Internal Medicine certified in both Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine

Kimberly Lewis Robinson, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Revenue

Before becoming Secretary of Revenue, she served as Special Counsel for the Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana, where she provided legal counsel to Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and served as Senior Policy Advisor on Revenue, Economic Development and Insurance Policy. She also worked for six years at the Louisiana Department of Revenue, serving as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Legal Affairs and Confidential Assistant to the Secretary. Ms. Robinson was a partner in the Tax & Estates Practice Group at Jones Walker, LLP focusing primarily on state and local tax matters, economic development financing, incentives and government relations. Secretary Robinson currently serves as a board member of the Federation of Tax Administrators Board of Trustees and the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers. Secretary Robinson is a 1998 graduate of the LSU Law Center. She attended LSU where she received her B.A. in Political Science in 1993 and a M.A. in Public Administration in 1995.

Ava DeJoie, Secretary, Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary

Dejoie is a native of New Orleans and alumnae of Loyola University of New Orleans. During her career of leadership experience, Dejoie served as the Statewide Coordinator of Rapid Response, which directs resources to workers displaced by layoffs, shut-downs, etc. She also assisted thousands displaced workers at the Avondale Employee Transition Center as Director of LWC special projects. As Secretary, she has expanded Registered Apprenticeship, the Incumbent Worker Training Program and other programs that provide Louisianans with educational and training opportunities. During her tenure as Secretary, Dejoie has championed the plight of equal pay for equal work. Recently, she received the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) National Network Leadership Award, due to her extraordinary leadership and support in helping high-risk and disadvantaged young people to succeed.

Marketa Walters, Secretary, Louisiana Department. of Children and Family Services

Secretary Walters has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families. In 2004, while serving as CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana, she was tapped by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead the child welfare arm of Louisiana’s Department of Social Services (the forerunner to DCFS). She served another year in the role under Governor Bobby Jindal, before shifting to the national stage as Director of the Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center, a technical assistance center focused on best practices in child welfare. Walters served as a child welfare consultant until Governor John Bel Edwards appointed her DCFS Secretary in January 2016.

Kim Hunter Reed PhD, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Ed

Reed previously served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Education. She served in President Barack Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education and led the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the State’s policy director. Reed also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University.

Beth Scioneaux, Acting Superintendent. of Louisiana Department of Education

As of March 12, 2020, Beth Scioneaux, who has served as Deputy Superintendent for Management and Finance since 2007, is also serving as the Acting Louisiana State Superintendent of Education. She provides support regarding the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula and education finance regulations and compliance.

Christina Melton, LPB Deputy Director

LPB Deputy Director Christina Melton is Deputy Director of Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Melton oversees development of new content creation across existing and emerging platforms. Melton has been LPB’s Director of Special Projects and has 25 years of experience in documentary film production, news and corporate communications, in public broadcasting, commercial television, and business. Melton has worked with LPB for 17 years and has produced some of the network’s most celebrated and award-winning documentary programs, including “Seize & Secure: The Battle for LaFiere,” "Deeply Rooted," "Atchafalaya Houseboat," "Washing Away," "Turning the Tide" and "Signpost to Freedom." Her work has been recognized with some of the top awards in broadcasting, including the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism, CINE Golden Eagle, Webby, Emmy, Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards, Louisiana Conservationist of the Year by the National Wildlife Federation, Louisiana Humanities Documentary of the Year.

Dr. Jim Hussey, Medical Director, Office of Behavioral Health, Louisiana Department of Health

Dr. Hussey is a Board Certified Psychiatrist, who is currently serving as Medical Director for the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health. Since February 2018, Dr. Hussey has been serving as the Chairman of the Louisiana Drug Policy Board’s Advisory Council for Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education. Formerly, Dr. Hussey served as the Assistant Secretary and Medical Director for the Office of Behavioral Health and the former Behavioral Health Medical Director for Louisiana Medicaid. He is the former Director for Louisiana Medicaid’s Applied Behavior Analysis Program, the former Director of Charity Hospital’s Crisis Intervention Unit, and former Medical Director for Southeast Louisiana Hospital and the Bogalusa Acute Unit. As the former Associate Medical Director for the Office of Behavioral Health, and its Statewide Mental Health Rehabilitation Program, he was also the Chief Liaison to Managed Care for the Office of Behavioral Health, and helped develop CMS authorities, state plan, Louisiana Medicaid rules and contracts for the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership, as well as the recently implemented Behavioral Health Integration.

Bishop Michael Duca, Diocese of Baton Rouge

Michael Gerard Duca, a native of Dallas, Texas, was ordained a priest on April 29, 1978, for the Diocese of Dallas. On December 20, 2004, he was conferred the Title of Reverend Monsignor. He was called to the order of bishop on April 1, 2008, for service in North Louisiana. On May 19, 2008, he was ordained and installed as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport. On June 26, 2018, he was appointed as Bishop designate for the Diocese of Baton Rouge; his installation will be held on August 24, 2018. Bishop Duca presently serves as a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops and Immediate Past President of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference. He serves as a trustee to Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans and St. Joseph Seminary, Covington, LA, as well as serving on the University of Dallas Board of Trustees. He is a member of the St. Francis Medical Center Board of Directors, Monroe, LA, the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) Board of Directors, Miami, FL, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Knights of Columbus-Fourth Degree, and the Knights of Peter Claver-Third & Fourth Degree.

Dr. Sam Tolbert, President, National Baptist Convention of America International

Dr. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, attended McNeese State University and Delta School of Business in Lake Charles, LA. In 1986, he graduated from the Historically Black Bishop College formally of Dallas, Texas, where he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy with a minor in Speech Education. He earned a Master of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Reverend Tolbert served as a Commissioner for the Lake Charles Housing Authority, served 12 years as a representative of District “A” on the Lake Charles City Council, and served as a member of the Board of the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation. Currently, Reverend Tolbert is the Pastor of the church he grew up in, Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA and has been serving as their Pastor for more than 32 years. Reverend Tolbert now serves as the 15th President of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc, with over 3.5 million members worldwide, Reverend Tolbert has been married to Matilda Edwards Tolbert for over 30 years and they are the proud parents of two daughters, Candace Latrice and Kayla Monique.


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