The 10th annual McNeese State University McLeod ecture Series - scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in Ralph Squires Recital Hall in the Shearman Fine Arts Center - will examine how partisan politics have impacted state legislators and government at all levels. Preparing for this year's event are, from left, Dennis Stine, CEO of Stine Lumber Co. and former state representative and commissioner of administration, Ann Knapp and Sara McLeod Judson, McLeod Lecture Series committee co-chairs, and Emily Dickerson, a McNeese senior government major from Westlake and this year's McLeod Scholar. McNeese Photo/Anne Cobb
The McLeod Lecture Series on Louisiana Politics celebrates its 10th anniversary this year at McNeese State University and continues to bring timely, as well as the historical, aspects of Louisiana politics to Southwest Louisiana as well as throughout the state.
Over the past nine years, the series has highlighted former governors and lieutenant governors, U.S. Senators and Representatives, the legacy of state-elected women, the media and former press secretaries, Louisiana speakers of the house, the state right to work debate and the inaugural topic of the "Young Turks" and how they transformed Louisiana politics. "Overcoming Gridlock in a Partisan Environment" is the title of the 2013 McLeod Lecture Series to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in Ralph Squires Recital Hall of the Shearman Fine Arts Center at McNeese. This free event is sponsored by the McNeese Banners Cultural Series and the McLeod Lecture Steering Committee.
This year's series will examine how partisan politics impact state legislators and government at all levels. The panel includes (pictured left to right): the Rev. Raymond Jetson, pastor of Star Hill Baptist Church in Baton Rouge and a former state representative; Robert "Bob" Mann, who holds the Manship Chair in Mass Communication at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and director of the school's Reilly Center for Public Affairs; and Dennis Stine, CEO of Stine Lumber Co. and a former state representative and commissioner of administration.
"The McLeod Lecture Series began 10 years ago with the legislative reform brought about by the Young Turks. This group made sweeping positive changes by working across party lines and collaborating with one another on statewide issues that were bigger than just the local interests of their home districts," said Ann Knapp, co-chair of the event. "Their courage, diligence and integrity also brought about needed legislative reforms and a new state constitution for Louisiana. They dared to find common ground and respect for colleagues of diverse backgrounds to do what they believed was collectively best for the people of the state."
Now, amidst the challenges of today - education, governmental deficits, high unemployment, economic development, to name only a few -- many citizens complain that "gridlock" seems to be standing in the way of consensus building. "This year's program will explore how 'we got here' and what citizens can do to help create a better environment to break through the gridlock that stifles progress," added Paul Hart Miller, founder of the McLeod Lecture Series.
This year's panel moderator is Beth Courtney, president and CEO of Louisiana Public Broadcasting. LPB will once again tape the event for statewide broadcast later this spring.
Funding for this year's LPB broadcast is provided in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Jeff Davis Bank and the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting and contributors to the McLeod Endowment of the McNeese Foundation.
Jetson has served as the CEO for the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps, where he led the coordination of local, state and national efforts to connect individuals and families affected by disasters with the resources they needed to recover and resume their lives. Prior to joining the Recovery Corps, Jetson was the deputy secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
He served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1984-1999, where he served on the Health and Welfare, Appropriations and Joint Budget committees. He also served as chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transit and the Baton Rouge Transition Coalition charged with leading the effort for transit reform in Baton Rouge. His many years of public service and experience have made him a resource for major media outlets across the country, including USA TODAY, the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Prior to joining the LSU faculty in 2006, Mann spent more than 20 years in the political arena. He worked for three United States senators and a Louisiana governor, including positions as communications director for Gov. Kathleen Blanco, state director and press secretary for Sen. John Breaux, campaign press secretary for Sen. J. Bennett Johnston and press secretary for Sen. Russell Long.
Mann's essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Politico and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He has discussed his research and appeared as a political analyst on numerous national television and radio programs, including MSNBC, CBS News, ABC News and National Public Radio. During the 2012 elections, he was a frequent commentator on MSNBC's "Jansing & Company," where he offered analysis of political advertising. He is also a political analyst for WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge.
Stine served in the Louisiana House of Representatives in the mid 1980s and was selected by Gov. Buddy Roemer to serve as his commissioner of administration from 1988-1992.
In addition to serving as CEO of his family-owned chain of hardware and home-improvement stores with locations across Louisiana and Mississippi, Stine is also currently the vice chairman of the board of directors of CHRISTUS Health Systems. He has served as interim port director for the Port of Lake Charles, board member for both the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, chairman of both the Council for Better Louisiana and the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Board and president of the Louisiana Lumber Dealers Association.
Stine is a McNeese graduate with both a bachelor's degree in accounting and a Master of Business Administration degree, as well as a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Sr. Executive Program.
The annual McLeod Lecture Series honors the late Bill McLeod, a prominent retired district judge and former state legislator. McLeod, who died in 2003, practiced law in Lake Charles for 33 years until he was elected to a six-year term as district judge in 1990. He reentered the private practice of law upon his retirement from the bench in 1997. A distinguished public servant, McLeod also served 23 years in the Louisiana Legislature. All research materials, records and artifacts pertaining to the annual lecture will become a part of the McNeese Library Archives.
The 2013 William L. McLeod Scholar is Emily Dickerson, a McNeese senior government major from Westlake. She is a member of the McNeese Pre-Law and Politics Society, the National Political Science Honor Society, Phi Beta Lambda and the Federalists Society. She is also a recipient of multiple awards and scholarships, including the Fred H. Sievert Jr. Memorial Scholarship and the Southwest Louisiana Bar Auxiliary Scholarship.
Dr. Thomas Laehn, assistant professor of government, holds the McLeod Endowed Professorship at McNeese. Laehn received his bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy at Drake University in Des Moines and his master's degree and doctorate in political science at Louisiana State University. He teaches courses in political theory, American constitutional law and American political institutions.
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