Are you a community leader in Louisiana looking to deepen your understanding of free-market policy solutions, expand your network, or build up important skills? If so, Pelican Institute’s Leadership Academy is for you, and we will begin accepting applications for the 2024 class in October.

In the weeks leading up to the opening of the application window, we’ll highlight the stories of several alumni of the program. Meet East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Laurie White Adams, an alumna of the inaugural class in 2020:

Tell us a little about your background and bio so our readers can get to know you.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, graduated from Hoover High School and came to LSU in 1988. At LSU I served as student body president and vice-president, and I was also crowned Homecoming Queen in 1990.  After earning my BA in Journalism, I was a graduate assistant for the LSU Alumni Association while working on my MPA (Public Administration). I spent a few years working in politics and then opened a retail clothing store which I sold in 2000. In 2004, I began my career as a school administrator at St. Luke’s Episcopal School where I managed fund development, admissions, marketing and board operations. I spent 11 years at St. Luke’s and then two years at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. Most recently, I was Director of Advancement for Parkview Baptist School

Why do you think it’s so important to get involved in trying to chart a new course for Louisiana?

For most of my career, I was focused on my children’s generation. I worked every day to build and support quality schools for our community. I have watched so many young families leave our state for better jobs and opportunities in other states. Now I am watching my adult children’s friends move to Texas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Colorado. Every four years, we talk about this year being the most consequential election for Louisiana, but this time IT REALLY IS. With four new statewide elected officials and a quarter of the legislature newly elected, this is the moment for transformational change.  So now I am focused on my grandchildren’s generation. No, I don’t have grandchildren yet, but I have to start now for them to have the education and opportunities I want for their generation.

What is your vision for your community and for Louisiana?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION!!! So wonderful to create in my mind what can and should be!  I would love to see a Louisiana where every child knows they have a future and that the adults in their lives are rooting for their success be it in college, trade school, a certification program, or entrepreneurship.  I want to see more intact families and children with fathers in the home. I want to see businesses taking a really hard look at moving here because our workforce is trained and ready to go. Wouldn’t it be amazing to dream big dreams for our state rather than fighting for scraps at the capitol? I want us to make sense – a constitution that can be read in one sitting, a tax code of 10 pages rather than 435, a budget that can be adjusted to meet current needs, and a legal system that remedies those who have been harmed and discourages frivolous lawsuits. We should be a tourist destination, energy hub for the nation, and an entrepreneur’s heaven with a rich cultural heritage that values people, families. faith, and community.

How will you solve some of the biggest challenges facing our state?

We need insurance reform immediately. We must attract insurance companies back to Louisiana and bring down homeowners and auto insurance prices. Our schools MUST work for every child. We have to return to basics and make sure all of our students are mastering the basic building blocks of reading, writing, math, and life skills. Our aging and failing infrastructure is costing our families time, money, and economic opportunities. We must have the courage to create a strategic infrastructure plan and fund the plan! We must also make a commitment to our public safety and education professionals. Residents are leaving these professions because they are not supported, paid, or valued for the critically important work they do.

What was your favorite aspect of your Pelican Leadership Academy experience?

Getting to know the other members of the class. Everyone had a very different background, education, work experience and level of political involvement. Being in a room of like-minded individuals all intellectually curious and solutions-driven was invigorating. I was challenged to learn more, think more deeply, process new ideas and concepts, and make a deeper commitment to my community and state. This experience gave me the confidence I needed to run for office and serve in office.

What is your advice for someone who is thinking about getting more involved, and why would applying to the Pelican Leadership Academy be a good idea?

I frequently encourage people to apply for the Pelican Leadership Class! This is a great way to politically engage, stretch your mind, and challenge yourself to take an active role in writing Louisiana’s Comeback Story.  PLA grads are out here making a difference, and we need more boots on the ground for the hard work ahead. Suit up and get in the game!

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Winter – tomato soup and grilled cheese. Summer – Calvin’s chicken salad and crackers!