Louisiana Leaders to Join Landmark White House STEM Event

June 22, 2018
Contact: govpress@la.gov

Summit will inform five-year strategy on science, technology, engineering and math preparation

BATON ROUGE, La. — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his selection of three leading Louisiana advocates of STEM preparation to represent Louisiana at the inaugural State-Federal Science Technology Engineering and Math Summit to be hosted next week by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C.The Louisiana attendees for the June 25-26 summit will be Dr. Calvin Mackie, founder of STEM NOLA; AT&T Louisiana President Sonia Perez; and Susana Schowen, director of workforce initiatives for Louisiana Economic Development’s LED FastStart® program.

The State-Federal STEM Education Summit will convene a diverse group of state STEM leaders, including officials from governors’ offices, educators, workforce and industry representatives, state policy experts and non-government organization executives. They will participate in the development of a new federal five-year STEM education strategic plan in compliance with the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

“Louisiana has enjoyed remarkable success in STEM strategies throughout our education system and our economy,” Gov. Edwards said. “From STEM Pathways in our K-12 schools, to advanced manufacturing centers linked with the Benteler Steel/Tube and Sasol mega-projects, to higher education STEM initiatives – Louisiana is connecting real-world STEM jobs with cutting-edge education. Through smart partnerships, we’re attracting thousands of new jobs with leading STEM employers, such as CenturyLink, DXC Technology, IBM, General Dynamics IT, CGI, GE Digital and many more.”

“This event is the first time an administration has asked for this level of state input when developing a federal STEM education strategy,” said Jeff Weld, senior policy advisor and assistant director for STEM education at the White House. “Top-down approaches to STEM education can often yield wonderful ideas, but it’s at the state and community level where the momentum happens. State leaders know best what kinds of programs will work in their communities, and where they need the power of the federal government to help drive success in this field. STEM education is critical to preparing our students for the jobs of the future. We must do everything we can to ensure that federal, state, local, and tribal governments, communities, educators, and private industry partners are united for the long-term success of our nation.”

Alongside the White House in planning and carrying out this summit are the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution. STEM leaders from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and tribes, will attend the summit to illuminate and advance state-federal STEM alignment.

In 1976, Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy to provide the president and others in the executive branch with advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, the environment, and the technological recovery and use of resources, among other topics. The office also leads interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, assists the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of federal research and development in budgets, and serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the president, with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the federal government.

The three Louisiana leaders participating in the White House event have made key STEM contributions at the intersection of public policy and private enterprise in Louisiana.

Calvin Mackie is an award-winning mentor, an inventor, an author, a former Tulane University engineering professor, an internationally renowned speaker and a successful entrepreneur. He is president and CEO of Channel ZerO Group, an educational and professional development consulting company he co-founded in 1992. His STEM NOLA program is designed to help youths in under-served communities across the New Orleans area develop an interest in STEM-based learning activities. He is a board member of the Louisiana Science Technology Engineering and Math Advisory Council, or the LaSTEM Advisory Council.

Sonia Perez, as president of AT&T Louisiana since 2010, oversees AT&T operations that include 4,200 employees and the company’s technology deployment and infrastructure investment in the state. She directs teams responsible for implementing public policy, legislative, regulatory and philanthropic initiatives. Under her leadership, AT&T has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to STEM-related programs at both the K-12 and higher education levels in Louisiana. She also is a member of the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council.

Susana Schowen, as director of workforce initiatives at LED FastStart, collaborates with industry, education and workforce leaders to develop strategic solutions that increase the supply of workers in high-demand STEM fields, such as computer science, engineering, data analytics and technical fields. In addition to fueling economic growth, these strategies provide Louisiana citizens with access to high-quality, family-sustaining jobs in the communities in which they choose to live. Schowen serves as co-chair of the LaSTEM Advisory Council created in 2017, under the auspices of the Louisiana Board of Regents, to promote STEM education and careers in Louisiana.

Among Louisiana’s unique investments in STEM preparation are:

  • Over $65 million in higher education initiatives to boost the number of computer science and STEM-related undergraduate degrees at state campuses in Monroe, Grambling, Ruston, Bossier City, Natchitoches, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Hammond and New Orleans.
  • Over $40 million for advanced manufacturing and engineering technology centers in Northwest Louisiana and Southwest Louisiana.
  • Over $90 million for cybersecurity and digital media facilities and programs in Bossier City and Baton Rouge.

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