Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has the unique distinction of being Louisiana’s first female Governor, serving from 2004-2008. Governor Blanco prioritized public education by providing peer funding for LSU and all state colleges and universities; bringing teacher pay to the southern regional average for the first time in decades; expanding pre-K classes to every at-risk child in Louisiana; and placing the first lap-top computers in middle school classrooms. She funded LONI, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative housed at LSU, which interlinks Louisiana’s research universities to the National LambdaRail and the most powerful supercomputers of the world.
Having recruited several new businesses to Louisiana, the Governor was nationally recognized for her economic development successes. She passed tough ethics laws, reformed the juvenile justice system, and put accountability and efficiencies into the health care system.
She is particularly credited for building a strong foundation for recovery of coastal Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the most damaging storms in US history. As Commander-in-Chief of the Louisiana National Guard, Governor Blanco oversaw one of the largest domestic activations of nearly 40,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen representing every state in the continental US and Washington DC. After completing initial life-saving efforts, she fought for and received $29 billion from the federal government for levee reconstruction, rebuilding of public properties and home restoration grants for nearly 129,000 families.
Kathleen Blanco also served as Lieutenant Governor, Public Service Commissioner and in the Louisiana House of Representatives. She is a graduate of the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and has been awarded three honorary doctorates and named an LPB Louisiana Legend. The Governor is writing her memoires and speaks nationally and internationally.
Governor Blanco has been married for 51 years to Raymond S. Blanco, a retired UL Vice-President. They are the proud parents of 6 children and 13 grandchildren.