Louisiana Policy Institute for Children Appoints New Executive Director

NEW ORLEANS – Dr. Libbie Sonnier-Netto, an expert with extensive experience in the field of  early childhood, is the new executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC).

Sonnier-Netto replaces Melanie Bronfin, an attorney who founded and led LPIC to a leadership position as the state’s foremost authority on early care and education policy by linking academic performance of children to the state’s lack of quality early care, as well as extensively documenting the cost of workplace issues associated with this issue.

“Libbie already has a history with LPIC, thanks to her leadership roles in Louisiana’s education network. Her research skills and extensive knowledge of Louisiana’s educational offerings for children aged 0-4 years have aided our efforts for years and helped us bring attention and action from state leaders to this issue,” said Bronfin.

“The Committee of 100, chamber and other business leaders know that Dr. Sonnier-Netto will continue to build on the strong relationship established between employers, corporate decision-makers and LPIC,” said Committee of 100 CEO Michael Olivier. “This relationship is built on strong dialogue and quality research, two traits Libbie has already demonstrated she has.”

Sonnier-Netto assumes directing the strategic mission of the non-profit organization.

“This legislative session, I worked side-by-side with Melanie and the partners she has brought to the table from throughout the state to bring needed attention and action to Louisiana’s early care and education network,” she said. “I am humbled to be following in her steps, and to build upon the Policy Institute’s mission and to work with our partners in improving the life chances of children by continuing to focus on outcomes and measurable progress.”

Sonnier-Netto received her Doctor of Philosophy in human development from Virginia Tech. Under the mentorship of world-renowned scholars, Drs. Sharon and Craig Ramey, Dr. Sonnier-Netto’sdissertation involved the 5thdecade follow-up of the Abecedarian Project “babies” who are now in middle-age.

Additionally, she earned a Master of Education in early childhood intervention and family support services from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sonnier-Netto began her career as an early childhood interventionist working with families who had children with developmental disabilities. She has led teams of individuals in system-wide initiatives for the betterment of children, families, caregivers, and practitioners. Sonnier-Netto served as a state director of two federal programs managing multi-million-dollar budgets as well as developing and implementing pilot programs for children birth to age five in four states, including Louisiana, across multiple agencies and community partners to improve the efficiency and efficacy of direct services for children and their families.

“Her experiences conducting longitudinal and experimental research allow Libbie to translate scientific findings into meaningful and practical policy implications that support better life outcomes for children, as well as make the need understandable for broad audiences,” said Ms. Bronfin.

Sonnier-Netto is a co-author of multiple research publications in the areas of child development and learning capabilities, and is a licensed educator with specialties in special education, early education interventions and learning disabilities. She is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development,  the American Educational Research Association, the International Society on Early Intervention, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Council on Family Relations.

“Libbie’s background will only strengthen what we have been able to accomplish in the past five years in improving access by Louisiana families to high quality early care and education programs for their young children,” said LPIC Board president Gwen Hamilton. “The Board of LPIC was very much interested in finding a person who could build upon the incredible history established by Ms. Bronfin. Libbie so perfectly provided that measure and caliber of expertise. We’re confident that the road ahead will be navigated well under her leadership.”

Bronfin will continue to serve as a Policy Advisor to LPIC.


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