NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Supreme Court Division of Children and Families Director Alanah Odoms Hebert is one of 59 scholars chosen to take part in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.
In an effort to strengthen civic and social developments, the program allows participants to travel to the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson, according to a Louisiana Supreme Court press release.
As they travel to each center, the scholars learn from former presidents and administration officials, the release said. They learn leadership skills, network with peers and exchange ideas with like-minded people who are looking to make a difference in their communities.
“The PLS program has connected me with 58 leaders from around the country all working to make positive change in their own backyards and communities,” Hebert told the Louisiana Record. “The resources of the participating presidential centers allow us to learn from engaging leaders like President of American University Sylvia Burwell and Dr. Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture.”
The scholars were selected for the program after passing a rigorous application process and proving their experience in helping develop communities.
“There were several thousand applicants for the program, and 59 were selected,” Hebert said. “There was an extensive written application which contained several essay questions, requests for references, and a background check. Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson wrote my letter of recommendation along with Judge Scott Schlegel 24th JDC, who graduated from the Program in 2017.”
Working as the deputy general counsel for the Louisiana Supreme Court and liaison for the judicial arm of the state's Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Task Force, Hebert has focused on criminal-justice reform.
The PLS program will allow Hebert to continue her work in criminal-justice reform.
“With this once in a lifetime opportunity, I hope to shed a national spotlight on the problem of mass incarceration in Louisiana, especially as it pertains to our most vulnerable citizens, our children," Hebert said in the release.
Having graduated from the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University, Hebert said she learned “leaders aren’t just born, but they are also made.”
“Each year, for the past several years, I’ve written my yearly goals, outlining my desire to participate in a national leadership development program,” Hebert said. “The PLS is one of the finest leadership programs in the country. On-the-job training is important, but it’s essential that one learn how to be an effective leader; it’s a skill set that anyone can learn and perfect.”