Sandra Thompson Herman
TRAILBLAZER DONATES LEGACY PAPERS TO UL LAFAYETTE
When a career includes the design and direction of a Louisiana state department, a bid for Secretary of State, founding and running a successful oil industry trucking company and serving three terms as executive director of a multi-million dollar government project, it is certainly a testament of endurance and accomplishment. When that career was launched in the 1970s by a female in male-dominated industries, it is unprecedented. For Sandra Thompson Herman, that nearly four-decade journey has been extensively documented in writings, photographs and additional materials, a collection that now holds a place amidst historic documents in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library.
That journey, which began in the 1970s, included the design of Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in 1975, which the young visionary led from 1976 through 1978. In 1979, she became the first woman to run for Louisiana’s secretary of state, defeated by a narrow margin. In 1980, the adventurous businesswoman embraced the state’s oil boom, launching a trucking company to serve the industry. Over the next 15 years, she grew the business from a small fleet of three trucks to 12, serving parishes throughout south Louisiana. She returned to state government in 1996, serving three terms as executive director of the Atchafalaya Basin Program–two under Governor Mike Foster and a third under Governor Kathleen Blanco. For all of these accomplishments to have been achieved by a female in male dominated industries was unprecedented.
“This donation celebrates a trailblazer who paved the way for the future of women in government,” said Governor John Bel Edwards in a statement issued prior to the ceremony. “It’s quite fitting that these papers will be housed in conjunction with the university’s Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center. Hopefully it will inspire young women to seek a career in public service.”
The donation ceremony took place in the university’s Alumni Center. It included remarks from the university’s President Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, Department of Communications Associate Professor Dr. Dedria Givens-Carroll, the library’s Head of Special Collections Zachary Stein and several of Herman’s former colleagues and employees.
The donation ceremony was followed by a presentation to the university of a $25,000 Sandra Thompson Herman Endowed Scholarship in Communications by Mrs. Herman and her husband, Russ. The first scholarship will be awarded to in May of 2020 to a scholar who is passionate about policy, service, and leadership.