2017 Humanities Awards

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), in partnership with Entergy Louisiana and Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, is proud to announce that author and illustrator William Joyce has been selected as its 2017 Humanist of the Year. The award is given annually by the state’s humanities council as part of its efforts to recognize the individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana. Mr. Joyce was honored on April 13 at the 2017 LEH Bright Lights Awards Dinner presented by Entergy Louisiana, hosted at Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge.

Photos to come!

2017 Humanist of the Year

William Joyce has achieved worldwide recognition as an author, illustrator and pioneer in the digital and animation industry. In 2009, he co-founded Moonbot Studios, a multimedia storytelling company, exploring books, apps, films and video games. The studio’s projects have won numerous awards and accolades, including an Oscar for Best Animated Short, Annie Award, multiple Webby and Emmy Awards and inclusion in the iTunes App Store Hall of Fame. Since beginning his career as a children’s book author and illustrator, Joyce has nearly 50 books to his credit. Named by Newsweek magazine as “one of the 100 people to watch in the new millennium,” he has produced, written and designed projects with nearly every major film studio including BlueSky, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Twentieth Century Fox and Pixar. His feature films, all based on his books, include “Epic,” “Rise of the Guardians,” “Robots” and “Meet the Robinsons.” His television series include “George Shrinks” and “Rolie Polie Olie,” for which Joyce has won five Emmy Awards, three Silver medals and one Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators.

“William Joyce is a singular visionary who embodies the deep creative spirit of Louisiana,” said LEH Executive Director Miranda Restovic. “As a lifelong resident of Shreveport, he’s shown a commitment to our state and its ability to foster world-renowned creative artists.”

“Mr. Joyce represents the passion and creativity of the people of Louisiana. His success is our success, and for that he deserves our highest praise. I am honored to be able to participate in this amazing event to recognize such an accomplished individual,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.

Join the LEH and Master of Ceremonies, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, for the 2017 Bright Lights Awards Dinner and Celebration presented by Entergy Louisiana at Shaw Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 13 at 6pm. Tickets begin at $150. Table sponsorships are available to interested parties. For more information, contact Jan Clifford at 504.620.2479 or clifford.org.

In addition to Joyce, the LEH named these individuals and organizations as 2017 awardees:

Chair’s Institutional Award

Carolyn W. and Charles T. Beaird Family Foundation funding ($155,000) has become an integral part of a consortium of partners—private foundations and corporate donors—who are determined to significantly improve school readiness and education results in the Caddo/Bossier region. Without Beaird Family Foundation support, PRIME TIME would not have achieved the success it has in the area, but more importantly, nor would the children and their families who benefited from the programs. 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s long-term, multi-million dollar commitment to the Gulf South may be unsung publicly, but the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the families who have participated in the PRIME TIME Programs funded by Foundation are certainly singing the Foundation’s praises. By committing $475,000 to PRIME TIME programs, the Kellogg Foundation has chosen to stand with vulnerable families so that children can improve their reading skills, succeed in school, and their parents can become active participants in their children’s education.

Champion of Culture Award

William D. Adams has served as the 10th Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 2014. Adams is a committed advocate for liberal arts education whose tenure has included strong support for the public humanities, veterans’ programming, and several projects in Louisiana, including PRIME TIME Family Reading Time.

Humanities Books Award

The LEH recognizes two outstanding works of history as 2017 Books of the Year. Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou (University Press of Mississippi) by Shane K. Bernard is an extraordinary engagement with the colorful history of a storied Louisiana inland waterway. Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Bayou Terrebonne, Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (University Press of Mississippi) by Christopher Everette Cenac with Claire Domangue Joller presents a landmark record of one of the most important eras in the south central coastal bayou parish of Terrebonne.

Humanities Documentary Film Award

Directed by David Hylan and Raydra Hall, Small Town Rage: Fighting Back in the Deep South is a powerful history of the Shreveport chapter of the Act Up activist group during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s. www.smalltownrage.com

Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography

A New Orleans native who now lives in Atlanta, Eric Waters has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. His work has been seen in national and local magazines, newspapers, brochures and show bills, and on CD covers. He was the lead photographer for “Ties That Bind,” an exhibit and catalog sponsored by the Casey Foundation, and “Great Day in New Orleans” a group photo capturing 283 New Orleans African-American artists of all genres. www.ericwatersphotography504.com

Light Up for Literacy Award

Richard Louth is professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University and Founding Director of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, an initiative devoted to improving the teaching of writing at all academic levels.

Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities

Susan Tucker served as Curator of Books and Records at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women from 1988 to 2015. An author, editor, and archivist, Tucker has produced and supported a breadth of scholarship that has broadened the rich history and literature of Louisiana.

Distinguished Board Service

Phil Earhart and Michael Bernstein



View a list of awardees since 1985

For more information on the Humanities Awards,
contact Brian Boyles at boyles@leh.org or 504.620.2632.


Master of Ceremonies:

Billy Nungesser
Lieutenant Governor


2017 Host Committee:

Mark Gremillion, Lafayette
Deborah Harkins, New Orleans
Elizabeth Ary, New Orleans
Mary Shaddock Jones, Lake Charles
Kevin Kelly, Burnside
Dorian Bennett, New Orleans
Jody Montelaro, Baton Rouge
Paul A. Tessier, Baton Rouge
Mary Ann Sternberg, Baton Rouge
Liz Mangham, Baton Rouge
Tom Clark, Baton Rouge
Ty Bromell, Baton Rouge