The First Family
Governor John Bel Edwards
On January 11, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards was sworn in as the 56th Governor of Louisiana.
He is a 1988 Dean’s List graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. While at West Point, he was chosen by his classmates as the Vice Chairman of the Honor Committee in charge of Investigations. After eight years of active duty with the US Army as an Airborne Ranger, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he went on to graduate Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.
With a father who was the elected Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish – the Edwards family has four generations of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs in their family lineage with John Bel’s brother Daniel currently serving as Sheriff and a brother who is Chief of Police – John Bel learned the importance of public service at an early age.
His Catholic upbringing and strong family ties have shaped both his commitments to his own community as well as his family. John Bel’s mother taught him both the compassion he demonstrates as a legislator and his belief in the power of prayer. Meanwhile, his family credits his father with ensuring that John Bel carefully considers all sides of an issue before making difficult decisions on behalf of his constituents. This compassion and good judgment, coupled with his ability to understand the details of legislation, has made him a force to be reckoned with among his colleagues in the Louisiana Legislature.
John Bel is married to his high-school sweetheart, First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards. They have three children, Samantha, Sarah Ellen, and John Miller.
First Lady Donna Edwards
Donna Hutto Edwards is the first lady of the state of Louisiana. She was born to a loving mother and hardworking father in Meridian, Mississippi. As a child, their family moved around due to her father’s job with International Paper Co. Their family moved to Amite, LA when Donna was in middle school and it was then that she met her future husband John Bel Edwards.
As high school sweethearts, Donna and John Bel went to high school together at Amite High School. Donna graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.
Upon John Bel’s graduation from West Point and Ranger School, the two married in 1989. Donna and John Bel are a team and work together as such. Together, they are committed to serving the state of Louisiana just as they served their country. John Bel was active duty as an Army Infantry Airborne Ranger and during that time they served eight years as a military family. As a military wife, Donna volunteered regularly with the wives group that supported the families of those serving in the Army. Her service focused on supporting families during the spouse’s deployment.
While raising three children and being active in their community organizations, school and church groups, Donna decided to become a certified teacher. She taught for eight and a half years as a music teacher in the public school system where she and John Bel both graduated. She will continue to be a strong advocate for teachers, children, public education, and music and arts education in Louisiana.