Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.

Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., has served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children since 2019. Recognized for her tenacity and deep commitment to children, Dr. Sonnier has led teams in system-wide initiatives for the betterment of children, families, caregivers, and practitioners for more than two decades. During her time at the Louisiana Policy Institute, she has helped secure and direct more than $1B for early care and education in Louisiana, including the state’s largest new early learning investments in a decade and a 20-year millage that creates one of the nation’s largest dedicated funds for infant and toddler care in New Orleans. Since 2019, she also tripled the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children’s research and media engagement outputs and staff while quadrupling its annual revenues, and securing its first five seven-figure grants. She also helped conceive, launch, and co-chair the Steering Committee of Geaux Far Louisiana, a comprehensive effort that engages parents and early childhood health and education providers in leading the transformation of the state’s early childhood systems to better meet the needs of families.


Prior to taking on leadership of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, she served as a state director of two federal programs, where she managed multi-million-dollar budgets. She developed and implemented pilot programs for children, birth to age five, in four states across multiple agencies and community partners to improve the efficiency and efficacy of direct services for children and their families. Dr. Sonnier’s experiences conducting longitudinal and experimental research allow her to translate scientific findings into meaningful and practical policies that support better life outcomes for children. She is coauthor of multiple publications and technical reports, training curricula, and, with Drs. Sharon and Craig Ramey, The Four Diamonds Checklist and The Quality System to Achieve Results for Young Children in all Settings (Q-STAR).


Dr. Sonnier has received numerous awards and public recognition for her leadership and advocacy for children, including the Hulick Serving Spirit Fellowship Award for her commitment to individuals with disabilities across the life course, the Rotary Club’s Extraordinary Woman “Rising Star” Award, New Orleans City Business’ Woman of the Year (2020 and 2022), one of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana’s “16 Women Paving the Way for Louisiana’s Future,” St. Charles Magazine 2022 ChangeMaker, Louisiana Early Childhood Association’s 2022 Friends of Children Award, 2023 Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Most Powerful & Influential Business & Community Leader, 2023 Melanie Bronfin Advocacy for Children Award by Clover, 2023 Voice of Children awardee from For Providers by Providers, 2023 Biz New Orleans Executive of the Year,  2023 – 2024 Champions of Choice Award from The Education Trust of Louisiana, and Biz New Orleans 2024 Women to Watch.


Dr. Sonnier serves on the boards of Ellevate Louisiana, Volunteers of America of South Central Louisiana, Southwest Regional Education Laboratories Governing Board, and numerous local and state boards and commissions. She is a graduate of Leadership Louisiana. Dr. Sonnier is an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University’s Human Development and Family Studies Department in the School of Human Sciences as well as faculty with Louisiana State University’s Early Childhood Education Institute. 

Dr. Sonnier received a Doctor of Philosophy in human development from Virginia Tech, a Master of Education in early childhood intervention and family support services from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Science in special education with an emphasis in early childhood intervention from the University of Southern Mississippi.


Naar, J. J., Weaver, R. H., Sonnier-Netto, L., & Few-Demo, A. (2021). Experiential education through project-based learning: Sex and aging. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education42(4), 528-540.

Farah MJ, Sternberg S, Nichols TA, Duda JT, Lohrenz T, Luo Y, Sonnier L, Ramey SL, Montague R, Ramey CT. Randomized Manipulation of Early Cognitive Experience Impacts Adult Brain Structure. J Cogn Neurosci. 2021 May 1;33(6):1197-1209. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01709. PMID: 34428792.

Naar, J.J., Weaver, R.H., Sonnier-Netto, L., & Few-Demo, A. (2019). Experiential education through project-based learning: Sex and aging. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education. 1-13. 10.1080/02701960.2019.1708349.

Naar, J.J., Weaver, R.H., & Sonnier-Netto, L. (2019). Teaching sex and aging to pre-professionals: Experiential learning of a taboo topic. Innovation in Aging. 3. S538-S538. 10.1093/geroni/igz038.1977.​

Shivers, C.M., Sonnier-Netto, L., & Lee, G. (2018). Family caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Service needs and access across the life course. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities. 15, doi:10.1111/jppi.12272.

Luo, Y., Hetu, S., Lohrenz, T., Hula, A., Dayan, P., Ramey, S.L., Sonnier-Netto, L., Lisinski, J., LaConte, S., Nolte, T., Fonagy, P., Rahmani, E., Montague, P.R., & Ramey, C.T. (2018). The early childhood investment and its impact on social exchange four decades later. Nature Communications. 9, 4705.

Sonnier-Netto, L. & Zvonkovic, A. (2017). Children of the great recession. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 9, 589–592. doi:10.1111/jftr.12221.

Allen, K.R., Molloy, S., Sonnier-Netto, L., Naar, J., & Nelson, L. (2017). Family Ideologies and realities: Still challenging the status quo. Journal of Family Theory & Review. 9, 403-407. doi:10.1111/jtfr.12207.

Ramey, S.L., Ramey, C.T., & Sonnier-Netto, L. (2012). Four diamonds checklist. In C.T. Ramey, J. Sparling, & S. Landesman Ramey, Abecedarian: The ideas, the approach, and the findings (pp. 174 – 175). Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics Corporation.