Bogalusa native happy to be making difference with DA’s office

Published 8:53 am Friday, March 6, 2015

Bogalusa native Lisa Frazier Page was recently appointed the new public relations director for District Attorney Warren Montgomery, who was sworn into office on Jan. 12. The new director, who started her career in New Orleans, finds the position a welcome adventure and departure from her years as a print journalist.

Page attended Annunciation Catholic School as a child and graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1980. She began working as an intern at the Times Picayune during the summer after her sophomore year at Dillard University in New Orleans. After graduating from Dillard in 1984, she received her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism in the fall of 1985. Returning home, Page worked as a reporter and columnist for the Times Picayune, covering events in the parish until 1995. One of her most memorable stories for the paper was the election of Nelson Mandela, which she was flown to Africa to cover in 1994.

Page remembers the trip fondly, saying, “It was one of the most exciting moments in my career.”

Later, during Page’s 17 years at the Washington Post, she eventually made the switch from writer to editor before returning home to Louisiana to be closer to her family. Returning to the Times Picayune, Page covered the Northshore as the community editor before her appointment to the DA’s office. The reason for Page’s career change stems from her love of the community.

“I think that the thing that inspires me,“ she said, “is that I’m at a point in my life where I want to feel like I can do something to make a difference. I’m very excited by Mr. Montgomery’s vision for the District Attorney’s Office and his desire to bring change and to operate in an ethical and open way. I really want to be a part of that. This is a very different step for me, but it’s a very exciting one, as well.”

With such a large change in front of her, Page is reminded of the beginning of her career, which involved another big change. Despite her long, illustrious career in writing and editing for newspapers, Page did not grow up with headlines on her mind. In fact, she had never considered journalism as a possible career option until her sophomore year at Dillard, where she learned of an internship at The Times Picayune.

“One of my professors was an assistant editor at The Times. She taught a feature writing class and urged me to apply,” Page said.

Largely inexperienced in the field, she recalled, “At that time, I was greener than green. I was very intimidated by all of the professionals, but that summer changed the trajectory of my life. Until then, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I was taking mass communication electives, but I was really unsure of where I wanted to go. The summer in that newsroom changed everything for me. I didn’t really do anything memorable that summer. None of the professionals working there would have any reason to remember me. I was only an intern, but I watched them very closely, and I saw in them what I wanted to do with my life.”

Page attributes her success to the willingness to learn and finding support wherever she is, something that started, she said, in Bogalusa.

“My teachers at Annunciation in elementary school were incredibly supportive. My English teacher, Mary Campbell, gave me the foundation for a love of language and everything that came after that,” Page said.

Later at BHS, Page found more support from teachers, saying, “All of these teachers did more than teach a subject. They cared about us as students. They cared about our futures. They made us believe that we could go on and be whatever it was we wanted to be. That was what I got most from growing up in Bogalusa. I was surrounded by people that believed in me, who kept pushing me forward and telling me that I could do it.”

So how does one go from student to author and editor?

According to Page, “The best thing to do is have a vision and work toward that vision. When you make mistakes, learn from your mistakes. Pick yourself up and keep going. That’s the key to anything. Sometimes you end up broadening that vision. You end up doing things you never thought you would do. Prepare yourself academically so that when those doors open, you’re prepared to walk through them.”

Education is key, Page insists, to finding a person’s path in life.

“Education is paramount,” Page said, “to getting where you want to go. If you can’t get into college, go to a community college. Start where you can. Just have a vision of where you’d like to go, even if it seems impossible. It starts with a vision and a belief in yourself that you can go beyond where you are. Work toward it. Take baby steps. You’re not going to get there overnight, but you can get there.”