Kristy Nichols was appointed Secretary of the Department of Social Services on December 10, 2008. Before being appointed, she had served as a policy advisor on health and social services initiatives to Governor Bobby Jindal since January 2008. As a policy advisor, Nichols worked on the successful passage of Governor Jindal's health care legislative package during the 2008 legislative session, including legislation on mental health care reform, health care transparency initiatives, increasing health care technology, and increasing access to private health insurance for uninsured Louisiana children.
From July 2002 to November 2007, Nichols served as the director of the Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) where she oversaw a $36 million grant budget, and administered grant funding from federal, national, and state philanthropic organizations. Nichols also oversaw recruitment and retention services, health systems development, health information services, led a pharmacy access initiative, and oversaw chronic disease programs.
As director of the Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health at DHH, Nichols increased funding for community health initiatives from $3 million to $36 million over four years. She also led community-based Hurricane Katrina recovery planning and coalition building, resulting in more than $21 million in federal funding for restoring access to primary health care services in disaster-recovery areas and $50 million in federal funding for health care workforce development in disaster-recovery areas. Because of her work in this position, she was a recipient of the 2006 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leadership Award, considered the nation's highest honor in community health leadership.
From July 1999 to June 2002, Nichols served as the Rural Community Health Network Development Director of the Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center's Louisiana Rural Health Access Program, where she worked to establish four formal rural health networks that were successful in securing more than $4 million in funding for community health improvement initiatives, including an integrated rural transportation system, local pharmacy access initiatives and a free volunteer clinic.
Nichols has a bachelor's of administration in business from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master's in communication from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.
Nichols is married and has one daughter.
What difference has a decade made?
Due to severe flooding in Baton Rouge and the surrounding communities, the recording of “Black & The Blue,” which was to be the August episode of Louisiana Public Square, was cancelled. Instead we will be broadcasting an encore presentation of “Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference.” More information, including broadcast dates and times, is below.
“Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference”
Eleven years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept through Southeast Louisiana, triggering what would become the nation’s costliest disaster. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita inundated Southwest Louisiana forever altering the landscape. The storms uprooted residents, while the rest of Louisiana and its neighboring states welcomed them with open arms.
What affect did the storms have on economic development along the I-10 corridor? Just over a decade later, how have public services changed? How prepared is Louisiana to handle hurricane evacuees? And how did the hurricanes change the demographics of the state?
This month Louisiana Public Square takes a look at where the state is now on an encore presentation of “Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference” airing Wednesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 21 at 11 a.m. on LPB HD.
The panelists are:
· Andy Kopplin, Office of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
· Paul Rainwater, Rainwater Consulting, LLC
· Stephanie Riegel, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
· Nihal Shrinath, The Data Center
The program includes interviews with Jason El Koubi, One Acadiana; Chris Guilbeaux, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP); Kathy Kliebert, Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals; Allison Plyer, Executive Director of the Data Center; John White, State Superintendent of Education; and Christopher Bohnstengel and “Byrdie” Lane, owners of Byrdie’s Gallery and Café in New Orleans.
LPB CEO, Beth Courtney, and Kim Hunter Reed,Ph.D., who served in the Blanco administration during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, moderate the discussion.
“Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference” will also air in New Orleans, on WLAE. It can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.
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