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Panelist Bio


Kristy Nichols
Louisiana Department of Social Services Secretary

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.

Current Topic


09/14 - Varsity, Inc.: The Business of College Sports

How big a business is college sports in Louisiana?

Special Presentation


Breaking Away:  A Louisiana Public Square Special Presentation

Would the breakaway City of St. George quash Baton Rouge’s school desegregation progress?

Coming Soon!


10/14 - Louisiana’s Congressional Priorities

Should the focus be on job creation or tax relief?

Recent Topics


08/14 - Down the Road: Our Transportation Future

What should the state’s transportation priorities be?


07/14 - Defining “Dangerous”

How does Louisiana determine if someone is a danger to themselves or others?


06/14 - Pot or Not? The Decriminalization Debate (Encore Presentation)

Would a reduction in penalties encourage more usage and lead the state down a path to legalization?


05/14 - Job Market 2014

What does Louisiana’s employment market look like for job hunters in 2014?

»»» View all Topics!
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