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Friday, October 21, 2016
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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

10/16 - Election 2016

What concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall?

The presidential election may be getting all of the attention, but Louisiana residents will be making several important decisions at the ballot box in November. The U.S. Senate seat left up for grabs by retiring Sen. David Vitter has drawn a field of 24 candidates. Louisianians in the south- and northwest parts of the state will also be voting on congressmen. So, what national concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall? What statewide issues should be on the mind of Louisiana’s next Congressional leaders? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Election 2016” Wednesday, October 26 at 7p.m. (Taping Tuesday, October 25)

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Special Presentation

05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!

11/16- Beyond the Flood

What lessons did residents and state officials learn from this historic event and what challenges remain?

Recent Topics

09/16 - Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System

How well is the state’s public school system really performing?

08/16 - Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference (encore)

What difference has a decade made?

07/16 - Regular and Extraordinary: Legislative Review

Who are the winners and losers in Louisiana’s budget battle?

06/16 - Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces (encore)

Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?

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