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Panelist Bio


Debra Vaughan
The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives

Debra Vaughan is the Assistant Director of Research for the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives. The Cowen Institute is a unique entity that takes Tulane University beyond the typical framework of higher education institutions that interact with K-12 public education systems through Schools of Education or Public Policy. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the Cowen Institute is pioneering a new model for the role of universities to play in public schooling systems. The Cowen Institute aspires to be the premier university-based entity where individuals and communities learn about best practices for programs, partnerships, and policies for transforming K-12 public school systems. The Cowen Institute is recognized locally and nationally as a resource for unbiased, meaningful reports depicting the impact of education reforms in New Orleans.

Debra Vaughan joined the Cowen Institute to lead the research team in 2010. The research team is tasked with chronicling, evaluating, and researching the transformation of public education in New Orleans. Prior to her position at the Cowen Institute, Debra spent eight years as the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Public Education Foundation (PEF), a local education fund with a history of success developing innovative programs that improve student achievement in public schools in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In addition to authoring and co-authoring several articles, Debra has presented her work to local and state-level stakeholders and at many national conferences, including the Public Education Network, the National College Access Network, and the American Educational Research Association. Prior to her career in education research, Debra was an economic analyst at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency and an economics professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

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?

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