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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


05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Special Presentation


12/15 - Election 2015: An Analysis

What strategies did each of the major candidates use during the Governor's race?

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!


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?

Recent Topics


04/16 - Opiates & the Bayou State

How is Louisiana tackling this serious addiction epidemic?


03/16 - Justice on Hold: Louisiana’s Public Defender Shortage

How serious of a problem is the shortage of public defenders in Louisiana?


02/16 - Effects of Expansion: Medicaid in Louisiana

How will the lives of those who now have access to health care change?


01/16 - Police POV: Body Cameras in Louisiana

What happens when police and the people they arrest have different versions of their encounters?

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