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Governor Jindal Names Kristy Nichols DSS Secretary

BATON ROUGE - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal named Interim Director of Social Services Kristy Nichols as the Secretary of the Department of Children & Family Services (DSS). Nichols was appointed interim director of the agency on September 15, 2008 upon the resignation of Ann Williams. Nichols’ appointment will be effective on Monday, December 15.

“Kristy has done an incredible job of bringing much-needed reforms to DSS in a short period of time – especially in the aftermath of two back-to-back storms,” said Governor Jindal. “There is still much more work to do at DSS – as the department wraps up their internal audit of their response to the hurricanes, in order to be better prepared for the next possible emergency – But Kristy is certainly off to a great start.”

Before her appointment to DSS, Kristy Nichols served as a policy advisor on health and social services initiatives to Governor Bobby Jindal. 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. Previously, Nichols served as a policy advisor for Governor-elect Jindal's transition team from November 2007 to January 2008.

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). At the Bureau, Nichols oversaw more than 30 employees, a $36 million grant budget, and she 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.

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.

Previously, Nichols served as the Region IV HIV/AIDS consortium consultant for DHH's Office of Public Health, from November 1998 to July 1999. From 1997 to 1998, Nichols ran the United Way of Acadiana's "Partnership for a Healthier Lafayette," a community-based effort to address economic development, education, health care and teen pregnancy issues in the Lafayette metro-area.

Nichols has a bachelor's of administration in business from the University of Tennessee and a master's in communication from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. She also served as an instructor in the communications department at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, and was a recipient of the 2006 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leadership Award.
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