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Panelist Bio

John Barry
Restore Louisiana Now

John M. Barry is a prize-winning and New York Times best-selling author whose books have won many awards. His novel Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, appeared in 1997 and was still winning notice years later. In 2004 GQ named Rising Tide one of nine pieces of writing essential to understanding America. That list also included Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In 2005 the New York Public Library named it one of the 50 best books in the preceding 50 years, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In 2006 he became the only non-scientist ever to give the National Academies of Sciences annual Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture. .

After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood protection, and from its founding in 2007 until October 2013 he served on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East, which oversees levee districts in metropolitan New Orleans, and on the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which is responsible for the state's hurricane protection.

While serving on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East, he was chief architect of its lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for wetlands loss. After his removal from the authority, he formed the nonprofit group, Restore Louisiana Now to block possible legislative interference with the suit. Restore Louisiana Now will use both direct conversations with legislators and more general efforts through social media and other forms of advertising intended to raise awareness and create grass-roots support for the cause. Mr. Barry is not being paid by either Restore Louisiana Now or the lawyers representing the flood protection authority.

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