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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Nihal Shrinath
The Data Center

Nihal Shrinath is Data Manager and Research Associate for the Data Center. The Data Center collects data on disaster recovery, regional economic analysis, workforce development, racial disparity indicators, blight reduction, affordable housing, and coastal population movements for Southeast Louisiana.

Nihal leads the Data Center’s research on the development of the water management cluster in Southeast Louisiana as published in The Coastal Index series. Nihal is an economic scholar with an acute passion for demographic and geographic trends as well as issues of urban revitalization and environmental sustainability. He also provides research and analysis, for The Data Center’s many information products.

Nihal came to The Data Center in 2014 from Resource Environmental Solutions (RES), a wetlands mitigation provider where he directed data analysis and land mapping for the Emerging Markets team in addition to overseeing the regulatory approval of environmental restoration plans. At RES, he used federal databases and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to analyze mitigation demand and he used publically available environmental datasets to identify environmentally fragile wetlands and streams. He also developed integrated systems for land search, sales prospecting, and expansion.

Before RES, Nihal worked as a developer and integration specialist at a Health IT start-up in New Orleans. He originally came to New Orleans as part of the Venture for America fellowship, a program designed to place young graduates in start-ups in America’s economically transitioning cities. Nihal holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Computer Science from Amherst College, and hails from Boston, Massachusetts.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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