The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) won three national awards for its research and communications projects focused on state constitutional reform, the RESET Louisiana agenda and coastal restoration.
PAR won top honors in two of the three main GRA award categories, including Most Distinguished Research and Outstanding Policy Achievement. PAR also won a GRA communications award for Best Short Form Video.
The award for Most Distinguished Research went to PAR’s Louisiana Constitutional Reform project, which included PART I: Getting the Foundation Right and PART II: An Enduring Fiscal Framework. The project provides education and guidance to those seeking to reform the Louisiana Constitution, one of the longest, most complex, restrictive and chronically amended state constitutions in the nation. The multi-part endeavor offers the leading authoritative information and innovative solutions on the subject based on extensive research, the historical record and a vetting process that included a special advisory panel and additional experts.
“Magisterial is the only way to describe it,” the GRA judging panel said of the project. “They did an incredible job of unpacking it. Super deep and comprehensive. Congratulations to PAR on that.”
The Most Distinguished Research Award recognizes an outstanding research effort by a governmental research agency or individual GRA member. The award is based on the challenge of the subject matter and the degree to which the study is ground-breaking.
Special thanks go to Beverly Moore Haydel, a consultant to PAR who was the Project Leader, as well as the core research team including Dr. Steven Procopio, Robert Travis Scott, Jessica Braun and Terry Ryder. We would also like to recognize the time and effort given by PAR’s Constitutional Advisory Council which included: PAR Board members Scott Hensgens and Dennis Blunt, as co-chairs, Clay Allen, Caitlin Berni, Doreen Brasseaux, Simone Champagne, Jason Decuir, Quentin Messer, Freddie Pitcher, Jim Richardson, Nathalie Simon, Liz Smith, Scott Sternberg and Jim Tucker.
The award for Outstanding Policy Achievement went to the RESET Louisiana project and publications. PAR partnered with the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and the Committee of 100 for Economic Development to create RESET, a targeted, nonpartisan effort focused on four essential issues: Education, State Finances, Criminal Justice/Public Safety, and Transportation/Infrastructure.
The RESET team launched in 2019 and met with over 200 legislative candidates around the state, educating them on the initiative’s four major issues and the specifics behind them. Their work of advancing policy reforms continued all the way through the 2021 session and included publications, presentations, videos and social media. RESET took a unique approach to begin at the source and assisted candidates in forming ideas that would truly help those they wished to serve. This project helped accomplish significant change in Louisiana this past year in the four key policy areas and has the potential to serve as a model to other states’ organizations looking to make similar progress.
Special thanks go to Committee of 100 Chief Executive Officer Michael Olivier, CABL President Barry Erwin, and their staffs. Harris, Deville & Associates and SSA Consultants provided key strategic and logistical support. Regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce around the state, as well as the Blanco Public Policy Center, hosted RESET meetings and provided vital assistance and outreach. RESET was supported by contributions from Louisiana businesses and reform-minded individuals.
The GRA Communications Award for Best Short Form Video went to PAR’s submission, “How the Coastal Master Plan is Formed.” The video spotlights Louisiana’s effort to address coastal erosion and restoration, a matter of enormous magnitude for the state as well as the nation’s Gulf ecosystem, estuaries, fisheries and wildlife. It highlights key issues for citizens to watch and helps educate the public about the critical formal process in place to combat the problems while spending limited resources wisely.
Special thanks to the Walton Family Foundation, which invested in the video as well as PAR’s Coastal Project providing education and guidance on coastal governance and finances. Thanks also to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the LSU Center for River Studies, which provided video footage. The talented folks at Cyber Fision of Baton Rouge produced the video.
These awards are among the more than 40 that PAR has received from the GRA for its research since the 1950s. Louisiana public policy groups did well in the awards competition this year. The New Orleans-based Bureau of Governmental Research also took home GRA prizes for its work.