Dr. Allison Plyer selected As Chair Of U.S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee


NEW ORLEANS — The Data Center announces the appointment of Dr. Allison Plyer, Chief Demographer, to serve as Chair of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC). Dr. Plyer began serving as a CSAC member in 2015, and will become Chair effective August 15. The CSAC addresses emerging census challenges including demographic, economic, and statistical research, cyber infrastructure, adaptive design, and technical and operational priorities.

Dr. Allison Plyer is lead author of The New Orleans Index series, developed in collaboration with the Brookings Institution to analyze the state of the New Orleans recovery and later to track the region’s progress toward prosperity. Allison is recognized as an international expert in post–Katrina demographics and disaster recovery trends. 

Dr. Plyer also has extensive knowledge of on-the-ground uses of Census data by communities, businesses, and nonprofits for planning, decisionmaking, investing, and advocacy.  In addition, Allison spearheaded the City of New Orleans’ challenge to the Census Bureau’s 2007 and 2008 population estimate, resulting in an upward revision of nearly 75,000 to the Bureau’s estimate of the city’s population — ultimately bringing the estimate for New Orleans within 6 percent of the 2010 Census count. 

Allison received her Doctorate in Science from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine with a dissertation entitled “An analysis of administrative data for measuring population displacement and resettlement following a catastrophic U.S. event.” She has an MBA in marketing and organizational behavior from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, a BA in religious studies and Spanish from Vanderbilt University, magna cum laude, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

“The Federal Government’s selection of Dr. Allison Plyer as Chair of CSAC is yet another recognition of the many ways that New Orleans is leading in knowledge development on disaster recovery, resilience, civic innovation, and open data,” said Executive Director of The Data Center Lamar Gardere. “We are excited that our Chief Demographer will lead the vital work of the CSAC as preparations for the 2020 Census ramp up. Chairing this important committee continues The Data Center’s leadership as a neutral provider of data for informed decisionmaking in our region.”

As Chief Demographer at The Data Center for more than a decade, Allison has overseen the development of high-demand publications that feature key Census metrics. These data products answer pressing questions such as “Who Lives in New Orleans Now?” and provide hundreds of demographic variables for each of New Orleans’ 72 neighborhoods. Plyer said, “Census data has been absolutely essential to the recovery of New Orleans post-Katrina.  Nonprofits and businesses alike would be flying blind without the Census trends we analyze and publish.” 

As Chair, Plyer will consult with the Census Bureau Director on meeting agendas, assist the Designated Federal Officer in presiding meetings, submit recommendations from the committee to the Census Bureau Director, and follow up on committee recommendations or actions. The Census Bureau is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce; the Chair of CSAC is an unpaid position.

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