Aly NeelAlyson Neel

Lamar Family Professional-in-Residence | 117B Journalism | 


Alyson Neel is a professional-in-residence at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. Supported by the Reilly Center, Neel teaches courses, works with faculty and students on research and journalistic projects, and leads civic engagement initiatives aimed at reducing polarization on pressing public health issues including reproductive health. 

Her career spans strategic and crisis communication, journalism, research, policy and program design, and advocacy on public health, gender, and environmental issues in Turkey, Myanmar and the United States.

Prior to joining the Manship School, Neel served as communications director for the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the state’s largest agency with a budget of $19.1 billion and a team responsible for delivering services to millions of Louisianans. In this role, she led LDH’s communications and outreach responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, mpox outbreak and multiple natural disasters, including Hurricanes Ida and Laura. As part of the state’s COVID-19 response, Neel rapidly stood up LDH’s $18-million vaccine education campaign that involved partnering with community leaders, local artists, businesses, hospitals and faith-based leaders around the state. Modeled after get-out-the-vote mobilizations, the vaccine campaign worked with community organizations to phone bank and knock on doors in all 64 parishes. The campaign held regional tele-town halls, allowing residents to get their questions answered directly by local medical experts and community leaders; ran an unprecedented advertising campaign for 17 months; and worked with more than 150 local social media influencers who shared their vaccine stories and combated misinformation on their own platforms. Through many innovative efforts, including this campaign, LDH reached populations that tend to be underserved, propelling Louisiana to become one of few states with an equitable vaccine rate.

Neel and her LDH colleagues applied learned lessons and good practices from COVID-19 to respond to the 2022 mpox outbreak and "meet people where they are," including by advertising on LGBTQ+ dating and social apps, partnering with trusted community voices, and canvassing LGBTQ+ bars and businesses ahead of and during Southern Decadence. Louisiana averted a public health disaster. The White House and CDC recognized LDH’s innovative campaigns to keep Louisianans safe against COVID-19 and mpox and advance vaccine equity as best practice.

In addition to navigating multiple, at times coinciding disasters, under Neel's leadership, LDH has launched campaigns to raise awareness of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and reduce stigma around mental health; and bring attention to the dangers of illicit fentanyl, which has led to a recent surge in overdose deaths in Louisiana and nationwide, among many other pressing health issues facing Louisianans.

Before LDH, as a Luce Scholar, Neel supported a local reproductive health and rights organization in Yangon, Myanmar, and partnered with an all-female-and-Myanmar team of artists to author a bilingual children's book, “Girl Power in Myanmar,” about pioneering women throughout Myanmar history. As a Women’s Congressional Policy Institute Fellow in Washington, D.C., she worked at the intersection of gender, health and economic policy for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). In New York City, Neel supported U.S. and global civil society leaders in their advocacy for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the UN Foundation. In Istanbul, Turkey, Neel reported on gender-based violence and discrimination for The Washington Post and the then largest Turkish daily newspaper.

Neel received her B.A. in mass communication, with a concentration in political communication, at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication and her M.P.A at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs.