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Workshop and Panels


1) Roundtable: Navigating Disaster Communication Challenges and Conflicts

Monday, February 1st

Risk communication faces numerous challenges in what some call the ‘post-truth’ era we are living in – a time where ‘alternative’ facts, political ideologies, and feelings have more weight than objective evidence. In the context of today’s extreme political polarization, we’ve seen: media biases detract from the accuracy and credibility of disaster communication from official sources; risk messages met with skepticism by some who are swayed by partisan rhetoric and/or distrust in science; and conflicts emerge among groups when issues related to risk are politicized, as with COVID-19 and climate change. How do we effectively communicate about disasters in this environment? How do we earn the trust of our citizens who may be confused as to what to believe? Learn from the experiences and expertise of a diverse panel that includes mitigation and recovery specialists and practitioners, a communication researcher, and a community advocate.

Moderator: Christa López, Deputy Director Community Development and Revitalization at Texas General Land Office

Rev. Gregory Han, Director of Interfaith Relations & Education at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

Kirby Goidel, Director of the Public Policy Research Institute and Professor and Fellow in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University

Michelle Tubbleville, Special Projects Coordinator, Orange County Office of Emergency Management and Executive Director for Orange County Disaster Rebuild

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)

2) Participatory Workshop: Challenges and Opportunities Related to Gender Diversity in Disaster Leadership

Tuesday, February 2nd

Emergency management is not diverse. Specifically, 82% of leaders in emergency management are white and male. As disasters worsen and society changes, this crucial field remains unknown. Research indicates that disasters disproportionately affect persons with access and functional needs, increase poverty rates, widen the racial wealth gap, and push women back into traditional gender roles. More holistic resilience and equity may be possible if disaster management leadership would more closely resemble the demographics of the country and include diverse perspectives. Yet, how do we get there? This participatory workshop will gather audience thoughts and ideas on four questions specifically about increasing gender diversity - specifically attending to women of color and women with access and functional needs - in emergency management professional roles: 1) What are the barriers to more women, people of color, and those with different abilities to becoming leadership in emergency management?; 2) What is going well in this regard?; 3) What needs to change; and 4) What do we do immediately? The result will be a summary identified barriers, opportunities, and next steps to promote more diversity in the field.

Organizer: Michelle Meyer, Director of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University

Christa Lopez, Deputy Director of the Community Development and Revitalization, Texas General Land Office

Jaimie Masterson, Associate Director of Texas Target Communities at Texas A&M University

Elyse Zavar, Assistant Professor of Emergency Management and Disaster Science at University of North Texas

3) Behavioral Health and Disasters: A moderated panel discussion of the challenges & interventions for the community, responders, and self

Wednesday, February 3rd

This 90-minute panel session focuses on the disaster-based behavioral health challenges and practical strategies to mitigate them. While the focus is on disasters in general, our session will carefully address issues identified by the ongoing COVID pandemic. The session panelists are professionals who are actively engaged in behavioral health research and practice. The goals of the session are to 1) Provide participants with a general overview of the types of behavioral health challenges associated with disasters, 2) Discuss specific behavioral health challenges observed as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic (e.g. pandemic fatigue, compassion fatigue, moral injury, etc), 3) Provide participants best practices for interventions and strategies that can help them cope with behavioral health challenges brought on by disasters.

Moderator: Jason Moats, Director, TEEX Testing and Innovation Center, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

Lisa Sullivan, Consultant at Texas Suicide Prevention Center

Jay Maddock, Interim Director, Institute for Improving Health through Agriculture, Chief Wellness Officer, Texas A&M University

Carly McCord, Director of Telebehavioral CareDepartment of Psychiatry,Texas A&M University College of Medicine

Iris Carillo, Assistant Director, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, CAPS - Counseling & Psychological Services, Texas A&M University

Richard Costa, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, LSUHSC School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry

4) Utilizing Community Engagement to Improve Local Resilience to Hazardous Events

Thursday, February 4th 

There have been calls to increase the quantity of pre and post-disaster research in recent years from both the academic and applied public health community. Rapid and credible hazard research is now seen as an essential step for protecting the wellbeing of communities and necessary for increasing trust of governmental response agencies among affected populations. This research is especially needed for communities of color, which traditionally experience higher negative public health outcomes and disaster impacts. Conducting meaningful research requires community engagement at all stages of research to properly conclude and disseminate research findings. In order to accurately and swiftly understand the environmental conditions and public health needs within fence line communities, the Texas A&M Superfund Center (SRP) has partnered with numerous non-profit organizations within Houston Ship Communities to collect (a majority of the communities we work with are marginalized, minority demographically, or are lower income) and synthesize data and co-learn with communities about the risks associated with hazardous events. This session will highlight specific hazardous events that occurred, the role community engagement played, as well as steps that are being taken to increase local resilience. Further, an emphasis will be placed on some best-practices and bi-directional communication pathways that have been developed when working with community/academic partnerships as well as some potential pitfalls.

Galen Newman, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Housing and Urban Development in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University

Garett Sansom, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health School of Public Health, Texas A&M University

Leanne Fawkes, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University


1) Challenging Resilience: A MultiPerspective Conversation

Monday, February 1st

The multi hazard, multi-sectorial, multi-level and multidisciplinary realities of the last decades, from Hurricanes Katrina to Maria, the California wildfires, the Puerto Rico Earthquakes, the Covid -19 Pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, require the deep engagement and understanding of a multiplicity of perspectives. This level of convergence can only be achieved through the design of a new architecture of relationships. In fact, some have called the XXI Century, a time of Relational Science! However, the number of spaces for this much needed multi-sectorial dialogue continues to lag in quantity and quality of supply. This Panel attempts to open that space, joining the perspectives of three different landscapes, sectors and extreme events in an effort to “challenge” current definitions of resilience. This is an effort to encourage critical thinking and the decolonization of resilience knowledge and the innovative redesign of its most important institutions.

Moderator: Joan Asencio, Community Organizer at RISE Puerto Rico

Duaba Unenra, Director at the Confluence Studio, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Faith Hall, Founder & Consultant with the Dominion Advisory Group

Sarah Lipuma, Rise student, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Ibrahim Lopez, RISE student and Community Organizer at Northeastern University School of Planning

2) Meeting the Moment: Harnessing the Untapped Potential of Universities in Building Community Resilience

Tuesday, February 2nd

With more than 1,700 universities in the United States, and an estimated 28,000 worldwide, the Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE) recognizes an underutilized opportunity to engage the university-based scientific enterprise to enhance community resilience. At this moment in time, accentuated by the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, stronger linkages between the university knowledge enterprise and decision-makers can lead to mutual benefit. This panel discussion will highlight examples of university engagement in community resilience, bringing together pairs of university leaders with community partners from three different regions, to explore the conditions that make such partnerships possible to begin to map a path toward replicability and durability across higher education.

Moderator: Erica Goldman, Deputy Director, Global Council for Science and the Environment

Patricia Solis, Executive Director, Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University

Marty Matlock, Executive Director, University of Arkansas Resiliency Center

Erica Smithwick, Director of the Ecology Institute and Center for Landscape Dynamics, Penn State University

Peter Nierengarten, Environmental Director, City of Fayetteville, Arkansas

Nathan Smith, Chief Program Officer, Phoenix Rescue Mission

Nathan Fregien, College of the Menominee Nation

Christopher Caldwell, Interim President, College of the Menominee Nation

3) The Next Generation of Resilience and Sustainability Leaders: Our Perspectives

Wednesday, February 3rd

Current students and recent alumni will reflect on their university experiences and how these experiences shaped their capacity as future leaders in resilience and sustainability. They will address questions such as: How did/do you contribute to resilience or disaster or sustainability as a student? What does your participation in these efforts offer you and other students? How can universities do better to encourage more students to engage in resilience and sustainability efforts?

Moderator: Natalie Coleman, Urban Resilience.AI Lab, Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University

Rebekah Manon, Operations Analyst at AC Disaster Consulting

Asia Dowtin, Urban and Community Forestry, Michigan State University

Paige Wirth, Environmental Geoscience, Texas A&M University

4) Federal and State Coordination: How We Can Work Better Together

Anthony Semento, Director of Contingency Operations, Southwestern Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers