EM Forum Presentation September 26, 2012
Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA)
Resilient Neighbors Network
Alessandra Jerolleman, MPA, CFM
Founder and Executive Director
Natural Hazards Mitigation Association
Terri L. Turner, AICP, CFM
Augusta Planning & Development Department
Deputy Executive Director, NHMA
This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/NHMA/RNN.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm120926.wmv
An audio podcast is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm110926.mp3
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator. We are very glad you could join us.
We are very pleased to introduce one of our EIIP partners today, the Natural Hazards Mitigation Association. Our guests will provide an overview of the organization and their exciting new initiative, the Resilient Neighbors Network.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce Alessandra Jerolleman and Terri Turner.
Alessandra is the founder and Executive Director of NHMA. She is also a Program Specialist in the Gulf Coast with Save the Children USA, working on a resilience initiative around children's needs in emergencies. She is the co-editor of a textbook, Natural Hazard Mitigation, which will be published by CRC Press later this year.
Terri is here to represent Augusta Georgia, a charter member of the Resilient Neighbors Network. She has served as the Assistant Zoning and Development Administrator of the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission for over 13 years, and also serves in the capacity of Floodplain Manager and Hazard Mitigation Specialist.
Please see todays Background Page for further biographical information on each of our guests and related links to resources.
Welcome to you both, and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. I now turn the floor over to Alessandra to start us off please.
Alessandra Jerolleman: Good afternoon everybody and thank you for joining us today. As Amy mentioned I am Alessandra Jerolleman, the Executive Director of the National Hazard Mitigation Association. I am really happy to be here today to tell you a little bit about NHMA as well as provide some information about our new initiative, the Resilient Neighbors Network.
Typically when I provide a presentation on NHMA I take some time to talk about how hazard mitigation, what it is, and what it entails. Probably for this audience you have a general feel. The point I really want to make is that when we at NHMA talk about hazard mitigation we take a broad, holistic, resiliency focused view and we find that our members in the communities that participate with us do the same.
One thing we are always very interested in, which in part led to the creation of the resilient neighbor network is the idea of what is it that communities that are very successful at risk reduction, vulnerability reduction, building resiliencywhat is it they have in common? One thing they all seem to have in common is they took this broader picture view starting from the question of what the community valued and needed.
They went beyond simply the activities that might be most commonly funded using federal mitigation dollars. In fact, many of these communities have accomplished amazing things with basically no financial resources. I wanted to provide some example of some type of hazard mitigation that these communities within the Resilient Neighbors Network, as well as within our membership, are engaging in.
These are often longer term focused, taking into account future conditions and taking the holistic view. We talk about things like land use and zoning, building codes, home elevations, education and outreach, hardening structures, open space preservation, coastal protection, planning, safe rooms, retention and detention, flood proofing among others. Many of these communities are also active the in preparedness sphere as well.
To take a moment to tell you about the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, we formed the association in mid 2008 out of the realization that there were a great many wonderful national, local and regional efforts taking place to promote hazard mitigation, resiliency and risk reduction. These initiatives were not always linked to each other. There was not necessarily a good venue for information sharing and collaboration across the universe of hazard mitigation.
One of the biggest challenges that we face, which I think is also one of our greatest strengths, is the fact that individuals who come to hazard mitigation typically do so through a range of background professions. There are folks who consider themselves planners who focus on hazard mitigation. There are engineers. There are community activists. There are a wide range of professions many of which within their own associations do have subgroups that focus in on hazard mitigation or disasters and do carry conversations among their members. It can be challenging to cross those lines.
We also find that a lot of individuals who work in the field of hazard mitigation are perhaps naturally most comfortable or familiar with the particular hazards with which they tend to work. We havent always had as much communication across the different hazard specialties either.
It may be that there are very successful risk communication endeavors around seismic safety that could very much inform flood risk communication. So we at NHMA seek to foster that kind of communication and collaboration among supporters of loss reduction through mitigation.
To that endjust to take a moment to give you a feel for what we dowe focus heavily on education, sharing of resources and information. We try with the help of our members to monitor and have somewhat of a feel for the different initiatives that are going on, webinars that are made available, publications across this really broad universe of fields and groups that are at least somewhat active in the hazard mitigation sphere and we make it available to our membership as a resource.
We also try to foster opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. That is where the Resilient Neighbors Network is borne out of. Even prior to the creation of the Resilient Neighbors Network we were seeing very clearly how the opportunities for folks to interact with each other from different communities and backgrounds whether it be through the listserv, through our annual workshop or other opportunities that often resulted in the sharing of ideas, knowledge and resources.
As we are faced with a resource constrained environment where the constraints really seem to be getting worse we are also faced with changes in disaster lossesincreasing losses breaking records with climate and things like thatcollaboration and learning becomes more important. We do a lot of education through presentations and workshops so that existing venues as well as some that we host.
Something that has really emerged as part of our grassroots membership is the opportunity to participate in national policy discussions, not just as NHMA, but actually the opportunity for our members to provide direct feedback to several national initiatives such as the upcoming mitigation framework that otherwise we might not have had the opportunity to do.
I mentioned that our membership is very diverse. We are open to all who support hazard mitigation. The majority of our membership is within the United States though we do have some international membership. Our membership right now in terms of our formal members is over 200 and in terms of our networkthose who interact with us through social media or other mechanismsis over 1,000.
If you want more information we invite you to visit the website. I dont want to take much time on NHMA. I want to make sure I can talk to you about the Resilient Neighbors Network and let Terri talk to you as well.
My last comment is that we do have several active committees, several publications and all this information is available on our website as are the proceedings, minutes and agendas from the International Practitioners Workshop which I mentioned.
We just held our third practitioners workshop this year. We do this in partnership with the National Hazards Center and we are able to bring together around 100 folks to have an interactive discussion around this idea of how to do more with less. How do we undertake successful mitigation in a changing and resource constrained environment?
Now on to the Resilient Neighbors Networkpeer-to-peer learning and networking has been something that has been very important at NHMA from our inception. The idea of setting up this kind of network is something we have talked about from day one and finally this year we began to actually organize the network.
The Resilient Neighbors Network right now is a network of ten communities all of whom were already active in resiliency, risk reduction, mitigation efforts. These ten communities serve as a pilot group. They are actually designing the network.
One of the challenges we ran into in looking at how to build from along these lines was the fact that the folks in these communities are doing so much amazing work and wearing so many hats and so busy it was difficult for them to find these opportunities for networking. We wanted to create a network that would be a benefit and not a burden.
We pulled together these initial communities actually around the question of how do we design a Resilient Neighbors Network. What types of communication mechanisms work for you? What level of interaction is comfortable? Some things that came out of that are that we can certainly use social media and the web to share some types of informationwe are holding monthly conference calls to provide updates to each other in terms of what the different communities are engaged in.
The communities are then able to provide feedback, advice, and request guidance from each other and there is also a lot that happens informally between the communities outside of the network as a result of the relationships that were built.
It has been wonderful to see in the short amount of time that the Resilient Neighbors Network has been in existence the many ways the communities have already been able to help each other whether it is sharing sample recovery plans or talking about unique and innovative mechanisms for reaching broad stakeholder groups or even identifying who those stakeholder groups are.
It has been wonderful to watch those communications and benefits that are already being seen by some of these communities. I mentioned that this is a pilot group. This group is going to expand over the next three years to bring in additional communities and some of those communities may be very advanced in their efforts the way these pilot communities are and other communities may be coming to this because they have a desire to start these types of initiatives locally and are looking for mentoring and partnership opportunities.
There is a Resilient Neighbors Network website available through the NHMA website that can give you some information on these initial communities that are participating in the network. I want to add as well that we have a wonderful advisory team which is comprised of leading experts in the field as well as representatives from several federal agencies that are there to advise and be of assistance to the Resilient Neighbors Network communities as need be.
Finally, I have used the word "community" several times. There are, of course, multiple definitions of community. Each of the Resilient Neighbors Network communities defines themselves differently.
You can see on this map the ten pilot locations and you can see what the communities are. Some are cities. Some are regions. Some are counties. Some are focused on partnerships that span different communities. So we dont have a formal definition for this beyond the geographic area or the types of communities in which the different initiatives are engaged.
In our ten charter communities you will hear from Terri Turner about the wonderful work that she is doing in Augusta, Georgia, also among our pilot communities are the Central Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, Jefferson County in West Virginia, Hillsborough County in Florida, Pasadena in Texas, Tulsa in Oklahoma, the State of Vermont and Grays Harbor in Washington.
With that I would love to pass this over to Terri to give you a feel for some of the fabulous work that is going on locally that we would like to support.
Terri Turner: Good morning. My name is Terri Turner and I am a local planner, floodplain manager and hazard mitigation specialist in one of the oldest cities in the south, Augusta, Georgia. In my position I have seen the best times and unfortunately the worst of times when it comes to operational coordination within a community to community resiliency and long-term vulnerability.
I would like to take a minute to tell you where we have come from in Augusta, where we have been as a community and where we are headed in the future. Augusta was once a thriving metropolitan community from its early days as an industrial mecca during the cotton boom to more modern advances such as our vibrant medical community, the military presence at Fort Gordon and the Masters Golf Tournament which is held at the pinnacle of the golf season each and every year. With all of that it seemed that Augusta had it all.
Unfortunately during the sixties, flight to the burbs by the majority of the citys white and money-laden populous contributed to severe overall population losses and deepening financial problems of the city. It created what we refer to locally as a crisis climate for the entire area.
Additionally the overall county experienced considerable racial strife, much of it related to the belief that city leaders were resisting efforts to provide full representation of blacks who were at that time the new majority. They were not being represented well in elected office, or at least that was their belief.
The crisis climate was spread by a widespread perception that the local government, both the city and county governments, were unable to address the problems of the community adequately or effectively. This continuing conflict over distribution of power polarized the city by race and was aggravated by what most believed was a totally unresponsive government at the time.
With hopes of bringing people and businesses back into the citys jurisdiction, multiple annexation attempts failedsome quite noticeably and quite miserably. In the mid 1990s consolidation was turned to again as the next salvation for the city and county. Finally in late 1995 consolidation finally passed.
Now we have a newly consolidated government but unfortunately it had different urban and suburban services with most of the service providers being in the urban corridor and most of the growth happening in the outlying suburban areas as many metropolitan areas find happens after consolidation.
Unfortunately the mistrust that plagued the city and county prior to consolidation carried over into the new government and many departments were proprietary and communication was at an all-time low if not downright non-existent at times. The challenge was monumental. How do we get our citizens to talk to one another and how do we get them to have any trust in the current government?
The planning commission which had been consolidated many many years before the city and county government consolidated led the drive in facilitating communication and cooperation throughout the new government and region as a whole.
Over the last fifteen plus years collaborations and partnerships were formed by developing groups composed of city leaders, city departments, community stakeholders and citizen activists to do everything from review ordinance changing to write/review our hazard mitigation plansa plan that because of all the stakeholder involvement was truly extensive.
This plan reflects the citys hazards and capabilities for dealing with those hazards. Once we had the players at the table and they were actually talking to one another it was time to implement what I call "the process". The process aimed at making our community more resilient so that we didnt have to go through the many downturns we had faced in previous years.
This was especially important in our propensity to disasters. It didnt take us long to figure out that we had little or no chance of a sustainable economy without disaster resilient homes and disaster resilient places to work. Again the planning commission led the charge to promote community resilience by providing the framework for a disaster resilient community.
Buy-out programs were instituted for the purchase of repetitively flooded homes and businesses. The flood buy-out program also worked with our local land bank to accept donations for repetitively flooded homes and businesses thus making those donations tax deductible. Partnerships were formed with the Central Savannah Land Trust to manage the considerable influx of donated properties, especially the large open-spaced properties that were so valuable for flood storage and riparian buffers.
Partnerships were also formed with the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park to establish and promote a wetlands bank where wetlands credits could be purchased. Increased community participation was facilitated in other areas as well such as in our comprehensive plan update and our flood map update. Those are just a few of the areas.
We have been blessed with an active community and with their participation in our governmental process. Long-term vulnerability reduction was the ultimate goal. It is my opinion that no one ever totally reaches that lofty goal especially if the community is doing its job well because there are always more challenges to meet and bigger and better mountains of attainment to climb.
Augusta has made monumental strides toward long-term vulnerability reduction over recent years however. Ordinances and regulations have been changed to calm down our propensity to disasters. They have worked so well that in recent years flooding as a natural disaster has fallen from the communitys number one risk to a resounding number two in the most recent update of our hazard mitigation plan.
The consolidated government is more financially stable than it was prior to consolidation. The community is much more resilient than it was prior to consolidation. Hazards are now identified and dealt with given the limited resources of our community which is still overall suffering from urban sprawl.
At times, as hard as we try not to have it happen, there are continuing racial conflicts. A new interest has been taken in moving back into the central citya sustainability initiative backed by a new bright and young sustainability manager is currently underway. Revitalization projects are taking place in many of the cities older downtown neighborhoods.
The successes of promoting leadership, partnership and fostering collaboration among our community leaders, our community stakeholders and our community citizens is paying off and reaping huge dividends within our community. People are talking. They are communicating on how to work together to make their community and surroundings a better place to live and work.
They are becoming a more resilient community together hand-in-hand doing the job that needs to be done. Quite frankly nobody could be more proud of the efforts of our community than I am. As the citys floodplain manager, hazard mitigation specialist and development administrator, I dont think that resilience falls into your lap.
It is the concerted effort of a lot of "somebodies" doing a lot of "somethings" right. It involves people with vision, stamina and purpose. It involves leadership, good management, sustainability and the courage to act in the communitys best interest. I think we found the win-win combination here in Augusta, Georgia.
As Augusta moves forward on the path of community resiliency the lessons of the past have provided some of the successes we are enjoying today. They will also ultimately pave the way for tomorrows resounding triumphs in terms of the sustainability and long-term vulnerability reduction.
How does Augusta fit into the Resilient Neighbors Network framework? As part of the network I get to share Augustas successes with other communities such as mine. I get to share them in events such as today. But you know there are communities all over the United States that are struggling to make themselves sustainable and resilient and the network provides the opportunity for that collaboration and partnership.
Sometimes those communities are dealing with overwhelming odds. We too, here in Augusta, have dealt with those same overwhelming odds and we get to share that with these communities. More importantly, I dont know it all and neither does my community. I get to learn from successful communities all over the United States on how they have overcome hurdles they have faced in the past and how they are running for a victorious finish line in the future. Thank you.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much to both of you. We are very glad that both the participants in the Resilient Neighbors Network and NHMA are continuing to focus on mitigation issues. As we all know the focus kind of shifted after 9-11 but its obviously still very important. Now we will proceed to our Q&A.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Amy Sebring: Are you going to pilot the Resilient Neighbor Network for a year or so and seek to expand it after that?
Alessandra Jerolleman: Thank you for asking. We pulled together the pilot community to design the communications plan and talk about a three-year plan for the types of activities the network and network communities could engage in.
We will look over the next three years to expand the network and engage in various pilot projects, some of which will engage the network as a whole and others are focused on particular communities within the network, but with feedback loops back to the broader network. Some of what the network and network participants are able to do is going to be dependent on funding but regardless of funding, the basic levels of communication and interaction can be maintained.
I will give you two examples. We have some communities now that are interested in looking at the intersection between mitigation and adaptation planning and have applied to participate in the climate solutions university with the feedback loop to the other communities as they go through that process.
We also have one community which is working with the Corps that is part of the Silver Jackets initiative to look at ways to make the data the Corps is generating through Silver Jackets more readily useful to the community as a whole and provide that feedback. That community will also work with other communities in the Resilient Neighbors Network.
It will be that combination of the individual projects at the local level as different communities engage in different efforts and are able to capitalize on the expertise experience and of the other communities as well as some initiatives and tools we may look to develop together as a network.
Amy Sebring: Did you get grant funding to help with this?
Alessandra Jerolleman: We had an initial grant to help pull the communities together which came from FEMA for the preliminary discussions. Then weve had conversations with other groups about ways to continue funding for example a meeting for the development of a toolkitdifferent components that are helpful to all communities.
Finally, we have had a great deal of mapping services generously donated to us. The communities are all able to work together around some GIS projects that will help with the data they have available and how they can use it in their efforts.
Avagene Moore: How do you plan to share the tangible demonstrations of success re: resilient neighborhoods as measurable milestones are met? I believe these successes are important to the entire country.
Alessandra Jerolleman: Absolutely. There are a few mechanisms for that. One is through presentations such as today where either NHMA or communities may talk about their efforts. What we have done as we do presentations relating to the Resilient Neighbors Network is we have always done them in partnership with at least one of the communities so they can speak directly to their efforts.
We also will look to disseminate results through case studies, through community profiles and other mechanisms through NHMAs broad network of partners and of course using social media, the internet and other mechanisms that might present themselves in the future.
We are actually going to be working with Jacksonville State on academic evaluation of the results so we can make sure this process and this project is really yielding the results we would like it to.
Isabel McCurdy: What is the number one hazard that you have now since flooding is number two?
Terri Turner: Our stakeholders committee decided to actually look at it very broadly so it is wind related events. That could be winds from hurricanes (we are two hours from the coast), winds from tropical storms, or tornadic winds. Wind related events became our number one hazard. Flooding had been number one for a number of years and moved to number two almost unanimously. That is because a lot of the efforts the community and stakeholders have taken to combat that as a natural event in our community.
[K7LWA] Abel, LW: How difficult is it to keep sustainability of program and its participants during STARTUP and the 1 year?
Alessandra Jerolleman: There are a lot of challenges just as far as how busy individuals are and lack of resources. I think that being able to meet in person and have an entire day of facilitated discussion between the communitiesI think that was tremendously helpful because it built personal relationships among the community representatives that go beyond the network so that there is informal interaction going as well.
We have also asked communities to designate secondary representatives so we can try to maintain involvement with at least one individual in the community as we do our monthly get-togethers and whatnot but as our communities are impacted by hazards that they face or other events certainly their ability to participate waxes and wanes.
So far the value of the interaction and what they are getting out of it is helping to keep Resilient Neighbors Network going and we hope that will continue in the future. But that is something we need to continue to look at to make sure there is a return on investment of the time these folks are putting in when they dont have a lot of it to spare.
Isabel McCurdy: How often do these communities meet and how many are in there in each?
Alessandra Jerolleman: We are holding a monthly conference call with all the communities. In addition to that we have more frequent interactions with all the communities and in between some of the communities around some of the issues that arise.
We have also been able to have several of the advisory team members, depending upon their own travels and where they are located, visit with some of the communities when they have been in the neighborhood. Some communities have also been able to visit with each other.
There is a great deal of informal interaction going on which speaks to the need for something like Resilient Neighbors Network but right now our formal mechanism is the conference call. We are seeking funding to pay travel to bring all the communities together again next year and potentially as we look to expand to be able to have that meeting, because it seems to make a big difference to have at least that minimal face-to-face interaction.
Avagene Moore: Terri, how did Augusta get citizens from all walks of life involved? How do you expand the involvement and keep the community aware of progress?
Terri Turner: Im going to make this sound very easy because as it turned out it really was. We looked at our planning process from five years ago with our hazard mitigation plan. We looked at our planning process from our flood hazard mitigation plans. We looked at our planning process from our comprehensive planso things where we had to have community engagement.
We also looked at who was being involved in things like ordinance amendments and development document amendments along the way, and we focused on those people and then tried to identify groups within the community that we knew needed to be in the table. Sometimes that involves having to make a few phone calls and asking around because not always is the president, director or CEO of any particular organization going to be the one you want at the table. They are too busy and it is hard for them to engage.
There is always someone in that group who is the workhorse. If you can identify those people and bring them to the table it is amazing what you can get done. In our last process we did with this group, the hazard mitigation plan update, we kept them engaged all through the process.
Part of the success of that project was that we articulated to them in the very beginning that they werent there to meet a line item on a piece of paper for a grant. They werent there to impress the reporters. But that their contribution was meaningful and significant. We were able to keep them engaged all through the process.
We actually did our hazard mitigation plan update in a record setting pace. The success was directly related to them getting engaged, staying engaged and making sure that their voices were heard through the process. As I said in my presentation I was extremely proud of them not only during that but in other things weve done.
It is starting to tell the tale here in Augusta. We are seeing the successes from it. We are definitely able to put our finger on it and mark it as a success and a win in the win column. We are able to say to other communities in the network that this is how we did it. It may not work exactly right for you but this is how we did it.
They are able to take our success and mold it to their community and replicate what weve done. I think that is another important message I need to get out too. It has to be unique to your community. Sustainability and resiliency is not a cookie cutter type project. It is not "one size fits all".
You have to know your community and its needs, its vulnerabilities, goals and relation to those vulnerabilities and then be able to mold your program around it.
Amy Sebring: I got from your presentation the idea of the multidisciplinary nature of folks involved in mitigation in one way or another. You mentioned the nexus with the climate adaptationdo you have members from that community? Could you explain a little more about how those two areas work together?
Alessandra Jerolleman: I gave that as one example so let me back up and briefly mention some of the efforts of our committees because a lot of our committees are built around those areas of intersections.
One would be our mitigation planning committee which is currently about to release the white paper looking at ways to improve hazard mitigation planning including elements such as broader stakeholder engagement, better coordination with other types of planning efforts such as comprehensive planning, taking that long range view that takes into account potential future conditions not just current so that we are not designing mitigation projects around what older data tells us are our risks but are actually being proactive.
One of our communities, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, is an excellent example of a community that has done that work where they have looked at even mapping potential future floodplain conditions. Then we also have our disaster resilience community committee which is really the committee that has housed the Resilient Neighbors Network and has had Resilient Neighbors Network as a goal.
I mentioned the interaction with adaptation. That is something that has come up a lot recently. We do have members who are interested in looking at changing conditions regardless of the reasons for those changing conditions. They are simply interested in figuring out how to address what is changing in their communities.
As there is this discussion that seems to be emerging about adaptation planning, it is simply one area where there really is a lot of intersection in terms of risk reduction efforts particularly in bringing in that longer term perspective of what a community might face.
Another area where we have looked for intersections in a community that we have engaged with is the broader sustainability or green community because there again there are a lot of areas of intersection. Some of our communities such as Tulsa have been very incredibly active in that space in building that bridge.
True sustainability in our opinion has to take into account the hazard environment, the natural environment and go beyond energy efficiency but really look at the wide range of conditions.
We also spend a lot of time speaking about and working on issues relating to land use building codes really focusing on the cause of safe and sustainable development, that as communities develop or change that the natural environment be taken into account to reduce potential future losses and misery and to have that conversation in a positive way working with development community to find ways to still have economic benefits, growth and related benefits in keeping with the safety element and the reduction of human misery and losses in mind.
Those are a few examples. I would say that if you visit the NHMA website we have a section that has presentations and publications. That would give a good feel for some of the different areas we have gotten engaged in. You can find a lot of information there that would give a better feel.
Amy Sebring: Have you published your membership?
Alessandra Jerolleman: We have not published a membership list. We have explored the possibility of a membership directory to make it easier for members to contact each other and interact with each other. We have been looking at different ways to have discussion among members beyond the meetings, workshops, and listserv.
That is something we are still trying to find the best way to handle. We have a decent feel in terms of statistics as far as we have pretty good coverage of hazards across the country and a lot of those primary background professions. We try to get a feel for that as much as we can.
Ray Pena: Is the Atlanta/Fulton County EMA active in NHMA, and are other EMAs active in their communities?
Alessandra Jerolleman: I can think of at least five or six members in that area. We have representation from within Atlanta and Georgia.
[K7LWA] Abel, LW: Is there much involvement from schools, scout groups, etc -- i.e., younger community members -- and is there OUTREACH material available to generate interest from these "younger" community members? Thank you.
Terri Turner: We have been really fortunate here in Augusta that through our land trust and especially our nature park we have been able to engage school age children both in educational opportunities such as tours but also in projects as well.
We do have the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park that has an educational facility as part of their buildings and their facilities and they engage the younger population as well. There are a group of us either through the land trust, through the nature park or myself, others here in the government that do not hesitate when invited to go out into the community and speak to not only school age children but to neighborhood associations, realty companies, banks and insurance companies.
The more we get the word out there the more engaged our public becomes. We have had great successes in that as well. We have Earth Day festivities. We have tables and booths set up at different festivals through the year. We are constantly engaging our community in what we are doing and the need for them to be involved in that.
Amy Sebring: Is NHMA making any effort to connect with either FEMAs higher education program or more general efforts in terms of higher education? Is NMHA looking at education at that level as critical going forward?
Alessandra Jerolleman: We absolutely feel it is critical to have education regarding hazard mitigation in the various emergency management programs and other disciplines that end up touching upon mitigation. We have not been heavily involved with FEMAs higher education. That is something we would like to do.
We have an education committee that has looked at two thingsone is the creation and dissemination of materials that are really for a broader audience but the other is to get a feel for the types of mitigation related courses and curriculum that are available.
We partner with a lot of univerisites and research centers and we are aware that a lot of them are beginning to undertake efforts to offer related coursework so we have been as supportive as we can. I have guest lectured half a dozen times in the past two years. Our president, Ned Thomas, has as well, as have others of our board members.
We try to make ourselves available as well as making our materials and publications available. In terms of partnership in other areas of FEMA we have been having conversations with folks in recovery around the ways in which Resilient Neighbors Network communities can be of help to each other should one of them experience a disaster and also potentially of help to other peers in perhaps similar communities.
We are about to have a call with the preparedness directorate to look for ways to link because I have mentioned before a lot of the Resilient Neighbors Network communities are also very active in promoting preparedness among their citizens.
Amy Sebring: There was a draft of the mitigation framework last spring with FEMA. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
Alessandra Jerolleman: We did comment on that and we were fortunate enough to have an NHMA representative on the stakeholder team that was able to help with some of that work. It is my understanding from conversations recently with folks at FEMA that it has cleared the interagency review and is at the White House. I dont know when to expect to see a final framework. Terri was involved with that to some extent and she may know.
Terri Turner: Alessandra is correct. It is at the White House. I dont think it has come out for final publication yet. We actually had two NHMA members that were part of the mitigation framework. The next thing we will see once the White House releases it, probably out of a modified committee of those folks, will be an implementation strategy. That is the next thing you want to be watching for.
Amy Sebring: We are going to wrap a little early today because in just a few moments I will be showing our EMForum User Feedback survey so you can see how easy it is to participate.
First, on behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much to both of you for sharing this information with us, and a special thanks to Ann Patton who helped us prepare the program. We wish you great success with the RNN and NHMA in the future.
Before you go, PLEASE take a moment to do the rating and enter any additional comments you may have. Also stick around if you would like to see the feedback survey. When you exit today, the survey will come up in your browser and we encourage you to participate. You could win an iPad for you or your designated organization if you complete it by October 15.
Now a few announcements. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome two new EIIP Partners today:
Northwest Tennessee Disaster Services is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers that provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. The organization is represented by CEO, Rob Adcock.
Also, the Jefferson County Colorado school systems Emergency Management program at Warren Tech represented by the programs instructor Chris Mailliard. We hope to feature the class during one of our programs this year.
You can access links to all our partners through "Our Partners" link on our home page. If your organization is interested in becoming a partner, you can find further information from there as well.
One more announcement: we are pleased to announce that we will be continuing our CEU program for another year. You can find a link to that information from our home page as well as our email notices.
Thanks to everyone for participating today. If you are leaving us now, have a great afternoon and please fill out the survey if you have not already.