Charles C. Branas (Chair)
Charles Branas is the Gelman Endowed Professor of Epidemiology and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Branas has conducted research that extends from urban and rural areas in the United States to communities across the globe, incorporating place-based interventions and human geography. He has led win-win science that generates new knowledge while simultaneously creating positive, real-world changes and providing health-enhancing resources for local communities. His work on public safety, access to medical care, and disaster response has led to medical system changes, a series of national scientific replications in the United States and other countries, and citations in U.S. Supreme Court decisions and U.S. Congress. With community partners, Dr. Branas led the first city-wide randomized controlled trials of place-based solutions for improving health and safety. He has worked internationally on four continents and led multi-national efforts, producing extensive cohorts of scientists, national health metrics, and worldwide press coverage. Dr. Branas is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Epidemiological Society.
Mark D. Abkowitz
Mark Abkowitz is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Abkowitz specializes in risk assessment; management and communication; community and infrastructure resilience; and transportation systems analysis. He has served as a researcher and consultant to a wide variety of businesses and government agencies, authored numerous publications, and appeared on national television and radio to discuss natural disasters. Dr. Abkowitz was appointed by President George W. Bush as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board; is the recipient of the Charles H. Hochman Lifetime Achievement Award, conferred by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board; and has been inducted into the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists. He is also the author of Operational Risk Management: A Case Study Approach to Effective Planning and Response, published by John Wiley & Sons. Dr. Abkowitz currently serves as the Chair of the Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Extreme Weather and Climate Change Adaptation.
Linda Langston is the former Director of Strategic Relations for the National Association of Counties (NACo) in Washington, DC, and presently leads Langston Strategies Group, assists small- and mid-sized not-for-profit organizations with leadership, disaster planning, fundraising, and advocacy. Ms. Langston previously served as an elected official on the Linn County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors from 2003-2016. While an elected official, she also served as the Chair of the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, Chair of the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, the state-wide Mental Health and Disability Services Commission, and Chair of
the Linn County Board of Health for several years. She also served as the President of the National Democratic County Officials (2008-2012).
Ms. Langston is a former president of NACo (2013-2014). Her presidential initiative was Resilient Counties, which focused on building communities’ capacities to be ready, resilient, agile, and adaptive in the face of natural, man-made and economic disasters. Her home county was devastated by flooding in 2008.
Ms. Langston is the former Chair of the Resilient America Roundtable for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and served for 6 years on the National Advisory Council for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is a frequent speaker on issues of resilience, disaster preparedness, and the perspective and engagement of elected officials. Ms. Langston graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, with a degree in history. A 2007 graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the New York University County Leadership Institute (CLI) in 2004, she also spent 11 years in private practice as a psychotherapist.
Ann Lesperance is the Director of the Northwest Regional Technology Center for Homeland Security’s Environmental Science and Engineering Program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where she is developing regional programs to accelerate the demonstration and deployment of new homeland security technologies. Ms. Lesperance is also the Director of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities Programs at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, where she is building programs on security and resilience studies and urban informatics.
Ms. Lesperance works with state and local emergency responders and public safety officials to understand and help prioritize their operational needs and requirements. She brings to both roles a specialty in evaluating issues from a technical, public policy, and national security perspective. Her main area of interest is emergency management and technology development and deployment for innovative homeland security technologies. Her interest in the response enterprise spans domestic and international response to disasters of all types in light of today’s and the future’s disruptive technologies. In her nearly 30 years of service to the national security enterprise, Ms. Lesperance has collaborated with key regional partners in building productive partnerships to advance technology development and deployment for innovative homeland security, emergency preparedness, and environmental technologies. Ms. Lesperance is a recognized leader in response, recovery, and resiliency issues, having been selected to serve on a National Academy of Sciences steering committee exploring a “whole of government” approach to international chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives events. Additionally, Ms. Lesperance has played key leadership roles in engaging the public and private sector energy and public safety sectors on issues related to cybersecurity and resiliency. She holds an M.S. in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health and a B.A. in environmental science and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Robin K. McGuire
Robin K. McGuire received his S.B. (1968) degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), his M.S. (1969) degree in civil engineering (structural) from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. (1974) degree in structural engineering from MIT. In 1984, he founded Risk Engineering, Inc., an international leader in the development of
extensively used software for probabilistic seismic hazard analysis and in consulting on hazard and reliability analyses related to natural forces (earthquake shaking, wind and wave loads, storm surge). Dr. McGuire served as the President of Risk Engineering, Inc., from its founding until it merged with Fugro William Lettis & Associates in 2008, where he was a Principal from 2008-2012. Since 2012, he has been a Senior Principal at Lettis Consultants International, Inc. Early in his career, he did engineering work as a Commissioned Corps officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, as a structural engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey, and as a registered engineer with several consulting engineering firms. Dr. McGuire is currently a Professional Engineer in Colorado.
Dr. McGuire has long been recognized as an international leader in the practice of seismic hazard evaluation and risk analysis. He is the author of the industry standard Seismic Hazard and Risk Analysis, an Earthquake Engineering Research Institute monograph published in 2004 that has been translated into the Persian language. He has been the technical director of major projects to estimate engineering design levels and damage to engineered facilities (including power plants, bridges, dams, and commercial structures) subjected to natural forces induced by earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados. These projects have included applications in 35 foreign countries. He has also led projects to estimate combined losses to portfolios of properties, accounting for correlation of forces in space and for correlation of structural fragility among similarly designed or constructed facilities. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 technical papers and articles on these topics, many of which are in peer-reviewed journals, and several regulatory documents for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During his career, Dr. McGuire has served on committees of the National Research Council, including the Committee on Seismology and the Committee on Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies.
Monica Sanders is the Managing Director of the Georgetown Environmental Justice Program and holds a faculty appointment at the Georgetown University Law Center. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Tulane University Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. Her experience as a practitioner includes serving as the Senior Legal Advisor for International Response and Programs at the American Red Cross, and as an attorney for the Small Business Administration during the Hurricane Maria and western wildfires responses. She was a Senior Committee Counsel for both the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Homeland Security. In those roles, she focused on oversight of disaster response and recovery programs, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure protection. Professor Sanders studied security and defense–civilian coordination in the European Union Visitors Program. She remains involved in crisis response operations as part of the Team Rubicon and UNDP rosters.
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