Tulane University's
Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy

DRLA News & Highlights 

Director DRLA, Dr. Reggie Ferreira, welcomes new students and faculty at Fall 2017 Orientation

August 25, 2017

I extend my warmest welcome to members of the new DRLA Class! If you are like most folks who have a passion for disaster resilience, I have known, you have waited with simmering impatience between the day you made your decision to attend DRLA and the day when you could begin.  Well, that day has finally arrived, and all of us — faculty members, staff, and other members of the Tulane community — are thrilled to welcome you.
Just as all of you have been eagerly waiting for the day that your DRLA life would begin, we have been waiting with great anticipation for your arrival. I have been director of DRLA now for nearly 6 months and you are the very first class I have the privilege of welcoming to DRLA. For this reason, you will always be special to me.  I will follow your academic progress, and learn what social issues inspire you to action to become change agents. 
Welcome also to the continuing students, we are just excited to have you back at DRLA and look forward to hear about your summer endeavors and future plans as you prepare to graduate soon.
DRLA is entering an exciting new phase, with several World Class faculty, applied and collaborative initiatives, new office space and most importantly our students.
Tulane is at the forefront of resilience research and it is the mission of the university to find ways to strengthen resilience in New Orleans and the rest of the World. Please be ready for several opportunities to enrich your education experience.
The beginning of graduate school marks one of the most important transitions of your lives. Over the next few years, you will learn an incredible amount. You will refine your abilities to think critically and to express your ideas in writing and speech. You will come to understand the complexity of our field of disaster resilience, the importance of leadership, but most importantly understanding the value of well-being and the safety of human life during times of crises. You will learn how to frame a good argument, and how to listen to and appreciate the intellectual views held by others.
Your development will not be confined to academics. You will come to understand how living in a community of peers with ideas, cultures and backgrounds quite different from your own can enrich and broaden your understanding of the world, and help you define the place that you want to take in society.  
I can guarantee you that your time here will fly by — and that the amount of change and growth you see in yourselves will be astonishing.
The theme of responsibility and independence is important here at DRLA. As you know, a hallmark of our University is that we entrust our students with responsibility for their own educations.  Students are given unparalleled freedom to decide their interdisciplinary courses of study and shape their education in creative and innovative ways. In many senses, I would say we are the flagship interdisciplinary graduate program of Tulane, working at finding solutions for making the world a better place.
If you leave DRLA merely having mastered a set of facts, the value of your college education will have a very short shelf life. But, if you leave DRLA having learned how to drive your own intellectual and creative development, the value of your education will be amplified over the course of your life.
Although you are being asked to take responsibility for your own educations, we do not expect you to do this without assistance. Your advisers, and professors stand ready to provide guidance.
In the coming weeks, as you get to know New Orleans and Tulane and the people who work here, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the astounding array of resources that have been marshaled to support your development as responsible and independent human beings.  Use these resources fully and wisely. If you do, I am sure that your experience at DRLA will be even better than you anticipated.
I leave you all with a quote from a close friend and use this as inspiration for your time in the program: "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire".

Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities begins surveying community members in Lafourche and Plaquemines Parish  June 6, 2017

Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities

DRLA Graduate Research Assistants (GRA) are part of the team conducting surveys on the health, social, and economic well being of community members living in the Gulf. The interviews will take place during the months of June and July with the goal to interview 300 residents. The GRAs selected to work on this project received extensive social research training. 

More about the Consortium: The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) was established in 2015 with a three-year grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) to assess and address the social, economic, and public health impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region. CRGC’s research, outreach, and education goals are aimed at helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters. CRGC is led by the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute in partnership with researchers at the Department of Sociology at Louisiana State University (LSU); the ByWater Institute, the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA), and the Department of Computer Science at Tulane University; the Coastal Resource and Resilience Center (CRRC) at the University of South Alabama; and the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI). 

Spring 2017 DRLA Graduation

May 20, 2017

Congratulations to the twelve DRLA students who graduated on May 20th with an M.S. in Disaster Resilience Leadership! 
Special awards were given to three DRLA students:

Mark Boone for Outstanding Student
Mark Boone 

Anna Feigum for GRA Contributions
Anna Feigum

Allison Kalnik for GRA Contributions
Allison Kalnik

Senior Program Manager at Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Tara Zapp, to teach new DRLS course in Summer 2017 

May 2017

Join Tara Zapp, former Disaster Response Practitioner in East Africa and the Balkans, for a lively class that will cover: 

• The theory and practice of humanitarian space 
• Evaluation of political and social factors 
• Vulnerability assessments techniques 
• Team designed case studies and implementation plans
• Assessment skills that prompt change and 
• Navigating work opportunities in the field.

Tara Zapp (tpalecznyzapp@tulane.edu) is the Senior Program Manager at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Zapp holds a Master’s of Science in Policy and Non Profit Management from The New School University and has 7 years of experience working with children and family services affected by disaster. Working with UNHCR, IRC, the European Commission, and local NGOs, she has led and managed education and child protection programs to families in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bosnia, and Louisiana.

DRLA 2017-2018 Student Government Association (SGA) New Officers

April 2017

DRLA SGA Vice President: Elizabeth (Liz) West  
The DRLA Vice President's role is to represent all DRLA students' interests at The School of Social Work's (TSSW) SGA bimonthly general body meetings, bimonthly senior leadership meetings, and during discussions with Tulane staff and faculty. Elizabeth will enter her second semester at DRLA in Fall 2017. She is devoted to ensuring that her peers have the support they need to be successful in their academic and professional careers, and welcomes any student to connect with her about ideas, becoming more involved, feedback, etc. 

Education Policy Committee (EPC) Representative: Jennifer (Jenn) Sato
The EPC Representative participates in Education Policy Committee meetings to advocate on behalf of the DRLA and TSSW community for best policy and practices. Jenn is entering her final semester at DLRA and will graduate in December 2017. She is committed to bridging communication gaps between students and leadership by pursuing active dialogue. 
Graduate and Professional School Association (GAPSA) Representative: Lindsay McBeth
The GAPSA Representative is responsible for active participation at GAPSA and Tulane Associated Student Body meetings. Lindsay is a dual degree MSW and MS DRLA student. She is committed to building the best experiences for the TSSW community, and this will be her second term as a SGA representative. 

On behalf of DRLA, we thank Anna Feigum, former VP, and Atianna Cordova, former EPC Representative, for all their hard work and leadership. 

SGA participation is open to all members of DRLA and TSSW. Please contact Elizabeth West, ewest1@tulane.edu, if you're interested in becoming more involved with student governance. 

American Red Cross Director Corey Eide to teach two new DRLS courses in Spring 2017

December 28, 2016


The DRLA is pleased to announce the addition of two new 1-credit courses to the Spring 2017 Schedule of Classes. The courses will be taught in a weekend format (Friday Afternoon/Saturday & Sunday Morning) by adjunct professor Corey Eide. Professor Eide is the Director of Recovery Services for the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington D.C. Eide comes to the DRLA after teaching numerous 1-credit courses for Tulane's Payson Graduate Program in Global Development.


DRLA Alumni see New Orleans through a different lens

December 19, 2016


Sometimes seeing a place from another’s perspective can change the way you understand it. The MyNew Orleans Photo Project seeks to shift perspectives by giving the homeless an opportunity to photograph the city with their own disposable cameras.

Project coordinators Heather Milton and Elisabeth Perez, who met while attending the Tulane University Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, began this project in New Orleans after observing its popularity in London. Through partnerships with organizations around New Orleans including New Orleans Mission, the Baptist Friendship House and the Harry Tompson Center, the duo were able to distribute Fujifilm cameras to about 90 homeless participants.


Tulane program trains leaders of coastal communities

November 22, 2016


Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser vividly remembers, in the days following the BP oil spill, how difficult it was to get disaster response leaders to listen to the dire warnings from local officials about the spill’s looming impact on wildlife and the state’s delicate coastal marshes.

“It felt like we were fighting against the team that should have been in place to help us,” said Lt. Gov. Nungesser as he recalled how the lack of coordination between response teams delayed wildlife rescue efforts.

Local leaders must be better prepared, Nungesser told officials gathered at Tulane River and Coastal Center Nov. 14 for the inaugural launch of an innovative new fellowship program that will help the state’s coastal parishes improve disaster response efforts. The five-day workshop, organized by Tulane University, trained 15 emerging leaders from five coastal parishes to more effectively develop plans that strengthen and coordinate the resilience of their communities to future disasters such as flooding, oil spills or hurricanes.


Coastal Louisiana leaders gather to plan for resilient communities

November 11, 2016

Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities Logo

Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (TU/DRLA)  is hosting the "Planning for Resilient Communities" Executive Leadership Training for a newly formed cohort of Southeastern Louisiana Disaster Resilient Leadership Fellows in a five day workshop from November 14-18th. The fellowship program is supported by the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

The purpose of the program is to strengthen capacity of local resilience leaders to build a shared framework across the Southeastern Louisiana coastal region and engage with community stakeholders to resource and implement plans for resilience building activities that ensure sustainable livelihoods and protect the region's invaluable natural resources. The workshop will be facilitated by well-experienced and recognized subject matter experts involved in resilience leadership from the CRGC, Tulane DRLA, and Southeastern Louisiana.


Mission of a lifetime, USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance visits Tulane

September 30, 2016


When disaster strikes overseas, be it an earthquake, flood or any other catastrophe, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), immediately steps in to coordinate the U.S. government’s response.

It is a job that requires a caring, talented workforce, and on Tuesday (Oct. 4), representatives of the agency will be on Tulane University’s downtown campus to outline the multiple pathways for students to pursue careers with the OFDA, both in Washington, D.C., and abroad.


Review the Past Events and News archive for previous articles...

DRLA Spotlights

Student Spotlight


DRLA student Betsy Lopez was selected as a 2017 Tulane Center for Public Service Graduate Community-Engaged Fellow.  Lopez is thrilled to be part of the program and is looking forward to participating in the interdisciplinary network of community-engaged peers.


Alumni Spotlight

hefflinger alum spotlight

DRLA Alum Timothy Hefflinger, an AIF Clinton Fellow, is blogging his experience while in service to the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust (SLC-IT) in Leh, Ladakh. While in the field, Tim is contributing to the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust's valuable conservation efforts. He hopes to increase the market share of SLC-IT's Himalayan Homestays program, and generally increase its viability, sustainability, and visibility in the international context. He also aims to develop monitoring tools for the Conservancy's social programs.


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