Tulane University's
Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy

Please click here for an interactive map of DRLA programmatic partners

DRLA News & Highlights

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.

The presentation will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Bowers Auditorium, 1555 Poydras St. It is free and open to the public. Featured speakers include Aimee Lauer, division chief for program support, and Amy Shatsoff, information support unit manager.


Graduate student collaborates with local volunteer team to launch Louisiana Flood Recovery website

September 2, 2016

Louisiana Flood Recovery website

The recent Louisiana floods gave dual degree graduate student, Miriam Eisenstat an opportunity to put into practice what she has been learning in her Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership studies. In the time frame of six days, Miriam became a member of an impromptu team of volunteer New Orleanians who came together to conceptualize, build and launch a website called Louisiana Flood Recovery at http://lafloodrecovery.org/ which is an open-source, living directory that connects flood survivors with effective flood relief and recovery organizations, and volunteers with opportunities to help.


UNICEF grant focuses on wellbeing of Rwanda’s orphans

August 19, 2016

Laura Haas and Reggie Ferreira

As Rwanda continues to close its 34 orphanages opened after the 1994 genocide, professors at the Tulane School of Social Work’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy are working to train the country’s social workers to help the affected children.

Thanks to a two-year UNICEF Grant, Tulane professors Laura Haas and Reggie Ferreira will help lead trainings to strengthen the national social service workforce via close collaboration with Rwanda's National Commission for Children.


Summer Institute students experience another day of humanitarian learning and networking  in Washington, DC

July 7, 2016

DRLA Summer Institute 16 Visit to HHS

The DRLA Summer Institute student group had a full and informative day on Thursday, July 7th in Washington DC. The students began the day at the US Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) Administration of Children and Families Department (ACF) department. For the first few hours of the morning, the students heard from Captain Mary Riley, U.S. Public Health Services Director, about the many ways ACF and OHSEPR work to help children and families before, during, and after disasters. Captain Riley was very passionate about her work, generous in answering student questions, and encouraging to everyone about their backgrounds and futures.


FEMA Chief of Staff welcomes DRLA Students to National Headquarters

July 6, 2016

DRLA Summer Institute Students are given a tour of FEMA headquarters by Chief of Staff

On July 6th Professor George Haddow and the DRLA Summer Institute student group visited the FEMA headquarters in Washington DC, escorted by FEMA Chief of Staff Michael Coen. To begin the day, the students were invited to observe the official daily morning briefing, during which the various branches of FEMA and the White House all reported on significant goings-on for their sector. Updates included the daily national, space, and storm forecasts, current FEMA disaster operations status and other topics.


Lieutenant governor to chair advisory council for Tulane resilience academy

May 31, 2016

Billy Nungesser (1)

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will chair a Leadership Advisory Council that will help identify and select participants and provide oversight for a fellowship program designed by Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy.

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Fellowship Program will identify emerging Gulf Coast leaders and equip them with the knowledge and tools needed to more effectively develop and implement plans that strengthen the resilience of their communities to future oil spills and other disasters.


Upcoming Events & Announcements

Career Opportunities & The Work of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)


Who: Featuring Aimee Lauer, Division Chief for Program Support, OFDA
When: October 4, 2016, 5:30-7:30 PM
Where: 1555 Poydras Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112 Bowers Auditorium (First floor)

OFDA leads and coordinates the U.S. Government’s response to disasters overseas. On average, OFDA responds to about 70 disasters in 56 countries each year to ensure aid reaches people affected by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, complex emergencies and other natural and manmade disasters. OFDA is currently responding to humanitarian crises in Ethiopia, the Middle East (Syria and Iraq) and South Sudan.


Click here to view past events and news...

DRLA Spotlights:

Faculty Updates

In early January, DRLA faculty member Holly Scheib held a workshop in community engagement for the northern Europe operational center of Médecins Sans Frontièresin Amsterdam. Dr. Scheib presented on community engagement principles, best practices, and strategies for programs and measurement in an active workshop with health team leads and community health specialists representing diverse MSF service areas and several European offices. During the 2-day session, the organization studied prior programs and current policies to facilitate discussion on realities of engagement within humanitarian settings.  Dr. Scheib has served as a measurement consultant to a variety of international and domestic non-profit organizations working in humanitarian aid. With DRLA, she assists on measurement and evaluation on several projects and is currently teaching an evaluation course.

Student Spotlight

Bert Cramer SAASC in Turkey

During Summer 2016, Tulane DRLA MS student Bert Cramer worked with the US Embassy in Afghanistan funded South Asia Access Summer Camp (SAASC) in Uluudag, Turkey which was run by American Councils and their local Turkish partner, Gelecegin Yildizlari (Future Stars). For two weeks, high in the mountains of Turkey, SAASC brings together youth from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to encounter an English language immersive, transformational experiential learning curriculum. Combining class-room based academic skills building, large group solidarity exercises, and daily team-building activities, SAASC equips future leaders from South Asia with essential skills in conflict resolution, leadership development, critical thinking, creative expression, and respect for personal and cultural differences based on understanding and compassion.


Alumni Spotlight

Ms. Hardin served as Executive Director for Evacuteer.org, a New Orleans based non-profit tasked with assisting with City Assisted Evacuation during climatic events. During her time at the organization, she oversaw the largest growth in preparedness programming for vulnerable populations throughout the city, record numbers of trained evacuation volunteers, data driven transit research and mapping, and completion of Evacuspots, a emergency preparedness public art project.  After returning to Washington D.C., Ms. Hardin now works as Global Security Manager for International Relief and Development, responsible for supporting 17 tactical security teams within 9 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Her duties include: conducting field site security risk assessments, developing and delivering training curricula to 1,800+ field and HQ staff on enterprise risk and security management, and analyzing the likelihood and impact of organizational threats in order to advise senior leadership on mitigative actions. Due to operating in conflict and active combat zones, much of Ms. Hardin's focus is on safety and security planning for  personnel and guard force staffing, travel and transport, hardline perimeter and facility enhancement, compound access point systems, as well as contingency planning for crisis-level incidents. Ms. Hardin is a NAEMT Tactical Casualty Combat Care medic, IAEM Associate Emergency Manager and Hostile Environment Anti-Terrorism (HEAT) certified security professional.