Alumni Updates

Bjorn Betzler

Bjorn BetzlerSince graduation Bjorn has been responding to the crisis in Syria and has worked with International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, and as of this update is the Food Security Coordinator for GOAL. Bjorn specializes in large-scale emergency response programming with a systems-based, market-integrated approach to food security. GOAL is an international development organization that works toward ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in our world and those affected by humanitarian crises have access to the fundamental rights of life, including but not limited to adequate shelter, food, water and sanitation, healthcare and education.

Lauren Damiani

Lauren Damiani Lauren spent her final semester at the DRLA summer institute in Washington, DC where she was enrolled in the summer course, "Diplomacy and Humanitarianism", hosted by the United States Institute of Peace. Presently, Lauren is the Humanitarian Policy and Practice Intern at InterAction, a DC- based alliance of non-governmental organizations, whose mission is to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people. In this capacity, Lauren crafts supporting documents for advocacy campaigns that influence institutional decision-making. Additionally, she backbenches humanitarian partner working groups on Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and other L3 emergency response situations to expand her knowledge base of the humanitarian architecture. Lauren is hopeful that her post-graduate internship will lead her to an operational mission in the field.

Kimberly Grisham

no image available icon For the last year, Kimberly has been working with All Hands Volunteers, which works to address the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by disasters by engaging international and local volunteers. She started in Detroit to organize the muck-and-gut of homes after a severe but widely unheard of flood back in August 2014. After Detroit, she was Project Director leading a team to repair and rebuild homes in Brooklyn damaged by Hurricane Sandy with a 9-month grant from the American Red Cross. She is currently working as the Administrative Manager on a project in Malawi, working to dig 48 shallow irrigation wells after a flood in February wiped out crops and diverted the river away from local farming communities.

Jennifer Hardin

Jennifer Hardin Ms. Hardin served as Executive Director for, 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.

Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips Chris Phillips (M.S. International Development and DRLA Certificate '13) is Nepal Operations Manager for International Disaster Volunteers (IDV), a U.K.-based NGO. In addition to overseeing general operations of IDV-Nepal's national office in Kathmandu, Mr. Phillips is responsible for creating partnerships with local NGOs, conducting needs assessments, budget management, volunteer recruitment, business development, and directing IDV-Nepal's media and marketing efforts. IDV arrived in Nepal in early May 2015, following the first major earthquake but prior to the second, and has provided a variety of relief services including food distribution, temporary shelter, WASH, and school retrofitting. With an eye toward longterm development in Nepal alongside its current relief efforts, IDV is placing increased emphasis on education-related projects including school construction, educational programming, and English instruction. Prior to Nepal, IDV responded to Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Kali Rapp Roy

Kali Rapp Roy Kali Rapp Roy moved to New Orleans from her hometown of Phoenix, AZ to attend the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy in 2012. During her time at DRLA, she focused on coursework in Public Health and Emergency Management, and helped organize career exploration student trips to in D.C. and UN agencies in Geneva. In addition to meeting her future husband in New Orleans, she also fell in love with the history of the city, and dove into resilience learning by engaging with members of the local water community through the Louisiana Water Network. Roy serves as Executive Director of's primary mission is to recruit, train, and manage a reserve corps of over 500 volunteers who will be available in the event of a mandatory evacuation to serve primarily at the 17 Evacuspot locations in Orleans Parish, which are part of the City Assisted Evacuation (CAE). The CAE is the public option available for those 35,000 residents who have no other option to self-evacuate, and Evacuteer offers year-round education and outreach support to New Orleans agencies and residents who may need this option by participating in community health fairs, conducting hurricane preparedness and CAE presentations. With the help of their 22 nonprofit partner groups, Evacuteer is able to engage through ongoing programs and maintain a consistent presence in the community. Evacuteer offers a school-based curriculum called EvacuKids, which teaches lessons around weather and hurricane preparedness relevant to New Orleans. While New Orleans has not faced a severe storm since the 2005 hurricane season, Roy works to ensure that hurricane preparedness remains a relevant topic in the community, and enjoys creatively approaching preparedness and training.

Mohammed Umer Mir

Mohammed Umer Mir

Mohammed Umer Mir is a Mortality Assessment Consultant working with Relief International in Gaziantep, Turkey. His organization is conducting a 'sequential exploratory' study consisting of a qualitative component (in-depth interviews and focus group discussions) followed by a Household Survey within Northern Syria. The target population is in the catchment areas of the organization within the Aleppo, Idleb, and Hama governorates. The project will provide current, and previously unavailable, baseline estimates of crude and age-specific mortality rates. It will also identify major causes of deaths (conflict and non-conflict related) in the region in the current context. With the conflict affecting all aspects of life, the assessment includes modules on access to care, and economic impact of the conflict on Northern Syrian households.