Keilah Billings graduated in 2006 from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a joint major in Psychology and Sociology. Upon graduation Keilah began working as a social worker contracting through the Department of Children and Families serving children under the age of 18 in the care and custody of the State of Florida. After that, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia working as a health volunteer focusing on HIV/AIDS. Upon return to the United States Keilah worked as a Substance Use Disorder counselor in a women's residential facility and a detox as well. Following this, she worked as an Addictions Specialist on a multi disciplinary team providing wrap around mental health services to 80 of the most at risk clients in the city of Boston. In the spring of 2015, Keilah left this position to begin the DRLA program.
Chelsea Cornwell graduated from Elizabethtown College with a bachelors degree in Social Work. Her interest in peace studies and international community development led to her spending semesters abroad in Northern Ireland and The Gambia. Following graduation, she worked as a sexual assault victim advocate and spent 2 years as an AmeriCorps member. She is currently enrolled at Tulane as a dual degree student, pursuing Masters degrees in Social Work and Disaster Resiliency Leadership with a certificate in Global Social Work. Chelsea is interested in using her experience to work in program management with displaced people in emergency response or long term recovery programs.
Bert Cramer is joining the DRLA after working in Central Asia since 2011. While in Central Asia he served with the Peace Corps in the Kyrgyz Republic at the Ministry of Health, and with Peace Corps Response as a PEPFAR volunteer together with the CDC in piloting a nationwide, comprehensive harm reduction program. Bert has also served as an advisor with Arysh, a community based NGO that works in the Kyrgyz Republic's informal settlements and slums. Most recently he completed a fellowship at the OSCE Academy, part of which was spent in Turkmenistan at the UN's Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA). Prior to his work in Central Asia Bert worked in Baltimore as Program Manger for the Maryland Violent Death Reporting System (MVDRS), part of the CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). He has also worked as a volunteer in the Maryland prison system to help inmates attain their GED. In all his work Bert focuses on community resilience building, a key component of which is bridging the gap between marginalized communities and structures of governance, whether on the local, state, or national level. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Development Sociology from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Politics and Security from the OSCE Academy.
Miriam Eisenstat is a dual Masters student in Social Work and Disaster Resilience and Leadership. Originally from Philadelphia, she came down to New Orleans on a relief trip 10 months after Katrina. This trip ultimately guided her decision to attend Tulane University with the question in mind, "how do you do the right thing in the right way", especially as it relates to humanitarian aid both domestically and abroad. Miriam graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelors in Philosophy in 2012. Miriam interns at the Youth Empowerment Project, New Orleans' only reintegration program for juveniles involved in the justice system. She is a research assistant of Dr. Catherine Burnette, examining the risk and protective factors of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw.
Timothy Hefflinger graduated from Appalachian State University in 2012 with degrees in Philosophy and Sustainable Development. He has traveled widely and volunteered with NGOs in places as diverse as Sri Lanka, Belize, and Peru. His undergraduate Honors Thesis was published in modified form by the University of East London in their Undergraduate Journal on International Development in 2012. Entering his second year of study with DRLA, Tim's academic foci are studying resilience among indigenous peoples and the social and economic impacts of wildfires. Working with Dr. Katherine Burnette in the School of Social Work, Tim has contributed to academic articles relating to fostering resilience among indigenous women who have experienced intimate partner violence. Tim intends to pursue further study after graduating from DRLA in August 2016.
Margaux Hoglind is a local Louisiana resident who received her BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. She is a dual degree MSW/MSDRL student and received her Masters in Social Work with a Certificate in Global Social Work in December 2015. Margaux's graduate research as part of the MSW program involved a project studying female sexual dysfunction as a mental health issue, on the subject of which she and her group members conducted a 3-hour CEU seminar for local professionals. Along with this project, she has researched several other projects that link issues in women's health with culture. As part of the MSW program, Margaux interned at New Hope NOLA, a short term respite program for people experiencing a mental health crisis, and traveled to India with other students to learn more about social work in the global context, where she worked on a project centered on women's health for Tibetan nuns in exile. She has an interest in continuing to work in the mental health field, both locally and abroad, as well as continuing to research women's and children's health and rights issues.
Ningjie Huang is currently a dual degree master student in Social Work and Disaster Resilience Leadership, at Tulane University School of Social Work in New Orleans, LA. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, where he double majored in Psychology and International Development. Ningjie Huang is a social work and disaster mental health professional with experience working in clinical and social services settings. He has excellent research, analytical and critical thinking skills with a special focus on behavioral health, institutional and social work capacity development in the health sciences.
Jill Lahman is currently pursuing a dual Master's degree in Social Work and Disaster Resilience Leadership, with a social work certificate in Disaster Mental Health and Trauma. After graduating with her Bachelors in Social Work from Seattle University, she worked for three years at Treehouse, an organization committed to supporting youth in foster care and their educational outcomes. Through her travels, Jill has developed a passion for exploring the ways different communities adapt to the ever-changing climate, technological advances, and culture specific responses to trauma. She is interested in exploring traditional natural disaster response protocols, and their appropriateness in man-made tragedies. Jill plans to use the knowledge and skills gained in the DRL program to support long term efforts in rebuilding community identity and trauma informed counseling in the wake of human made tragedies. She hopes to partner her knowledge learned in DRLA with further research on the neurobiology of trauma, using this information to impact policy as it pertains to survivors of traumatic events.
Heather Milton, GISP received her BA in Environmental Studies from University of Kansas and her MS in Geography from University of Wisconsin. After 15 years teaching and working in the GIS field, she is returning for a second Master's in Disaster Resilience Leadership to pursue her interests in information management in the context of disaster response and recovery. She is actively involved in disaster related Virtual Technical Communities (VTCs), andhas been a member of the GISCorps Core Committee for 8 years and is currently one of four volunteer coordinators of the Digital Humanitarian Network. Since joining DRLA, Heather has been involved in various department projects, including the Disaster Resilience Leadership program, Resilient Africa Network, Resilient Malian Children, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative,and theProgram to Enhance Resilience in Somlia.
Jennifer Murphy graduated from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a degree in Sociology, concentrating in crime and deviance. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she worked with the Crisis, Tragedy, and Recovery Network at Virginia Tech, studying the impact of social media on emergency management. In addition, she was a Certified Hunger Event Facilitator with the organization Stop Hunger Now and a lead volunteer for a crisis hotline in Virginia. She is currently in a dual degree program at Tulane, pursuing her Masters in Social Work, with a certificate in Disaster Mental Health, as well as her master's degree with DRLA. She is the social work intern at the Center for Restorative Approaches and has been a Graduate Research Assistant with the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities through DRLA.
Shayle Nelson graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations with a minor in Political Science from Idaho State University. During her undergrad career she studied abroad in Uruguay and volunteered to work with underprivileged children in immensely impoverished communities in Montevideo. Coming from Idaho, Shayle has always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment and coming to Louisiana only furthered that passion. Horrified by the correlation between the lack of environmental conservation and the effect it has on increasing human vulnerability in disasters, she hopes DRLA will help her develop a career that brings awareness to this largely understated issue. Before coming to DRLA, Shayle joined a Disaster Action Team with the American Red Cross in Idaho and is going to continue to serve the ARC here in New Orleans. Furthermore, Shayle is currently doing an internship with the local New Orleans Sierra Club to help educate the community about our coastal wetlands providing our first line of defense against hurricanes and coastal flooding and the importance of wetland restoration. Shayle hopes one day she can help the domestic and international community make the connection between environmental conservation and their resiliency against disasters.
Fnu Nugrohojati previously completed a BA in Architecture from Universitas Sebelas Maret in Indonesia. After completing his undergrad, Nugrohojati worked as journalist for an architecture magazine Indonesia Design. He then worked as a community facilitator to assist local farmers in the Water Resources and Irrigation System Management Program (WISMP) in Central Java Province, Indonesia. Since 2009, he has been working for Boyolali District Government as a development planner. Jati has taken part in two post disaster recovery projects: post 2006 earthquake and post 2010 Mount Merapi eruption, in Yogyakarta Special Region and Central Java Province, Indonesia.
Catherine "Cat" Patteson
Catherine "Cat" Patteson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. She is currently enrolled in a dual graduate degree program at Tulane University pursing a Master's in Social Work with a Certificate in Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Studies as well as a Master's of Science in Disaster Resiliency and Leadership. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she worked for three years in a women's health and four years in a psychiatric hospital setting with children, adolescents, and adults in crisis stabilization. In these roles, she developed her leadership and program development skills. Cat is a mental health professional with over a decade of experience working with diverse and marginalized populations in settings ranging from small non-profits to large healthcare systems. She has strong clinical and community social work skills and has experience working with women's health and justice, LGBTQI, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual assault, Latino populations, as well as substance abuse/dual diagnosis and psychiatric diagnoses. Cat has advanced organizational, creative, technology, and service-oriented skills. She will obtain her MSW in December 2015 and begin pursuing part time work as an LMSW while completing her MS-DRL in May 2016. After graduation from both programs she hopes to obtain a full time social work position with a non-profit in the New Orleans area.
Elisabeth Perez received a BA in Language Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2007. After receiving her degree in Language Studies with an emphasis in Spanish and French, Elisabeth worked as a counselor to foster and homeless youth in the San Francisco, Bay Area. There she developed curriculum and implemented programs to help identify supportive networks for youth aging out of the foster care system. She then spend six months traveling,volunteering, and improving her Spanish in South America. In 2010, she moved to Egypt where she taught English and Spanish to Egyptian, Bedouin and German youth. She later moved to New York City where she began volunteering as a responder for the NYC chapter of the Red Cross. She hopes to use her previous work experience and current studies to work internationally, specifically in disaster mitigation and response in urban settings.
Christopher Russell graduated May 2015 with Masters of Social Work with a Global Certificate from Tulane. He has been CEO of Truth 180 since 2002 servicing the substance abuse and mental health needs of individuals of St. Tammany and Washington Parish. His focus began to shift to macro-level Social Work (policy development) as part of the Global Certificate Program. A further shift occurred with his participation in Tulane School of Social Work "Journey to South Africa" international learning experience and being introduced to Disaster Management. Chris's goal professionally is to work domestically or internationally in policy development focused on programming and/or integration of social work (psycho-social response) into disaster response and humanitarianism.
Anthony Vendetti graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Planning and Environmental Policy focusing on Disaster Reduction and Emergency Planning in 2010. After graduating he spent three years in AmeriCorps working in multiple capacities including wilderness firefighting, emergency planning, and small business resilience. Upon completion of his third year, Anthony moved to New Orleans to attend the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. While in New Orleans, He was also a member of the Executive Leadership Committee for Evacuteer, an organization created to recruit, train, and facilitate the volunteer manpower behind large-scale evacuations. After graduation from DRLA, Anthony moved to Seattle where he worked as an Emergency Management Consultant and spent his weekends working for a New Orleans-influenced blues club. In 2016, Anthony moved to Vancouver, WA to work as the Mitigation and Recovery Coordinator for Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency and make use of the mountains, oceans, and rivers of the Pacific Northwest.