Crisis & Disaster Support
In addition to my experience in nonprofit management, I have an extensive history of developing and implementing natural and human-made disaster preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation and crisis response programming to support nonprofit organizations with the ultimate goal of minimizing service provision interruption and impact on the nonprofit’s constituency following a disaster. Programming includes a “help the helper” focus with a foundation in vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue to further support staff.
My disaster experience started very unexpectedly during Florida’s 2004 hurricane season when four major hurricanes made landfall. At the time, I was in leadership at a large statewide nonprofit that was responsible for supporting 42-local nonprofits whose missions were to provide services and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a result of the devastating hurricanes some shelters were damaged to the point of in-occupancy and others remained open. Staff and residents faced personal travesties too – like lost income, property damage, or losing family members to the storm’s wrath. We recognized the need for us to quickly create a statewide response to support local programs while simultaneously preparing for the next disaster.
The success of our statewide efforts led to my assisting programs in Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, and Texas, Florida and Louisiana after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It also led to applying what we learned to creating response programming to support programs after domestic violence homicides. As a result of our success, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration invited me to co-author and train the disaster curricula “Domestic Violence Advocacy: Disaster Response” with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The curricula included Trainer and Advocate Guides for first responders and domestic violence program advocates.
The lessons learned from disasters – both nature and human-made – translate seamlessly to other disasters and crises nonprofits face such as the pandemic we currently find ourselves in, as well as other impactful events like an unexpected leadership change, for example.