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November 20, 2019

Columbia University
New York City, New York

Experts gathered to consider topics such as flood risk, wildfire and hurricane risk, and looked at the impact of rising temperatures on populations as well as the role of government in preparing for major disasters.

Our Climate Change: Response and Resilience Leadership Forum examined how climate change has intensified and increased the frequency and severity of dangerous weather events such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes. Experts also discussed the appropriate role of government in education, mitigation and financial preparedness before a serious event. Interestingly, the forum explored the likelihood of more pandemics, which was quite telling given the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020/2021.

Sean Solomon is the director of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, the largest of the Earth Institute’s research centers. Prior to arriving at Columbia in 2012, Mr. Solomon served for 19 years as Director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C., where his research focused on planetary geology and geophysics, seismology, marine geophysics, and geodynamics. From 1972 to 1992, Mr. Solomon was a member of the faculty of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has led or been involved in oceanographic expeditions as well as spacecraft missions to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and Mercury. From 1996 to 1998, he was president of the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization of earth and space scientists.

Jared Snyder is Deputy Commissioner for Air Resources, Climate Change & Energy at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In that capacity, he oversees New York’s development and implementation of clean air and greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and he represents the Department in statewide energy planning efforts. He is the Chair of the Ozone Transport Commission and has served as Co-chair of the International Carbon Action Partnership. Prior to joining DEC in 2007, Mr. Snyder handled air and climate litigation in the New York Attorney General’s office, and he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, handling environmental enforcement matters. He has a B.A. in economics from Cornell University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Dr. Adam Sobel is a professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is an atmospheric scientist who specializes in the dynamics of climate and weather, particularly in the tropics, on time scales of days to decades. A major focus of his current research is extreme events – such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts, and the risks these pose to human society in the present and future climate.

Dr. Sobel leads the Columbia University Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate. Together with colleagues in both academia and the insurance industry, he has also been developing models to assess the risk of rare but extremely damaging extreme weather events, particularly tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and hail. Dr. Sobel holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Music from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in Meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Matt Chamberlain is a principal and consulting actuary with the Property and Casualty practice in Milliman’s San Francisco office. He joined the firm in 2011.

Mr. Chamberlain’s experience is primarily in personal lines property and casualty insurance; however, his past experience has included evaluating existing rating plans and optimizing them subject to business constraints, improving the loss ratio of underperforming books of business, and evaluating companies’ competitive position. His specialty is pricing for natural catastrophes and in using advanced analytical techniques for small companies with a limited volume of data. Prior to joining Milliman, Mr. Chamberlain was senior actuary at Geovera Holdings, Inc. and he has worked for Unitrin Direct and the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Rating & Inspection Bureau. He received both his BS, Physics and BA, Classics degrees from The Ohio State University. He obtained his MS, Physics degree from Auburn University in Alabama.

As Director of Water Resources and Coastal Policy, Jessie Ritter leads the development and execution of NWF’s national water resources and coastal policy priorities. She oversees federal campaigns to protect clean water and wetlands and increase the resilience of communities and wildlife in the face of climate change and natural disaster events. Ms. Ritter also works to coordinate and steer NWF’s federal advocacy work to restore the Gulf of Mexico region, from the Everglades in South Florida, to the Mississippi River Delta, to Texas estuaries. She came to the NWF from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, where she covered the oceans and atmosphere portfolio under the leadership of Senators Rockefeller and Nelson. Ms. Ritter has also worked for several national non-profits on federal and state policy issues ranging from fisheries management to water resources to coastal community resilience.

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh is the Earle W. Kazis and Benjamin Schore Professor of Real Estate and Professor of Finance at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, which he joined in July 2018. He started his career at New York University’s Stern School of Business where he climbed from an Assistant Professor of Finance to the David S. Loeb Professor of Finance between 2003 and 2018. He was also the inaugural Director of the Center from Real Estate Finance Research from 2012 to 2018. His research lies in the intersection of housing, asset pricing, and macroeconomics. In this area, Professor Van Nieuwerburgh has also worked on regional housing prices, households’ mortgage choice, commercial real estate price formation, the impact of foreign buyers on the housing market and mortgage market design. He served as a board member of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association from 2015 to 2018. He is a Faculty Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and at the Center for European Policy Research. Professor Van Nieuwerburgh has a Ph.D in Economics from Stanford University.

David Maurstad heads up FEMA’s Insurance and Mitigation Administration, where he guides transformative efforts to communicate risk, increase flood insurance coverage and incentivize mitigation against natural hazards. As chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), he leads the largest single-peril insurance operation in the world providing more than $1.3 trillion in flood coverage to more than 5 million U.S. policyholders. During his tenure with FEMA, Mr. Maurstad has held leading positions for 637 major disaster operations, and countless catastrophic flooding and wildfire events. His expertise in disaster recovery and strategic risk management stems from extensive experience in local government as a Nebraska mayor, state Senator and Lt. Governor. Mr. Maurstad has 40 years of experience in disaster resilience and the insurance industry and is a staunch advocate of building a culture of preparedness across the United States. David earned his MBA from the University of Nebraska.

Stephen H. Weinstein serves as RenaissanceRe’s chief legal officer, with responsibility for legal, regulatory, government affairs and compliance matters on a global basis. He has served as RenaissanceRe’s Group General Counsel and Corporate Secretary since joining the Company in 2002, as Chief Compliance Officer since 2004, and as Senior Vice President since 2005. He has been a member of the company’s Executive Committee since March 2006. Mr. Weinstein also serves as Chairman of RenaissanceRe’s Risk Sciences Foundation. Prior to joining RenaissanceRe, he specialized in corporate law as an attorney at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, a leading international law firm. A frequent speaker on legal and regulatory matters, Mr. Weinstein serves on the boards of several industry groups and is a Member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School.

Robert Field is a fire scientist and climate modeler at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. His interests range from fire weather forecasting to the climatic effects of wildfire smoke. He co-chairs the Interdisciplinary Biomass Burning Initiative under the World Meteorological Organization and the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project.

Mr. Field has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Toronto.

Roy Wright joined IBHS in 2018 with more than 20 years’ of experience in insurance, risk management, mitigation and resilience planning. He leads a team of scientists and risk communicators who deliver strategies to build safer and stronger homes and businesses. IBHS’ real-world impact enables the insurance industry and affected property owners to prevent avoidable losses. Mr. Wright joined IBHS from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where he served as the Chief Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, led the agency’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and directed the resilience programs addressing earthquake, fire, flood, and wind risks. In these roles, he guided several programs that promote a risk- conscious culture, enable faster disaster recovery, and address long-term vulnerabilities to life, property, and well-being in communities across the United States. Mr. Wright earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University.

R.J. Lehmann is senior fellow and director of finance, insurance and trade policy for the R Street Institute, overseeing the institute’s research into effective and efficient regulation of financial services and the benefits of the international rules-based trading system. He previously served as deputy director of the Heartland Institute’s Center of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. Before joining Heartland, he spent nearly a decade covering the insurance and financial services industries, first as manager of A.M. Best Co.’s Washington bureau and later as a senior industry editor with SNL Financial (now S&P Global Market Intelligence). Mr. Lehmann is a three-time award winner from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and was the youngest-ever winner of a first-place prize from the New Jersey Press Association. He also is an associate fellow of the John Locke Institute and the James Madison Institute.

Craig Tillman is President of WeatherPredict Consulting Inc., a U.S.-based RenaissanceRe affiliate that provides intelligence on natural perils. In his current role, he directs a team of advanced scientists with specialties in oceanography, meteorology, wind engineering, structural engineering, seismic risk and computer simulation. Mr. Tillman also serves as President and Director of RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation Inc., a non-profit foundation that supports advanced scientific research in natural catastrophes, the development of risk mitigation techniques to safeguard communities, efforts that reduce the economic turmoil following disasters, and organizations that preserve coastal habitats. He currently serves as an Executive Director for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). Mr. Tillman holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Mathematics, as well as the Associate in Reinsurance (ARe) and Risk Management (ARM) designations. He is a longstanding member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

Ms. Lee is an Assistant Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Her work focuses on tropical cyclone (TC) and climate, and her research topics include developing a statistical-dynamical TC downscaling system for risk assessment, Madden–Julian oscillation and TC relationships in the subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) dataset. She has a background in Atmospheric Science and received her B.S. and M.S. at the National Taiwan University under Professor Chun-Chieh Wu. In 2007, Ms. Lee attended the Meteorology and Physical Oceanography(MPO) division at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami.

Ms. Dwyer was appointed Superintendent of Insurance in January 2016. Prior to this appointment, she served the Rhode Island Department of Business regulation for 15 years, holding the titles of General Counsel to the Insurance Division and later, as Associate Director. Prior to government service, Ms. Dwyer was engaged in private law practice in California and Rhode Island specializing in litigation and insurance regulation. She currently serves as Chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Property and Casualty Insurance Committee; Chair of the Restructuring Mechanisms Working Group; Vice Chair of the Interstate Product Regulation Compact and the Big Data Working Group. Ms. Dwyer is a member of the NAIC Executive Committee and the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Insurance Producers Registry (NIPR). She is a past president of the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association and served on the Rhode Island Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Gender. Ms. Dwyer received a J.D. from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in Political Science and Public Administration from Providence College.

Dr. Dail Rowe is responsible for leading a team of scientists focused on risk assessment and forecasting. He works closely with clients to manage their exposure to meteorological risk. Dr. Rowe joined WeatherPredict’s predecessor organization as a senior research scientist in 1999 and has assumed positions of increasing responsibility, including serving as an integral part of WeatherPredict’s atmospheric and oceanic research and development efforts. Dr. Rowe is a principal contributor to many WeatherPredict initiatives including realtime weather prediction, evaluation and construction of risk assessment models, and research into climatological control of catastrophic weather. He has over 20 years’ experience as an oceanographer and meteorologist including several years on the research faculty at the University of Hawaii, where his research focused on air-sea interactions in the western Pacific warm-pool that are essential for understanding the ENSO phenomenon. Dr. Rowe holds a B.S. in Physics from Guilford College and a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island.

Peter Sousounis currently serves as Vice President and Director of Climate Change Research at AIR-Worldwide and has been with the company for nearly 14 years. His responsibilities include ensuring that current and future catastrophe model development at AIR accounts for climate change, identifying products and tools to help clients address their climate change concerns, assisting with global resiliency projects, and providing thought leadership in various forms of oral and written communication. Previously at AIR, Mr. Sousounis was Director of Meteorology and responsible for overseeing all global atmospheric model development including hurricanes, extratropical cyclones, and severe thunderstorms. Prior to joining AIR, he was a Professor of Meteorology at the University of Michigan where he was also a Principal Investigator for the First US Climate Change Impacts Assessment. Mr. Sousounis received his graduate degrees in Meteorology from MIT and Penn State.

Andrew Revkin is the founding director of the new Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Before moving to Columbia this year, he spent a year as a strategic adviser at the National Geographic Society, where he helped expand funding, training and support systems for worldwide environmental journalism. From 2016 through early 2018, Mr. Revkin was the senior reporter for climate change at the nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica. That move, in 2018, followed three decades of ground-breaking journalism, including 14 years at The New York Times as a reporter and he also ran a Dot Earth blog. From 2010 to 2016, Mr. Revkin was also senior fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University, where he developed courses in online communication and filmmaking focused on sustainability. He has written acclaimed books on humanity’s weather and climate learning journey, global warming, the changing Arctic and the assault on the Amazon rain forest.

Arlene Fiore is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University.

Ms. Fiore’s research addresses global dimensions to air quality, including how atmospheric composition and air quality affect and respond to climate change and variability. As a member of NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST), she and her team apply satellite and other Earth science datasets to inform emerging air quality and health management needs. Her work has advanced understanding of the role of intercontinental transport in regional air quality and highlighted the potential for reductions in global methane emissions to improve air quality and lessen climate warming. Ms. Fiore joined Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 2011 after working as a research physical scientist at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton NJ. Sh earned her Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University in 2003.

Radley Horton is a Lamont Associate Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His research focuses on climate extremes, tail risks, climate impacts, and adaptation. He was a Convening Lead Author for the Third National Climate Assessment. Mr. Horton currently Co-Chairs Columbia’s Adaptation Initiative and is Principal Investigator for the Columbia University-WWF ADVANCE partnership, and the NOAA-Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments-funded Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast. He is also the Columbia University lead for the Department of Interior-funded Northeast Climate Science Center and is a PI on an NSF-funded Climate Change Education Partnership Project. Mr. Horton has been a Co-leader in the development of a global research agenda in support of the United Nations Environmental Program’s Programme on Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation (PROVIA) initiative. He teaches in Columbia University’s Sustainable Development department.

Darby Jack, PhD, studies environmental health risks in developing countries, the health impacts of climate change, and the role of the urban environment in shaping health. He is in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University. For the last several years, his primary focus has been the health effects of exposure to indoor air pollution from biomass fuels. With support from the Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan,

Mr. Jack has helped to develop a Columbia-wide biomass working group, which coordinates and supports interdisciplinary research on the topic. These collaborations have given rise to current efforts to measure the health benefits of clean cookstoves in Ghana. In New York, he is collaborating with exposure scientists to estimate the effects of air pollution exposures on people who commute by bicycle.

Peter S. Dailey, Ph.D., is Vice President of Model Development at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), currently leading RMS’ global event response team. At the start of his career, he taught at UCLA before joining Northrup Grumman (NG) to work on classified projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. At NG he also led R&D for commercial application including weather forecasting products developed for The Weather Channel. Dr. Daily transitioned to the catastrophe modeling field in 2001 where he led the hurricane modeling team at AIR Worldwide before joining the executive team at Verisk Climate. In 2014, he founded his private practice – Urban Enterprise Partners Inc. – a consultancy serving the (re)insurance and capital markets space with predictive analytics. He joined RMS in 2017. Dr. Daily has over 20 years’ experience developing and innovating models that measure the risks from tropical cyclones, winter storms, severe thunderstorms, and coastal floods, and has contributed to research surrounding emerging risks such as wildfire, cyber terrorism and inland flooding. Dr. Dailey attended the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained two degrees in systems engineering and applied economics. He earned his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Atmospheric Science with a specialty in numerical weather prediction from UCLA.

Michael Cohen is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for RenaissanceRe, a global provider of reinsurance and insurance. Prior to his current position, he was a director of industry and state relations at Freddie Mac. He also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House Community Empowerment Board in the Clinton White House, was the White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and ran the Office of Special Actions for HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Cohen was a legislative assistant in U.S. House of Representatives and has held various other positions both in and out of government. He grew up in Miami, Florida and earned a B.A. at Columbia University and a J.D. at Emory University School of Law.

State Representative Ben Diamond represents District 68 in the Florida House of Representatives. He was elected in 2016 and reelected in 2018. In the beginning of his career, Mr. Diamond clerked for a federal appeals court judge, and subsequently served as General Counsel for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and the Florida Department of Financial Services, where he was responsible for a diverse array of regulatory responsibilities relating to consumer protection and the investment of state funds. He currently practices law in downtown St. Petersburg and has been appointed to serve as the City’s representative on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, where he works to improve transportation and supported the expansion of electric buses and green technologies. In the Florida House, Mr. Diamond was recently elected by his colleagues to serve as Leader designate for the House Democratic Caucus. He also serves on the House Appropriations Committee, is the Democratic Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, serves on the Civil Justice Subcommittee and serves on the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University and his law degree at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Mayor Daniel Dietch has been mayor of Surfside, Florida since 2010. Surfside is a coastal community in Miami-Dade County, located on a barrier island along the southeast coast of Florida. Professionally, Mr. Dietch is an environmental consultant employed by SCS Engineers, an environmental consulting and contracting firm serving public and private clients. He is also a proud graduate of the inaugural class of the Good Government Institute and currently serves on the Executive Board of The CLEO Institute, the Executive Board of the Clean Energy Coast Corridor and the Advisory Board of the American Flood Coalition. Mr. Dietch has an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College in Geology and Anthropology, a graduate degree from Cornell University in Environmental Management and a graduate degree from the University of Miami in Business Administration.

Michael B. Gerrard is Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses on environmental and energy law and founded and directs the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. He is also a member and former Chair of the Faculty of Columbia’s Earth Institute. Before joining the Columbia faculty in January 2009, Mr. Gerrard was partner in charge of the New York office of the Arnold & Porter law firm; he is now Senior Counsel to the firm. He practiced environmental law in New York City full time from 1979 to 2008. His practice involved trying numerous cases and arguing many appeals in federal and state courts and administrative tribunals; handling the environmental aspects of numerous transactions and development projects; and providing regulatory compliance advice to a wide variety of clients in the private and public sectors. He has served on the executive committees of the boards of the Environmental Law Institute and the American College of Environmental Lawyers. Mr. Gerrard received his B.A. from Columbia University and his J.D. from NYU Law School, where he was a Root Tilden Scholar.

Ms. Ostrovskaya leads the Strategic Initiatives team at MTA Headquarters. Strategic Initiatives is an internal consulting group with a diverse portfolio of projects that include capital markets-based reinsurance transactions. Prior to working at the MTA, Ms. Ostrovskaya worked in public and structured finance. She has several graduate degrees including an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Wilson is a Deputy Director with the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency (MOR), where he manages climate adaptation programs in land use and buildings. He oversees a team of architects, urban planners and policy experts working to identify fiscally responsible and socially equitable approaches to climate challenges facing New York City’s building stock and neighborhoods. The MOR leads New York City’s efforts to ensure all residents thrive in the face of the multiple and compound impacts of climate change today and into the future through science-based analysis, policy development, capacity building, and robust engagement.

Attendees of the Climate Change: Response and Resilience Leadership Forum, NYC



Allied World Assurance Company


American Property Casualty Insurance Association

AmWINS Group

Andover Companies



Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers

Assured Research

Atlantic Intermediaries

Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

Bionic Solution


Butler One LLC

Cabrillo Coastal




Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

City University of New York

Climate Central

Clyde & Co.

Columbia Business School

Columbia Law School

Columbia Lloyds Ins. Co.

Columbia University

Columbia University Graduate School of Business

Columbia University Urban Design Lab (Earth Institute)

Columbia World Projects

CoreLogic, Inc.


CV Starr

Debevoise & Plimpton

Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University

Department of Homeland Security

Domini Impact Investments LLC

Duane Morris LLP

Environmental Law Institute


Ernst & Young

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

FEMA Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration

Financial Times

Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration

Florida House of Representatives

Franklin Templeton

Grace Lee for Assembly

Guy Carpenter

H2M Architects + Engineers




Independent Strategic Research

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety IBHS

IRI/Earth Institute

JMS Consulting

K&L Gates, LLP

Kekst CNC

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

LDEO Columbia University





Milone & MacBroom, Inc.


Morgan Stanley


MTA Risk and Insurance Management



National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Neuberger Berman

New York State Common Retirement Fund

New York Green Bank

New York City Mayor’s Office of Resiliency

New York City Parks Department

New York State Department of Environment Conservation

Odyssey Reinsurance

Oliver Wyman

Palomar Specialty Insurance Company

Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate

PMCat, Inc.

Provencher & Company


R Street Institute

Raymond James & Associates

Rebuild by Design

Reinsurance Association of America


Renaissance Reinsurance U.S. Inc.

RenaissanceRe Services Ltd.

Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation

Ricker Consulting

RiskEcon® Lab @ NYU Courant Institute


Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Scape Landscape Architecture

Signals & Strategies

State Farm

Sustainable Insight Capital Management

Swiss Re

The Earth Institute

The Hartford

The Nature Conservancy

The New School

The Risk Institute, The Ohio State University

The Wall Street Journal

Thornton Tomasetti

Tiger Risk

Town of Surfside

Transatlantic Reinsurance

Victor Insurance


Walter P Moore

Waterfront Alliance

WeatherPredict Consulting

Wells Fargo

Willis Towers Watson