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June 24, 2009

Washington, D.C.

We were proud to have Representative Bennie Thompson, then Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, deliver a keynote address announcing innovative, forward-looking disaster preparedness legislation focused on proactive preparation rather than increasingly expensive post-disaster response.

Our Safe Homes for All Leadership Forum strengthened and expanded the coalition working on mitigation reform by bringing together key stakeholder groups such as first responders, affordable housing advocates and anti-poverty groups to discuss topics such as the impact of extreme weather on low-income families and the challenges these communities face dealing with natural disasters.

Mr. Allen is the Associate Director at the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR). He also helps direct the CBR’s Sustainable Urban Ecosystem Initiative (UrbanEco).  Through this initiative, the CBR is studying the dynamic interface between the built and natural environments and the human interactions between these two systems. It is through this initiative that the CBR is working to help the Holy Cross/Lower 9th Ward Community of New Orleans chart a path toward an energy efficient, sustainable post-Hurricane Katrina recovery.


Mr. Allen serves as President of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association (HCNA) and represents the Holy Cross Historic District as a member of the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission. He is co-chair of a partnership and project known as REACH-NOLA, which works to improve access to quality health care for New Orleans residents, and is a board member of the Louisiana Clean Tech Network.  Mr. Allen also serves as a board member for the Foundation for Science and Math Education, the Lower 9th Ward Stakeholders Coalition, and the Lower 9th Ward Education Advisory Group. He has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to offer a community perspective on the post-Katrina recovery efforts of New Orleans and work to keep USGBC connected to these efforts. He has been appointed to the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Committee on Coastal Restoration and Protection.

Mr. Allen is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana where he received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology in 1995. He is also a graduate of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine where he received his Master’s of Science in Public Health in 1998.

Miles Anderson is the Bureau Chief of Mitigation within Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. He leads the Bureau in efforts to collaborate with cities, counties and other organizations in reducing the potential devastation and long-term risk to human life from the impact of natural disasters.  His career spans over three decades of leadership experience encompassing emergency management, public administration, nonprofit organizations, private business, social services and community volunteerism.


Mr. Anderson entered public service in the late 1990s as a manager in Florida’s Bureau of Recovery & Mitigation. In this role, he oversaw federal funds for local governments to find solutions for hazard mitigation, unmet needs and flood mitigation/assistance. He is an authority on FEMA operations and is recognized by his peers for his ability to facilitate productive relationships between the private sector, public sector, and nonprofit interests. His familiarity with all stakeholders and his professional advice is proclaimed to have been indispensible in helping communities rebuild post-storms. In 2005, the Escambia County Commission recognized Mr. Anderson for his work as an appointee of the Governor serving as West Florida’s Deputy State Coordinating Officer. The Commission applauded Mr. Anderson for leading the state’s response team after hurricanes crossed the state. He championed the cause of residential mitigation in the Escambia county area and laid the foundation for REBUILD Northwest Florida, an initiative that has strengthened over 3000 homes, and has plans to retrofit many more.

Jay Baker is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University and is president of Hazards Management Group, an emergency management research and consulting firm.  Since 1975 Dr. Baker has conducted studies following hurricanes to document how the public responded and why.  Study locations have included every Gulf and Atlantic coastal state from Texas through Massachusetts, as well as Hawaii.  He has conducted studies on hazard perception and evacuation response intentions in those states and has applied the findings of his research to the development of hurricane evacuation plans.  Most recently he was the behavioral analyst for the Florida Statewide Regional Evacuation Study.


Dr. Baker’s research also includes public attitudes toward hurricane hazard mitigation options, household preparedness for disasters, and public response to other hazards, including tornadoes, floods, and nuclear power plants. He has worked on methods to assess the costs incurred by local governments in evacuating residents and has worked with colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of local government comprehensive plans in Florida in mitigating certain aspects of hurricane hazards in coastal areas.  He was a founding partner in the inception of the National Hurricane Conference and continues to be on the conference’s planning committee. 


Dr. Baker received his doctorate in Geography from the University of Colorado in 1974.

Debra Ballen joined IBHS in 2008 as the General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy. In this capacity, she is responsible for managing all of the organization’s legal matters, as well as overseeing IBHS’ public policy efforts.  In addition, she serves as the organization’s Corporate Secretary.

Prior to her work with IBHS, Ms. Ballen was the Executive Vice President of Public Policy Management for the American Insurance Association in Washington, D.C.  She developed and implemented policy for AIA’s priority federal and state public policy issues.  She has also served on the OECD High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large Scale Catastrophes, which includes a heavy emphasis on mitigation measures.

Ms. Ballen graduated with a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School and an A.B. degree from Princeton University. She holds the CPCU designation.

Lisa Blackwell is Vice President of State and Local Strategic Outreach for the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC).  She complements the Council’s federal legislative and regulatory program by mobilizing members and resources to respond to apartment-related issues at the state and local level.  At the federal level, she also manages select housing issues for the NMHC/National Apartment Association Joint Legislative Program.


Ms. Blackwell  brings more than 20 years of government affairs and real estate experience to the Council.  Most recently, she was the Managing Director of Government Affairs for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), where she developed legislative strategies on behalf of the nation’s architects.  Prior to that, she spent nine years with the National Association of Realtors working on a variety of housing issues. She also directed Cornell University’s government relations program and worked for two New York State members of Congress.


Ms. Blackwell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the State University of New York College at Fredonia.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson is President/CEO of FLASH®, a national, non-profit corporation founded in 1998 by a collaborative of non-profit, private and public organizations dedicated to strengthening homes and safeguarding families from disaster.  FLASH is the fastest growing disaster safety education organization in the U.S. with more than 90 partners, including FEMA, Georgia Pacific, Institute for Business & Home Safety, International Code Council, Mercedes Homes, NeighborWorks, NOAA, South Carolina Insurance Department, State Farm Insurance Companies, Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Tech Wind Science & Engineering, The Home Depot and Home Depot Foundation, University of Florida, and USAA.


Ms. Chapman-Henderson and FLASH have championed the cause of code-plus construction methods through the creation of Blueprint for Safety® (Blueprint), an educational program for homebuilders, homeowners and design professionals on disaster-resistant construction techniques. 


Among Ms. Chapman-Henderson’s civic, community and professional awards are the 2008 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement in Mitigation Award, 2008 Governor’s Hurricane Conference Corporate Award, 2006 Texas Silver Spur Award for Public Education Excellence, 2006 Governor’s Hurricane Conference Public Information/Education Award, 2005 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement in Public Awareness Award, 2005 National Weather Association Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award, 2005 NOAA Environmental Hero Award, 2002 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement in Mitigation Award, 2002 FEMA Special Recognition Award, 2002 Florida Fire Chiefs Association Excellence in Community and Public Education Award, 2002 Florida Emergency Preparedness Association Corporate Award, and 2001 Governors Hurricane Conference Public Education Award.


Ms. Chapman-Henderson currently serves as a representative on the legislatively-created My Safe Florida Home Advisory Council.  Her past service includes consumer representative and chair for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Advisory Council under Governor Charlie Crist and former Governor Jeb Bush, guest lecturer at the University of Florida – School of Construction and one of the Florida representatives to the Federal Communications Commission WARN Committee.  She was recently elected as a board trustee of the Florida International University – International Hurricane Research Center.  Ms. Chapman-Henderson has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida.

Andrew Fahlund was appointed Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers in 2004. Working with a staff of more than 20, his department is responsible for developing and implementing innovative policy and science tools to protect and restore targeted rivers and watersheds through four principle campaigns: Healthy Waters, Water for Life, River Renewal, and River Heritage.


Mr. Fahlund also serves as the co-chair of the Clean Water Network’s Global Warming working group.  Prior to his promotion, he directed the American Rivers Dam Reform Program. His responsibilities included directing the organization’s national policy and fieldwork in these areas.  Between 1999 and 2005 he served as Chair of the Hydropower Reform Coalition, a consortium of 125 conservation and recreation groups involved in restoring rivers through the licensing of hydropower dams.  He served on the board of directors for the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, which certifies environmentally responsible hydropower for “green” electricity markets.   Mr. Fahlund has served on several governmental advisory groups, has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as numerous federal agencies, and participated in various policy forums and negotiations addressing water policy in the United States. Mr. Fahlund received his M.S. in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, with honors.

Jenn Fogel-Bublick joined McBee Strategic in December, 2008.  Ms. Fugel-Bublick brings 9 years of government experience to the firm, including nearly 7 with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  As Counsel to the Banking Committee, she served under Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT).  In this position, she was responsible for housing, insurance, community development, in addition to playing a key role in mortgage lending and financing. 


In the 110th Congress, Ms. Fugel-Bublick’s portfolio included the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, as well as following general financial market conditions and government interventions.  Prior to joining the Senate Banking Committee, she was a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and worked at a number of advocacy organizations. 


Ms. Fugel-Bublick has a J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Paul Harrison leads Environmental Defense Fund’s campaign to secure restoration of the natural functioning of the Mississippi River Delta and wetlands complex, where 2,000 of 7,000 square miles of land have been lost in less than a century as flood control, navigation, and energy extraction activities turned off the natural land-building mechanisms of the river. This task must be accomplished while addressing the needs and health of southern Louisiana’s diverse communities and economic infrastructure—including oil and gas, ports and navigation, and fisheries.


Paul manages our coalition of national and local civic groups using the negotiation, organizing, and technical analysis skills he acquired as a litigating attorney in Washington and while organizing New York City communities in support of neighborhood traffic calming.

Bill Kelly is President of SAHF, the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future.  SAHF is a consortium of nine national social enterprise nonprofits committed to affordable rental housing.   His prior experience includes 25 years as a partner in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Latham & Watkins, where his practice included all aspects of project finance, including affordable housing and energy finance.  He also served as a senior advisor to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Carla Hills, and as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell.  


A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, Mr. Kelly is a director of Ashoka Innovators for the Public, the International Senior Lawyers Project, the Governance Institute, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and the National Human Services Assembly.  For having launched a second career innovating in the social sector, he was named a Purpose Prize Fellow in 2007, and was Mullen Visiting Professor at Georgetown University.

John Kostyack is Senior Counsel in the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Washington D.C. office, where he manages the Federation’s Species Conservation Program, a nationwide effort to protect and restore endangered species and other imperiled wildlife. His responsibilities include strategic planning, management, policy analysis, advocacy, media and public education on land use and biodiversity conservation. A leading expert on the Endangered Species Act, he is responsible for overseeing NWF’s advocacy on imperiled species before Congress, the federal agencies and the courts. He also supervises NWF’s outreach efforts on imperiled species conservation, such as Endangered Species University, Species Recovery Fund, Frogwatch, and other partnerships with NWF state affiliates and like-minded organizations.


Mr. Kostyack has served as counsel for NWF and other environmental groups in a variety of legal initiatives, including an ongoing campaign to re-orient the federal government’s policies toward development in the habitat of the critically-endangered Florida panther. In 2001, he secured a major legal victory for an environmental coalition in Sacramento, California, that sets a national precedent concerning regional habitat conservation planning under the Endangered Species Act.


In 2000, Mr. Kostyack launched NWF’s Smart Growth and Wildlife initiative, which is working in key places around the country to counter development harmful to imperiled fish, wildlife and plants, and to promote development alternatives that benefit people and wildlife.  He has advocated for imperiled species and habitats in testimony before House and Senate committees, on television and radio broadcasts, in written comments on legislative and regulatory proposals, and at numerous conferences, meetings and workshops.


Mr. Kostyack joined NWF in February 1994. Prior to joining NWF, he worked six years for a private law firm in Washington, D.C., and two years as a federal judicial clerk in Florida. He has also worked extensively on land use issues as a volunteer leader for Sierra Club chapters in Washington, D.C. and Florida. He holds a J.D. from Stetson University College Law in St. Petersburg, Florida, and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

Howard Kunreuther is the Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Decision Sciences and Public Policy at the Wharton School, and Co-Director of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.  He has a long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability/high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards and has published extensively on the topic.  He is a member of the OECD’s High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large-Scale Catastrophes; a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); a member of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program’s Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction; Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis, receiving the Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2001.


Dr. Kunreuther has written and co-edited numerous books and papers, including On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina, (with Ronald J. Daniels and Donald F. Kettl; 2006), Catastrophe Modeling: A New Approach to Managing Risks (with Patricia Grossi; 2005), and Paying The Price: The State of Natural Disaster Insurance in the United States (with John Roth, Sr.; 1998).  He is the recipient of the Elizur Wright Award for the publication that makes the most significant contribution to the literature of insurance. 


Dr. Kunreuther received his Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Brian Martin is Policy Director for Representative Gene Taylor (D-Mississippi). Mr. Martin has worked for Representative Taylor for 19 years as the lead staffer on health care, the budget, and financial issues. He also has taken on special policy assignments for Congressman Taylor, including military retiree health care reform, base closure analysis, and Hurricane Georges recovery. Since Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Martin has focused on insurance, housing, and disaster recovery policies and reform efforts.


Mr. Martin has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Princeton University and a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

A former journalist and legislative staffer, Peter Mitchell got into social marketing a decade ago when he was asked to direct the marketing campaign for a new anti-tobacco initiative in Florida. The campaign became “truth” – an effort that transformed tobacco control and got replicated on a national scale after Florida showed the first statewide drop in teen smoking in 19 years. Since then, Mr. Mitchell has developed and directed dozens of social marketing campaigns across the globe, first as a senior marketing specialist for the Academy for Educational Development, a large international non-profit, and later as a founder of Marketing for Change, which is now part of Salter>Mitchell.


A graduate of Colgate University, Mr. Mitchell spent a decade as a reporter, including covering Florida for The Wall Street Journal, and served as the policy coordinator for Florida’s Senate President. Over the years, he has designed behavior-change campaigns domestically and in Bangladesh, India, Jordan and Tanzania, for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Jerome Ringo came to the Apollo Alliance in 2005 as a dedicated champion of environmental justice and vocal advocate of clean energy. He has first-hand experience of the challenges we face after working for more than 20 years in Louisiana’s petrochemical industry. More than half of that time was spent as an active union member working with his fellow members to secure a safe work environment and quality jobs. Louisiana’s petrochemical industry focuses on the production of gasoline, rocket fuel, and plastics – many of which contain cancer-causing chemicals. As he began observing the negative impacts of the industry’s pollution on local communities – primarily poor, minority communities – Mr. Ringo began organizing community environmental justice groups. Jerome’s experience organizing environmental and labor communities and his drive to further diversify the environmental movement bridges many of Apollo’s partners to create a broad based coalition to provide real solutions for our energy crisis.


In 1996, Mr. Ringo was elected to serve on the National Wildlife Federation board of directors and, in 2005, he became the chair of the board. In so doing, he also became the first African American to head a major conservation organization. Mr. Ringo was the United States’ only black delegate at the 1998 Global Warming Treaty Negotiations in Kyoto, Japan, and represented the National Wildlife Federation at the United Nations’ conference on sustainable development in 1999.

Julie Rochman joined IBHS in November 2007 with more than 20 years of public affairs and advocacy experience representing major corporations, research and safety organizations, and issue-based coalitions. She is regularly consulted and quoted by national print, broadcast and electronic media on a wide variety of topics.

She joined IBHS from The Glover Park Group, a leading Washington, D.C.-based strategic communication consulting firm, where she was senior vice president of public affairs and managed a portfolio primarily comprising financial services sector clients. She joined the firm from the American Insurance Association (AIA), a national public policy advocacy organization for property-casualty insurance companies. As senior vice president of public affairs and member of AIA’s management team for six years, Ms. Rochman and her staff were responsible for developing and executing integrated communication campaigns to achieve AIA’s public policy goals at both the state and federal levels.

From November 1996 until late 2000, Ms. Rochman was vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), where she successfully managed media relations for the IIHS and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI). Upon leaving the IIHS, Ms. Rochman served on the IIHS and HLDI boards of directors for several years. Prior to joining IIHS, Ms. Rochman managed federal communications for the Alliance of American Insurers, worked for the Insurance Information Institute, for a public health organization dedicated to preventing drunk driving, at an advertising agency, and for a global insurance brokerage.

Ms. Rochman earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Tulane University and a master’s degree in American Government from the University of Virginia.

Walter Peacock is Director of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and in the Sustainable Coastal Margins Program, and the Interim Executive Associate Dean for the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. He is also the Rodney L. Dockery Endowed Professor in Housing and the Homeless at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on natural hazards and human systems response to disaster with an emphasis on social vulnerability, evacuation, and the socio-political ecology of long-term recovery and mitigation, and on housing recovery and housing issues.


Dr. Peacock has conducted research in a variety of countries including United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Italy, India, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and the US Virgin Islands. He has authored over ninety chapters, articles, papers, and technical reports. His published articles have appeared in a variety of journals including American Sociological Review, Natural Hazards Review, Disasters, the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, Landscape and Urban Planning and Ekistics. He has also published two books and his latest, coauthored with Betty Hearn Morrow and Hugh Gladwin, is entitled, Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, Gender and the Sociology of Disaster.


Dr. Peacock holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Georgia.

A former Biloxi High School teacher, William (“Bill”) F. Stallworth has served the city of Biloxi in various capacities since 1976, most recently as the Councilman for Ward II, a position he also previously occupied for 12 years. In addition, Mr. Stallworth has been the city’s residential and business relocation officer, the Community Development Planner, Community Development Specialist, the Personnel Officer and Voter Registrar, and Vice President for Economic Development for the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In addition to his public service, Mr. Stallworth is a businessman, founding BFS Services, a construction and landscaping company, in 1985 and becoming a partner of Computer and Technology Support Services in 1992.


Compelled to return to politics 12 years later, Mr. Stallworth was once again elected to the City Council as the only African American member shortly before Katrina struck, and since founded the East Biloxi Coordination, Relief, and Redevelopment Agency (later named the Hope Community Development Agency), dedicating himself to the rebuilding of his community.

Joe Tankersley is a writer and producer for Walt Disney Imagineering. He has worked on the creative development of projects throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, including StormStruck: A tale of Two Homes™, which opened at Epcot in 2008. He was head writer for the Millennium Village, part of Epcot’s celebration of the new century. This unique project took him to more than a dozen countries from Brazil to Saudi Arabia. Since then he has worked on projects for Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot.


Currently, Mr. Tankersley leads creative teams developing new projects for Innoventions at Epcot. These projects employ the latest in interactive entertainment technologies to help guests learn more about the world around them.

Chairman Thompson is currently serving his eighth term as the Democratic Congressman for Mississippi’s Second District and his third term on the Homeland Security Committee. With more than 40 years of continuous public service, he is the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi. He served as alderman and mayor in his hometown for years, after which he served as Hinds County Supervisor for 13 years before being elected to Congress in 1993. With six district offices – Bolton, Greenville, Greenwood, Jackson, Marks, and Mound Bayou – Congressman Thompson is committed to empowering those who gave him an opportunity to represent the Second District of Mississippi. 

To begin the 110th Congress, Congressman Thompson was promoted by his colleagues to serve as the first ever Democratic Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, a committee which was created by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.  As Chairman, Congressman Thompson recently introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since September 11th, H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007”.

Drawing on his 26 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter, Congressman Thompson understands that our nation’s law enforcement and first responders are our first line of defense in times of emergency. With that in mind he has constantly fought to ensure they are fully equipped with the resources and tools they need to effectively respond to any and all emergencies.

Eric Thompson is a senior professional staff member of the House Committee on Financial Services.  He is the chief insurance advisor for Republicans on the Committee, under the leadership of Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-AL).  His prior experience includes ten years in the private sector with the Hartford Financial Services Group as Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs. 


A Connecticut native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he also served as chief of staff and legislative advisor to former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT).

Craig Tillman has been part of the RenaissanceRe organization since 1996.  As part of the team that formed Glencoe Insurance Ltd., Mr. Tillman served as that subsidiary’s Chief Underwriting Officer.  He has also led RenaissanceRe’s modeling group, focusing on catastrophe models and developing analytical staff to support underwriting operations. 


Mr. Tillman serves as President of WeatherPredict Consulting Inc., a RenaissanceRe affiliate that provides intelligence on atmospheric perils to a range of entities.  WeatherPredict Consulting draws from a dedicated team of advanced scientists with specialties ranging across meteorology, oceanography, wind-engineering, aerodynamics and computer simulation.  Their focus is to anticipate the occurrence and outcome of significant weather events.


Prior to joining RenaissanceRe, Mr. Tillman’s experience spanned 13 years as a consultant in catastrophe risk for clients in the insurance, government, equity management, and municipal bond insurance industries.  He has played a key role in developing software tools and risk analysis methods for use in analyzing a wide range of commercial and residential exposures.  Mr. Tillman is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and also serves as an Executive Director for the Institute for Business and Home Safety. 


Mr. Tillman holds the ARM and ARe designations, as well as a Masters degree in Mathematics.

Tami Torres currently serves as the Director of the Division of Consumer Services and the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services.  The MSFH program, is a $250 million program created in the 2006 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature to help Floridians identify how they can strengthen their homes against hurricanes and to reduce hurricane damage exposure in the State of Florida.


Prior to her role with the Division of Consumer Services and the My Safe Florida Home Program, Ms. Torres served as the Director of Communications for the Florida Department of Financial Services, Majority Office of the Florida Senate and the Florida Association of Counties.  She has led numerous public relation and communication efforts including: Verify Before You Buy, A+ Plan for Education and Growing Florida’s Economy.  She has also managed and directed message development on issues of statewide importance and legislative policies such as complex financial and insurance issues.


Ms. Torres has a Bachelors of Science in Mass Media Communications from The Florida State University.

Michelle Whetten directs Enterprise Community Partners’ Gulf Coast office, based in New Orleans. Her responsibilities include working with state and local officials to create effective systems for affordable housing production, implementing innovative training and technical assistance programs with local nonprofit organizations, and supporting Enterprise’s investment of more than $200 million to develop more than 10,000 homes for low- and moderate-income families in the Gulf Coast region over the next five years.


Prior to her assignment in the Gulf Coast, Ms. Whetten was deputy director for Enterprise’s New York City office, where she led Enterprise New York’s neighborhood initiatives and public policy efforts. In that role, she managed organizational development, resident services technical assistance and grant making programs, and directed advocacy and outreach to local, state and federal officials on housing and community development issues. She was also charged with guiding and implementing strategic planning for Enterprise New York.


Before joining Enterprise, Ms. Whetten managed the Prince George’s County, Md., office of the Neighborhood Design Center, a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization, where she recruited and coordinated pro bono services of architects, engineers and planners to assist with community-sponsored projects.


Ms. Whetten graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental policy analysis and planning and from the University of Illinois with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning.  She serves on the board of the Louisiana Association of Affordable Housing Providers.

Organizations Represented at Safe Homes for All Leadership Forum



Allianz of America

American Institute of Building Design

American Rivers

AmeriPro Inspection Corporation

Assn. of State Floodplain Managers

Bank of America Corp.


BNF Technologies

Bullock & Haddow, LLC

Carlton Fields

Catholic Charities USA


Center for Clean Air Policy

Center for Fair Housing, Inc.

Center for Health and the Global Environment

Chadbourne & Parke LLP

Chinese Embassy

Christophe Tulou Associates

City of Alexandria

Cohen Strategies

Columbia University

Committee on Homeland Security

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Congressional Research Service

Department of HUD


Disaster Accountability Project

Duke University

Edgewood Management Corporation

Enterprise Community Investment

Enterprise Community Partners

Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)

Environmental Defense Fund


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Federal Housing Finance Agency


Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center

Florida Department of Financial Services

Florida State University

Focus Insurance Consultancy

Freddie Mac

Glover Park Group


Gulf Coast Rebuilding

Habitat for Humanity International



House Committee on Homeland Security

House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity

Housing Assistance Council

ICLEI Local Gov’ts for Sustainability

Institute for Sustainable Communities

Insurance Information Institute

International Code Council

International Hurricane Research Center

Interstate Traveler Company


Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Leflore County

Lisa Miller & Associates

McBee Strategic

Mississippi Center for Justice

Mississippi Valley State University



National Association of Counties

National Building Museum

National CAPACD

National Community Development Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Governors Association

National Housing Conference

National Institute of Building Sciences

National League of Cities

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Multi Housing Council

National Wildlife Federation

Nationwide insurance

NeighborWorks America



NOAA’s Coastal Services Centre

Office of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Maryland

OxFam America

Project Green America

Quadel Consulting


RFK Center/Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign

Rhode Island Insurance Division

Risk Management Solutions

Salter Mitchell

SC Safe Home Program, SC Dept. of Insurance

Senator Roger Wicker


Tambala Strategy

The American Prospect

The Financial Services Roundtable

The Resilient Home Program

The Travelers Companies, Inc.

The Vacation Lane Group, Inc.

U.S. Department of HUD

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

University of California Berkeley, Department of Geography

University of Maryland

University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg

University of Virginia


Washington Advocates Group

Worldwatch Institute

Yale Law School

Yelton Construction Co., LLC