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May 2 & 3, 2011

San Francisco, California

The Seismic Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum was heralded as a major success as over 300 delegates gathered to discuss policy and public safety issues focused on making California and other states more earthquake resilient.

At the Seismic Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum, we covered best practices and emerging research and technologies in mitigating earthquake risk to make affected communities more resilient. Over the two-day event, we identified solutions and innovations, and experts strategized how to communicate these more broadly and drive home the value of earthquake risk mitigation to public safety.

Larry Collins is a battalion chief and task force leader of the L.A. County Fire Department’s urban search and rescue task force for domestic and international disaster response.  His most recent international disaster responses included the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami catastrophe.  A member of the fire service for 31 years, he was a Rescue/USAR Company fire captain for 20 years, assigned to one of the most active fire department Rescue/USAR units in the nation.  Battalion Chief Collins is an operations chief on the FEMA USAR Incident Support Teams coordinating federal rescue operations, which have included the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9-11 Pentagon collapse, Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, Ike, Dolly, Earl, and several national security events like the 2002 Winter Olympics. 


Chief Collins has helped establish swiftwater rescue systems, water rescue teams, urban search and rescue systems and teams, specialized rescue programs including helo/high rise teams, helo/swiftwater rescue teams, rapid intervention protocols, earthquake preparedness programs, multi-agency water rescue plans, tsunami response plans, and years of next-generation research and development on science, technology, and their use in emergency planning and response.  He sits on the So Cal Shakeout advisory group, the Earthquake Country Alliance advisory group, the Los Angeles County Tsunami Committee, the Multi-Agency Earthquake Task Force for Los Angeles County, and other advisory positions.  Over the past two decades, he has authored many articles and cases studies, as well as the textbook series Technical Rescue Operations, the Rescue chapter of The Fire Chiefs Handbook, and the Support of Rescue Operations chapter of Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II.

Mary Comerio is an internationally recognized expert on disaster recovery. She joined the faculty in the Department of Architecture at U. C. Berkeley in 1978 and served as Chair of the Department from 2006-2009.  As an architect, she has designed numerous public and private facilities including market rate and affordable housing.  Her research focuses on the costs and benefits of seismic rehabilitation (particularly housing), post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and loss modeling. 


Professor Comerio led the FEMA sponsored Disaster Resistant University Program. Her research together with the UC Berkeley campus seismic rehabilitation program was recognized by Engineering News Record as one of the ten best seismic rehabilitation projects in the United States in 2006. She also led the Building Systems Research in the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, during the ten years when PEER was one of three NSF funded national earthquake centers. Professor Comerio is currently working on a NSF Grand Challenge project focused on the mitigation of collapse risk in nonductile concrete buildings. She spent a sabbatical year (2009-10) as a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and consultant to the United Nations Environment Program on post-disaster recovery efforts in China and Haiti. She recently led the PEER/EERI reconnaissance teams to both earthquakes in New Zealand and has participated in several other teams.


Mary Comerio is the author of Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery, (U. C. Press, 1998), and “Can Buildings be Made Earthquake Safe” (Science Vol. 312, No. 5771, April 14, 2006).

André Filiatrault received a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1988. After a two-year stay as an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Department of Civil Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique of the University of Montreal, where he became a Full Professor in 1997. Professor Filiatrault joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1998 where he was a Professor of Structural Engineering until 2003. Currently, he is a Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York.


From 2003 to 2007, Professor Filiatrault served as the Deputy Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER). He is now serving as the Director of MCEER. His research over the last twenty two years has been centered on the seismic testing, analysis and design of Civil Engineering structures. Professor Filiatrault led the first team of French-speaking engineers who conducted emergency building inspections for the United Nations (UNOPS) following the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Since then, he has been leading through MCEER the development of a professional earthquake engineering educational program in Haiti.

Joanne Hayes-White was sworn in by Mayor Newsom as the 25th Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department on January 16, 2004. San Francisco is now the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief. Chief Hayes-White oversees a department of approximately 1,800 members and an operating budget of $250 million.


A San Francisco native, Chief Hayes-White came to the department after graduating from the University of Santa Clara with a degree in business. She was hired as a firefighter in April 1990, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1993 and to the rank of Captain in January 1996. In May 1996 she was made acting Battalion Chief with oversight of the department’s dispatch and communications systems. She oversaw the installation of the computer-aided system (CAD) and automated information systems and by doing so, streamlined and improved the department’s dispatch and records management capabilities.


Also accomplished during her tenure as the Battalion Chief for Dispatch and Communications, Hayes-White spearheaded the unification of City dispatch operations into the single Emergency Communications Department, a process that combined Fire, EMS, and police dispatch communications under one roof, improving response times and service to the community, as well as strengthening interagency cooperation and collaboration.  Promoted to Assistant Deputy Chief in 1998, she was responsible for the Division of Support Services, the Bureau of Communications, the Bureau of Equipment, the Bureau of Engineering and Water Supply, Management Information Systems, and all facility repairs, maintenance and renovations.


Chief Hayes-White is very proud of the fact that she has, either as a Firefighter or Officer, worked at every one of San Francisco’s forty-two fire stations.  She serves on the Boards of the American Red Cross – Bay Area Chapter, the Hibernian Newman Club and Mercy High School, San Francisco.

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.

David Mar has practiced structural engineering for more than twenty years, having received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined

Steve Tipping and Associates in 1990. His work and research demonstrate his desire to provide a complete design product that is thoughtfully integrated with the project’s environment: accommodating long-term sustainability, seismic conditions, cost, and interdisciplinary design parameters.


Since having been named Principal and lead designer of Tipping Mar in 2000, Mr. Mar has continued in the company’s longstanding tradition of well-crafted engineering solutions, while introducing a new philosophical emphasis on creativity and exploration supported by practical, project-specific research.  His focus on high-performance seismic and sustainable design has positioned Tipping Mar at the forefront of the green building movement. His enthusiasm for innovation has expanded his design palette from traditional steel, concrete, and wood construction to rammed earth, bamboo, straw bale, timber frame, and structural insulated panels.


Mr. Mar frequently lectures at the engineering departments of UC Berkeley, Stanford, and the Lean Construction Institute. He has authored numerous publications and received many local and national awards in the areas of new construction, seismic renovation, and sustainable design.

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.

Jim Mullen became the Washington State Director of the Emergency Management Division effective July 21, 2004.   He has been an outspoken advocate of local and county emergency managers. Innovation has characterized his tenure at Washington EMD: he has dramatically increased the public education outreach effort, which includes the highly praised Map Your Neighborhood Program initiative. A second innovation has been to increase the direct, two-way interaction between the public and private sector, with the promise of more in the future.


In October 2010 Mr. Mullen was elected Vice President of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), and assumed the office of President of NEMA January 14, 2011. Prior to becoming President of NEMA he served as NEMA’s Region 10 Vice President and as Mitigation Committee chairman. He is a member of the National Homeland Security Consortium and was a driving force behind the formation of the National Collaborative Mitigation Alliance.  Throughout his career in emergency management, Mr. Mullen has contributed constructive commentary on the impact of the Homeland Security Department upon FEMA, and the collateral impact upon the safety of the nation from all hazards.

Chris Poland’s structural engineering career spans over 35 years and includes a wide variety of new design work, seismic analysis and strengthening of existing buildings, structural failure analysis, and historic preservation. As an internationally recognized authority on earthquake engineering, Mr. Poland routinely participates in policy-changing research projects sponsored by the NSF, USGS, NIST and FEMA. A passionate advocate and voice for seismic safety, he actively participates in the academic, ethical and social advancement of his field and lectures often.


Mr. Poland currently presides as Chair of the congressionally mandated Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. His latest interests involving advocacy for Resilient Cities led to his involvement in the SPUR Resilient City Initiative as the chair of the Seismic Hazard Mitigation Taskforce. That work led to his Co-Chair appointment to the San Francisco Lifelines Council. He chairs the ASCE Standards Committee on Seismic Rehabilitation, and led the effort needed to produce the ASCE 31 and ASCE 41 Standards.  He is a member of the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. Mr. Poland served on the Board of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) for 10 years in two separate roles, first as the Secretary and then as the President from 2001 to 2002.


Mr. Poland is the 2006 recipient of the Alfred E. Alquist Award from the California Earthquake Safety Foundation, and was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of his career long work in support of Performance Based Earthquake Engineering.

Currently serving the Los Angeles County Fire Department as Acting Chief Deputy of Business Operations, David Richardson Jr. has spent the past 25 years as a first responder and incident commander serving one of the world’s largest fire departments. 


While his current assignment focuses on oversight and management of the Department’s three business operations bureaus providing 15 unique business functions, his fire service career is rich in emergency operations experience.  He has served in every firefighting rank, and has gained a wide range of emergency management expertise as an incident commander, as Southern California’s environment has the potential for producing many large scale disasters, including earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hazardous materials incidents, and other all-risk type events.  He was responsible for managing the Fire Department’s largest field division, which serves 12 cities and two unincorporated communities in the Southeast area of the County. 


In 2008, Chief Richardson served as the team leader of a Los Angeles operational area interagency task force aimed at assessing, identifying problems, and providing recommendations for a fire service response to a catastrophic earthquake.  The identified issues were incorporated into the departments 2008 Golden Guardian Earthquake exercise.  Many of the recommendations have since been embraced by local fire departments as well as the scientific community.

Chief Richardson possesses a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Protection Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, and a Master of Science Degree in Emergency Services Administration from California State University, Long Beach.  He has also achieved State recognition and qualification as a chief officer.

Laura Samant helps communities to understand and reduce their risk from earthquakes and other natural disasters.  She has worked with communities worldwide, first as an employee of the California-based non-profit GeoHazards International and now as an independent consultant.  Her key interest is translating state-of-the-art technical knowledge about disaster risk reduction into feasible and effective policies and programs that make cities safer. 


Ms. Samant’s background is in structural engineering and she has extensive experience communicating technical concepts to non-technical policymakers.  She recently finished work as a co-project manager for the City of San Francisco’s influential Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety program (  This program analyzed the City’s earthquake risk and developed consensus among key City officials, tenants, property owners, historic preservationists, business leaders, technical specialists, and many others on policy recommendations to reduce the risk.

Ryan Sherriff is a research associate at the Center for Housing Policy in Washington, DC. In addition to managing several other Center projects, he researches best practices nationwide in the development and renovation of disaster-resistant homes for lower income households. Prior to working at the Center, Mr. Sherriff worked in affordable housing development with The Integral Group in Atlanta, GA, and for the real estate and economic development planning firm BBPA in Annapolis, MD.


Mr. Sherriff currently serves as Vice Chair of the Housing and Community Development Division of the American Planning Association, and as Secretary of the Family Selection Committee of the Washington, DC chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning.

Ross Stein is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America, was Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research during 1986-1989, and chaired AGU’s Board of Journal Editors in 2004-2006. In 2003, the Science Citation Index reported that Dr. Stein was the second most-cited author in earthquake science during the preceding decade.


Dr. Stein has received the Eugene M. Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award of the USGS, the Excellence in Outreach Award of the Southern California Earthquake Center, and the Outstanding Contributions and Cooperation in Geoscience Award from NOAA. He was keynote speaker at the Smithsonian Institution for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and has given AGU’s Francis Birch Lecture and the Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture. He is a cofounder of the Global Earthquake Model, a public-private partnership building a seismic risk model for world, and chairs GEM’s Scientific Board.


Dr. Stein has appeared many documentary films, including the Emmy-nominated documentary, ‘Killer Quake’ (NOVA, 1995), the four-part ‘Great Quakes’ series (Discovery, 1997-2001), and the award-winning 2004 National Geographic IMAX movie ‘Forces of Nature,’ which he helped to write and animate.

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.

Dr. John W. van de Lindt is a Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Alabama and holds the Garry Neil Drummond Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering.  He received his B.S. from California State University – Sacramento in 1993, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1995 and 1999, respectively.  He has served as a full-time faculty member at Michigan Tech and Colorado State University before coming to the University of Alabama to lead the Structural Engineering and Materials program.  Dr. van de Lindt’s research program has two major thrusts, both related to improving the built environment by making structures and structural systems perform to the level expected by their occupants, government, and the public.  He seeks to accomplish this through the development and test bed applications of performance-based engineering of building systems for earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.  He has published more than 180 technical articles and given over 150 technical presentations worldwide.  


Dr van de Lindt is past Chair of the Technical Administrative Committee on Wood for ASCE which oversees four national committees.  He currently serves as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Structural Engineering for wood-related articles and on several international editorial boards.  From 2005-2009 he served as the project director and lead investigator on the NEES Wood project entitled “Development of a Performance-Based Seismic Design Philosophy for Mid-Rise Woodframe Construction”.  The finale of that test was a full-scale shake table test program of a mid-rise woodframe building in Miki, Japan in the summer of 2009.  He is currently serving as the lead investigator on an NSF-funded project to experimentally validate retrofit methods for soft-story woodframe buildings.  Professor van de Lindt led a woodframe data reconaissance effort immediately following Hurricane Katrina, was a member of the FEMA mitigation assessment team for the 2008 Midwest floods, participated on the ASCE 7/ASCE 41 Chile earthquake team, and recently returned from a Forest Products Lab sponsored trip to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Yumei Wang, PE, is the principal at Sustainable Living Solutions and also leads the Geohazards team at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (, where her work focuses on lowering risks from earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides. She is an advisor for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and has taken part in post-earthquake damage assessments from Chile, China, and Sumatra earthquakes/tsunamis. Her current priorities include earthquake risk assessment of critical energy infrastructure, the design of North America’s first tsunami shelter, and efforts to implement innovative policies to manage catastrophic Cascadia earthquake risks, including Oregon’s unique seismic retrofit grant program.


Ms. Wang has appeared on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, as well as NOVA, National Geographic and Discovery documentaries. She served as Congressional Fellow in the U.S. Senate in Washington DC, and worked as a geotechnical consultant in California. She has an MS in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA in Geological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nancy L. Ward was appointed Regional Administrator of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region IX office in October 2006. Prior to this, she served as the Director of FEMA’s Response and Recovery Division in Region IX from 2000 forward and was responsible for coordinating FEMA disaster response and recovery activities in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.


Ms. Ward was appointed FEMA’s senior transition official for the presidential transition and served as Acting Administrator for FEMA from January 21, 2009 to May 16, 2009.  She returned to her position as the Regional Administrator of the FEMA Region IX office when Craig Fugate was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the Administrator of FEMA.  Previously, she worked two details at FEMA headquarters as the Deputy Director of the Recovery Directorate during FEMA’s response and recovery operations for the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Ms. Ward has received awards for special accomplishments at FEMA, including the 2007 Award for Excellence for her leadership during the California wildfires.


Before joining FEMA, Ms. Ward was Chief of the Disaster Assistance Branch and Deputy State Coordinating Officer for the California Office of Emergency Services. She administered the state’s Natural Disaster Assistance Act program assistance provisions, which provide disaster assistance funding to local governments for state-level emergencies and disasters. She provided guidance and technical support to other state and local agencies in the planning, development and implementation of program policies and procedures for disaster recovery activities.

Attendees of Seismic Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum


AAA Northern California, Nevada, Utah Insurance Exchange

Sierra Club

Adan Engineering

AIA Foundation

AIR Worldwide

AMEC Geomatrix

American Institute of Architects

Aon Benfield

Applied Technology Council


Association of Bay Area Governments

Atkins North America, Inc.


Ben C. Gerwick, Inc.

BFP Engineers, Inc.

California Department of Insurance

California Earthquake Authority

California Emergency Management Agency

California Geological Survey

California Seismic Saftety Commission

Center for Housing Policy

Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium

Certus Consulting, Inc.

Chapman Home Design

City & County of San Francisco

Degenkolb Engineers

Walt Disney World



Farmers Insurance

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. – FLASH

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Focus Insurance Partners

Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc.

Fresno Citizen Corps

Gen Re

GeoEngineers, Inc.

GeoHazards International

Guy Carpenter & Co, LLC

Humboldt State University

ICAT Managers, LLC

ICF International

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

International Code Council

Kircher & Associates

Liberty Mutual Group

Los Angeles County Fire Dept


MMI Engineering

National Fire Protection Association

Oregon Emergency Managment

Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Reid Middleton, Inc.

Risk Management Solutions

RLI Insurance Services


Rutherford & Chekene Consulting Engineers


San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

San Francisco Department of Building Inspection

San Francisco Fire Department

San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association

San Francisco State University

San Jose State University

Sandia National Laboratories

San Francisco Department of Building Inspection

Shelter Insurance Companies

Simpson Strong-Tie

Sitrick & Co.

Stanford University

State Farm Insurance

The Independent Institute

The Scalingi Group

Tobin & Associates

Travelers Insurance

U.C. San Diego

U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Government Accountability Office

University of British Columbia

U.C. Berkeley

URS Corporation

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)


Washington State Seismic Policy Committee

Weather Predict Consulting Inc.