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LSU’s National Partnership with CSIS Offers Series on Disaster Management and Emergency Response


Mark Cooper, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness; Tom Anderson, SDMI director of development; Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator; Joseph Booth, SDMI executive director; Lori Bertman, president and CEO of the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation; and Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, CSIS senior fellow and director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program.
Photos courtesy Kaveh Sardari/CSIS

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, one of the preeminent international policy think tanks in Washington, D.C., has partnered with LSU, the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, or SDMI, and the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation to host an international speaker series, “The CSIS-LSU Series on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.”

The inaugural series event, featuring Adm. Thad Allen (USCG, ret.), national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon response, took place Nov. 16, 2010. Allen covered “A Strategic Review of the Gulf Oil Spill,” and the event attracted nearly 300 individuals from across the country, including representatives from the White House, Microsoft, BP America and former U.S. Sen. John Warner. Most recently, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate spoke as a guest of the series on “FEMA’s Role in Disaster Response.”

“We are extremely proud that LSU was chosen for this type of partnership,” LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said. “National leaders in disaster management have seen first-hand how LSU has been able to respond to and assist in overcoming a disaster following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Partnerships like these show that LSU is considered among the top institutions in the country. We applaud the Stephenson Institute for all their hard work over the past few years.”


Adm. Thad Allen; Joseph Booth, SDMI executive director; John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS; and John Warner, former U.S. senator, following Allen's talk in November.
Photos courtesy Kaveh Sardari/CSIS

LSU SDMI Executive Director Lt. Col. Joseph Booth echoed the chancellor’s sentiments regarding the partnership.

“The Stephenson Disaster Management Institute is proud to partner with CSIS for this important event series,” said Booth. “This type of collaborative discussion is critical to addressing and solving the disaster management problems we will continue to face nationally and globally. Louisiana has served as a living laboratory for the study of disaster management, and it is an honor to share our unique knowledge as part of this dialogue. We are grateful to the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation for its generosity and support.”

The series provides a forum for government officials, experts, academics and nongovernmental organizations dealing with disaster management and emergency response to discuss critical issues facing the United States’ ability to address disaster and emergency situations domestically and internationally. It is the only speaker series of its kind taking place in Washington, D.C., about disaster management.

“SDMI is uniquely suited to bring together intellectual and operational perspectives on disaster management, response and recovery. LSU offers global academic reach and the Gulf Coast regional setting gives SDMI unquestionable on-the-ground credibility. The result is an institution that is poised to serve as a national, and ultimately global, leader in tackling these complex problems,” said Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, CSIS senior fellow and director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program, who moderates the series.


FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate speaks about “FEMA’s Role in Disaster Response” during the February LSU-CSIS event.
Photos courtesy Kaveh Sardari/CSIS

“Too often policy discussions about disaster management and emergency response occur only after the disaster,” said Lori J. Bertman, president and CEO of the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation. “Our series intends to drive discussion on critical issues in disaster management and emergency response in a proactive manner both in Washington and beyond the Beltway in order to better protect lives and infrastructure before communities are faced with emergency situations.”

Series events take place at CSIS in Washington, D.C., every four to six weeks and cover topics such as:

  • Expanding cooperation between the U.S. government and the private sector;
  • Federal, state and local cooperation in disaster relief;
  • Natural disasters and risk management;
  • Technology and natural disasters;
  • Philanthropy;
  • Crisis leadership and communication;
  • Supply chain logistics;
  • Transatlantic cooperation in disaster relief; and
  • The role of the military in disaster relief.

The events are streamed online on the CSIS website with a transcript, photos and video available afterwards on both CSIS and SDMI’s websites. Audio of the events is available at iTunes U.

The CSIS-LSU Series is one of several major initiatives SDMI has undertaken to build partnerships between academic scholars, emergency management practitioners and the private sector. Working with Chancellor Martin, SDMI led the renovation of an LSU facility on South Campus, building the state-of-the-art SDMI Disaster Lab, home of the state’s Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center, or the LA BEOC.


Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, director of CSIS Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program; Mark Ward, acting director of the Office of Disaster Assistance United States Agency for International Development; David Meltzer, senior vice president of International Services for the American National Red Cross; and Joel Charny, vice president of Humanitarian Policy and Practice for InterAction, present “International Cooperation in Disaster Relief.”
Photos courtesy Kaveh Sardari/CSIS

Working directly with the state leadership of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana Economic Development and NIMSAT at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the LA BEOC facility, when activated, provides the state with numerous coordinated resources and the goal of enhanced resilience of businesses during disaster. The LA BEOC has been recognized by FEMA as a best practice model for public-private partnerships.

The SDMI Disaster Lab, when not activated as the LA BEOC, serves as a research, simulation and training facility for the state and the nation’s efforts of advancing and optimizing crisis leadership education for emergency managers and the private sector. The SDMI Disaster Lab’s success as a collaboration between the public and private sectors underscores LSU’s continuing commitment to its mission of engaged research, education and public service.

Founded in 2007, in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the mission of SDMI is to save the lives of people and animals by continuously improving disaster response management through leadership in applied research and executive education. Contributions from individuals and industry, along with governmental contracts and research grants, are critical to the futures of the institute.

CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decision makers.

The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation is Louisiana’s largest private family foundation. Their mission is to improve the quality of lives of Louisiana’s children and families with an emphasis on health and human services. Since Katrina, the foundation has been a leader in disaster grant making and Gulf Coast recovery.