Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness;
Professor of Health Policy & Management at CUMC; Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, College of Physicians & Surgeons;
Co-Founder and President Emeritus, Children’s Health Fund
Dr. Irwin Redlener is the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute, which works to understand and improve the nation’s capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. He is a nationally recognized expert on disaster preparedness policies, pandemic influenza, the threat of terrorism in the U.S., the impact and consequences of major natural disasters and related issues. Dr. Redlener is the author of Americans At Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared For Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now, published in 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and recently served as one of the ten members of the congressionally established National Commission on Children and Disasters.
Dr. Redlener is also President Emeritus and Co-Founder, along with singer-songwriter Paul Simon, of the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), a philanthropic initiative created to develop health care programs in some of the nation’s most medically underserved communities. CHF programs are now active in 25 urban and rural communities around the U.S. providing quality comprehensive medical care to more than 80,000 children each year. Dr. Redlener holds an M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine, an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Hofstra University.
The Children's Health Fund
Jeff Schlegelmilch is the Deputy Director for the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. His areas of expertise includes public health preparedness, community resilience and the integration of private and public sector capabilities. Some topics of past work include developing inter-organizational processes for operational epidemiological modeling, evacuation and sheltering planning for people with medical dependencies, and adapting business intelligence systems for disaster response and recovery operations.
He has advised local, state and federal leaders on preparedness programs and policies and has briefed congressional staff on key preparedness legislation and funding areas. He frequently serves as a subject matter expert source for the media and is an expert Contributor for The Hill. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from UMASS Amherst in Health Policy and Management, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Quinnipiac University.
Research Project Director
Jaishree Beedasy, PhD, is a Research Project Director at NCDP. Her work focuses on deepening the understanding of the human consequences of disasters and the complexities of recovery and resilience. Her research interests include the spatio-temporal dimensions of disasters and the growing role of social networks in disaster response and recovery. She has published her work in peer-reviewed journals, including Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, Prehospital Disaster Medicine, Telemedicine and e-Health, Journal of Emergency Management, Transactions in GIS, and International Journal of Applied Earth Observations and Geoinformation. Prior to joining the NCDP she was a Research Associate Professor at the Institute of Rural Health.
She has served as PI or co-investigator on more than twenty competitively funded projects. She is currently the subaward PI of the Resilience Attributes for Children, Youth, and Communities in the wake of the BP oil spill project, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Until recently, she served as the PI of the Gulf Coast Children’s Initiative funded by Baton Rouge Area Foundation, as Co- PI of the Sandy Child and Family Health Study funded by New Jersey DOH, and as investigator on Visualizing Social Media: New Tools for Research and Practice funded by ASPR.
Senior Program Coordinator
Jeremy Brooks is a Senior Program Coordinator at NCDP. He currently works on improving resilience in vulnerable populations and supporting best practices and policy before, during, and after a disaster. His current work includes a FEMA grant creating in-person and online training courses on post-disaster housing and economic recovery. Other projects include the Resilient Children / Resilient Communities Initiative, which is focused on improving community resilience through developing a replicable model for child-focused disaster planning. He has also worked on the Resilient Children, Youth, and Communities project which is examining the physical and mental health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on children.
In May 2017, Jeremy graduated from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University with a MPH in Environmental Health Sciences and a certificate in Environmental Health Policy. Prior to joining NCDP, Jeremy worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency managing and disseminating information on a number of grants related to children’s environmental health, cumulative risk, healthy schools, and tribal health.
Adjunct Research Scientist
Ellen is a veterinarian whose expertise fuses diverse interests in the life sciences, medicine, homeland security, and the communication of scientific challenges to technical and lay audiences. She has particular experience in public health with a focus on zoonotic disease. As a consultant, she provides technical and science policy advisory services, and is currently co-director of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense. She served for several years as staff with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security (Peter T. King, NY), handling medical preparedness, biodefense, and science and technology policy. She also works as a small animal clinician, which serves her interests in public health, animal welfare, and parasitology. She recently joined the New York City Medical Reserve Corps.
Ellen received a bachelor’s of science in biology from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University
Thomas Chandler, PhD, is a Research Scientist at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Teachers College, and an Associate Member of the Earth Institute Faculty, Columbia University. He focuses on the human impact of natural disasters, geographic and social networks, community preparedness, and sustainability education. He has authored several book chapters and journal articles related to these themes.
He is the Principal Investigator of a $1,500,000 FEMA project, “Community Economic Recovery from Disasters – A Curriculum for Public-Private Responder Partnerships” and a $1,250,000 FEMA project, “Addressing Gaps in Housing Disaster Recovery.” He has also been the Principal Investigator of a $398,000 U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research study, “Evaluation of the Public Health System Response to Hurricane Sandy in the NY Metro Area;” Principal Investigator of a $150,000 U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) research / training project, “Visualizing Social Media: New Tools for Research and Practice;” Co-Principal Investigator of a $1,929,833 grant funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, “Understanding Resilience Attributes for Children, Youth, and Communities in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.”
Project Coordinator/Instructional Designer
Josh DeVincenzo is a Project Coordinator/Instructional Designer at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. His focus is on developing learning experiences associated with FEMA training projects that navigate housing and economic recovery.
Prior to working at the NCDP, Josh worked as the Learning & Development Specialist at Fifth Third Bank in their Learning Solutions and Technology division. He hopes to create accessible and quality educational programming that benefits the common good at scale. He holds a master’s degree in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign and is currently a doctoral student of Adult Learning and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Chief of Staff
Eric J. Greenberg is the chief of staff to and communications director for Dr. Irwin Redlener. Eric’s responsibilities cut across Dr. Redlener’s work with NCDP, the Children’s Health Fund, Somos Una Voz, and other special projects.
Eric was previously national director of communications, partnerships, programs and Interfaith Relations for the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, the nation’s largest coalition of humanitarian and faith-based organizations addressing the Syrian refugee crisis. He was national director of Outreach and Interfaith Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League where he developed and maintained strategic partnerships with religious leaders and organizations. He had meetings with three Roman Catholic Popes, Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Eric is a former international award-winning investigative reporter and editor with expertise in environmental and religion reporting, honored by Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) and New York City’s Deadline Club.
Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Children's Health Fund
Dennis Johnson directs NCDP’s public policy, government affairs, and advocacy agendas and manages NCDP relationships with a broad spectrum of federal and state public officials, public and private sector entities and advocacy organizations. In addition to his role at NCDP, he is Executive Vice-President for Government Affairs at the Children’s Health Fund, a non-profit organization that initiates and supports innovative pediatric programs designed to meet the complex health care needs of medically underserved, economically disadvantaged children.
Prior to his tenure at The Children’s Health Fund, Mr. Johnson was a senior program officer at the Fund for New York City Public Education and a research analyst at the Public Policy Institute of the Business Council of New York State. Mr. Johnson received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 and his Master’s Degree in Political Management from the Graduate School of Political Management at Baruch College in 1990.
Director, Crisis Leadership
Joe Pfeifer is the Director for Crisis Leadership at NCDP. He is one of the world’s leading experts on managing extreme events and has appeared in major media interviews and spoken at the World Knowledge Forum, United Nations’ Conferences in NY and Geneva, Wharton’s Leadership Conference, National Guard Joint Senior Leader Conference and other major symposiums. Chief Pfeifer has taught senior leaders from around the world about disaster management, critical decision-making, crisis leadership and communications. With extensive field expertise, he has conducted hundreds of simulations to test public and private sector response capabilities, capacity and coordination and has also testified in front of the U.S. Congress about the threats cities will face in the future.
He is a Retired Assistant Chief from the New York City Fire Department and the founding director of FDNY’s Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness. During his career, he has commanded some of the largest disasters in the New York City’s history. He was the first Chief at the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, played a major command role during Hurricane Sandy and helped manage NYC’s Ebola Response efforts.
Pfeifer is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He earned Master’s degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School, Naval Postgraduate School, and Immaculate Conception and has written widely in professional journals and books.
Senior Project Manager
Jackie is the Senior Project Manager at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. With a career-long focus exclusively on hazards and disasters, she’s gained broad knowledge and expertise in disaster preparedness, response, and resilience. Beginning as an earth scientist, she worked in academia to bridge the gap between physical science research and its applications to disaster risk reduction. Her doctoral work explored the applications of a crowd-sourced terrain modeling technology called ‘structure-from-motion,’ focusing on the low cost and accessibility as compared to traditional modeling methods involving satellites and radar. She has researched hurricane evacuation policies pre- and post-Katrina, and undertaken extensive international case studies of regions vulnerable to volcanic hazards as part of the STREVA project (Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas of Latin America and the Caribbean). Most recently she led coordination of Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts through the Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (LIVOAD), working with non-profit organizations and some of the most vulnerable populations devastated by the storm.
Her advocacy for public access to disaster-specific knowledge has been recognized in awards for science outreach, and she has spoken at the annual conferences of the American Geophysical Union and the European Geophysical Union, as well as numerous smaller conferences. Her BS with honors in geology was awarded by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she was accepted to the earth science doctoral program at the University of Oxford.
Thessa Roy is a project coordinator at NCDP. Her focus is supporting the development and efficient delivery of federal training programs on disaster preparedness and community resilience for FEMA. These programs will provide training in pre-disaster planning and post-disaster economic and housing recovery.
Prior to working at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Thessa worked in legal administration and academic research where she developed skills in design, recruitment planning, and general business management. Thessa graduated from the Columbia University in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology.
Antonia Samur is a Project Coordinator at NCDP. Her role focuses on managing phase II of the Resilient Children, Resilient Communities initiative, which aims to assist disaster-stricken communities in Puerto Rico and North Carolina to implement a child-focused disaster planning model, with a strong emphasis on rebuilding stronger more resilient communities over the long term. She is also contributing to the Resilient Children, Youth, and Communities project, which examines the physical and mental health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on children. In this context, she is studying the role of social media as a source of resilience during and after the oil spill using machine-learning techniques.
Antonia holds a dual Masters degree in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Chile. Alongside her work at NCDP, she manages the Global Schools Program at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Youth Initiative, striving to integrate sustainable development in K-12 education globally.
Associate Director for Evaluation
Beth Rubenstein is the Associate Director for Evaluation for the Fostering Resilience Initiative. In this role, she supports implementing organizations in low- and middle-income countries to measure family and community influences on child development. The goal is to apply these findings to develop multi-level interventions that extend beyond the individual child. Beth has nearly 15 years of experience working at the intersection of global health research and practice on four continents. Her focus has been on expanding the evidence base for social and economic protection programs for vulnerable populations. Beth holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology. For her dissertation, she is using longitudinal data from Indonesia to investigate the relationship between microcredit and health.
Project Director, Communications & Field Operations
Jonathan Sury is the Project Director for Communications and Field Operations. He holds a master’s degree in public health in Environmental Health Sciences with a concentration in Environment and Molecular Epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He has a keen interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their use in disaster preparedness and recovery. Presently, he contributes to a variety of disaster-related research at NCDP, including evaluating the unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu, determining racially and ethnically appropriate emergency messaging, analyzing the long-term disaster resiliency and recovery issues in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, and the measurement and mapping of social vulnerability and the role of place and space in disaster recovery.
Project Director, Disaster Response & Recovery
Einab Weingarten is a project director for disaster response and recovery at NCDP. She is public health professional whose wide-ranging experiences includes work in the non-profit and for-profit sectors. As a researcher with New York City’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, she studied the psychological and emotional impact of insufficient housing on low income populations (funded by National Institutes of Health in partnership with Columbia University) and, in North Carolina, participated in NIH-funded research on oral contraception failure in women and another project in conjunction with the local health department looking at the effectiveness of smoking cessation programs.
During her time with a behavioral health practice, she created and taught classes and workshops based on needs assessments. Courses centered around human sexuality education and the development of healthy interpersonal relationships. Most recently, Einab was chief of staff to the CEO of a therapeutic boarding school for teens and young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Einab worked with an early intervention care coordination program and, among other projects, initiated a health, wellness and disease prevention program in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fully fluent in English and Spanish, Einab has also worked as a professional interpreter. Splitting her time between the United States and Venezuela – where she was born – Einab earned a B.S. in Biology from Queens University in North Carolina and a M.S. in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Director of Strategic Technologies, NCDP
Jeb Weisman has taught and practiced in the fields of anthropology and information systems for 30 years. In addition to his role at NCDP, he is CIO for the Children’s Health Fund, co-PI and Senior Researcher at the SmartLab Institute, University College, Dublin, Ireland, and holds an appointment at OCAD University, Canada. Current research interests include Health Information Systems (HIS), communications infrastructure resiliency, HCI, and large data-set management. Dr. Weisman advises governments and NGOs in areas of HIS and security. He has pioneered HIS and developed nationally recognized tools for health information management, analysis, and exchange. He holds a masters and doctorate in anthropology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, and an AB from Vassar College.
Peggy Chao is the Department Administrator at NCDP. She has a master’s degree in International Business from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from New York University.
Her prior experience includes an administrative position at Rutgers-Public Health Research Institute, data analysis at KPMG, financial positions in Fortune 500 companies, and her own business specializing in high end juvenile products.
Denise Dunlop is the Administrative Coordinator for The National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Ms. Dunlop began as the Administrative Assistant of the Pediatric Preparedness Program in May 2003. As Coordinator she is responsible for day-to-day financial accounting and office operations for the Center. Prior to joining Columbia, Ms. Dunlop was the Administrative Assistant/Office Manager for The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.
Graduate Research Assistant
Rachel Alter is a Graduate Research Assistant at NCDP and current student at the Mailman School of Public Health, where she is an Accelerated General Public Health student. At the NCDP, Rachel is currently conducting research to support the development of publications and guidance on catastrophic disasters. Her main interests include pandemics and bioterrorism.
Prior to joining the Mailman community, Rachel received her BA in Neuroscience and Writing at Colgate University and completed the post-baccalaureate premedical program at Columbia University. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and playing with her dog, Charles Dogwin.
Graduate Research Assistant
Stefania Buta is a Graduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness where she is a part of the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative. She is assisting in the development of resilience-building tools and resources for communities recovering from disasters. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the department of population and family health with a certificate in public health and humanitarian assistance.
Before moving to New York City, Stefania completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at the State University of New York at Cortland, where she focused on the pyscho-physiology of resilience through electroencephalography (EEG). After graduation, she worked as a rape crisis advocate for the YWCA of Cortland, NY. Stefania enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her dogs Selkie and Harly. In her spare time, Stefania volunteers with the American Red Cross of Greater NY.
Graduate Research Assistant
Haleigh Cavalier is a Graduate Research Assistant at National Center for Disaster Preparedness where she is working on the Resilient Children, Youth, and Communities project which is examining the physical and mental health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on children. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences with a concentration on Molecular Epidemiology. She is interested in how exposure to toxic substances and trauma affect the health and development of children.
Before moving to New York City, Haleigh completed her undergraduate studies at Penn State University in General Science with a focus in Biology and Biochemistry. There, she worked in a Toxicology research lab studying the interactions of different chemicals with nuclear receptors. In her personal time, Haleigh likes to play the ukulele and ultimate frisbee.
Graduate Research Assistant
Casey Chun is a Graduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness where he is working on a team to develop a mobile resource application for Syrian refugees. A collaboration between NCDP and Islamic Relief-USA, this app intends to help refugee parents identify, mitigate, and manage toxic stress among their children. This project is an innovative intervention that aims to combine contemporary technology and public health to serve vulnerable populations.
Currently, his is pursuing a master’s degree in public health in Health Policy and Management with a concentration in Environmental Health Policy from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Interested in health systems, he aspires to develop an interdisciplinary acumen for disaster preparedness and resiliency. Prior to Columbia and NCDP, he completed his undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences and Economics at Fordham University. In his personal time, he enjoys reading non-fiction, experimenting in the kitchen, supporting Rihanna’s ventures, and daydreaming critically and creatively about this complex world.
Graduate Research Assistant
Charlotte Jenkins is a Graduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness where she is working with Dr. Irwin Redlener on the topic of children in crisis. This area of interest includes challenges facing children separated from their families at the southern US border, and other issues around preparedness for and recovery from large-scale disasters.
She is currently also pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the Sociomedical Sciences department with a concentration in Health Policy and Practice. Prior to Mailman and NCDP, she completed her undergraduate studies in political science at the University of Michigan.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Laura Robert-Rivera is an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness where she primarily works on the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative. She is assisting with creating planning tools and templates for the pilot communities. Laura is a junior at Barnard College, Columbia University, double-majoring in Economics and Human Rights.
Laura grew up in Puerto Rico and has always been engaged with her community. In Puerto Rico, she developed a toolkit for child abuse awareness and the campaign was implemented in 116 schools. In 2016, the toolkit became part of Puerto Rico’s Department of Education health class curriculum. Laura has also worked with Girl Scouts of the USA in multiple capacities and is passionate about action projects that meet children needs. When she isn’t busy serving the community, Laura enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and watching movies.
Graduate Research Assistant
Ashley Tseng is a Graduate Research Assistant at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. She is working on the curriculum development of Community Housing Recovery courses for a FEMA training initiative. For this project, she is curating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) assets to build a topical application which will serve as supplemental material to these housing recovery trainings throughout the United States.
Currently, Ashley is pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology with a concentration in Applied Biostatistics from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her research interests include infectious disease transmission, biosecurity, and emergency preparedness. Prior to Columbia and NCDP, Ashley completed her undergraduate studies in Health Geography and Economics at McGill University.
Clinical Associate Professor
Director, Program on Population Impact, Recovery and Resiliency (PiR2)
College of Global Public Health, New York University (NYU)
Senior Research Scientist;
Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University
Founding Director, Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University;
Founding Co-Director, George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, Northeastern University
Professor of Political Science
Associate Professor in Urban Planning, Columbia University GSAPP;
Director, Urban Community and Health Equity Lab, Columbia University
Deputy Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory;
Adjunct Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences;
Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Specialist
Professor of Clinical Epidemiology
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Director, Natural Hazards Center
Lori Peek is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Peek studies vulnerable populations in disaster, with a special emphasis on the experiences of low-income families, racial and ethnic minorities, women, and children. She is the author of Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11 (Temple University Press, 2011), co-editor of Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora (University of Texas Press, 2012), and co-author of Children of Katrina (University of Texas Press, 2015). Behind the Backlash received the Distinguished Book Award from the Midwest Sociological Society and the Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity.
In 2009, the American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth honored Dr. Peek with the Early Career Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She was named the 2010 Greek Life Professor of the Year and has received CSU’s Alumni Association Best Teacher Award, College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award, the Waterpik Excellence in Education Award, and the Ann Gill Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition, the Institute on Teaching and Learning at CSU selected her as a 2011-12 Teaching Fellow as part of a university-wide competition.
Dr. Peek is the Field Report Editor for Children, Youth, and Environments. She is past Chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Environment and Technology and President of the Research Committee on Disasters for the International Sociological Association. She is a Board Member for the William Averette Anderson Fund, which was created to expand opportunities for African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities in the field of hazards and disasters research and practice. Dr. Peek is an appointed member of the National Academies Resilience Roundtable and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Resilience Observatory.
Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado-Boulder