Plenary 7: Building Resilient Communities

Governments across the world can only do so much to mitigate the damage caused by environmental disasters. This session will discuss what local communities can do to prepare for natural disasters and to bounce back once disaster strikes.



Monica Brady-Myerov: After graduating from Brown University in 1989 with a degree in international relations, Monica Brady-Myerov began her career as a radio journalist in Kenya.

She lived in Nairobi, Kenya, and worked as a freelancer, reporting for the Voice of America, Radio France International and many other news organizations. After two years, Monica moved her radio freelance operation to Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, Monica filed reports for ABC Radio News, The Christian Science Monitor Radio and other outlets. Monica lived in Brazil for two years and speaks fluent Portuguese.

Upon returning to the United States in 1993, Monica worked on Monitor Radio’s award-winning “Morning Edition” radio program as a producer/editor. In 1995, Monica went back to the field as a correspondent for Monitor Radio’s Washington bureau. In 1997, Monica joined NPR’s Washington desk, where she covered political stories. She was also the key reporter covering the UPS strike that summer. In 1998 she joined Boston’s NPR news station, WBUR. She is now a senior reporter and assistant managing editor for news at WBUR.

In 1999 Monica was named to the board of directors of her college radio station, WBRU-FM in Providence, a commercial nonprofit radio station run by Brown University students. She was an adviser to students in the news department. In October 2006, Monica was elected president of the board of directors and now advises students in management and personnel decisions, including budgeting for the station. She now serves as the alumni relations committee chair on the board.

In 2000 Monica was named a Carter Center mental health journalism fellow for her coverage of mental health issues. In 2002 Monica was named a journalism fellow in child and family policy with the University of Maryland. In 2005 Monica won two Edward R. Murrow awards for her work on college drug abuse and closing the achievement gap. She has won numerous awards from the Associated Press. Most recently she was the senior producer and lead reporter for “Project Dropout,” a series of reports on the high school dropout problem, which won first place for national education reporting in 2009.

At WBUR Monica covers local issues, including welfare, housing, religion, the media and mental health. Many of her reports can also be heard on NPR’s national news broadcast and “Marketplace” radio.

Confirmed Discussants:

Susan Cutter: Dr. Susan Cutter is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina where she directs the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute.  She received her B.A. from California State University, Hayward and her M.A. and Ph.D. (1976) from the University of Chicago. Her primary research interests are in the area of disaster vulnerability/resilience science—what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events and how vulnerability and resilience are measured, monitored, and assessed.  She has authored or edited twelve books, more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.

Dr. Cutter has also led post-event field studies of the role of geographic information technologies in rescue and relief operations in (September 11th World Trade Center attack) and studies of evacuation behavior from Three Mile Island (1979), Hurricane Floyd (1999), and the Graniteville, SC train derailment and chlorine spill (2005).  Most recently (2006) she has led a Hurricane Katrina post-event field team to examine the geographic extent of storm surge inundation along the Mississippi and Alabama coastline and its relationship to the social vulnerability of communities.  She has provided expert testimony to Congress on hazards and vulnerability and was a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers IPET team evaluating the social impacts of the New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Protection System in response to Hurricane Katrina.  She has authored a Trends and Outlook report for the US Army Corps of Engineers on Natural and Human-Induced Disasters and other Factors Affecting Future Emergency Response and Hazard Management.

Dr. Cutter serves on many national advisory boards and committees including those of National Research Council, the AAAS, the National Science Foundation, the Natural Hazards Center, and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment.  She was a founding member and served on the Executive Committee of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) (2004-2008) (a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence focused on the social and behavioral sciences).  Dr. Cutter serves as co-executive editor of Environment and is an associate editor of Weather, Climate, and Society.  She is also a coordinating lead author of Chapter 5 of the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.”


Nancy Kete: Dr. Nancy Kete joined the Rockefeller Foundation in January 2012. As Managing Director, Dr. Kete leads the foundation’s global work on resilience including developing strategies and practice for infusing resilience thinking throughout the foundation’s work.

During her 25 year career in government, civil society, and private sector, Dr. Kete brought technical, institutional, and managerial leadership to bear on a number of major environment and societal challenges. She has been a diplomat, a climate change negotiator, a social entrepreneur, and a highly successful fund-raiser.

Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Kete spent thirteen years at the World Resources Institute (WRI), first as Director of the Climate, Energy, and Pollution Program and then as founder and Director of EMBARQ, a distinguished program that catalyzed environmentally sustainable transport solutions to improve quality of life in cities in Mexico, Brazil, India, Turkey and the Andean region.

She also served on President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. In her role as Senior Advisor on Corporate Safety and Risk Management, Dr. Kete provided recommendations on unilateral steps the industry should take to improve safety above and beyond what the regulations would require.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Kete worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency where she led the development of the acid rain control title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the first and as yet most successful application of market instruments for pollution control. 

Dr. Kete holds a PhD in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s in Geography from Southern Illinois University.


Gus Felix: Gus Felix is the Global Head of Operational Risk Management for Citigroup. He has worked for Citi for the past 33 years in various posts around the world.

Originally based out of New York, Mr. Felix covered assignments in Asia, Africa and South America, before moving to Athens in 1983 to work in Citibank’s Middle East/Africa Division Headquarters. Following that post, he worked in Citibank Istanbul in corporate banking for three years. He then moved to London in 1987 where he worked in Citicorp Scrimgeour Vickers, the bank’s equity and fixed income brokerage. In 1991, Mr. Felix was transferred to Madrid where he spent six years managing Citi’s Securities Businesses, Broker/Dealer relationships, and banking products in Spain and Portugal.

In 1997 Mr. Felix was seconded to the Saudi American Bank as the General Manager and Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  In 2002, he assumed a new role as Head of Citigroup in Israel, where he worked for the next four years.

In June 2006 he was transferred to another dual role as Head of Citigroup South Africa, and South Africa Head of Markets and Banking. He assumed his current role in September of 2009, and is now based in New York.

In addition to his responsibilities within the Bank, Mr. Felix has served on numerous Boards around the world. Whilst in Israel, he was the Chairman of the American Business Forum, a member of the Board of Directors of the Israeli-American Chamber of Commerce, and Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Foreign Banks.

In Spain, Mr. Felix was on the Board of Directors of the Madrid Stock Exchange SCLV, and Chairman of the Foreign Bank’s Association

Having a deep interest in education, Mr. Felix has served as Chairman of the Board of the American International School in Johannesburg. Previously, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the American International School in Israel, as well as Treasurer and Trustee of the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Felix received his finance degree from Manhattan College in New York, after having previously studied engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He is multi lingual, married, and has three children.


Joseph Fiksel: Dr. Joseph Fiksel is Executive Director of the Center for Resilience at The Ohio State University, with a focus on integrated modeling of urban and regional economies. Previously he directed the Decision and Risk Management group at Arthur D. Little, Inc., and served as Vice President for Life Cycle Management at Battelle. He is an internationally recognized authority on sustainability and resilience, with over 25 years of research and consulting experience for multi-national companies, government agencies, and industry consortia such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Currently he is serving as Special Assistant for Sustainability at the U.S. EPA, helping to incorporate systems thinking into the Agency's research and development programs.  Dr. Fiksel holds a B.Sc. from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. His latest book, Design for Environment, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2009.