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SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting Recap

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Missed the 2023 SCDRP Annual Meeting?

Check out our recordings and pictures!

The Southeast and Caribbean Disaster Resilience Partnership (SCDRP) convened together in-person for the first time in three years during the 2023 Annual Meeting held at the Novotel Miami Brickell hotel in Miami, Florida, on January 24-25, 2023. The 2023 Annual Meeting constituted an extraordinary gathering of 120 professionals who all shared a sense of urgency to better prepare our communities for the hazards that lie ahead and to help them recover more quickly and equitably after disasters strike. During the SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting, massive strides were made towards building regional resilience capacity through learning from each other’s shared stories, successes, and lessons learned. The attendees acted on a shared recognition that the challenges our region faces in the future are too complex for any one group to tackle alone and progress will require moving forward collaboratively and forging innovative partnerships that cross boundaries and disciplines.

The SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting included a Pre-Meeting Virginia Key Tour on January 23, 2023.  Attendees participated in site visits to the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Wastewater Treatment Plant on Virginia Key.  During the tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, attendees saw critical infrastructure that was hardened and raised for resilience to extreme weather and hurricanes.  Attendees were also provided a guided tour of a nearby mangrove restoration site.  Twenty-one attendees signed up for this educational and interactive field trip.

Pre-meeting events also included the annual in-person meeting of the SCDRP Advisory Board, and a special collaborative session between the Coastal Zone Managers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida with the SCDRP Advisory Board Members entitled “Southeastern U.S. Resilience: SCDRP & CZM Alignment.”  The pre-meetings activities culminated in an Evening Meet & Greet at the waterfront American Social Miami restaurant.  At the restaurant, attendees gathered for casual socializing and to meet the nominees for the open Advisory Board seats before final voting in the Advisory Board Election.  

Registration for the SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting reached maximum capacity at 120 registered attendees, plus assistants, aides, and the media.  Attendees represented a wide diversity of professionals from the public, private, non-profit, and academic sectors.  Attendees were mostly from the academic sector (28%), followed closely by U.S. Federal employees and those that work at the national government level in their home countries (20%).  There were also substantial and roughly equal contingents from the local government (15%), non-profit (14%), and private (14%) sectors.  There was a smaller group of representatives from State and Territory governments (7%), and the special guests from the United Nations represented a unique global/intergovernmental role (2%). 

Meeting attendees came from all over the United States and Caribbean.  While the vast majority of attendees came from North Carolina (20), South Carolina (15), Georgia (5), and mostly Florida (51), attendees also traveled from as far north as New York (3), Pennsylvania (1), New Jersey (1), and Virginia (1), and from as far west as Arizona (1), Colorado (1), Kansas (1), and Louisiana (1).  SCDRP made special efforts this year to exchange experiences and knowledge with the U.S. territories and nations of the wider Caribbean.  The Partnership extended a special welcome to Caribbean partners joining the meeting from neighboring island nations and territories, including the Bahamas (2), Puerto Rico (5), U.S. Virgin Islands (1), and Jamaica (1).  The attendees also gave a warm welcome to those that had journeyed far from the Central American country of Belize (1) and the most easterly of the Caribbean islands -- Barbados (2).

The theme of the SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting was “Responding to the Urgency: Working Together to Build Effective & Inclusive Resilience.”  During the nine sessions over the course of two days, the speakers and panelists addressed how to build effective resilience in our communities through a) unique partnerships across larger areas that share common vulnerabilities, b) inclusive, equitable, community-based solutions, and c) taking actions with immediacy and urgency.  Meeting materials are posted below. 

The 2023 Annual Meeting officially kicked off with inspirational keynote addresses from Mr. Jim Murley, Chief Resilience Officer of Miami-Dade County; Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava of Miami-Dade County, and Assistant Secretary-General Selwin Hart of the United Nations.  This meeting was uniquely marked by the engagement of political and military dignitaries poised to lead the region to long-lasting and far-reaching policy and systemic changes to strengthen the resilience of local communities to manage the impacts of natural hazards, disasters, and climate change.  

After the rousing keynote addresses, Day 1 began with resilience updates from the Southeastern states, and an engaging discussion of the challenges associated with shelter before, during, and after disasters.  After lunch, attendees learned about approaches to resilience from the international Caribbean through presentations and a moderated discussion between invited speakers from Barbados, Belize, and the Bahamas.  After a short break, reporters and photographers lined the back of the room to hear the panel discussion between Miami-Dade County Commissioners, General Laura Richardson (Commander, U.S. Southern Command) and Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson (Commander, District 7, U.S. Coast Guard).  This panel was moderated by the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava, and focused on how the Miami area can exchange knowledge with the wider Caribbean to effectively “meet the moment on climate.”  The last session of Day 1 focused on how university partners and local governments can work together to advance climate action and included special guests from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, the NOAA Physical Sciences Lab in Colorado, and the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami.  

Day 1 came to a close with SCDRP Annual Meeting attendees attending a social reception with the Mayor, Municipalities, Departmental Directors, and Commissioners of Miami-Dade County, along with the Consular Corps of Miami.  Graciously sponsored by The Beacon Council Foundation, the reception was a memorable private event for approximately 180 professionals held at the Novotel LIMA Restaurant and UVA Bar.  This special social reception allowed the momentum of productive conversations initiated during the day to continue and develop into the evening.  

Day 2 began with the annual in-person Partnership Business Meeting to discuss the SCDRP strategic plan and goals for the year, congratulate and introduce the new SCDRP Advisory Board Members, and a time for members to share thoughts on how SCDRP can better serve different sectors and communities within the region.  Day 2 morning sessions included updates on new resilience and disaster preparedness initiatives from public and private sectors, perspectives from the Gullah Geechee and Haitian communities, and dynamic discussions about equitable and inclusive community-based approaches to resilience.  Day 2 afternoon sessions highlighted unique and effective resilience partnerships between private firms, universities, military installations, planning councils, extension offices, Army Corps of Engineers, and faith organizations.  

The SCDRP 2023 Annual Meeting was also distinctively marked by a new and productive collaboration with the Duke Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability.  


The Duke Nicholas Institute organized and sponsored exceptional post-meeting gatherings including a Dinner and Reception at Delores But You Can Call Me Lolita restaurant, followed the next day by an insightful Roundtable Discussion entitled “Aligning Resilience Planning with Disaster Response: Partnerships for Healthy Communities.”  The Roundtable Discussion brought together 32 leaders from the fields of resilience planning and emergency management to share recent lessons learned and identify potential solutions to persistent challenges in financing and funding resilience and disaster mitigation.     


Welcome and Plenary Opening Remarks

  • Heather McCarthy, Executive Director, SCDRP

  • Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor, Miami-Dade County, Florida

  • Selwin Hart, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations

  • James Murley, Chief Resilience Officer, Miami-Dade County, Florida 

Session 1: Resilience Updates from the States & Territories

  • Moderator: Lindy Betzhold, Lynker/NOAA

  • Mackenzie Todd, North Carolina DEQ Division of Coastal Management

  • Alexander Butler, South Carolina Office of Resilience

  • Jill Andrews, Georgia GA DNR

  • Alex Reed, Florida DEP Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection

  • Hilary Lohmann, U.S. Virgin Islands DPNR

  • Dr. Yasmin Detres, CARICOOS

Session 2: Shelter: Before, During, & After a Disaster

  • Moderator: Jon Philipsborn, SLR Consulting

  • Aaron B. Gagné, HUD Office of Disaster Recovery

  • Reese May, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, SBP

  • Dr. Jesse Spearo, Miami-Dade County Emergency Management

Session 3: Approaches to Resilience from the International Caribbean

  • Moderator: Dr. Donya Frank-Gilchrist, USGS

  • Jeremy Collymore, Institute for Sustainable Development, The University of the West Indies

  • Dr. Colin Young, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5 C’s), Belize

  • Rasheed Pinder, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Barbados

  • Gayle Moncur, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), The Bahamas

Session 4, Part I: Miami-Dade and Wider Caribbean Knowledge Exchange – Meeting the Moment on Climate

  • Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County

  • Chairman Oliver G. Gilbert, III, Miami-Dade County District 1

  • Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, Miami-Dade County District 8

  • Curt G Hollingsworth, Bahamas Consul General Miami

  • General Laura J. Richardson, Commander, U.S. Southern Command

  • Rear Admiral Brendan C. McPherson, Commander, District 7, U.S. Coast Guard

Session 4, Part II: Leveraging the Deep Bench: University Partners & Local Governments Working Together to Advance Climate Action

  • Moderator: Dr. Tiffany Troxler, Florida International University

  • Dr. Michael Taylor, University of the West Indies - Mona, Jamaica

  • Dr. Roger Pulwarty, NOAA Physical Sciences Lab, Boulder, Colorado

  • Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center, NOAA

Session 5: Rapid Recovery Between Serial Disasters

  • Moderator: Dr. Meredith Hovis, University of Arizona

  • Dr. Gavin Smith, NC State University

  • Kyla Breland, NOAA Disaster Preparedness Program/Genwest Systems, Inc.

  • Victoria Smalls, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA

  • Ivan Baez, Public Affairs & Government Relations, Walmart Puerto Rico

Session 6: Community-based Risk Reduction

  • Moderator: Caroline Lewis, CLEO Institute

  • Leonie Hermantin, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center

  • Dr. Katharine Mach, Professor, University of Miami

  • Dr. Pedro Cruz, Sierra Club National

  • Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, Stetson University

Session 7: Effective Resilience Partnerships

  • Moderator: Dr. Michelle Covi, Georgia Sea Grant

  • Pamela Berkowsky, Blue Sapphire Strategies

  • Isabel Cosio Carballo, South Florida Regional Planning Council

  • Hollie Schmidt, Jacobs Engineering

  • Dr. Mark Risse, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant

  • Matthew Schrader, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Session 8: A Holistic Approach to Climate and Resilience Equity

  • Moderator: Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer, Miami-Dade County

  • Brock Long, Hagerty Consulting

  • Dr. Kathie Dello, State Climate Office of North Carolina

  • Susannah Tuttle, NC Interfaith Power & Light

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The exceptional accomplishments of this meeting were made possible by the dedicated 24 members of the Steering Committee who volunteered their time to propose relevant and timely topics, develop the meeting’s overarching theme, invite speakers, and finalize logistics. 



  • Brenda Krebs, Miami-Dade County

  • Christian Kamrath, Miami-Dade County

  • David Johnston, Hamilton Advisors LLC

  • Donya Frank-Gilchrist, USGS

  • Doug Miell, Miell Consulting

  • Garry Harris, Center for Sustainable Communities

  • Gavin Smith, North Carolina State University

  • Hilary Lohmann, Coastal Zone Management, US Virgin Islands

  • Ivan Baez, Walmart Puerto Rico

  • Jack Krolikowski, American Flood Coalition

  • Jim Murley, Miami-Dade County

  • Jon Philipsborn, SLR Consulting

  • Karina Castillo, Miami-Dade County

  • Kyla Breland, NOAA Disaster Preparedness Program

  • Lilian Ramirez, Puerto Rico Sea Grant

  • Lindy Betzhold, Lynker/NOAA Coastal Zone Management

  • Lisa Klopp, Miami-Dade County

  • Meredith Hovis, University of Arizona

  • Michelle Covi, Georgia Sea Grant

  • Pamela Berkowsky, Blue Sapphire Strategies

  • Patricia Gomez, Miami-Dade County

  • Robin Yang, Miami-Dade County

  • Sandra St. Hilaire, Miami-Dade County

  • Sonja Sheffield, Smart Home America


Sponsorship funds were used to lower the cost of registration for attendees, support conference-related expenses, and provide need-based registration scholarships to members.  Additionally, registration scholarships were provided to 10 college students and non-profit staff who provided valuable logistical assistance throughout the meeting as greeters, timekeepers, and runners.  The scholarships were awarded based on a competitive application process. 



  • U.S. Department of State (Gold Sponsor)

  • Miami-Dade County (Gold Sponsor)

  • U.S. Geological Survey (Gold Sponsor)

  • Walmart Puerto Rico (Gold Sponsor)

  • Southeast Sea Grant Consortium (Silver Sponsor)

  • SLR Consulting (Silver Sponsor)

  • Duke Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (Bronze Sponsor)



  • The Beacon Council Foundation



  • SECOORA (Benefactor Partner)

  • Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (Benefactor Partner)

  • NOAA Southeast & Caribbean Regional Team (SECART) (Sustaining Partner)

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division (Sustaining Partner)

  • Miami-Dade County, Florida (Supporting Partner)

  • Martin County, Florida (Supporting Partner)

  • Florida International University (FIU) Institute of Environment (Supporting Partner)

  • IBTS (Institute for Building Technology and Safety) (Supporting Partner)



  • Office of Resilience of Miami-Dade County

  • Office of the Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava of Miami-Dade County



  • Brandy Moyer, University of Florida

  • ErNiko Brown, Organized Uplifting Resources and Strategies (OURS)

  • Jalyse Cuff, University of Miami

  • Samuel Hayes, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Vanessa Forbes Pateman, University of Miami

  • Cassie Nichols, North Carolina State University

  • Emmanuel Maldonado-Gonzalez, University of Puerto Rico

  • Jessica Sheldon, Duke University

  • Caroline Nickerson, University of Florida

  • Camisha Alexis, University of Florida


SCDRP extends deep gratitude to the 50 guest speakers and moderators, who brought local, state, regional, and international perspectives and extensive knowledge and experience to share with others. 


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