When disaster strikes, vulnerable and underprivileged communities often suffer more than others. That’s a key reason why emergency management professionals are trying to encourage more diversity in the field.
A conference hosted at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), from Friday, April 28, through Sunday, April 30, marks a major step forward in that mission.
The William Averette Anderson Fund (BAF) Workshop will draw students from a diverse set of backgrounds to campus for professional development and networking.
This is the third year of the workshop and the second time it will be in Nebraska. This year’s event was a collaboration brought to campus by UNO Emergency Services Professors DeeDee Bennett and Hans Louis-Charles, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Engineering Professor Terri Norton.
BAF Fellows include students from across the nation, representing: Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC. The cost of those students’ transportation and lodging was covered, making the workshop accessible to everyone.
The namesake of the fund and workshop, Bill Anderson, was one of the few African American scholars studying disasters and hazard mitigation. Though his work focused on earthquakes, he was passionate about serving vulnerable communities, and now his family hopes the annual workshop allows his work to continue on.
Bennett says there’s a clear value to increasing diversity in the field. “I think you can bring in your own experiences and be able to look at things through different lenses and that makes for a better emergency response and recovery.”
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