Developing Capacity for Community Action Planning & Resilience Building

Placement and Training of Community Health Workers in Targeted Communities

CRGC’s seven Community Health Workers, who have been trained and placed in targeted communities impacted by the DWH oil spill to enhance disaster preparedness, improve overall health capacity, and build resilience.

Oil spills can negatively affect the health, social, and economic wellbeing of any local community, but underserved and disadvantaged populations are especially hard-hit. To improve resilience in such areas, CRGC worked with partners from the University of South Alabama’s Coastal Resource and Resiliency Center (CRRC) and local stakeholders to identify three communities that could benefit from the efforts of Community Health Workers (CHWs). In 2015-2016, we trained and deployed seven lay CHWs to enhance disaster preparedness, improve overall health and healthcare capacity, and support community resilience efforts. The CHWs are working in community-based organizations and community health clinics in Plaquemines and Lafourche Parishes in Louisiana as well as Mobile County, Alabama.

Disaster Resilience Leadership Fellowship Program

Disaster Resilience Leadership Fellows, November 2016

When disaster strikes, communities look to leaders to interpret the experience and provide direction for response and recovery. To strengthen local resilience leadership capacity, CRGC, the Institute for Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Affairs at George Washington University, and the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) at Tulane University launched an innovative new fellowship program: Planning for Resilient Communities.In November 2016, a Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC) led by Louisiana Lt. Governor Nungesser selected 15 Fellows, who were trained to provide a diverse breadth and depth of disaster resilience leadership capacity and coordination across multiple sectors and systems. Fellows comprise of emerging, local leaders representing Louisiana’s five coastal parishes.

What and How Are Fellows Learning?

Fellows are learning to how to help their communities develop plans that strengthen and coordinate the resilience to future disasters such as oil spills. The program structure is developed iteratively in partnership with the LAC.

Modes of Learning

  • Interaction with leading experts: Short lectures and discussions build individual and regional networks of practical and theoretical knowledge.
  • Collaborative exercises: This format seeks to encourage greater collaboration and alliance building among fellows from different parishes and across different sectors and to build a strong network of resilience leaders.
  • Virtual Disaster Resilience Leadership Learning Environment: This online tool facilitates fellow communication, interaction, and networking. It is also helping us produce a Disaster Resilience Leadership Learning program workbook and resource guide that can carry on well beyond the life of the project.

Screenshot of Leadership Training Online Course

Related News

CRGC’s Drs. Finucane and Nicholls Contribute to National Academies Workshop on Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Marine Oil Spills: Protecting and Assessing the Health and Well-Being of Communities

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released
Proceedings of the Workshop— in Brief, chronicling the presentations and discussions from Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Offshore Oil Spills: A Workshop on Research Needs to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Communities. The two-day workshop, which Drs. Finucane and Nicholls participated in Aug 2-3 in Washington D.C., was organized by an ad hoc committee to facilitate cross-sector, transdiciplinary discussions around research needs and other opportunities for improving public health preparedness, response, and protection related to oil spills. Learn more»

CRGC Hosts Student Webinar Featuring GoMRI Student Panelists On Oct 26th

CRGC’s upcoming GoMRI student webinar, Managing the Grad School Process, will feature Jacqueline Fiore— a Ph.D. candidate in Tulane University’s Economic Analysis and Policy program and a member of CRGC’s Economics subteam— and Vanessa Parks— a Ph.D. candidate at Louisiana State University and a member of CRGC’s Health subteam. The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 26 from 1pm – 2pm CDT. The conversation is designed to provide current graduate students with helpful tips and strategies on navigating the graduate school process. Fiore and Parkes will discuss an array of interesting topics, including interacting with advisors, publishing articles, the necessity of internships, and other practical bits of advice for students. All students working across GoMRI-funded consortia are invited to join! To register and learn more about the webinar »

CRGC Director, Dr. Melissa Finucane, Shares Updates on Consortium’s Work & Research Findings

At this year’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) interviewed Dr. Melissa Finucane– Senior Social and Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and Director of The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities- about CRGC’s latest research findings and progress assessing and addressing the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health, social, and economic wellbeing of people in the Gulf Coast region. Finucane speaks to CRGC’s research, outreach, and education initiatives, which are aimed at helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters. Learn more>>

Reliable Data: The Most Empowering Tool for Hurricane Recovery

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CRGC Hosts Student Webinar Featuring GoMRI Chief Scientific Officer, Chuck Wilson On Sept 28th

CRGC’s upcoming GoMRI student webinar, A Career in Research, will feature Dr. Charles “Chuck” A. Wilson, who serves as the GoMRI Chief Scientific Officer.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, September 28 from 1PM – 2 PM CDT.

Dr. Wilson will discuss his career trajectory and his time spent managing the GoMRI research board during this interactive session. All students working across GoMRI-funded consortia are invited to join!

Register and learn more about the webinar »

CRGC Team Member, Amy Lessen, Part of Collaborative to Help Isle de Jean Charles Tribe Build Resilience in the Face of Climate Change and Other Social & Environmental Challenges

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Student Spotlight: Megha Patel

Megha Patel is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Work with the interdisciplinary City, Culture, and Community program at Tulane University. She has experience managing programs and conducting evaluations in collaboration with community-based organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Megha is contributing to CRGC’s Community Action Planning and Resilience Building efforts.

Learn more »

Interested in Updates on CRGC’s Work to Help Gulf Coastal Communities Improve Resilience to Future Catastrophic Oil Spills?

Check out the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute’s Summer Newsletter featuring a Q&A with Elizabeth Thornton, who heads up outreach efforts for the Consortium! You’ll hear the latest on how CRGC’s research, outreach, and education activities are helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Learn more »


Keith Nicholls, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the CRRC

University of South Alabama

Keith Nicholls

Keith Nicholls is an associate professor of political science at the University of South Alabama and the associate director of the University of South Alabama Coastal Resource & Resiliency Center.


Michael Blum, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director of the ByWater Institute

Tulane University

Michael Blum's current research applies his understanding of hybridization and adaptive evolution to the study of land use, invasive species, and the impact of climate change on aquatic ecosystems. Although he has been involved in research that encompasses a range of freshwater and estuarine biota, he is now pursuing studies of freshwater fishes and coastal marsh plants.