2018 EERI Board Election: Meet the Candidates

The following candidates are running in the 2018 EERI Board of Directors election. EERI members can vote for their candidates from October 1, 2017 to November 1, 2017. EERI members are notified via email, with voting instructions, including a unique, secure link to an online ballot. EERI would like to thank Past-President Mary Comerio, Vice President David W. Cocke, and Lucy Arendt, whose Board terms end in 2017, for their dedication and service to the Institute.

President-Elect: Laurie A. Johnson, PhD AICP, Principal and Founder, Laurie Johnson Consulting/Research, San Francisco, CA (M. EERI, 1990)

Director A:

Keith L. Knudsen, Deputy Director, Earthquake Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey (M. EERI, 2001)

Tara C. Hutchinson, Professor of Structural Engineering, University of California, San Diego (M. EERI, 1995)

Director B:

Stephanie E. Chang, Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES), University of British Columbia (M. EERI, 1994)

Judith Mitrani-Reiser, Director of Disaster and Failure Studies at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (M. EERI, 2001)

Please read on for the candidates’ biography and EERI vision statement.

President-Elect: Laurie A. Johnson


Laurie Johnson (M. EERI, 1990) has nearly 30 years of experience in urban planning and disaster recovery planning, management and research. She has written extensively about land use and risk, disaster recovery and reconstruction, and the economics of catastrophes and studied many of the world’s major urban disasters, including the 2011 Tohoku Japan, 2010-2011 Christchurch New Zealand, 2008 China, 1995 Kobe Japan, and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. She has coauthored the books: After Great Disasters: An In-depth Analysis of How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery and Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans. In 2006, she founded her consultancy focusing on resilient communities, governments, and industry sectors. She was formerly a Vice-President with Risk Management Solutions working with global property and casualty insurers to manage their exposure to natural catastrophe risk, and a consulting planner with EQE International (now ABS Consulting) and Spangle Associates. Laurie Johnson is a member of EERI’s Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) Executive Committee and Oral History Committee, co-chair of the LFE Resilience Observatory project, and on the editorial board of Earthquake Spectra. She has also served on the EERI Board of Directors (2006-2009) and Northern California chapter board (2003-2006) and been a member of several LFE reconnaissance missions. She chairs the U.S. national Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR) and is on the Steering Committee of GEER – Geotechnical Extreme Event Reconnaissance association and Science Board of the Global Earthquake Model (GEM), and a Visiting Project Scientist with the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. She completed her Doctor of Informatics degree at Kyoto University, Japan and also holds a Master of Urban Planning and Bachelor of Science in Geophysics, both from Texas A&M University.

Laurie A. Johnson: Vision Statement

It is with great excitement and appreciation that I stand for election as EERI’s president, and ask for your support. Like most members, joining EERI was not a requisite for my professional accreditation; rather, it was a choice. I still remember the pride I felt the day my EERI welcome package arrived in the mail back in 1990. I was just two years into my career, the Loma Prieta earthquake had spotlighted the large-scale vulnerabilities that modern metropolitan areas face, and EERI and its members had pivotal roles in scientific investigations, governmental boards of inquiry, and professional gatherings to reflect and recommend change. I wanted earthquake risk reduction to be a central focus of my career and my community service. And, for nearly three decades, EERI has been vital to my professional learning, connections and service, and a great deal of my work and collaborations stem from my involvement in EERI. In sharing this with other members, I have been inspired to find that I am not alone. As social media and information technology change the way we both network and learn, many professional associations are rethinking their value proposition to members. I believe the core value of EERI lies within its vision: to improve the understanding and management of earthquake-related risks to society. In working to fulfill this vision, EERI offers a range of high-quality, traditional membership services, including the annual meetings, technical seminars, student and regional chapters, and our professional journal—Earthquake Spectra, as well as more unique research and community service opportunities like the Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) program, School Earthquake Safety Initiative and Concrete Coalition. Through this mix of traditional and unique services, EERI has helped foster the multi-disciplinary, but singularly-focused, “earthquake community” that is the envy of other hazards professions. My vision for EERI is that we continue to innovate in ways that help us to achieve our core mission while also providing a robust suite of traditional and unique learning, connection and community service opportunities for all our members. With programs like the student design competition and Housner Fellows, EERI has expanded its offering for younger professionals, and there are other opportunities to strengthen our career continuum of engagement—for older members, perhaps in mentoring the next generation; cultivating leadership and stretch opportunities for mid-career professionals; and expanding our diversity, disciplinary and geographic reach. We need to uphold our global leadership in earthquake investigations and information dissemination by securing the long-term sustainability of LFE, the Earthquake Clearinghouse, reconnaissance tools and training, as well as expanding our understanding and education on earthquake impacts over time, space, and societal systems through the Resilience Observatory, LFE Travel Study Program and other initiatives. We must also reinforce our commitment to local-to-global earthquake safety through advocacy for Congressional reauthorization and funding for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and local and state adoption and implementation of resilient building codes, retrofit and infrastructure standards, as well as collaboration with other professions and initiatives whose work can influence earthquake risk management, both nationally and internationally. In the coming years as climate-related effects become more pronounced, EERI and the earthquake community can offer a wealth of technical and policy experience to ensuring that climate-resilient communities are earthquake-resilient too.

Director A: Keith Knudsen


Keith L. Knudsen (M. EERI, 2001) has been the Deputy Director of the Earthquake Science Center for the U.S. Geological Survey over the last six years. In this role, he helps to manage and lead activities of the USGS’s Earthquake Hazards Program in the western U.S. He is a Quaternary geologist and geomorphologist who specializes in the assessment of earthquake and other geologic hazards. Prior to joining the USGS, he led and contributed to projects characterizing seismic hazards for large engineered facilities at URS Corporation in Oakland. Before joining URS, for eight years Keith managed groups at the California Geological Survey’s Seismic Hazards Zoning Program that were responsible for liquefaction zoning and Bay Area regional geologic mapping. As part of this role, Keith and colleagues met with many local government representatives to help them understand and effectively implement California’s Seismic Hazards Mapping Act products. Early in his career, he spent six years characterizing geologic hazards with William Lettis & Associates, and also spent five years teaching high school physics and chemistry. Through his diverse background, Keith brings perspectives developed in the private, public and educational sectors to his leadership, hazards characterization, and risk reduction pursuits. Keith served on the inaugural Board of EERI’s Northern California Chapter as a Director and as President. In addition to chapter activities, Keith has participated on EERI’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, the Membership Committee, and an Annual Meeting Organizing Committee and an Annual Meeting Advisory Committee. Keith recently retired from his nine-year role as Secretary of the Seismological Society of America, and will be receiving SSA’s Distinguished Service Award this Spring. He is also the USGS liaison to the Western States Seismic Policy Council. Last but not least, Keith has lived about one mile from the Hayward fault for 25 years.

Keith Knudsen: Vision Statement

I am delighted and honored to be nominated as a candidate to serve on the EERI Board of Directors! My several-year involvement in the Northern California Chapter of EERI was one of the more rewarding and educational experiences in which I have participated. There was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm leading up to the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake, and EERI’s Northern California Chapter was at the heart of many of the activities and risk-reduction efforts. The multidisciplinary nature of EERI and the breadth of institute activities, from prodding and guiding policy makers, to inventorying URM or soft first story buildings, to publishing in Spectra, to participating in annual meetings attended by a diverse array of interesting and interested experts, are what I most value about EERI. Rubbing elbows with EERI experts outside of my field has proven to be particularly educational and beneficial to my career. I truly believe that we learn the most by hanging out with people different than ourselves, and I’ve encouraged many colleagues, students and friends to join EERI and/or participate in EERI activities. Should I be elected to EERI’s Board, I will prioritize collaborating with other Board members and the excellent EERI staff to implement recommendations from the recently completed Strategy Alignment Project. I would also strive to increase and diversify membership, in part by advocating for financially accessible membership and annual meetings. We should continue to encourage early career ‘earthquake junkies’ and others who might not have financial support from their employers, to join EERI and participate in meetings and projects. Through my role as Secretary of the Seismological Society of America, I am cognizant of the financial operations of nonprofit professional societies, and would work to ensure the long-term financial viability and accountability of EERI. This includes recognizing the important role Spectra plays both in EERI’s finances and in fulfilling the Institute mission. My experience with the Northern California Chapter demonstrates that local chapters provide terrific opportunities for members to play a part in projects and activities that benefit their communities and themselves. I would thus seek to foster growth and investment in regional and student chapters, the principal conduits for increasing and diversifying our membership. The recent hiring of our new Executive Director and the newly completed Strategy Alignment Project create opportunities for new energy, focus, and growth. As an EERI Director, I would work to encourage volunteer participation, and bolster EERI’s strong reputation, and energetic and diverse membership. I am appreciative of this opportunity, and would be honored to represent EERI membership as a member of its Board of Directors.

Director A:

Tara C. Hutchinson


Tara Hutchinson is a Professor in the Department of Structural Engineering at the University of California, San Diego with broad research interests in the area of geotechnical, structural and earthquake engineering. Much of her efforts involve full- or large-scale shake table and fixed reaction-type experimentation. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2001 at UC Davis and M.S. in 1995 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to her current appointment, she served on the faculty at the University of California, Irvine until 2007. She has been on the faculty at UC San Diego since 2007. She has been an active contributor of various EERI activities, including serving on the Earthquake Spectra editorial board (recently completing a 10 year term), on several LFE reconnaissance efforts, and currently serving as the co-chair for the technical program of the EERI 11th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (to be held in 2018 in Los Angeles).

Tara C. Hutchinson: Vision Statement

I am truly honored to be considered to serve on the EERI board of directors. Amidst a list of distinguished colleagues who thanklessly offer their expertise, time, and energy to support the mission of EERI, serving on the BOD offers one the opportunity to both continue to support the excellent ongoing programs EERI has built through the years; while also enriching it with new ideas. In particular, the expanse of many technical societies into a wider range of natural hazards as well as the availability of new technologies are elements the Institute should pay particular attention as it continues to serve its constituents as a leading global organization representing earthquake professionals. Should the opportunity to serve on the board matriculate, my focus would be on supporting our advancement as a scientific and engineering community with these elements in mind, with an overall eye on supporting EERIs overarching desire to mitigate future losses from earthquakes.

Director B:

Stephanie E. Chang


Stephanie E. Chang (M. EERI, 1994) is a professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, in the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES). She held a Canada Research Chair in Disaster Management and Urban Sustainability from 2004 to 2013 and served as SCARP’s interim director from 2012 to 2013. Prior to joining UBC, she was a researcher at the University of Washington and risk consultant with ABS Consulting (formerly EQE International). Stephanie’s research focuses on the socio-economic impacts of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes. She is especially interested in the role of transportation and utility lifeline systems in urban disaster risk. She has published extensively on the economic impacts of disasters, modeling disaster losses, urban risk dynamics, critical infrastructure systems and their interdependencies, economic evaluation of disaster mitigations, and urban disaster recovery. Her current work adopts a regional networking approach to investigating the vulnerability and resilience of coastal communities. Stephanie was a member of the U.S. National Research Council’s Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences, as well as its Committee on Earthquake Resilience – Research, Implementation, and Outreach. She has served on the editorial boards of Earthquake Spectra and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Natural Hazard Science. She has participated in a number of earthquake reconnaissance efforts, including leading the social science team for EERI’s 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami reconnaissance. At EERI, she has served on several committees and is currently on the Honors Committee. Stephanie was EERI’s Distinguished Lecturer in 2011, when she spoke about the long-term dynamics of urban seismic risk, and was the recipient of the Shah Family Innovation Prize in 2001. She earned her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and M.S. and Ph.D. in Regional Science from Cornell University.

Stephanie E. Chang: Vision Statement

Standing as a candidate for EERI’s Board of Directors is truly an honor. I joined EERI as a student in 1994 and have enjoyed the opportunities, education, and inspiration of membership throughout my career. As a professional society, EERI is special because it attracts people who share a problem-focused vision, that of earthquake risk reduction. This vision encourages and indeed requires interaction across academic disciplines, between researchers and practitioners, and with colleagues internationally. I believe the professional diversity of EERI’s membership is one of its essential strengths. Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in earthquake reconnaissance efforts. Examining the same collapsed bridge, for example, different team members may variously see lessons for structural design, soil-structure interaction, hazard specification, emergency response logistics, or economic disruption. Earthquake risk reduction involves all of these aspects as well as their interactions. By bringing together a diverse membership — whether through regular conferences or initiatives such as Learning from Earthquakes or the Housner Fellows program — EERI plays a unique role in fostering a professional community that can better address the multi-faceted challenges of earthquake risk reduction. I believe EERI should make further efforts to strengthen and capitalize on its diversity. I am especially interested in EERI’s role in articulating and informing earthquake risk issues that involve both technical and societal factors. EERI is uniquely positioned to take leadership on investigating such issues as what are societal expectations of building and lifeline performance in earthquakes, what reconstruction strategies are most effective for facilitating earthquake community recovery, and how can technical earthquake information be communicated in ways that engage, empower, and support decision-makers at all levels. Such efforts may involve established mechanisms such as Earthquake Spectra special issues or webinar series, as well as new and creative approaches solicited from the membership. By actively cultivating its diversity, EERI can continue to serve as a catalyst for professionals from many backgrounds and at all career stages to make a difference in earthquake risk reduction.

Director B: Judith Mitrani-Reiser


Dr. Judith Mitrani-Reiser (M. EERI, 2001) is the Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She earned her B.S. from the University of Florida, M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. During her B.S., Judy worked at Exponent Failure Analysis, where her curiosity for understanding the technical causes of failures first began. She maintains a strong professional involvement and ensures her research has practical applications by consulting for ATC, URS, AECOM, California’s Seismic Safety Commission, Utah’s Department of Health, Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, the City of Baltimore, and several Ministries of Health around the world. Judy is the Director of the Disaster and Failure Studies Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she leads a multidisciplinary staff responsible for conducting fact-finding investigations focused on: building and in infrastructure failures; successful building and infrastructure performance; evacuation and emergency response systems; and disaster recovery and community resilience. These investigations can be carried out under four different statutory authorities at NIST: National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), National Wind Impact Reduction Program (NWIRPM), National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, and the NIST Organic Act. The results of these investigations are intended to inform recommendations to improve codes, standards, and practice. Judy went to NIST after serving eight years on the Civil Engineering faculty and three years on the Emergency Medicine faculty at the Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Judy serves as the Director of the Sensor Technology and Infrastructure Risk Mitigation (STIRM) Laboratory and the co-Director of the Center for Systems Science in Engineering. Her research there is focused on the seismic safety of healthcare facilities, performance-based design, resilient-based design, community resilience, structured tool development for field reconnaissance, safety and economic impacts of hazards on the built environment, the effective communication of these risks to the public, informed decision making for use in emergency management and policy making, and the interaction of humans with the built environment. Her multidisciplinary research program includes collaborations within the university spanning the Whiting School of Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She also collaborates internationally with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN), and the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury in New Zealand. Judy is an Associate of the JHU Center for Refugee and Disaster Response (CRDR), a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Seismological Society of America (SSA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM). She is the Vice Chair for ASCE’s Subcommittee on Multi-Hazard Mitigation, and is a member of ASCE’s Committee on Disaster Resilience of Structures and of the Committee of Critical Facilities in ASCE’s Infrastructure Resilience Division. She has served on several EERI Association and Program Committees, and also served for many years as the faculty advisor for the JHU Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers.

Judith Mitrani-Reiser: Vision Statement

EERI has been the professional organization I have most devoted myself to since joining as a graduate student more than fifteen years ago. I have enjoyed so many different programs that EERI has to offer, and pride myself in only having missed our annual meetings when I was pregnant with my children. I have participated in EERI committees throughout all levels of my career: as President of the Student Leadership Council and organizer of the Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition as a graduate student, in the Young Member Committee as a postdoctoral fellow, and in the Initiatives Development Committee (IDC), Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) Committee, Public Policy Committee, co-Chair of the 10NCEE‘s Proceedings Committee, and Chair of the Socio-Economic Issues and Public Policy Topic of the 11NCEE as a not-so-young member. My engagement with every single Committee has emboldened my passion to do more professionally to protect individuals from seismic risk. In addition to the Committee work that impacts the organization nationally, I have participated and enjoyed many EERI activities at a regional scale. I presented and attended a state-wide resiliency workshop organized by the vibrant EERI Utah Regional Chapter. I also founded the National Capital Chapter with several other enthusiastic members and was active in organizing events in the greater DC Metropolitan area for several years. Finally, I have gained a unique perspective of EERI’s international footprint by deploying with LFE teams several times: 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile, 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, and 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. These reconnaissance trips, as well as teaching at the EERI Onsite Learning Course in Chile this year, have demonstrated the strength of having a strong professional society that can orchestrate seamless and vast collaborations domestically and abroad, to maximize our collective learning from disastrous events. EERI is a world leader in reducing earthquake risk. Through diverse programming, EERI provides our professional community and the greater public a wealth of information on the science and practice of earthquake engineering and the impacts that seismic events have on communities. EERI provides a home to multiple disciplines, that collectively, want to protect society from the negative impacts of earthquakes. It’s the only society that I belong to where I am just as likely to engage in thoughtful conversations with a disaster sociologist, an emergency manager, or a structural engineer. It unifies a broad community over several career stages and does so with a clear mission. However, we have not had a devastating earthquake in our country for many years and have a lot of work ahead of us to continue making the public aware of our seismic vulnerabilities and available best practices to make our communities more resilient to a seismic threat. It is an honor for me to be considered to join the EERI Board of Directors and to contribute to the great effort of reducing seismic risk in the U.S. and abroad by strengthening our already existing programs and promoting new ones. I deeply appreciate incorporating diverse perspectives, and would like to promote strategies for growing our multidisciplinary membership and attracting new members from a broad range of backgrounds. I feel that one of EERI’s strengths is the unique and deep engagement of its members throughout their careers, and would work tirelessly to bolster existing and new activities that provide a strong pipeline of earthquake engineering leaders. Finally, I believe that EERI’s mission is one that can be modeled by professional societies focused on other types of hazards. EERI should engage with other scientific and professional organizations to promote cross pollination of ideas for making our buildings, infrastructure, and communities more resilient to all types of natural hazards. Finally, I want every EERI member to feel as I do, and see EERI as their home away from home.