A message from the EERI President, Laurie A. Johnson

Laurie Johnson (M.EERI,1990)

I hope all of you, your families and friends are keeping safe and healthy. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year, presenting each of us, our families, professions and communities with a myriad of unprecedented resilience and adaptation challenges. I am so proud of Heidi Tremayne and the EERI staff, our Board of Directors, chapter officers and committee chairs, and our many volunteers who have helped EERI adapt and ensure that we remain committed to you, your success, and our collective mission to advance earthquake resilience in the United States and globally. 

In fulfilling that commitment, EERI will be lowering 2021 dues to ensure that our membership and important resources remain accessible, and we are continuing to build out our capabilities to offer timely and relevant webinars and other online engagement opportunities that help deepen both our technical and practical skills. The organizing committee for the 2021 Annual Meeting is working hard to develop an exciting and engaging agenda for our first-ever virtual meeting format. And, we continue to look for ways to serve as a convener and facilitator of multi-disciplinary conversations to help us exchange knowledge and join together for greater impact.

Our flagship program, Learning from Earthquakes (LFE), has also been adapting and still remains quite active despite travel and other safety restrictions. Following the M5.5 earthquake that struck Zagreb, Croatia on March 22, several EERI members in the region collaborated on a reconnaissance report and their insights will be part of a November 19 webinar hosted by the Northern California Chapter on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted earthquake responses in Europe, and conversely how earthquakes have influenced regional infection rates. This past year, we established virtual LFE clearinghouses to compile, share, and disseminate valuable resources following the M6.4 and M6.5 earthquakes in Puerto Rico and Idaho, respectively, and we hosted webinars on LFE missions following recent earthquakes in Magna Utah, Sparta North Carolina, and Palu Indonesia. These are just a few examples of how LFE continues to provide you with the latest resources on major earthquakes when they happen, as well as thoughtful reflections and lessons learned from past events.

So as we move into 2021, you can be confident that EERI is more committed than ever to LFE and excellence in earthquake investigations and learning. However, we still need your help to reach our campaign goal and ensure that LFE will be financially sustainable as we strive to expand earthquake reconnaissance efforts, develop innovative programming, and invest in the next generation of leaders. For the first time in EERI’s history, I’m excited to share our participation in #GivingTuesday — a global movement of generosity. On Tuesday, December 1, I invite you to join me in giving to the Learning from Earthquakes Endowment Fund. How you can help:

  1. Donate to the Learning from Earthquakes Endowment Fund through either a one-time donation, five-year pledge, or testamentary gift. 
  2. Share our message about #GivingTuesday to your friends, colleagues, and networks, so that together we can build more resilient communities.

In June, we announced our search for a new Chair or Co-Chairs of LFE and I am pleased to say that the Board has selected two amazing individuals, from among a crowded field of excellent applicants, to serve as the program’s next leaders. Stay tuned as their formal announcement will be forthcoming by email later this week. In the meantime, I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Charles Huyck, outgoing LFE chair, for his four years of dedicated service in one of the Institute’s most demanding voluntary roles. 

During Charlie’s tenure, we launched the LFE Endowment campaign to ensure the continuation of a robust and dynamic LFE program for generations to come. As the second year of fundraising comes to a close, I am pleased to report that more than 158 members have pledged nearly $1.9 million to secure the future of LFE. What an incredible milestone — we are almost halfway to our $4 million goal! Because of your incredible generosity to date, EERI is able to start accessing funding from the Endowment in 2021 and the new LFE Co-chairs will be working with the EERI Board and staff on the strategy that supports and grows post-earthquake reconnaissance, the LFE travel study program, and other core program activities, as well as future innovations and initiatives. 

I understand that it can be a challenging time for giving, but if you are able, I hope you will please consider including the LFE Endowment among your annual philanthropic priorities. Your contributions are tax-deductible and will help us to do more and to do better. 

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. I am still coming to grips with how different the season will be, perhaps more peaceful without all the hustle and bustle, but also missing some of the joy that comes from gathering together for holiday dinners and parties with extended family, colleagues and friends. I am optimistic that we will all be able to gather together again soon and very much look forward to that day. Thank you so much for your membership and support of EERI.