EERI 2022 Board of Directors Election

EERI is pleased to announce the candidates for President-Elect and Director for the 2022 Board of Directors Election. You can view the candidate bios and vision statements below.

All eligible voting members will receive an email with a link to access your secure online ballot and cast your vote on Friday, October 1. The election will close on Monday, November 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm PT.


Janiele Maffei (M. EERI 1992)

Chief Mitigation Officer, California Earthquake Authority 
Sacramento, California

Janiele Maffei PhotoJaniele Maffei received an M.S. degree (1980) in Civil (Structural) Engineering and A.B. degree (1978) in Architecture, both from the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Maffei is licensed as both a Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer in California with over 40 years of experience in the design of new buildings, retrofit designs of existing buildings, seismic evaluations, seismic loss estimation studies, design of equipment anchorages, preparation of construction documents, project management, and construction administration. After fifteen years as a project manager and regional office director with Degenkolb Engineers, she opened her own practice where she managed complex design projects involving many disciplines. In 2011, Ms. Maffei joined the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) as its Chief Mitigation Officer. In this capacity, she serves as the Executive Director of the California Residential Mitigation Program and manages the CEA research department.

As Executive Director of the California Residential Retrofit Program, Ms. Maffei has been responsible for developing policies, plans, and incentives for retrofitting wood frame residential construction throughout California intended to mitigate the consequence of a major earthquake in California. She also co-managed, with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the CEA/FEMA-funded Applied Technology Council (ATC) Project 110, Prestandard for the Seismic Retrofit of Single-Family Wood-Framed Dwellings, now published as FEMA P-1100. For CEA, she managed the 2014 South Napa Earthquake single-family dwelling research project and the CEA/PEER Project, “Quantifying the Performance of Retrofit of Cripple Walls and Sill Anchorage in Single-Family Wood-Frame Buildings” published in 2020.

Her professional leadership positions include: Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC), Board of Directors, (1995-1997); SEAONC, President (2019 – 2021); Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Northern California Chapter, President (2010-2011); and EERI, Board of Directors, Secretary and Treasurer (2012-2018).

Janiele's vision

It is an honor to be nominated for President-elect of EERI. I had the privilege of serving EERI members from 2012 to 2018 as Secretary-Treasurer and I look forward to picking up where I left off. I hold the members and staff of EERI in very high regard and will continue to focus on the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. My own vision for EERI aligns well with the current stated vision and I look forward to bringing new vitality and ideas to the intersection of public policy and research. EERI has much to be proud of: Spectra, Learning from Earthquakes, outstanding educational experiences, and a community that includes the best and brightest of earthquake professionals from around the world. This is a critical time for science, the world is acutely aware of challenges of disasters, both natural and man-made, but struggles mightily to translate science into policy and action. My vision is to enhance the leadership position of the organization in the increase of earthquake awareness and reduction of earthquake risk on the national and international stage.

Director A:

Emily So (M. EERI 2011)

Reader in Architectural Engineering, University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom

Emily SoEmily So, PhD CEng MICE, is a Reader in Architectural Engineering in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. She is the Director of the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment (CURBE) and Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd. Emily is a chartered civil engineer with wide experience of assessing and managing urban risk and resilience. She has actively engaged with earthquake‐affected communities in different parts of the world, focusing on applying her work towards making real‐world improvements in seismic safety. With her collaborators in China, she was part of the design team that won the World Building of the year in 2017.  The judges were impressed by the iterative research process which could be re-applied to anywhere in the world affected by seismic problems and low levels of wealth. “The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound.”

Saving lives from earthquakes is a priority and motivates her research. Her area of specialty is casualty estimation in earthquake loss modelling and her research has led to improved understanding of the relationship between deaths and injuries following earthquakes. Her work on human casualties in earthquakes adopts an approach which depends as much on epidemiological as structural engineering understanding of the problem. In its very nature, this is cross-disciplinary work and requires an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts, the current and future physical, social, and natural environments, and the interplay between physical and social sciences. She has been involved in interdisciplinary and international collaboration through her work with the UK’s Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT), GEM, the World Bank and the USGS, and actively participates in the international debate on the way forward for earthquake risk mitigation. Recognized as an expert in the field, Emily sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) providing valuable and timely scientific and technical advice to support the UK Government’s Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR). She was a USGS Mendenhall Fellow from 2009-2011 and the recipient of EERI’s 2010 Shah Family Innovation Prize.

Emily's vision

It would be my honor to serve on the EERI Board and help steer EERI through this difficult period of constant adjustment and flux. Since the start of the pandemic, many lessons have been learnt in the UK and around the world on the reception of society to scientific advice and messages. COVID-19 has revealed some glaring misjudgments in terms of risk management and communication. The importance of public messaging and the tools used to relay constantly changing advice and its supporting evidence have never been more critical. I believe it is the role of the EERI Board and its members to help respond to this emerging dynamic risk landscape, and generate defensible research informed by the needs of society.

I would like to dedicate my service on the Board to youth programs and public engagement. EERI has invested in people since its inception, in its members and the societies they serve. I would like to play my part in continuing this ethos, to generate fit-for-audience communication of knowledge and promote open and impactful discourse around earthquake risk. I pride myself in being an effective communicator, always striving to make complex issues clear and put audiences at ease. I believe this is a key strength of mine as a teacher and a requirement as a researcher to relate to different stakeholders, including policymakers, practitioners, and academic researchers from a wide range of disciplines and cultural backgrounds.

A reconnaissance mission to the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake in Pakistan shaped my resolve to reduce earthquake risk and stop preventable deaths. At every level, members can learn from each other. Graduates from those who are actively making a difference on the ground, mid-career practitioners from emeritus academics with their wealth of experiences and contacts, and vice versa. I believe a mentoring scheme would improve EERI’s outreach nationally and internationally and help empower members to make a meaningful impact around the world. As an admissions tutor at the University of Cambridge, I have had the opportunity to talk to many young people from all backgrounds and facing multiple challenges. I have been positively encouraged by the (infectious) energy of the next generation of academics and would like to help EERI invest more in early career researchers. I believe the EERI of the future must be one that is flexible and receptive to new ideas in an ever-changing world.

Zahraa Saiyed (M.EERI 2011)

CEO & Principal, Scyma Consulting, LLC
San Francisco Bay Area, California

Zahraa Saiyed photoZahraa Saiyed, P.E., Associate AIA, LEED AP, M.EERI, 2011, is a multi-disciplinary disaster risk reduction, public policy, and risk governance consultant with background and training as an architect, building scientist, structural engineer, and educator. She is a co-founder and principal of Scyma Consulting located in the Bay Area, a Research Affiliate with MIT’s Urban Risk Lab, and is a Senior Disaster Risk Reduction Consultant for the World Bank, where she works on earthquake engineering, wildfire management, mental health, and community engagement. Zahraa’s domestic and international project experience ranges from anticipatory urban planning and design, sustainable and resilient built environments, developing practice and personal preparedness guidance (such as FEMA P-530, Earthquake Safety at Home with the Applied Technology Council), and policy evaluation for risk reduction.

Zahraa has co-chaired the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee with Chris Poland since 2018. In this role, she has contributed to the advancement of seismic safety policies at all governmental levels, advocated on behalf of EERI, and facilitated the creation of regional public policy committees. Zahraa is also a member of the Western States Seismic Policy Council’s Building Engineering, Construction, and Building Codes Committee, and the Infrastructure Policy committee with the American Society of Civil Engineers. Previously, Zahraa has served as a Board Director for EERI’s Northern California chapter (2015-2018) and has contributed to the organization and programming of several EERI Annual Meetings. She has taught and lectured at various universities, including MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and most recently as Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Community Design at University of San Francisco. Zahraa is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley in Architecture and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Architecture and Structural Engineering with coursework from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Zahraa's vision

I will never forget the day I spent on the phone with Marjorie Greene. As a student, I was encouraged by the prospect of expanding my interests in disaster risk reduction but did not quite know where to start. As a native of California living away at the time, I wanted to contribute to the betterment of the place I called home through earthquake risk reduction. Marjorie spent over an hour on the phone with me discussing EERI’s projects and programs for earthquake safety throughout the world and provided me with guidance for my research interests. It was this initial exposure to EERI that formed my perspective of the organization: the commitment of the Institute to earthquake safety and the passion by which it forms its earthquake community. This experience has carried into my own dedication to the field to further EERI’s mission of understanding earthquake risk and increasing earthquake resilience in communities worldwide. After many years as a member of EERI’s committees, activities, special initiatives (such as the Functional Recovery working group), and having had the opportunity for leadership positions within the organization, I have a strong interest in strengthening the Institute’s mission with a vision for its growth over the next few years.

As a prospective Board Director, my vision for the Institute is to focus on building community. This includes both the community of our members, as well as the communities that we serve to enable improved awareness and tools for earthquake preparedness and risk reduction. In alignment with EERI’s priority goals, I intend to center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our practice and discourse by promoting a space for critical conversations that shape Institute decisions. In addition, I would like to mobilize regional chapters to foster a culture of advocacy to advance seismic policy, while increasing interdisciplinary collaboration with programs and committees such as LFE, SESI, and YMC. There is no question about the essential role EERI has had on my academic and professional development, and therefore, my interest in supporting student and young-professional member growth in our programs and committees remains at the forefront of my intent for the organization. Lastly, I would like to encourage more international practitioners, researchers, and students to join EERI’s membership to cultivate an exchange of innovation, knowledge, and lessons learned to provide added international perspective to EERI.

My goal as a potential Director is to help all members feel valued, respected, and impactful in endeavors to reduce the harmful consequences of earthquakes. Supporting a multi-disciplinary membership will promote a diversity of knowledge related to earthquake risk and resilience, and is a motivation for my involvement with EERI today and in the future. It is truly an honor to be nominated as an EERI Board Director, and I hope to serve in this role for our membership with the passion and enthusiasm that was shown to me throughout my engagement with the Institute.

Director B:

Nicholas Gregor (M. EERI 1992)

Consulting Seismologist
San Francisco Bay Area, California

Nick Gregor photoNick Gregor, Ph.D., is a consulting seismologist located in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area and has been an active member of EERI since 1992, joining as a graduate student. His primary discipline and focus for the past 25 plus years is for the understanding and application of seismological principles, research, and models for seismic hazard assessments. This focus has included the development of ground motion models and the calculation of seismic hazard studies (both probabilistic and deterministic) for numerous projects.

Starting in 1995 after completing his Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley, Nick joined the seismology group at Bechtel part time, which provided him with a great learning environment for the necessary technical interactions between seismologists, geotechnical, structural, and earthquake engineers. During this time period, Nick was also a consulting seismologist for other smaller companies, gaining valuable experience on smaller engineering projects. The wide breath of both domestic and international engineering projects while at Bechtel has assisted in his appreciation for the state of practice, seismological models, earthquake guidelines, and applicable building codes being performed through out the world. His tenure at Bechtel of nearly 25 years culminated in 2019 as the senior seismologist for the company. Since leaving Bechtel in 2019, Nick has been an independent consultant working on small and large projects both domestically and internationally.

Nick has actively participated in technical meetings and seminars to further the understanding between seismologists and engineers. At the 2006 EERI annual meeting co-sponsored with the Seismological Society of America, Nick was a co-convener along with Dr. Norman Abrahamson for a technical session on the interface between seismologists and engineers. More recently Nick was a presenter at the 2013 EERI sponsored seminar for the NGA West2 ground motion models. He has also been a technical specialist for various projects supported through the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) and B. John Garrick Institute for the Risk Sciences at U.C. Los Angeles. Nick is currently the EERI representative for the Advance National Seismic System (ANSS) National Steering Committee and a member of the technical workshop meeting planning committee for the Consortium of Organization for Strong Motion Observation Systems (COSMOS). He has served on several peer review committees and is a current member of Seismic Specialist Team for Vibratory Ground Motion for the California High Speed Rail project. In addition to his membership in EERI and COSMOS, he is a member of American Geophysical Union, United States Society on Dams, and the Seismological Society of America. He completed his A.B. degree in 1988 and his Ph.D. in 1995, both from U.C. Berkeley in seismology.

Nick's vision

I am honored in being selected as a candidate for the EERI board of directors by the nominating committee. If my EERI colleagues elect me, I would focus my time as a board member in promoting and supporting the updated Vision, Mission Statement, Core Values and Guiding Principles, and Core Strategies recently adopted by the current EERI board. This current 2021-2025 five-year strategic plan provides a great road map for the future of EERI through the identification of five achievable goals, which will require involvement and active participation from the board and the larger EERI community.

Aligned with these goals, my vision for the future of EERI is for the continual growth of the membership and sharing of technical knowledge and state of practice through meetings, seminars, workshops, and Earthquake Spectra. EERI is unique in my mind in that it represents a very broad multi-discipline community all with the same common goal of improving resilience to earthquakes and other hazards.

As we have all learned to adapt in the last year, I think that the use of virtual attendance web meetings, in addition to the annual meeting, could be expanded in the future to inform and educate a broader technical audience. I would suggest that these would be in addition to the annual meeting and would offer additional opportunities for technical presentations and outreach attended by more members and potentially non-members. For the annual meeting I would support an option for remote participation if logistically possible. If remote attendance could be achieved with lower registration fees and no travel costs, I would expect that attendance from non-engineering disciplines including non-EERI members could be significantly increased. In my mind this would improve the communication, learning, and understanding across disciplines, which should benefit the seismic risk community as a whole.

I also feel strongly about the continual outreach to young professional members and students in both undergraduate and graduate programs. In my view EERI provides the best professional society for presenting new research currently being performed at academic institutions and applying it to engineering practice. Currently there is a good framework with the various EERI regional chapters, which could be expanded to the larger community across multiple regional chapters through web-based meetings. In addition, promoting multiple regional chapter memberships and cross chapter interactions could improve this future transfer of knowledge, thus benefiting the larger EERI community. Thank you for considering my candidacy to the EERI board and I look forward to promoting the vision and goals of the EERI community if elected.

Ramin Golesorkhi (M. EERI 1986)

Principal/Vice President, Langan Engineering
San Francisco Bay Area, California

Ramin Golesorkhi PhotoRamin Golesorkhi, PhD, PE, GE, F. ASCE, is a registered civil (California, New York, Washington) and geotechnical engineer (California) with more than 32 years of experience in seismic analysis and foundation engineering. He a principal and the director of seismic engineering services at Langan. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Tufts University and his Doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

He provides engineering consultation for projects involving deep excavation, tunneling, foundation support and settlement, vertical and lateral evaluation of pile foundations, stability of earth structures, seismic soil-structure interaction, seismic hazard evaluation, ground response analysis, liquefaction potential evaluation, evaluation of ground improvement techniques, and other geotechnical and environmental projects.

He has developed seismic and geotechnical design criteria for industrial, residential, private and government office buildings, hospitals and healthcare facilities, bridges, elevated freeways and viaducts, structures with energy dissipation systems such as base-isolators and dampers, tunnels, and seismic strengthening of existing structures. He is one of the primary authors of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Technical Guide on Performance-Based Seismic Design of Tall Buildings.

Ramin's vision

I support and encourage the vision and mission of EERI. From the beginning of my membership in EERI in 1986, the vision and mission of the Institute resonated with me. A Vision to improve understanding of earthquake risk and resiliency and a Mission to provide knowledge, leadership and advocacy in a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. As a Board member, I will do my best to continue to advance the Vision and Mission of the Institute. Throughout my over 32-year career, I have had the good fortune of serving in multidisciplinary and collaborative environments that have resulted in successful outcomes. EERI has been a bridge between academia and industry to advance practical and applied research and knowledge in the practice of earthquake engineering. As a Board member, I will strive to continue this collaborative atmosphere to reduce earthquake risk and increase resiliency of our built environment. 

As the leader in earthquake engineering research and practice, EERI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is critical for the continued success of the Institute. As someone who comes from a multi-cultural and multi-religion family, I am personally and acutely aware of issues of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. Throughout my career, I have advocated for diversity and inclusion. The earthquake engineering and engineering community at large should strive to make engineering education accessible and mainstream to underrepresented groups. Mentorship and outreach programs are essential elements to introduce earthquake engineering to these groups and communities. It is imperative that the agenda of the EERI Board include expanding and enhancing such programs. As a Board member, I will do my best to advance this agenda.