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The Lessons Of Hurricane Maria - Panel Discussion In Albany

Puerto Rico is seen in the center of Hurrican Maria from this satellite image taken Sept. 20, 2017 (NOAA)
Puerto Rico is seen in the center of Hurrican Maria from this satellite image taken Sept. 20, 2017 (NOAA)

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the hurricane hit the island with the destructive force of a "50- to 60-mile-wide tornado.” Destroying the island’s power grid, and decimating the territory’s agricultural industries, the storm left a shattered infrastructure, a crippled economy, and numerous public health emergencies.

Tonight, a distinguished panel from diverse fields will address questions regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis and its lessons for the future in an event presented by The New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Journalism Program of the University at Albany Department of Communication. The event, entitled "The Lessons of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico: The Hurricane, the Response, Preparing for Future Disasters," is free and open to the public and will take place at Page Hall on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus at 7:30 p.m.

One of the panelists is Robert Griffin - founding dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany, the first college of its kind in the nation.

Dean Griffin has a long career in homeland security at the Federal and local levels of government. He served as the acting undersecretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the deputy undersecretary for Science and Technology, and director of the Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group.

Panelists (along with Dean Robert Griffin):

Michelle Centeno, president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW), a non-profit, non-partisan organization to promote the full participation of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic women in their economic, social and political life in the United States and Puerto Rico. She is also Senior Labor Policy Advisor for the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

David Holtgrave, is dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany, and a SUNY Empire Innovation professor. Prior to coming to UAlbany he was chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has worked extensively in the field of HIV prevention.

Shao Lin, is professor of Environmental Health Science, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, where she specializes in the impacts of climate change, extreme weather, and natural disasters on human health. She is also associate director of Global Health Research at the School of Public Health.

Irwin Redlener, is professor of Health Policy and Management of Pediatrics at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. He established the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Mailman School of Public Health, and created public health initiatives in the U.S. Gulf region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. A leading expert on disaster preparedness, he is the author of the book Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now (2006).

Havidán Rodríguez, is president of the University at Albany. He was the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Prior to his leadership positions in Texas he held administration positions at the University of Delaware, where he directed its acclaimed Disaster Research Center, the world’s first research center devoted to studying the complex social problems that result from natural and technological disasters and other community-scale crises. He has also studied the socioeconomic impacts of disasters and economic well-being of minority populations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Sarah has been a public radio producer for over fifteen years. She grew up in Saranac Lake, New York where she worked part-time at Pendragon Theatre all through high school and college. She graduated from UAlbany in 2006 with a BA in English and started at WAMC a few weeks later as a part-time board-op in the control room. Through a series of offered and seized opportunities she is now the Senior Contributing Producer of The Roundtable and Producer of The Book Show. During the main thrust of the Covid-19 pandemic shut-down, Sarah hosted a live Instagram interview program "A Face for Radio Video Series." On it, Sarah spoke with actors, musicians, comedians, and artists about the creative activities they were accomplishing and/or missing.
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