Jay Balagna

Jay Balagna
Assistant Policy Researcher, RAND; Ph.D. Student, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


MPhil in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.P.H. in prevention science and practice, Emory University; B.A. in Spanish, University of Nevada, Reno


Jay Balagna (he/him) is a Ph.D. student in the Community-Partnered Policy and Action stream at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy researcher at RAND. His research interests include disaster studies, disaster risk reduction and creation, the influence of climate change on disasters, climate-related and post-disaster migration, and the social determinants of health. 

Prior to joining Pardee RAND, Balagna was a wildland firefighter in Nevada and Montana, an emergency medical technician in Los Angeles, and a political journalist working in the United States and Chile. He has an MPhil in policy analysis from Pardee RAND, an M.P.H. from Emory University, and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Selected Publications

Blake, Jonathan S., Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, and Jay Balagna, Addressing Climate Migration: A Review of National Policy Approaches, RAND Corporation (PE-A1085-1), 2021

Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Lena C. Easton-Calabria, Sonny S. Patel, Jay Balagna, Leslie A. Payne, "When Disaster Management Agencies Create Disaster Risk: A Case Study of the US's Federal Emergency Management Agency," Disaster Prevention and Management, 2021




  • Wildfires

    We Aren't Helpless in the Face of Increasing Fires and Smoke

    Modernizing, better funding, and expanding wildland firefighting forces in North America won't make fires or smoke magically disappear. A massive paradigm shift is necessary. But it's clear something needs to happen immediately too.

    Jun 12, 2023

    The RAND Blog

  • Earthquakes

    Earthquake in Turkey, Syria: Insights from RAND Researchers

    Thousands of people have been confirmed dead in one the strongest earthquakes to hit Turkey and Syria in the past century. As search-and-rescue missions ended and recovery began, a handful of RAND researchers shared some of their initial thoughts.

    Feb 14, 2023

    The RAND Blog

  • Displaced Persons

    To Help Climate Migrants, We Must First Recognize Them

    Despite the large and growing population displaced by extreme weather, there is no common definition of a “climate migrant.” Once we get a clearer sense of just who is a climate migrant, policy efforts should begin focusing on the full fabric of life in our communities, creating systems that will help migrants become a part of that fabric in safe and dignified ways.

    Jan 28, 2022

    The Hill

  • Emergency Preparedness

    Hurricane Ida Is Part of a Cycle of Disasters—Mitigating Their Impact Means Building Back Better

    Building back better means focusing on recovery that not only restores damage from a disaster but also reduces future risk. To meet that goal today, we need to look at the ways our disaster preparedness and response systems actually create risk themselves, by reinforcing things like wealth inequality, systemic discrimination, or access to crucial services.

    Sep 13, 2021


  • Wildfires

    Climate Change Is Only One Driver of Explosive Wildfire Season—Don't Forget Land Management

    The fire seasons that have been scorching huge areas and wiping entire towns from the map appear to be the future. Accepting that wildland fires are a part of our environment and working to live with fires rather than continuously fighting against them may be the most responsible path forward.

    Aug 16, 2021

    The Hill

  • Workplace Well-Being

    As Fire Season Heats Up, Burnout Looms

    Increasingly intense fire seasons are taking a physical and mental toll on wildland firefighters. Without more direct attention paid to firefighters' mental health, burnout could decimate the ranks of those who protect lives and property across the West.

    Jul 21, 2021

    The RAND Blog

  • Refugees

    Climate Change Migration: Developing a Security Strategy for All

    Over the past decade, an average of 21.5 million people annually have been forced to move due to the impacts of extreme weather. Building an understanding of the intersection between climate change, migration, and security is crucial and should take into account that many who face the most direct impacts of climate change are already among the most vulnerable.

    Mar 15, 2021

    The National Interest

  • Wildfires

    Another Record-Breaking Fire Season Shows the Need for a Comprehensive Strategy

    Year after year, fires across western U.S. states scorch forests, rangeland, and neighborhoods, wreaking havoc on rural economies and pushing smoke into cities. Policymakers should consider a coordinated and comprehensive effort that brings together the best minds in government, communities, and academia.

    Nov 6, 2020

    United Press International