Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations 2010 Conference

Translating Research into Action: From Recovery to Renaissance

aerial view of downtown New Orleans
Date August 25-27, 2010
Location Astor Crowne Plaza, 739 Canal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Organizers Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
RAND Gulf States Policy Institute
Allstate Foundation

On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute, in partnership with the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations (LANO) and with sponsorship from the Allstate Foundation, invited Louisiana's leaders to discuss the crucial role that nonprofits play in storm recovery and ongoing efforts to rebuild.

Challenges remain. How can federal, state, and local entities better coordinate with and leverage the strengths of nonprofits in the future? How do we plan for response to future disasters? What are the priorities for funding, policy, social services, and economic development in the region? As part of LANO's annual conference, RAND Gulf States convened policy experts and key stakeholders from around the region to discuss these questions, share their experiences, and help shape the policy agenda.

About the Conference Sessions

In each of three inter-related sessions, RAND presented key research findings and led an expert panel discussion and roundtable forum to consider how the research can be translated into benefits for the region. The goal was to formulate an action plan of policy and program recommendations that support the active involvement of non-government organizations (NGOs). Attendees at the sessions came from a variety of sectors, including health, social services, housing, and business.

Session Highlights

The issues that were explored within each session varied widely, but it was apparent that NGOs face similar challenges in coordinating and communicating with each other, with federal, state and local governments, and with other institutions. They share the challenge of working with constrained resources for funding, increasing their capacity, staffing, and training. The recommendations that were generated in the sessions tended to fall into two categories. (1) Some recommendations have been voiced before in the ongoing dialogue about Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, yet still have not been implemented. (2) Some recommendations were in new areas that need to be considered for promoting all hazards response and recovery capabilities for NGOs. Participants developed important recommendations related to: developing a human recovery system; strengthening behavioral health care; determining which NGOs are best equipped to provide response and recovery services; identifying where financing can be streamlined for more effective service delivery; and developing sustainable funding streams.

Session 1: The Role of NGOs in Disaster Response and Preparedness: This session focused on NGO coordination in response and recovery, NGO-to-NGO communication and collaboration, and financing. The discussion was framed by research that RAND conducted at Katrina’s four-year anniversary that examined the ongoing policy and financial challenges faced by the NGOs that focus their efforts particularly on long-term human recovery. Panelists summarized the lessons that non-profit and for-profit NGOs have learned in prior disasters with a focus on the insights gained as emergency response cycles into the lengthy long-term recovery process. The session’s discussions and recommendations were aimed at developing a human recovery system that supports the rapid return of healthy daily social functioning in a community affected by disaster.

Researchers, panelists, and moderators: Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta (RAND), Charmaine Caccioppi (United Way), James Kelly (Catholic Charities), Marsha Meeks Kelly (Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service), Kay Wilkins (American Red Cross), Mike Manning (Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank), Tom Costanza (Catholic Charities), Zack Rosenburg (St. Bernard Project), Gina Warner (Afterschool Partnership), Melissa Flournoy (Louisiana Progress)

Session 2: The Role of NGOs in Displaced and Returned Populations: The panelists focused on understanding the reasons for, and trends in, displacement of populations after disaster. The discussions built on findings from the Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Survey, which was first fielded in the fall of 2006. The survey examines the location, well-being, and plans for the future of people who lived in the city of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. The panel discussions and recommendations are intended to help guide the elements of the human recovery system (also termed by one participant as the “human services supply chain”) to identify, locate, and assist residents in returning to an area, and to provide the tools, information, and resources that are needed by the communities that absorb the displaced people. The group discussed the types of data most needed by NGO’s and other entities, and how the implementation of the full DNORS survey (recently completed) will help to fill these needs.

Researchers, panelists, and moderators: Mark Vanlandingham and Michael Rendall (RAND), Ann Hilbig (Neighborhood Centers, Inc.), Tim Carpenter (Fannie Mae), James Carter (former New Orleans city councilman), Tina Marquardt (Beacon of Hope), Alexandra Priebe (Tulane), Zack Rosenburg (St. Bernard Project), Keith Liederman (Kingsley House), Melissa Flournoy (Louisiana Progress)

Session 3: The Role of NGOs in Psychological Health, Resilience, and Recovery: This session explored the impact of disasters and displacement on the physical and mental health of individuals after a disaster. The research shows that more than one-third of the adult population from counties and parishes impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita experienced significant psychological distress. Yet, researchers also found that few of those affected had access to or received appropriate health or mental health services in the months and years that followed. The panel discussions and recommendations focused on options for integrating evidence-based models and the science related to recovery into aspects of community health and mental health services; promoting individual psychological resilience; improving access and quality of care for vulnerable populations; and models for partnerships among a variety of stakeholders.

Researchers, panelists, and moderators: Ben Springgate and Kenneth Wells (RAND), Daniel Dodgen (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Tony Speier (Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals), Calvin Johnson (Metropolitan Human Services District), Leah Berger (Tulane), Joseph Kimbrell (Louisiana Public Health Institute), Elmore Rigamer (Catholic Charities of New Orleans), Donisha Dunn (Tulane), Katrina Badger (REACH NOLA), Diana Meyers (St. Anna Medical Mission), Sarah Hoffpauir (LA Public Health Institute)

Next Steps

RAND is reviewing the materials from the panelist presentations and the small group discussions from each session to inform the development of a short report summarizing concrete recommendations. This short report will focus on action-oriented program and policy recommendations and will be shared with federal, state, and local leaders. In particular, the recommendations will be presented to leaders in Washington, D.C. during a congressional briefing later this winter. Many of the recommendations will be useful in revisions to the Stafford Act revisions, revisions to FEMA's Disaster Case Management Program, content of national disaster recovery plans, and other aspects of human recovery including the provision of behavioral health and other human health services.