Disaster Recovery Conference Highlights Critical Role of Nonprofit Groups Following Katrina and Oil Spill

For Release

August 3, 2010

National policy experts, Gulf Coast leaders and non-profit organizations will gather on the eve of the anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to discuss the crucial role nonprofits played in the region's recovery after the storm and the importance they will have in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The conference, "Nonprofits: The Transforming Landscape," is sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations in partnership with the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute and The Allstate Foundation.

The event will be held Aug. 25-27 at the Astor Crowne Plaza, 739 Canal Street in New Orleans.

"Nonprofits are essential to any successful disaster response," said Ann Silverberg Williamson, president and CEO of Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations. "The sector's role in long-term recovery is equally important, but seldom explored in this depth."

"We will be sharing some compelling data about disaster recovery at this conference with nonprofits that have on-the-ground experience. We will then bring all this information and feedback to Washington D.C. where we intend to press for policy changes beneficial to communities affected by the oil spill and by future disasters in the United States."

The conference, created by the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations in 1997, offers an opportunity for Louisiana's nonprofit organizations to network with other groups; share proven strategies for fund development, leadership, communication and technology, organizational development and human capital; and discuss emerging trends, public policy, and accountability.

RAND Gulf States will give a series of presentations on "Translating Research into Action: From Recovery to Renaissance" as part of the conference. RAND researchers will discuss the role of nonprofits in disaster response and preparedness, assisting the displaced and returned population, and how nonprofits can help residents with psychological health, resilience and recovery.

"It can take nearly a decade for a region to fully recover from a disaster and, as we've seen from the most recent oil spill, sometimes regions don't get a full decade before the next disaster strikes," said Sally Sleeper, director of research for RAND Gulf States, a part of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.

"Research can help nonprofits make the best use of their resources, knowing that their efforts are in line with objective, evidence-based best practices. RAND Gulf States will be presenting some of the lessons learned from hurricane recovery, and discussing how that research can help the region move forward."

The Allstate Foundation called the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations conference an important milestone in the region's recovery.

"We have been incredibly lucky to partner with LANO and its individual nonprofit members on meaningful and lasting recovery projects in the five years since Hurricane Katrina," said Vicky Dinges, assistant vice president for public social responsibility at Allstate. "This conference represents an opportunity for all of us to review that work and learn from our successes. It will also determine the types of long-term policy changes that will help nonprofits create sustainable and positive change in this community and others that must rebuild following disaster."

Details about how to register for the conference are available at www.lano.org.

The Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations is a statewide network of nonprofits, foundations, corporations and individuals dedicated to supporting Louisiana's nonprofit sector. LANO provides and unified voice for state nonprofits and promotes strategic collaboration and greater accountability within the sector. The Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations operates from offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport, with frequent travel to cities and parishes across the state.

RAND created the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute in 2005 to support hurricane recovery and long-term economic development in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Today, RAND Gulf States provides objective analysis to federal, state and local leaders in support of evidence-based policymaking and the well-being of individuals throughout the Gulf States region. With offices in New Orleans and Jackson, Miss., RAND Gulf States is dedicated to answering some of the region's toughest questions related to a wide range of issues including education, healthcare, infrastructure, workforce development and more.

Founded in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent charitable organization funded by contributions from subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Allstate helps people realize their hopes and dreams through products and services designed to protect them from life's uncertainties and to prepare them for the future. The Allstate Foundation does just that by consistently investing millions of dollars annually in communities and issues to protect and prepare Americans. In 2009, The Allstate Foundation donated more than $18.2 million to make our communities and our nation a better and safer place to live

About RAND

RAND is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.