United States, Mexico & Canada 2018-2019

Background: The North American Humanitarian Response Initiative (NAHRI) was established in 2018 as a unique effort to improve the effectiveness of cross-border responses to hazards in North America. NAHRI was coordinated and implemented by the American Red Cross in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and Mexican Red Cross, and with the participation of those countries’ respective federal, state and provincial government entities involved in disaster response. NAHRI was built upon the NAHRS (North American Humanitarian Response Summit) project, which culminated in a two-day meeting in March 2018 where stakeholders identified key action points to support the goal of improving the effectiveness of cross-border response to disasters in North America.

The primary goal of NAHRI was to establish a humanitarian diplomatic initiative for North American aimed at strengthening cross-border response to all hazards. One of the key objectives included forming Thematic Working Groups around central themes identified at the North American Humanitarian Response Summit (NAHRS):

  • Underserved Populations (chaired by the Canadian Red Cross)
  • Teams, personnel and their equipment (chaired by the Mexican Red Cross)
  • Supplies and equipment (chaired by the American Red Cross)

Requirement: Provide strategic and technical support to the North American Humanitarian Response Initiative, including:

  • Coordination and technical support to the NAHRI Steering Committee
  • Ensuring coherence among NAHRI Thematic Working Groups
  • Supporting sustainability and dissemination efforts
  • Assisting in the development of final reports and/or presentations
  • Continued support to the NAHRI Steering Committee Lead

GEG Contribution: Following the North American Humanitarian Response Summit, GEG was contracted by the American Red Cross to continue to provide strategic and technical support to the North American Humanitarian Response Initiative (NAHRI). This initiative continued efforts to actively engage the American Red Cross, Mexican Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross and their respective governments in efforts to increase efficiencies and better align operational procedures in cross-border responses and improve relevant policy and diplomatic relations. GEG supported various aspects of the Initiative, including:

  • Coordinating biweekly meetings;
  • Updating and refining overall NAHRI objectives, strategy and deliverables;
  • Ensuring stakeholders met key deliverables and provided the expected contributions to the overall NAHRI goals;
  • Supporting related documentation, meetings, and dissemination of NAHRI updates and objectives;
  • Developing draft documents (including ToRs, meeting agendas, work plans, and strategies);
  • Assisting with the formation of Thematic Working Groups and subsequent ToRs and work plans
  • Ensuring that Working Groups maintained a comprehensive and thorough understanding of overarching NAHRI goals and objectives and contributed to the overall NAHRI objectives;
  • Providing ad-hoc support by peer reviewing all documentation and information related to NAHRI.

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University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) supported Global Emergency Group’s work with NAHRI by serving as a co-chair of the Underserved Populations Thematic Working Group. The working group was developed as a key part of the work of NAHRI in 2018 – 2019, and included research and analysis on the topic of Underserved Populations in disasters, particularly in a cross-border response context.

Professor Kirsten Gelsdorf, Director of Global Humanitarian Policy — University of Virginia, Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, served as the principle investigator for the research with GEG. Kirsten is a humanitarian response professional with almost 20 years of extensive research, policy and operations experience. She is currently the Director of Global Humanitarian Policy at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy where she runs a research agenda and is launching a curriculum in humanitarian aid. Prior to that she has served as the Chief of Policy Analysis and which was developed as a part of NAHRI.

Millersville University

Millersville University of Pennsylvania supported NAHRI throughout the duration of the project, and also led two of the thematic working groups.  Dr. Kirsten Nakjavani Bookmiller served as the project lead for the Thematic Working Groups for Teams and Personnel/Supplies and Equipment. Dr. Bookmiller specializes in the field of disaster law and policy and over the past three decades has served as an analyst, subject matter expert, researcher, educator/trainer and international project director. Dr. Bookmiller is also a policy adviser volunteer with the American Red Cross’ International Services.

A Professor of Government and Political Affairs and a Faculty Associate with the Center for Disaster Research and Education at Millersville University, Dr. Bookmiller holds her PhD in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. She completed further training through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the Hague Academy of International Law. She is extensively published in the areas of international disaster law, cross-border disaster response and humanitarian studies and is currently working on a book addressing the role of spontaneous volunteers in international disaster response. Dr. Bookmiller’s work has been utilized by the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, International Search and Advisory Group and several national governments and she has delivered policy briefings and workshops to policymakers, civil servants, intergovernmental, nongovernmental and local community representatives and practitioners involved in the disaster management and humanitarian sectors.

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