Theresa O’Donnell is named City’s first Chief Resilience Officer
What would it take for the City of Dallas to be prepared to quickly recover from a natural disaster? What type of planning and preparation could minimize the harm and shorten the recovery period of such an event? What are the long-term stresses challenging our community that weaken its fabric? Is there an opportunity for residents and the City to “bounce forward” instead of only bouncing back from a crisis?
Exploring the answers to these questions will be some of the major challenges for the City’s new Chief Resilience Officer. This week, the Dallas City Council voted to approve the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Cities grant agreement and name Theresa O’Donnell as Chief Resilience Officer. Dallas is honored to be among 100 cities from around the world invited to join the Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network.
“My role will be to guide our community in creating a resilience plan that envisions a future where Dallas will be better prepared for whatever physical, social or economic challenges that might occur,” O’Donnell said. The goal is to strengthen Dallas’ resilience in the face of potential disasters, prepare for disruptions and foster greater equity among residents affected by unfortunate events or circumstances.
O’Donnell will work with citizens, business groups, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and philanthropic foundations in public workshops and community meetings to develop the plan. The first step in that process will begin with an October 15 kickoff event in Dallas attended by more than 100 stakeholders, including Mayor Rawlings and other officials as well as health experts, environmentalists and emergency responders. The kickoff will introduce the idea of resiliency and build a mutual understanding with community partners and stakeholders.
“Resiliency is often defined as a response to a catastrophic event such as a flood, tornado, or economic crisis,” she said. “But it can also be defined as the debilitating effects of chronic stress and persistent threats to a community like drought, poverty, or blighted neighborhoods. These community leaders will help shape a common understanding and begin to define a vision for Dallas.”
O’Donnell noted that the City’s emergency responders are already performing at an extremely high level.
“That proficiency and expertise will allow our conversation on resilience to move beyond the normal discussion of existing priorities and resources to be more innovative and creative and broaden our thinking as we explore ways to strengthen our community. It is a remarkable opportunity to be a member of this global community of cities and we are honored to be included in this effort.”