Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has appointed Richard Ohlsen as Director for Domestic Disaster Response and Preparedness. In this newly created position with ERD, Ohlsen, who has several years experience in emergency operations, will work with Episcopal dioceses to inventory and design disaster preparedness plans. He will oversee ERD's long-term Hurricane Katrina response program rebuilding Gulf Coast communities. Ohlsen will also link dioceses and ERD to local, state, and national emergency preparedness and response networks.
"We are elated to have Richard join our team as ERD works with the Church and dioceses to prepare, plan, and respond to emergencies," said Robert W. Radtke, ERD’s President. "Richard's diverse experience will be critical in setting up support systems to manage disasters from the emergency through the rehabilitation phase. As faith-based organizations grow and become first responders in providing aid, the role of the Director for Domestic Disaster Response and Preparedness will become that much more vital," said Radtke.
For the past seven years, Ohlsen has worked with the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Region II (New York). He assisted in responding to major disasters including Hurricane Jeanne, the September 11 World Trade Center attack, and the crash of TWA Flight 800. Ohlsen wrote New York State Supplements to the Federal Response Plan and serves as a lecturer on emergency management.
"One of my goals is to find a niche for the Episcopal Church in national disaster preparedness and response," said Richard Ohlsen. "One of the best ways to reach the public is through the church. If we can have priests and lay people learn to work with their local communities, we will be that much more prepared to face disasters when they strike," said Ohlsen.
Ohlsen, who began on April 3, is currently traveling to the Gulf Coast region with Abagail Nelson, ERD's Vice President for Programs, to assess recovery and rehabilitation work in affected communities.
"I have great confidence in Richard and the future development of ERD's domestic crisis desk," said the Rt. Rev. George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies for the Episcopal Church. "Richard's approach to disaster assessment is solid, and most important for this market, technically proficient while being a patient listener," said Bishop Packard.
Episcopal Relief and Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. An independent 501(c) (3) organization, ERD saves lives and builds hope in communities around the world. We provide emergency assistance in times of crisis and rebuild after disasters. We enable people to climb out of poverty by offering long-term solutions in the areas of food security and health care, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.