EERI 2020 Board of Directors Election

EERI is pleased to announce the 2020 election to select three new members to serve four-year terms on the Board of Directors. The election includes the position of president-elect and two directors. The candidate bios and vision statements are presented below. The election will open on September 30 and will close on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm PT. 


David Cocke, President, Structural Focus, Gardena, CA (M.EERI,1992)


Jonathan P. Stewart, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA (M. EERI,1994)

Zia Zafir, Vice President for Earthquake Engineering, Kleinfelder, Sacramento, CA (M.EERI,2001)


Cale Ash, Office Director and Principal, Degenkolb Engineers, Seattle, WA (M.EERI,2003)

Terri Norton, Associate Dean of Students & Strategic Initiatives and Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA (M.EERI,2004)



David Cocke

David Cocke, S.E. is the founder and President of Structural Focus in Gardena, CA with expertise in seismic evaluation, historic preservation, retrofits, and new design. 

David brings a long history of involvement and leadership with EERI. David joined EERI in 1992 and is a Charter Member of the Southern California Chapter. He has served for several years as a member of the EERI Initiatives Development Committee and has participated in the Friedman Family Visiting Professionals Program since 2009. David served on the EERI Board of Directors from 2015 to 2017 and was Vice-President in 2017. He served as Co-Chair of the 11th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering in 2018. In addition to his engagement with EERI, David has served on the board of directors of many organizations, including the California Preservation Foundation, Pasadena Heritage, USC Architectural Guild, and SEAONC. David serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Conservancy and the Structural Engineers Institute of ASCE. 

A few of David’s notable professional projects include the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Red Bull North American Headquarters, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and a new Amazon campus at Culver Studios. David has been leading the effort to bring Back to Business (B2B), a Building Occupancy Resumption Program, to Southern California. In 2013, his team worked with DreamWorks to establish southern California’s first B2B in the City of Glendale, and now partners with a multitude of clients and cities throughout Southern California to establish their B2B programs.

David's vision

I am very honored to be nominated for election as EERI’s president, and I ask for your support.

My first exposure to EERI was shortly after starting my career, but my experience during the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake opened my eyes to the realities of a natural disaster’s impact on our communities. Until then, I was looking through the narrow lens of structural engineering, and that experience showed me that we should try to take a much wider view and grasp the impacts on our communities, both immediate and long term. Even now, as I mentor young engineers, I encourage them to try to travel to post-earthquake sites when possible, not only to “see” the damage but to “feel” the distress of the community.  

EERI is in great hands. The leadership over the years has been passionate and enthusiastic and we can be thankful for the dedication of all of those that have contributed at the staff, Board and committee levels. In the last couple of years, our staff has evolved and Heidi is hitting her stride as our Executive Director. All our staff roles are filled with highly motivated, efficient, hard-working and creative people. The pieces are in place to excel and lead and my main responsibility as President will be to keep them going, provide some guidance and the best resources possible…and do not “mess it up.” 

Interestingly, it seems that the social climate is now in place to make some significant changes for the betterment of our communities. While attending professional conferences recently I have noted considerable discussion centered on “functional recovery”. There is significant policy movement regarding NEHRP, CA AB 393 and more. EERI and SEAOC have developed a Functional Recovery Working Group and EERI produced a White Paper on the subject in response to new language in the 2018 reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). Other organizations are focusing on resiliency, performance-based design and risk reduction, all leading to achieving functional recovery of our buildings and communities.

With the push in the California legislature to consider changes to the building codes requiring a higher level of seismic performance in our new buildings as well as mandatory retrofitting of buildings, with local jurisdictions considering and passing new mandatory retrofit ordinances, and corporations becoming more sophisticated regarding risk reduction and new recovery programs, it is obvious that our communities are becoming more aware and are demanding better building performance and community recovery.

So what is EERI’s role in promoting this concept of functional recovery? Although we certainly have the individual members with expertise to establish the technical procedures and standards, there are certainly other organizations already working on those technical efforts (SEAOC, SEI, and others). What is needed and what we can provide is the leadership to coalesce and carry the policy to the public and legislatures through advocacy and communications.

We must continue to support Congressional reauthorization and funding for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. We should advocate for state adoption and implementation of resilient building codes, for higher retrofit and infrastructure standards to achieve “functional recovery”. Our membership is unique from the other organization due to the diversity of our members’ areas of expertise, and with that diversity, we are most qualified to lead with promoting the policy.

In addition, I have noted that other engineering organizations are interested in activating earthquake reconnaissance activities. Competition is not necessary – EERI has always, and now more than ever can provide the leadership and coordination that is greatly needed during reconnaissance of a disaster. Our own Earthquake Clearinghouse sets the standard. I have also noted that more and more other organizations are trying to expand their involvement in more diverse areas, and some potential overlaps are developing. The last thing that anyone of us needs is to be duplicating the work of others. With that in mind, we should be communicating and collaborating to advance our knowledge. Perhaps a leadership council between related organizations should meet on a periodic basis to compare notes, give advice and avoid duplication of efforts. 

EERI does so many things very well. With the changes in technology and media, our methods of communication, education, and learning are rapidly evolving.  EERI’s programs set the standard for professional organizations, including our annual meetings, technical seminars and regional and student chapters. We have an active Student Leadership Council and host the highly successful annual Seismic Design Competition. Through the Friedman Family Visiting Professionals Program and Housner Fellows Program, and, we provide meaningful opportunities for our future leaders to learn.

We need to continue to try to engage more younger professionals and help with their development as they advance. Our professional journal—Earthquake Spectra, is one of the most highly respected journals in the world and with recent actions by the Board, we have ensured its sustainability. EERI has unique research and community service opportunities like the Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) program, School Earthquake Safety Initiative, Concrete Coalition, World Housing Encyclopedia and others. Our committees are active and continue to contribute significantly toward our mission. Our influence is global and when EERI issues a statement, the world listens. Our diverse membership and our excellent staff are our main strengths. I look forward very much to working with you all. 


Director A:

Jonathan P. Stewart

Jonathan P. Stewart is a Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UCLA, where he has been a faculty member since 1996 and served as department chair from 2012-2018. He brings expertise in geotechnical earthquake engineering and engineering seismology.

Jonathan serves on the Building Seismic Safety Council Provisions Update Committee and the Southern California Earthquake Center Planning Committee, and is co-principal investigator of the Geotechnical Extreme Event Reconnaissance Association. Jonathan served as chief editor for the ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering and editor of Earthquake Spectra. 

Jonathan has received many awards for his work, including the Bruce Bolt Medal and the Joyner Lecture from EERI and Seismological Society of America, the Huber Prize and Casagrande Award from ASCE, and the NSF CAREER Award. Through many partnerships, his work has impacted the US National Seismic Hazard Maps; the Global Earthquake Model; building code documents (NEHRP Provisions and ASCE-7); and guidelines documents for tall buildings (Tall Buildings Initiative), existing structures (ASCE-41), soil-structure interaction, and landslide hazards. 

Jonathan's vision

I consider EERI to be the most important professional society in earthquake engineering and related disciplines due to its effectiveness in disseminating knowledge and best practices in earthquake hazard reduction, its work to introduce the field to students and other younger members, and its role to bridge the gaps between researchers and practitioners. I have been an EERI member since 1994 and contributed to many EERI committees. From 2013 to 2018, I served as Editor of Earthquake Spectra, during which time I worked with the editorial board, EERI staff, and the Board of Directors to address a series of challenges and to advance the operational efficiency and scholarly stature of the journal. 

I am honored to have been nominated for your consideration as a potential EERI Board Member. I would bring to the office a record of engineering leadership marked by consensus building and practical problem-solving. 

I envision several opportunities that could be pursued by EERI:  

  • Remembering that the ‘R’ in EERI is for Research, I see a role for the institute to catalyze major research initiatives of broad importance to the profession, but which are too large in scope for an individual researcher or research group to undertake. Leveraging the strength of EERI’s diverse membership, EERI can help define such research problems, facilitate team building, and advocate for research funding. 
  • Earthquakes are among a spectrum of natural disasters that threaten society. Through our annual meetings and webinars, EERI can foster communication across different natural hazard risk communities to enable our experience and best practices to benefit others, and vice-versa. 
  • Within the earthquake engineering community, there exist specialty areas in which standards have evolved in different directions than the profession writ large. We can learn from each other, which can be facilitated by EERI. 

I see a strong future for EERI as we strive to advance the profession for the benefit of public safety and community resilience. I would welcome the opportunity to serve. 


Zia Zafir

Zia Zafir, Ph.D., P.E., G.E. is the Vice-President of Earthquake Engineering at Kleinfelder and brings more than 35 years of experience in the field. Zia is the founder and president of EERI Sacramento Chapter and serves on the EERI’s California Public Policy and Advocacy Committee. He served on the editorial board of Earthquake Spectra for two three-year terms. 

Zia has been actively involved in seismic hazard evaluations and seismic retrofit for renowned national and international projects. Some of his significant projects include the development of: ground motions for seismic retrofit of the Golden Gate Bridge, seismic feasibility studies for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, ground motion studies for Jamuna River Bridge in Bangladesh, and ground motion criteria for two fissile material storage facilities in Russia. 

Zia serves as chair of ASCE 1 (Geotechnical Analysis, Design, Construction, Inspection and Monitoring of Nuclear Safety-Related Structures), and voting member of ASCE 7-22 Seismic Subcommittee, ASCE 61-19 (Seismic Design of Piers and Wharves), and ASCE 4 (Dynamic Analysis of Nuclear Structures). He serves on the California State Mining and Geology Board, Deep Foundations Institute’s Seismic and Lateral Load Committee, and the Tsunami Technical Advisory Panel for CGS.  

Zia's vision

I have been involved with EERI for more than 18 years and I feel honored to be nominated for the Board of Directors.  EERI is the primary organization which brings academia, researchers, practitioners, social scientists, and public policy advocates to the same forum.  It has significantly impacted the earthquake science, its dissemination, and public education in the last couple of decades. I would like to continue these EERI contributions to the society. My vision is to promote and emphasize the mission and vision of EERI.  

I would like to bring “Research” back into EERI. I would like to make the EERI Annual Meeting the primary place for presenting cutting edge research and innovative technologies in earthquake engineering.  This would increase the participation in our annual meeting which has drifted to smaller numbers in the last few years. I would like to continue with the student competition and their participation in our annual meeting which has been a great success.  

I would also like to increase the involvement of regional chapters. Regional chapters are our strength and we need them more involved at the national level. We should encourage and assist regional chapters in developing and organizing more regional workshops and seminars. Increase the communication and collaboration between the regional chapters and national EERI.  Some of the workshops which are being conducted at the regional levels could be taken to other chapters.

Global exchange of ideas and technologies needs to be increased and I would like to create an International Collaboration Committee which would collaborate with international organizations related to earthquake engineering.  

LFE program is the greatest success story of EERI and I would like to make it the primary source of global earthquake reconnaissance and part of post-earthquake recovery.  This will happen when we have more international participation and membership in EERI. This will require a focused effort from EERI to engage with international members and increase international membership especially from seismically vulnerable areas in the world.

EERI is doing a great job in public policy and advocacy. However, there seems to be some communication gap and lack of clarity between different stakeholders. I would make this a priority to clarify EERI position and develop a program to educate our membership and bring them on the same page.


Director B:


Cale Ash

Cale Ash is a Principal with Degenkolb Engineers and serves as its Seattle Office Director. He joined Degenkolb in 2003 after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While at UIUC he was part of the Mid-America Earthquake Center and served as Chair of their Student Leadership Council. 

Cale’s professional experience includes the seismic evaluation and retrofit of multiple hospital, education, and manufacturing facilities. He was the engineer of records for the nation’s first tsunami vertical evacuation refuge structure in Westport, WA and is currently working on multiple tsunami evacuation tower projects. 

Cale has been involved with numerous professional organizations including as president of the Structural Engineers Association of Washington and the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup. In 2012, he was part of the inaugural class of EERI Housner Fellows and has continued to advocate for school earthquake safety in the Pacific Northwest as part of the EERI School Earthquake Safety Initiative. 

Cale's vision

I can directly credit my involvement with EERI and the Mid-America Earthquake Center in cultivating my interest in earthquake-risk reduction. After attending the 2003 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon as a graduate student, I decided to explore career opportunities in the Pacific Northwest and moved to Seattle in the fall of that year. 

Throughout my career, I have been involved in many multi-disciplinary efforts to raise awareness of earthquake and tsunami risks. This includes participating in the Resilient Washington State Initiative, leading volunteer teams to complete K-12 school seismic evaluations at several districts, an advisor role on Project Safe Haven: Tsunami Vertical Evacuation on the Washington Coast, and numerous post-earthquake recovery and resilience planning workshops. I find that the diverse backgrounds represented in these activities help bring a holistic view of earthquake risk reduction as this is not solely an engineering “problem” to solve.  

My vision for EERI is to continue creating opportunities for collaboration across the various disciplines involved with earthquake-risk reduction. This includes support of regional chapters and providing them with resources needed to engage local stakeholders in these discussions. The Institute has members located around the world and each locality has different challenges, opportunities, and priorities. By creating a platform for sharing policy positions and success stories, EERI can empower members to make meaningful contributions in their local community.

A good example of this in action relates to non-ductile building types such as unreinforced masonry and older concrete buildings. Jurisdictions in the Pacific Northwest are just now starting to contemplate URM ordinances and, through EERI, we can learn best practices from our colleagues in other regions on what risk-reduction strategies have been successful. Having spent my entire career in Washington State, I look forward to bringing a regional perspective to the Board of Directors while leveraging my past organizational leadership experience to EERI. 


Terri Norton

Terri Norton, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean for Students and Strategic Initiatives and associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Bucknell University. She also serves as the executive director of the Engineering Success Alliance. Terri’s technical expertise is in the area of structural dynamics and structural vulnerability. Prior to Bucknell, Terri was faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and worked at the Aerospace Corporation. 

Terri has been a member of several post-disaster reconnaissance team missions including Molise Earthquake (2003), Hurricane Charley (2004), Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (2011), Hurricane Harvey (2017), and Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017). She also served as a Co-PI on an NSF grant to train and mentor minority graduate researchers in Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields with a disaster focus. 

Terri has been an active member of EERI since joining in 2003. As a graduate student and member of the MCEER Student Leadership Council, she helped establish the first seismic design competition, now known as the EERI undergraduate seismic design competition. She also served as the graduate adviser for the FAMU-FSU seismic design team. As a professional member, Terri has served as the Student Activities Committee Chair, Student Leadership Council mentor, a Learning from Earthquakes program participant, and founding faculty advisor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln EERI student chapter.

Terri served on the boards of the American Society of Civil Engineering Infrastructure Resilience Division, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers. She is a founding leader of the William “Bill” Averette Anderson Fund (BAF) and past chair of the BAF Programs Committee. 

Terri's Vision

EERI is a global leader in the investigation of earthquakes and the dissemination of risk reduction and reconnaissance information.  I have remained actively engaged with EERI because I am committed to its core mission and support its goal of connecting people across disciplines to reduce risk and the potential losses caused by earthquakes.  Additionally, I have been a benefactor of the outstanding programming, training, knowledge exchange, and networking provided through the EERI committees and annual meeting, therefore, it is my duty to pay it forward.

My vision for EERI is that we continue to shape the future of hazard mitigation by bridging fields of expertise to build global solidarity beyond geographical differences to positively impact the world. To do so we must continue to inform and train the next generation of earthquake engineering researchers, professionals, and disaster scientists; who will create innovative advancements for earthquake risk reduction.

I believe that my contributions to the area of disaster recovery and hazard mitigation education and the community reflect my dedication to ensuring that all people are represented and respected. I strive to promote opportunities for younger professional members and students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds. I have a personal passion for mentoring, thus I will use my platform through EERI to help build the pipeline of innovators in the fields of earthquake engineering and disaster recovery.