EERI 2021 Board of Directors Election

EERI is pleased to announce the 2021 Board of Directors election to select two new members to serve four-year terms. This election includes two director positions. The candidate bios and vision statements are presented below. All eligible voting members will receive an email with a link to access your secure online ballot and cast your vote on Thursday, October 1. The election will close on Sunday, November 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm PT.

Director A:

Ayse Hortacsu (M. EERI, 2000)
Director of Projects, Applied Technology Council 
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Keith Knudsen (M. EERI, 2001)
Deputy Director of the Earthquake Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey 
San Francisco Bay Area, CA 

Director B:

Carlien Bou-Chedid (M. EERI, 2011)
Independent Consulting Structural and Earthquake Engineer 
Accra, Ghana

David Johnston (M. EERI, 2013)
Professor of Disaster Management and Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, School of Psychology at Massey University 
Wellington, New Zealand 

2021 BofD Pictures v2

Director A


Ayse HortacsuHortacsu

Ayse [eye-sha] Hortacsu is Director of Projects at the Applied Technology Council (ATC) in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been a member of EERI since 2001, ever since she graduated from Stanford University. She is currently serving as the Chair of the EERI Oral History Committee that seeks to connect current members to those who have had pioneering careers in the field of earthquake engineering by recording their impressions, judgments, and experiences. As a Housner Fellow in 2014, Ayse helped complete a project on building code implementation in Nepal. She served as a Director for the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) in 2016-2018 and the EERI Northern California chapter in 2009-2012.

At ATC, Ayse brings together teams with diverse professional backgrounds (researchers, practitioners, stakeholders) to develop solutions and products that further earthquake hazard mitigation. Ayse has managed the preparation of over thirty publications for NEHRP agencies (FEMA and NIST) to improve our understanding of existing building evaluations and retrofit, design of new buildings, post-disaster safety evaluations, soil-structure interaction, and performance of nonstructural components. She has also worked with local and international governments to develop strategies for seismic interventions. She frequently organizes, moderates, and speaks at technical and professional events.

Both at her job and in her daily life, Ayse enjoys connecting people. After observing a lack of female structural engineers at upper management levels, Ayse founded the Women in Structural Engineering (WiSE) network in 2011 to facilitate communication and provide networking opportunities. WiSE also hosts fun happy hours at EERI Annual Meetings. She is a core member of the Structural Engineering Equity and Engagement (SE3) committee of SEAONC and founder and president of a non-profit advocating for better and safer facilities at her local park. Ayse is originally from Turkey and of Turkish-Filipino-Chinese descent, and now lives in San Francisco with her husband and two (Zoom) school-aged children.

Ayse’s vision

I am honored and excited by the opportunity to participate as a member of the EERI board. I consider EERI my professional home because its multi-disciplinary membership mirrors my personal approach: it is an organization that is built on connecting people dedicated to reducing earthquake risk.

In 1999, I was a junior at Stanford University in civil engineering. I was studying engineering, but did not really have a purpose in mind. That August, the magnitude-6.7 Kocaeli earthquake killed 40,000 people in Turkey and I had the opportunity to visit the area. I was able to see and hear the stories of which buildings survived and why. This experience allowed me to realize that what I was learning in school could actually make a meaningful impact and save lives. Over the last 20 years, even though my profession is engineering, my passion has been reducing earthquake risks, which means that my work has to extend beyond engineering and borrow from other areas of study, such as social sciences, earth sciences, emergency management, business, and geotechnical engineering.

My work at the Applied Technology Council has taught me the value of a multi-disciplinary team. Many of our products are intended to reach beyond the engineer’s desk, so these project teams benefit greatly from participation and collaboration from other disciplines. For example, it is impossible to write a book about school seismic hazard safety without talking to school administrators; hoping for implementation of “beyond code” seismic safety is not feasible if you do not talk to the owners who have concerns about the cost difference. Since 2001, I have made an effort to attend almost every EERI annual meeting, because I know that these events present me the opportunity to sit next to a member who has a different approach to the same question that I am studying. Being able to learn from and connect with all the EERI members is one of the things I value most about being part of this organization.

My vision for EERI is to expand the multi-disciplinary character of membership by forging critical connections with organizations and researchers that may not say “earthquake engineering” in their title, but whose work serves the same goal as ours. I believe it is also critical to increase participation of international members in EERI so that we can learn from their solutions and they can learn from ours. This year has taught us that we can remain connected from a distance, so we can lower the barriers for connecting with international members and learn from them via webinars. In addition, EERI can create venues for members to connect in small groups online for two-way communication with staff, board, and simply other members.


KnudsenKeith Knudsen 

Keith L. Knudsen, P.G., C.E.G., and M. EERI, 2001, has been the U.S. Geological Survey’s Deputy Director of its Earthquake Science Center for more than ten years, and the Earthquake Hazards Program Northern California Regional Coordinator for a couple of years. In this role, he helps to manage and lead activities of the USGS’s Earthquake Hazards Program in the western U.S., including cooperatively responding to earthquakes with other organizations. Recently he has helped to steer a new twitter channel dedicated to earthquake science and hazards information – check out @USGS_Quakes. Prior to joining the USGS, he characterized seismic hazards for large engineered facilities while with URS Corporation and with William Lettis & Associates. Between these two consultancies, Keith managed groups at the California Geological Survey’s Seismic Hazards Zoning Program that were responsible for liquefaction zoning and San Francisco Bay Area regional geologic mapping. In these roles, Keith met with many local government agency representatives to help them understand and effectively implement California’s Seismic Hazards Mapping Act products. He also produced widely used liquefaction susceptibility maps of the 9-county San Francisco Bay area.

Keith served on the inaugural Board of EERI’s Northern California Chapter as a Director and as President. In addition to chapter activities, Keith has participated on EERI’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, the Membership Committee, and two Annual Meeting Organizing Committees, as well as an Annual Meeting Advisory Committee. He also was awarded the EERI-FEMA Professional Fellowship to pursue and develop better tools for assessing liquefaction hazard and developing regional hazard maps. Some of the ideas developed during this fellowship in Kobe, Japan have been incorporated into the California Geological Survey’s Seismic Hazard Zone maps and into new, rapid USGS post-earthquake ground failure products. More recently, Keith has served as the Principal Investigator for the USGS-PGE Cooperative Research and Development, under which PGE supports USGS research in areas of mutual interest.

Keith volunteered for nine years as Secretary of the Seismological Society of America, and received SSA’s Distinguished Service Award. He has lived about one mile from the Hayward fault for almost 30 years and is a Community Emergency Response Team member in Albany, CA. He is regularly asked to give public lectures, provide interviews to the media, and assist organizations in outreach activities.

Keith’s vision

I am delighted and honored to be nominated as a candidate to serve on the EERI Board of Directors! The multidisciplinary nature and the breadth of institute activities are what I most value about EERI. My several-year involvement in leadership of the Northern California Chapter was one of my more rewarding and educational professional experiences. The energy and enthusiasm leading up to the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake was contagious, and EERI’s Northern California Chapter was at the heart of many risk-reduction efforts. My experience with the Northern California Chapter demonstrates that local chapters provide terrific opportunities for members to play a part in projects and activities that benefit their communities and themselves. As a board member, I would thus seek to foster growth and investment in regional and student chapters, the principal conduits for growing and diversifying our membership.

Should I be elected to EERI’s Board, I would seek to encourage and broaden the multidisciplinary aspects of membership activities and strive to grow a diverse membership through existing and innovative activities directed at students, early and midcareer earthquake professionals. Many recent participants in early career EERI initiatives and programs (e.g. Seismic Design Competitions, Housner Fellows, Student Leadership Council, and Virtual Earthquake Reconnaissance Teams) are already assuming leadership roles in our communities, and I hope that we will build on these successes and redouble efforts to recruit the next generation of multidisciplinary leaders to EERI. Further, encouraging young as well as more experienced members to ensure that research is used to change practice and public policy leads to a more informed, engaged profession and ultimately benefits all of society.

In my role with the USGS I have organized our response to earthquakes throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and internationally, and participated in several EERI-led Clearinghouses. I will work to strengthen EERI’s Learning From Earthquakes program and help it evolve to ensure its long-term viability, even with an increasing number of organizations seeking to provide related or comparable services.

EERI is unusual in its breadth, and as a board member, I would strive to increase and diversify membership, in part by advocating for financially accessible membership and meetings, projects tailored to increasing resilience in underserved communities. We should encourage early career professionals, and those who might not have financial support from their employers, to join EERI and participate in meetings and projects. Through my role as Secretary of the Seismological Society of America, I became well versed in the financial and ethical operations of nonprofit professional societies and would work to ensure the long-term financial viability and accountability of EERI. This includes recognizing the important role Spectra plays both in EERI’s finances and in fulfilling the Institute mission. I am appreciative of this opportunity and would be honored to represent EERI membership on its Board of Directors. I hope you’ll support my candidacy!


Director B


Carlien Bou-Chedid Bou Chedid

Carlien Bou-Chedid an Independent Consulting Structural Engineer in Ghana. Her career has spanned more than 35years and covers a breadth of activities. She worked as a structural engineer with the Architectural and Engineering Services Corporation (AESC now AESL) where she was engaged in the design, supervision of construction and rehabilitation of several structures in Ghana. She was later engaged as Director, Education and Training of the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) during which period she was involved in designing policies and programs for the education and training of engineers. She also served as the Executive Secretary of the GhIE responsible for management of its administrative and financial affairs.

Carlien was a Housner Fellow in its inaugural class which undertook a group project on School Seismic Safety in Ghana. For this project, she was the liaison between the Fellows and local stakeholders and since its completion and promoted its findings by presenting it to government.
She serves as a member of the technical committee on geological disasters of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in Ghana and has advised on issues related to structural failures and Ghana’s earthquake hazard and risk. In 2019, Carlien was appointed chair of a committee of experts from various disciplines to advise the Government of Ghana on “Refocusing Ghana’s Earthquake Preparedness and Response”. This involved an examination of issues related to Ghana’s Earthquake Disaster Risk Profile, Risk Governance Structures, Risk Reduction Measures, Response, Recovery, Communication, Funding and International Cooperation. 

Carlien has been involved in corporate governance through service on a number of governing boards and currently serves on the Boards of the Electricity Company of Ghana, Architectural and Engineering Services Ltd, the CSIR College of Science and Technology (CCST) and North Ridge Lyceum (A Primary and Junior Secondary School). Carlien was President of the GhIE (2017-2018) and is the President-Elect of the Federation of African Engineering Organisations (FAEO). She will begin her two-year term of office as President of FAEO in January 2021 and will also serve on the Board of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations.

Carlien’s vision

An ideal world would have been one without natural disasters but unfortunately, earthquakes continue to wreak havoc globally. Over the years, EERI has engaged in several activities to ensure that we live in a world where potential earthquake losses are widely understood and prudent steps have been taken to address the risks but we still have some way to go before we achieve the world EERI envisions.

The mission of EERI to mitigate the impact of earthquakes by providing a platform for collaboration among stakeholders from diverse disciplines is one that I am honored to support. Under competent leadership, EERI has taken some very helpful initiatives and projects that are all geared towards mitigating the risk of earthquakes such as those on Schools Earthquake Safety (SESI) and Learning From Earthquakes (LFE).

As a structural engineer with several years of experience in diverse capacities, my vision for EERI is to push the agenda of building and strengthening earthquake resilient societies. I will like the voice of EERI to be heard in the space of global governance to effect the changes that are required. We need to empower the various stakeholders of the EERI to make both local and global impact.

Considering the mode of communication in our world today, a stronger social media presence will be a helpful as it will enable EERI reach out to more societies. We must create and deliver more interactive and educational content to a wider audience. In summary, I believe that EERI has the necessary human capital (with cultural and expertise diversity), promising long-term projects and initiatives. However, there is an urgent need to advance the mission of the EERI by reaching out to larger audiences.

JohnstonDavid Johnston 

David Johnston, Ph.D is the Professor of Disaster Management and Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, in the School of Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. He is also the Deputy Director of the multi-institutional QuakeCoRE research program in New Zealand. His research has developed as part of a multi-disciplinary theoretical and applied research program, involving the collaboration of physical and social scientists from several organizations and countries. His research and teaching focus on human responses to earthquake, tsunami, and weather warnings, crisis decision-making, and the role of public education and participation in building community resilience and recovery. Previously, he was a Principal Scientist at GNS Science (New Zealand’s Geological Survey), where he worked for 25 years (1993-2018).

He has initiated and maintained an extensive peer network of national and international collaborators, working closely with a range of New Zealand government departments and agencies, as well as international partners. He has, by invitation, provided expert advice through various international working groups, science committees, and presentations. As former Chair of the global Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Scientific Committee (IRDR), he had a central role in the development of the United Nations Sendai Framework. He was appointed as a scientific representative to the New Zealand Delegation to the Open-ended Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva in 2014 and delivered the statement for the Science and Technology Major Group at the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in 2015.

He received the 2016 New Zealand Civil Defence Emergency Management Ministerial Award for outstanding and sustained contribution to the New Zealand emergency management sector over the past 25 years and was made a Fellow of the New Zealand Earthquake Engineering Society in 2019. He is currently the Editor of The Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Emergency Management. In 2017 he was invited to become a member of the USGS Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) External Working Group.

David’s vision

I have been involved with EERI for more a decade and I am honored to be nominated for the Board of Directors. As we all know a significant portion of the world’s population is at risk from earthquakes. While the timing of the next earthquake may be unknown or uncertain, their impacts and long-term effects can be assessed. Recent earthquakes continue to demonstrate the devastating impacts they have on communities.

I sincerely believe earthquakes must be planned for using a comprehensive risk management approach that links mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. Over the last few decades EERI has recognized that integrated multi-disciplinary research is needed to provide an understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that influence the development of strong communities that are resilient to the impacts of earthquake hazards and able to respond effectively when events occur.

Several global initiatives are seeking to promote these concepts and EERI is a key part of many such programs. In 2010 the Integrated Research for Disaster Reduction (IRDR), a decade-long integrated research program co-sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) was initiated. IRDR made a significant contribution to the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In 2020 a new set of programs are under development. EERI has an important role to play in supporting both national and international multi-disciplinary research and teaching collaborations for improving the resilience of communities to earthquake risk.