A Message from the 2019-2020 President Laurie A. Johnson


Johnson August 2017 5 512x640Today, March 1, 2021, is about halfway between the 10th anniversaries of two of the most destructive earthquakes of the past decade – the M6.2 earthquake that struck directly underneath Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22, 2011, and the M9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan’s Tohoku coast 17 days later on March 11th. EERI and its members have helped assess the geophysical, engineering, and societal impacts of these disasters, innovated solutions for the complex response, restoration, and rebuilding efforts in both countries, and heeded lessons for other localities and generations to come. This is why I first joined EERI and why I am so grateful to have served as the Institute’s president these past two years.

In drafting this message, I looked back at the vision statement that I prepared when I stood for election back in September 2017 to consider what I had envisioned then for the Institute and hoped to achieve during my tenure. The first thing that popped out was an assertion I made about how social media and information technology are changing the way we both network and learn. Never had I imagined that we would face a global pandemic and that EERI would have to adapt as quickly as it has, in order to continue to provide the array of services and support that our members rely upon. Heidi Tremayne, the EERI staff, and our many volunteers have done a truly outstanding job in keeping our members connected, learning, and leading.

My point at the time was how technology and communications are forcing professional associations to rethink their value proposition to members. I believed then as I do now that EERI’s strength and value rests with its mission to improve the understanding of earthquake risk and increase earthquake resilience in communities worldwide. EERI’s special mix of high-quality, traditional membership services, like annual meetings, webinars, student and regional chapters, and our journal—Earthquake Spectra, along with our more unique research and community service opportunities, like the Learning from Earthquakes (LFE) program and School Earthquake Safety Initiative, help foster the diverse multi-disciplinary, but singularly-focused, “earthquake community” that is the envy of other hazard professions.

I am especially pleased by what we have accomplished in just two years with the LFE Endowment Campaign. At its launch in March 2019, we set an ambitious goal to raise $4 million over a 5-year period through a combination of cash pledges and testamentary gifts. To date, 171 donors have pledged nearly $1.1 million in cash and $845,000 in planned giving. The Institute is now in a strong position to draw upon the fund if needed to support reconnaissance missions and program enhancements, while also ensuring that a robust and dynamic LFE program will endure.

Over the past six months, the Board of Directors and EERI staff have been working hard on a Strategic Plan for the next 5 years that aims to enhance EERI’s presence and impact by strengthening the Institute’s operations, programs and activities. Our incoming president David Cocke will be presenting the newly-adopted 2021-2025 Strategic Plan to the membership at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

With my remaining year as Past-President, I am going to be helping David, Heidi, the Board and staff to implement key aspects of the new Strategic Plan. I will also be working to strengthen EERI’s continuum of career engagement, which starts with our students and younger members, to ensure that we are staying connected, supporting, and tapping the experience of our mid-and late-career members too.

In closing, I’d like to thank retiring Board members, Barry Welliver (M. 2002) and John Anderson (M. EERI, 1980) for their abounding energy and many contributions these past four years and welcome in new Board members Carlien Bou-Chedid (M. EERI, 2011) and Ayse Hortacsu (M. EERI, 2000). I look forward to seeing everyone online at the 2021 Annual Meeting and am hopeful that we will be able to gather together in person again soon.

Thank you for your membership and support of EERI.