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Veronica Cedillos

President & CEO

GeoHazards International

Building Disaster Resilience: Making our World Safer through Structural Engineering

October 4, 2023 at 6:15:00 PM
Eagle Theater
Veronica Cedillos


Worldwide, a stark, sobering disproportion in disaster impacts exists in low-income versus high-income communities. Over 90% of disaster fatalities occur in developing countries (UNDP, 2014) and natural disasters are a major driver of extreme poverty for millions around the world (Hallgate et al., 2017).

By designing buildings, bridges, dams and other infrastructure, structural engineers play a major role in protecting lives and ensuring safety for communities during disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, as well as climate impacts.

Veronica is a structural engineer by background and President at GeoHazards International (GHI), a global non-profit focused on saving lives by empowering at-risk communities to build resilience ahead of disasters and climate impacts. GHI focuses on developing locally-appropriate mitigation and preparedness measures informed by the latest science, engineering, policy, and social science. These include risk-informed planning and growth, disaster-resistant design and construction, planning of post-event functionality of critical infrastructure like hospitals, and science-informed preparedness. Programs are designed to be a catalyst for lasting impact by building local capacity, creating local ownership, and empowering communities. The vision is a future where communities can thrive despite natural hazards.

This talk will include specific examples of a school earthquake safety program in Nepal and will describe on-the-ground challenges, strategies for addressing them, and key takeaways.

Meet the Speaker:

Veronica Cedillos is President & CEO at GeoHazards International, a nonprofit focused on empowering communities to be safer from disasters and climate impacts. She is responsible for the strategic and financial management of the organization, including that of field offices in Haiti, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Dominican Republic. Her educational background is in structural engineering and her professional experience has focused on managing projects to reduce the impacts of natural hazards. She has directed numerous efforts focusing on seismic and tsunami risk reduction throughout the world, including major projects in Armenia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Peru, and the United States. As part of this work, she lived in Haiti, Indonesia, and Peru for extended periods. In recognition of her work, Veronica was selected as the 2010 American Society of Civil Engineer’s New Faces of Engineering and was awarded the 2011 Shah Family Innovation Prize by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). She was named an EERI Housner Fellow in 2017. She has been a major contributor or editor on several technical reports that guide practicing engineers to design buildings to withstand natural hazards, primarily earthquakes and tsunamis. Veronica is a licensed civil engineer in California and holds an M.S. in Structural Engineering from Stanford University and B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

7 Things to Know about Veronica:

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