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September 14, 2018

Congressional Hurricane Maria Conference

(WASHINGTON) – On Thursday, September 20th, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business, and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the Committee on Natural Resources, will sponsor a Congressional conference on Hurricane Maria marking one year since the catastrophic storm made landfall on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The conference will feature three expert panel presentations from non-governmental organizations, private sector organizations, and academia. The conference will be an opportunity to hear from experts on Hurricane Maria’s impact, explore how the Federal government can improve its response and recovery efforts, and remember those who lost their lives in the storm.

Reps. Thompson, Velázquez & Grijalva released the below statement announcing the conference:

“With nearly 3,000 lives lost, Hurricane Maria became the deadliest storm to make landfall in the U.S. in over a century.  Given the magnitude of loss and damage from Hurricane Maria, we must continue to work together and foster a dialogue to better understand the ongoing needs of those impacted by this devastating storm.  We hope you will be able to attend next week.”

The Hurricane Maria Conference: Reflecting on Catastrophe and Preparing for the Future

Sponsored by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, & Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Thursday, September 20, 2018
9:30am- 2:00pm

Capitol Visitor Center Room HVC-215
U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC


9:30am - Registration & Breakfast

10:00am - Opening Remarks

10:10am - Panel 1: Beyond Government: Resources Assisting Response Efforts (updated)

  • Tiffany Cross, Co-Founder & Managing Editor, The Beat DC (Moderator)
  • Kellie Bentz, Head of Global Disaster Response and Relief, Airbnb
  • Gina Adams, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, FedEx Corporation
  • Jennifer Jones, Strategist, Evelyn Lozada Foundation
  • Angelique Sina, Co-Founder & President, Friends of Puerto Rico
  • Jeanette Morelan, Communications and Marketing Manager, World Central Kitchen
  • José Calderón, President, Hispanic Federation

11:10am - Keynote Speaker (updated):

Dr. Irwin Redlener, MD, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University

12pm - Panel 2: Helping Vulnerable Communities Weather the Storm (updated)

  • Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, MPA, Public Policy and Communications Strategist (Moderator)
  • Jeff Schlegelmilch, MPH, MBA, Deputy Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University
  • Casey Harrity, MPA, Senior Director, Humanitarian Programs, Save the Children
  • Annelle Primm, MD, MPH, Chair and Convener, All Healers Mental Health Alliance
  • Marcie Roth, Chief Executive Officer, Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • Alejandra Y. Castillo, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, YWCA USA

1pm - Panel 3: Looking to the Future

  • Federico de Jesús, MA, Principal, FDJ Solutions (Moderator)
  • Enrique Fernández Toledo, Director, Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy, Center for American Progress
  • Barbara Lyons, PhD, Senior Vice President, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Diane Yentel, MS, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Carmen Orozco-Acosta, PhD, Senior Policy Advisor, US Domestic Program, Oxfam America
  • Alice Thomas, JD, Climate Displacement Program Manager, Refugees International


Although Members will be sponsoring and hosting this event to inform stakeholders and the policymaking community, they will not be in Washington for the conference. 

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Velázquez) Alex Haurek at 202-225-2361
(Grijalva) Adam Sarvana at 202-225-6065