what-is-rf

DISASTERS are now a fact of life in America. Every year, they increase in frequency and impact. Disasters are changing all of our lives, and no one is more important in shaping how we plan for them than the people we depend on to prepare, respond and recover. It’s the work of the Resilience Workforce that allows us to adapt and thrive.

RESILIENCE FORCE is a national initiative to transform America’s response to disasters by strengthening and securing America’s Resilience Workforce—the millions of people whose work, heart and expertise make sustainable recovery from disasters possible.

RESILIENCE FORCE works with community advocates and forward-thinking leaders in government, labor, the private sector and philanthropy to rewrite the rules of recovery.

A strong and active Resilience Workforce is vital to helping America’s cities and towns solve the many challenges that disasters pose and build thriving economies and inclusive communities as they do it.
By devising and implementing solutions to support the Resilience Workforce, Resilience Force and our partners are ensuring a more effective and equitable approach to disaster preparation, response, recovery and rebuilding.
The people who make up our country’s Resilience Workforce are now coming together—to be heard and to be counted, and to remove the barriers that hold them back from helping America rebuild.
The Resilience Workforce includes firefighters and other responders who limit the damage and harm caused by disasters as they emerge, as well as health care workers who assess needs and help the people most impacted. They are day care workers caring for children so their parents can return to work during recovery, and counselors who help impacted communities heal and rebuild social ties.
The Resilience Workforce includes people who start makeshift food pantries, check in regularly on their elderly neighbors and get the word out to displaced people when local housing and jobs become available.
It also includes those with more formal work roles. Some in the Resilience Workforce have secure and protected jobs, but far too many are under-paid and overlooked—they are people whose vital work is ignored, and whose humanity is threatened at every step.
Resilience workers include construction workers who fortify buildings in preparation for disasters, as well as reconstruction workers who rebuild homes and office buildings after disasters strike.

What is Resilience Force?

Disasters are now a fact of life in America. Every year, they increase in frequency and impact. Disasters are changing all of our lives, and no one is more important in shaping how we plan for them than the people we depend on to prepare, respond and recover. It’s the work of the Resilience Workforce that allows us to adapt and thrive.

RESILIENCE FORCE is a national initiative to transform America’s response to disasters by strengthening and securing America’s Resilience Workforce—the millions of people whose work, heart and expertise make sustainable recovery from disasters possible.

Resilience Force works with community advocates and forward-thinking leaders in government, labor, the private sector and philanthropy to rewrite the rules of recovery.
A strong and active resilience workforce is vital to helping America’s cities and towns solve the many challenges that disasters pose, and build thriving economies and inclusive communities as they do it.
By devising and implementing solutions to support the resilience workforce, Resilience Force and our partners are ensuring a more effective and equitable approach to disaster preparation, response, recovery and rebuilding.
Resilience workers include construction workers who fortify buildings in preparation for disasters, as well as reconstruction workers who rebuild homes and office buildings after disasters strike. They are firefighters and other responders who try to limit the damage and harm caused by disasters as they emerge, and health care workers who tend to the needs of the people most impacted. They are day care workers caring for children so their parents can return to work during recovery, and counselors who help impacted communities heal and rebuild social ties.
The Resilience Workforce includes volunteers who start makeshift food pantries, check in regularly on their elderly neighbors and get the word out to displaced people when local housing and jobs become available. It also includes those with more formal work roles. Some in the Resilience Workforce have secure and protect jobs, but far too many are under-paid and overlooked—they are people whose vital work is ignored, and whose humanity is threatened at every step.
The people who make up our country’s Resilience Workforce are now coming together—to be heard and to be counted, and to remove the barriers that hold them back from helping America rebuild.

An Immigrant Work Force on the Trail of Extreme Weather

By Miriam Jordan
October 31, 2019

They arrived by the hundreds last year after Hurricane Michael sliced through the Florida Panhandle, packing 160-mile-per-hour winds that snapped pine trees in half, mangled steel posts, ripped off roofs and upended people’s lives.

SB168 will make Florida communities less resilient

by Saket Soni and María Rodriguez
April 29, 2019

Immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, play a critical but largely unacknowledged role in helping communities rebuild and recover during and after natural disasters.

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Resilience Force Provides Disaster Relief After Hurricanes

This disaster relief group, made up of many undocumented immigrants, helps devastated communities often left behind

Inheriting a Disaster

by Saket Soni and Andrea Cristina Mercado October 24, 2018

In this opinion piece, Executive Directors Saket Soni of Resilience Force and Andrea Cristina Mercado of New Florida Majority demonstrate what’s at stake for Floridians in the choices public officials make during disaster recovery—specifically, Hurricane Michael.

Prepare
Prepare

Before disaster, people make sure communities are ready. They help to elevate houses near the water, they plant trees as storm buffers, and they get their neighbors to create an evacuation plan.

Respond
Respond

Many people help when disaster hits. They bring their neighbors to safety. They provide food, water, money and medicine to those that need it. They fight fires, build shelters and provide health care. They coordinate volunteers and help translate complicated information into plain language.

Rebuild
Rebuild

In the weeks, months and years after disaster, people put their communities back together. They demolish and repair homes, they help people cut through red tape to get the help they need, and they help people get jobs and childcare so they can come home.

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Saket Soni

Director

Saket Soni is a labor organizer and human rights strategist. He is founder and director of Resilience Force, a national initiative to transform America’s response to natural disasters by strengthening and securing America’s resilience workforce. As director, Saket crafts the organization’s advocacy and media strategy, and provides strategic counsel to social justice advocates and government officials across the country.

Resilience Force follows a 12-year record of successful advocacy in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

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After Hurricane Katrina, in 2006, Saket co-founded the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. Under his leadership, the organization won organizing and policy victories for both U.S.-born and immigrant workers engaged in the reconstruction of New Orleans. Saket led the organization to win precedent-setting National Labor Relations Board decisions protecting migrant whistleblowers on the front lines of the hospitality and seafood industries from retaliatory firings and blacklisting. In New Orleans, he also crafted campaigns to win pathways into the publicly funded construction industry for African American workers. Saket led a combined organizing and legal strategy to combat human trafficking, which resulted in a federal court awarding over $14 million in damages to migrant resilience workers rebuilding the Gulf Coast. In 2011, Saket founded the National Guestworker Alliance, an organization focused on defending the human rights and dignity of guestworkers in America.

Saket is recognized as a national expert on post-disaster economies, immigrant rights and the future of work. He was profiled as an “architect of the next labor movement” in USA Today, and he has testified before Congress and at the United Nations. Saket’s advocacy efforts have been featured on NPR, in Time, and on the front page of The New York Times. His writings have appeared in the L.A. TimesThe Hill, The NationLatino JournalTalking Points Memo and on CNN.com.

Saket co-authored And Injustice For All: Workers’ Lives In the Reconstruction, the most comprehensive report on race in the reconstruction of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, as well as Never Again: Lessons of the Gustav Evacuation, an account of the inequities in the response to Hurricane Gustav in 2009, which led to new state policies and new norms for evacuating the most vulnerable residents in preparation for disaster.

Saket began his career as a community organizer in Chicago at the Coalition of African, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants of Illinois. He is originally from New Delhi, India.

TEAM

Jeff Pinzino

Chief Operating Officer

Jeff has spent more than 20 years working for racial and economic justice, first as a community organizer, then as a funder, and for the past 8 years as a professional fundraiser and nonprofit manager. He has managed fundraising for groups such as People’s Action, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Midwest Academy. At Resilience Force, Jeff coordinates staff management, finance, fundraising and organizational development. He lives on the south side of Chicago.

Daniel Castellanos

Daniel arrived in the U.S. under exploitative conditions as an H-2B guestworker after Hurricane Katrina. He began organizing with other guestworkers in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and helped found the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), a national membership organization that fights for dignified work and just migration. As a Research Associate at NGA, he works to improve workplace conditions for migrant workers by investigating questions of workplace standards enforcement. Daniel is a recognized expert on U.S. guestworker programs, consults regularly with U.S. policymakers and has testified before Congress on effective enforcement models within the U.S. Department of Labor. He also advises Resilience Force on worker engagement. Daniel is from Peru and is the proud father of two teenagers.

Cynthia S Hernandez

Senior Manager – Florida Strategy

Cynthia began her career as a researcher and instructor at Florida International University (FIU) in 2006. Her research interests include issues at the intersection of labor and immigration, with a focus on wage theft. Her numerous research and publications led to the creation of several county-wide anti-wage theft ordinances throughout Florida, which have helped recover millions of dollars of unpaid wages. After nearly ten years of public service at FIU, Cynthia became the Executive Director of the South Florida American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). In that capacity, Cynthia led several coalitions to win higher wages and benefits for low-income families in Miami-Dade County, and lobbied for equitable development and progressive immigration legislation. At Resilience Force, Cynthia is tracking changing conditions and regulations affecting Resilience Workers. Cynthia is from Mexico, having immigrated to the U.S. at the age of five. She lives in Miami, Florida.

Javiera (Javi) Alarcon

Javiera (Javi) joined the National Guestworker Alliance in September 2016 and she is currently a Program Office at Resilience Force. She is a believer in participatory democracy and has developed a deep understanding of social justice through previous work at the Stewart R. Mott Foundation, MoveOn.org and the Institute for Policy Studies. She is passionate about empowering marginalized people, ensuring equal opportunities and maintaining a strong commitment to the opposition of oppression. At Resilience Force, Javi supports collaborations with workers, including in-person trainings and deeper engagement with Resilience Workers.. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

Chief Operating Officer

Advisor, Worker Engagement

Senior Manager,
Florida Strategy

Program Officer

Executive Director

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