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Project Information

Project Information

Enhancing Community Resilience (EnCoRe) Oversight Committee

Project Scope:

The Enhancing Community Resilience (EnCoRe) Initiative partners directly with communities in the coastal regions along the Gulf Coast and Southcentral Alaska to build and enhance health and community resilience. The creation of EnCoRe was informed by recommendations from a 2019 National Academies’ consensus study Building and Measuring Community Resilience: Actions for Communities and the Gulf Research Program. Specifically, Recommendation 5 states, "The Gulf Research Program should develop a major, coordinated initiative around building or enhancing community resilience in communities across the Gulf region."


To build the capacity of Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan communities through engagement, education, collaboration, and integration of data and science into decision-making in order to advance community-based efforts to achieve healthy, resilient, and thriving communities that are equitable and inclusive for all.

EnCoRe's Goals

  1. Reduce inequities in health and community resilience.
  2. Advance research and practice in health and community resilience.
  3. Build the capacity of communities to 1) address the impacts of climate change and disasters on at-risk populations, and 2) sustain their disaster and climate resilience efforts.

EnCoRe will examine community challenges and promote solutions through two frameworks that influence the health and resilience of individuals and communities:

  1. Six Community Capitals of Resilience [1]
  2. Social Determinants of Health [2]

Community capitals represent the different types of assets of a community. The health and well-being of a community and its ability to absorb, recover from, and adapt to adverse events and disasters depends on the resilience of numerous intersecting systems across multiple community capitals. Health inequities are the result of a disproportionate and unjust distribution of social determinants of health (SDHs). SDHs are “conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” Resilience-building efforts that address SDHs can improve conditions, decrease risk and vulnerability, and facilitate positive health outcomes – thus reducing health inequities and ultimately advancing health equity.



[1] For an explanation of the six community capitals see Building and Measuring Community Resilience: Actions for Communities and the Gulf Research Program (2019), p. 16.

[1] For more information about the social determinants of health see Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity Conceptual Model and



Status: Current


RSO: Milliken, Charlene


Gulf Research Program


Behavioral and Social Sciences
Biology and Life Sciences
Health and Medicine

Parent Project(s): N/A

Child Project(s): N/A

Geographic Focus:
North America

Committee Membership

Wendy R. Ellis - (Chair)
Dr. Wendy Ellis is an Assistant Professor in Global Health and Founding Director of the Center for Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Center for Community Resilience seeks to improve the health of communities by enabling cross-sectoral partners to align policy, program, and practice to address adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments--or as Ellis has coined it "The Pair of ACEs". This innovative framing of ACEs, with an explicit focus on equity and prevention, has had a substantial influence on local initiatives, programs, public health initiatives and local, state and federal policy. Using the Pair of ACEs framing, Building Community Resilience networks have successfully led systems and policy change focused on addressing long-standing economic, social, and health disparities by partnering with community, integrating service delivery and building political will for change. In 2019, Dr. Ellis' dissertation titled "Community Resilience: A Dynamic Model for Public Health" which applies dynamic systems modeling to governmental public health department efforts aimed at addressing ACEs and building community resilience was implemented as the Resilience Catalyst initiative. The Community Resilience model is designed as a Public Health 3.0 strategy for the Chief Health Strategist working across sectors to drive initiatives that address inequities that are at the heart of the nation's health disparities.
Shauntice Allen
Dr. Shauntice Allen, PhD, MA is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health. Her research program has a strong prevention focus at both the individual and community levels where she explores the inextricable link between environmental exposures, race, and place. Dr. Allen is also an Associate Scientist with UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science where she collaborates with investigators in the disciplines of medicine, nursing, public health, and business, along with the greater Birmingham community. Since 2008, Dr. Allen has led the community engagement effort for UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). In this role, she has been responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Birmingham Neighborhood Leaders Survey (BNLS), a community-designed survey tool used to explore issues affecting health in an urban metropolitan area. A two-time graduate of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a BS in Biology, MA in Human and Environmental Sciences, and PhD in Health Education and Promotion from UAB, Dr. Allen has been involved in engaging both urban and rural communities performing research, program evaluation, coalition building, and deploying community-informed data collection methods.
Patrick A. Barnes
Mr. Patrick Barnes is a licensed professional geologist and environmental justice advocate. In 1994, he founded BFA Environmental a minority owned, multidiscipline environmental engineering, scientific consulting, and land surveying services firm. At their peak, BFA had over 150 employees in the Gulf states, executing over 20 million dollars in contracts. BFA has completed water resources management, emergency response, and environmental assessment/restoration projects in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. At the core of a successful environmental restoration project is data collection and monitoring, and true community engagement. Under contracts with the South Florida Water Management District, charged with helping to implementing the multibillion Everglades Restoration Program, BFA provided over 3 million dollars of data collection and environmental monitoring services. For hurricanes in the early 2000’s, BFA trained and employed hundreds of residents from impacted areas to participate in the recovery effort. Seeing a community need in 2006, Mr. Barnes provided $300,000 of seed capital to establish Limitless Vistas, Inc. (LVI), a workforce development and STEM skills job training non-profit. LVI uses the Conservation Corps approach and a service learning model to engage young adults. It has trained and certified over 600 at-risk young adults for the emergency response and coastal restoration projects resulting from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Irma and the BP oil spill. In April of 2013, Mr. Barnes was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for his effort to bring environmental resiliency to vulnerable coastal communities through job training.
Beneta D. Burt
Ms. Beneta D. Burt serves as President and CEO of the Mississippi Urban League. Prior to that, she served as executive director for the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, Inc., which provides knowledge, tools, and technical support to individuals and communities to help them form partnerships with institutions, social advocates, researchers and policy makers, for collectively creating community change toward health equity. Mississippi Urban League’s mission is to enable African-Americans and other underserved residents to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights. Ms. Burt earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology/Social Welfare, and a Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA), from Jackson State University. She has received numerous awards and recognition. She was recognized by The Clarion-Ledger Newspaper as one of the top 50 “Women Who Inspire” in the Greater Jackson Area, and recognized by The Mississippi Business Journal as one of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women. She also received the New Horizon’s Community Service Award. Ms. Burt received mayoral appointments as a Commissioner for the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, where she served as president and, as a trustee of the Jackson Public School Board of Trustees where she served as president of the Board. Ms. Burt is past president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, and served as an advisory board member in the School of Public Health, Jackson State University. She recently received a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Boston College, Center for Corporate Citizenship, Carrol School of Management. Ms. Burt was selected as a National Merit Reviewer for the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program, Medical College of Wisconsin. She also co-authored “Concept Mapping as a Tool in the Process of Health Disparity Elimination. (published in the American Journal of Public Health: Nov.2007)
Courtney Carothers
Courtney Carothers is a professor of fisheries at the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Carothers earned a Ph.D. (2008) and M.A. (2004) in environmental anthropology from the University of Washington (2008), and a B.A. (2000) in biology and society from Cornell University. Her research explores how fishery systems are being remade by enclosure and privatization processes. She also partners with Indigenous communities to understand social and cultural dimensions of knowledge systems, climate change, traditional ways of life, and decolonizing education and research. Her work focuses on human-environment relationships, cultural values, equity, and well-being. She currently serves as a member of the Committee on the Use of Limited Access Privilege Programs in Mixed-Use Fisheries for the National Academy of Sciences.

Meri Davlasheridze
Dr. Davlasheridze is an assistant professor at the department of marine and coastal environmental science, Texas A&M University at Galveston (since 2013) and a faculty research fellow at the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores (CTBS). She received her Ph.D. in Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013. Her research focuses on understanding socioeconomic and human impacts of natural disasters, evaluating the efficacy of federal disaster policies in terms of promoting local disaster resilience, and developing strategies and incentives to promote private hazard insurance market. She serves as a Co-PI on a multidisciplinary NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project and a NOAA-funded project to study the value of disaster preparedness. She is a PI on a state-funded project to examine incentives for promoting hail and wind insurance market along the seacoast territories of Texas. Previously, , Dr. Davlasheridze served as Co-PI on various projects funded by the Texas General Land Office and the University of Texas Medical Branch. She leads the economic components of projects on local and regional effects of storm surge and the benefits of a coastal spine, the mitigation strategy proposed for the coastal communities along the south eastern Gulf coast of Texas. She has multiple peer-reviewed publications in highly-ranked disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals, including the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Land Economics, Small Business Economics, Climatic Change, Risk Analysis, and others. She has contributed as a panelist or research contributor to the following projects: the NSF-sponsored Coastlines and People (CoPe) Research Coordination Network; the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN); NOAA’s Regional Integrate Science and Assessments (RISA) project; the Program of Integrated Assessment, Model Development, Diagnostics, and Inter-Model Comparisons (PIAMDDI); and, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. She served as a guest editor for Sustainability and reviewed multiple journal articles, conference papers, and research proposals. She has served as a resource member for the Beach Management Advisory Council for the Galveston Park Board, an organization responsible for beach maintenance and management in Galveston Island. She is a member of the Texas One Gulf Network of Experts (TONE), a consortium of nine Texas research institutions, comprised by 150 experts from the consortium members, and designated under the auspices of the RESTORE Act.
Vanessa Y. Hiratsuka
Dr. Hiratsuka (Diné/Winnemem Wintu) is mother of two, a wife, and a public health researcher with 20 years of mixed methods research experience within the Alaska tribal health system. She received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University, a master’s degree in public health practice from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a doctoral degree in public health from Walden University. Her community engagement work has spanned regional, national, and international efforts. Dr. Hiratsuka has extensive experience coaching and mentoring community and university-based researchers and practitioners in ethical, social, and legal implications of genomic research and clinical and translational research and developing culturally adapted chronic disease and behavioral health interventions in tribal health settings. She is a board member of the International Union on Circumpolar Health and the American Society for Circumpolar Health and was an associate editor for the International Journal on Circumpolar Health. Her research interests include engagement of Indigenous people in research project development and cultural adaptation of chronic disease and behavioral health interventions for individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities. Vanessa also beads, paints with alcohol inks, knits and sews in her spare time.
Jennifer A. Horney
Dr. Jennifer Horney is Professor and Founding Director of the Epidemiology Program and Core Faculty at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on the health impacts of disasters. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology (2009) and her MPH in Public Health (2003) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Center for Preparedness and Response, a member of the NORC/CDC Technical Workgroup on Improving Processes for Identifying and Reporting Disaster-Related Deaths, and a member of the Publications Board of the American Public Health Association. She has previously been a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Integration of Public Health and Human Services Following Large Scale Disasters and was a commissioned author for the Academy’s Committee on Evidence-Based Practices for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response.
Jesse M. Keenan
Dr. Jesse M. Keenan is an Associate Professor of Real Estate and social scientist within the faculty of the School of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a globally recognized thought leader, Keenan’s research focuses on the intersection of climate change adaptation and the built environment, including aspects of design, engineering, regulation, planning, and financing. Keenan has previously advised on matters concerning the built environment for agencies of the U.S. government, governors, mayors, Fortune 500 companies, technology ventures, community enterprises, and international NGOs. Keenan is a member of the IPCC and formerly co-led climate research initiatives at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Keenan formerly served as the Chair of the U.S. Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems under the Obama White House. Keenan formerly served as the Area Head for Real Estate and Built Environment on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Design; Fellow of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and, as the Research Director of the Center for Urban Real Estate on the faculty of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Keenan is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. Keenan’s books and edited volumes include, NYC 2040: Housing the Next One Million New Yorkers (2014), Climate Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design (2017), North American Climate Adaptation: Fostering Resilience and a Regional Capacity to Adapt (2017), Adaptation Finance and Investment in California (2018), Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System (2020) and COVID-19: Systematic Risk and Resilience (2021). Keenan holds degrees in the law (J.D., LL.M.) and science (M.Sc.) of real estate and the built environment, including a Ph.D. in Real Estate and Spatial Planning from the Delft University of Technology.
Christa F. Lopez
Dr. Christa Lopez works for the Texas General Land Office in the Community Development and Revitalization department, focused on disaster recovery efforts for the State of Texas. Prior to the GLO, Christa worked for Texas Division of Emergency Management as supervisor of the Individual Assistance program and before that as a State and Federal Planner. She is seen as a subject matter expert in disaster recovery. Her dissertation work including examining disaster survivors’ experiences with disaster volunteers. Dr. Lopez serves as the State of Texas Representative for the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and is an active member of their conference committee.
Catherine E. McKinley
Dr. Catherine McKinley is an Associate Professor at the Tulane University School of Social Work after having attained her PhD in 2013 in social work from the University of Iowa. Dr. McKinley has worked with Indigenous tribes cross-nationally for over 10 years and works on federally funded community engaged research to develop and test culturally grounded interventions to promote family resilience and transcendence while addressing violence, substance abuse, and associated health disparities, including diabetes and health. Dr. McKinley serves as principal investigator of “Chukka Auchaffi’ Natana (In Choctaw): The Weaving Healthy Families Program to Promote Wellness and Resilience and Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence” with a supplement (3R01AA028201-01S1) focusing on the secondary health effects of COVID-19 promoting access, sustainability, and engagement with a digitally assisted intervention, through the use of SMS text messages. Her work may be found in 70 peer-reviewed publications and in collaboration with tribes led to the development of the Indigenous-based and ecological “Framework of Historical Oppression, Resilience, and Transcendence (FHORT)”, which identifies, and culturally relevant risk and protective factors related to wellness across community, family, and individual levels from a relational perspective. This framework was chosen for inclusion in the edited book, Grand Challenges for Society: Evidence-Based Social Work Practice, and her work has also been highlighted as Best Paper by the Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work in 2018, "Indigenous Women and Professionals’ Proposed Solutions to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence in Tribal Communities.” As a lead editor on a special issue and associated book entitled, “Mental, physical and social dimensions of health equity and wellness among U.S. Indigenous Peoples: What is known and next steps” she is a leader conducing community engaged and culturally grounded health equity research.
Chris Monforton
Chris Monforton, President & Chief Executive Officer of both Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Habitat for Humanity Baldwin County. Chris has been a full-time employee with Habitat for Humanity in various capacities for 22 years. He transferred with Habitat for Humanity International to the Mississippi Coast weeks after hurricane Katrina. Since 2006, under Chris’ leadership, the local Habitat organization has grown to be one of the most productive of more than 1200 Habitat chapters in the US and is often acknowledged as one of the most innovative and dynamic Habitat leaders in the country. Previous to his current position, he spent 9 years with Habitat for Humanity working in various locations across the country. In 2012, Chris was asked by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to serve on an 18-member White House task force looking at Federal Policy related to disaster recovery. Chris served for six years on the Habitat International U.S. Council, chairing both its Finance Committee and Policy Committee during his tenure. He was appointed to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Affordable Housing Advisory Council in 2018 and currently serves as its Vice-Chair. He is a member of the Gulf Coast Business Council, Urban Land Institute and the Mortgage Bankers Association. In addition, he serves on the following boards: United Bank, CDFI Advisory Board, Habitat for Humanity Michigan Fund, Home America, and is the co-chair of the Renaissance Community Loan Fund Community Advisory Board. He attended Jamestown College from 1994-1999 studying Biology and Nursing and holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University.
John D. Prochaska
Dr. John D. Prochaska is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine & Population Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. There, he also serves as the Deputy Director for Community Engagement for the NIEHS-funded Gulf-Coast Center for Precision Environmental Health and the Director of the Population Health Sciences graduate program. Dr. Prochaska is a population health scientist with training in social and environmental epidemiology, social and behavioral health principles, and health disparities. His interests lie in understanding the pathogenic and salutogenic features within neighborhoods, communities, and other populations that drive positive and negative health and health-related outcomes and health disparities (including social, political, and environmental sources of health risk and protective factors, as well as behaviors related to health promotion). His most recent research centers on the use of geographic information systems, machine learning techniques, and systems thinking to identify potential environmental justice communities. He is also leading the development of a scoring methodology for assessing and prioritizing potential health impacts within neighborhoods. Dr. Prochaska received his Doctorate in Public Health from the Texas A&M University Health Science Center’s School of Rural Public Health in 2009, where he also received a Master of Public Health degree in 2004.
Khalil Shahyd
Dr. Khalil Shahyd focuses on federal policy and national strategies that create just solutions for environmental and climate crises—specifically by integrating clean energy and energy efficiency with affordable housing and community development. He has more than 20 years of experience in community and economic justice organizing, planning, and policy advocacy. He has worked on just, sustainable development in urban and rural settings domestically and abroad in Mexico, India, and Brazil. Shahyd holds a bachelor's degree in history from Tulane University, a master's degree in sustainable international development from Brandeis University, and a PhD (ABD) in energy and environmental policy with a specialization in urban political ecology from the University of Delaware. Away from work, his passions are astronomy and soccer. Shahyd is based in NRDC's Washington, D.C., office.
Victor Sutton
Dr. Sutton is the Director of the Office of Preventive Health and Health Equity with the Mississippi State Department of Health. In this role, he manage several bureaus: Health Education; Injury & Violence Prevention; Chronic Diseases; Diabetes Prevention and Control; Cardiovascular Health; Comprehensive Cancer Control; and Community and School Health Programs. Dr. Sutton serves as Principal Investigator for several studies that are relevant to the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research (MCCTR) Community Engagement and Outreach Core. Among them are the NHLBI-funded Jackson Heart Study Community Engagement Center and the CDC-funded Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative. Most recently, he worked with members of the MCCTR to propose the “Mississippi CEAL Team: Community Engaged Research Alliance.” This project was funded by NHLBI, and Dr. Sutton serves as one of three Principal Investigators. During Phase II of the MCCTR project period, Dr. Sutton will co-lead the CEO Core’s Translational Community Engaged Research Taskforce, along with Susan Mayfield-Johnson, PhD. He will also work with the Community Advisory Board and other members of the CEO to assist in implementing community-engaged research in designated areas throughout Mississippi.
Dr. Sutton belongs to a number of professional organizations and have received numerous honors and awards. Presently he serves as a board member for the Directors of Health Promotion and Education, and President-Elect of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. He serves on the African American Advisory group for the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded National Diabetes Education Program.



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