When Disaster Strikes: Emergency Preparedness and Response for Grantmakers

Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 2:00 EDT / 11:00 PDT [PASSED]

  • Mary Margaret Schoenfeld, Coordinator, National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response
  • Regine A. Webster, Vice President, Center for Disaster Philanthropy
  • Wendy Liscow, Program Director, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Session 1 of the 10-part 2014 Web Conference Series

A recording of this presentation is available here.

Web conferences are free to the staff and board of GIA member organizations. The fee for nonmembers is $35. If you have already registered for another web conference in the 2014 series, please click the Register now! button and login, then click Agenda.


The dilemma facing foundations recently is not “if a disaster hits,” but rather “when disaster strikes....” While some grantmakers embrace emergency response and relief services as a core program, most of us find ourselves less-than-fully prepared when asked to take a leadership role following a disaster.

This web conference explores concrete strategies to prepare for the unexpected. We will discuss the steps any funder can take to develop a basic emergency response plan and we’ll examine the experience of an arts grantmaker who suddenly found themselves in the role of emergency responder, and how this experience changed their work.

Through a question and answer format, presenters will focus on responding to the following questions:

  • What can arts funders do in advance of a disaster for prepare themselves and their grantees?
  • How can the private philanthropic community leverage their existing grantmaking to mitigate the negative effects of disasters?
  • When is it prudent for a funder to think about and develop disaster plans?
  • Where can funders turn to for more information and answers?
Presenter Bios:
For eighteen years, Regine A. Webster has honed her leadership skills with nonprofits ranging from the local to international level; disaster philanthropy, humanitarian aid, and global health equity have been constants in her work. She serves as vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy following a term as senior associate with Arabella Advisors, where she supported the firm’s response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, as well as the recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti.

Prior to that, Regine served as program officer, consultant, and fellow in the Global Health and Global Development divisions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. While there, she led the Foundation’s $15 million Emergency Relief portfolio, managed complex grantmaker/grantee relationships across twenty international non-governmental organizations, and developed and executed more than ninety grants totaling more than $50 million to address crises in South Asia, Sudan, Iran, the Caribbean, and other areas.

Regine also was a consultant to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in Century City, CA. Her duties included co-leading the development of the Foundation’s response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and the Pakistan earthquake in October of the same year. She also co-wrote and revised the Hilton Foundation’s disaster response strategy on two occasions. Regine has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations, including those that develop public policy and health care services for a variety of populations. Regine holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Boston College and a master’s in Foreign Policy from Georgetown University.

Mary Margaret Schoenfeld is an independent arts management consultant. Since July 2012 she has served as the coordinator for the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, where she works with arts service organizations and funders to support programs and activities to increase the resilience of the arts sector. She also serves as the national coordinator for the six US Regional Arts Organizations, representing them as an advisory member on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Board of Directors. She is a guest lecturer for the Goucher College MA in Arts Administration program and works with a of number public, private and nonprofit clients. Mary Margaret has an M.A. in Public Affairs, focused on community and economic development, from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Policy and Affairs. She lives in Arlington, VA.
In addition to overseeing the Dodge Foundation’s Education grantmaking, Wendy Liscow is the brains behind the Foundation’s wildly popular Technical Assistance workshops, which help strengthen the capacity of New Jersey’s nonprofit sector.

Prior to joining the Foundation staff in 2003, Wendy worked for 25 years as a professional theatre administrator, director and producer. She was Associate Artistic Director and resident director of George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick for 12 years, and then served as the Director of Programs and Services for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance where, among other responsibilities, she led the New Jersey Arts Access Task Force, of which she is a founding member.

Wendy began her studies at University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, but ultimately received her degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Speech and Theatre. Wendy is a graduate of Leadership NJ and serves on the board of the National Creativity Network and Creative New Jersey.