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Santa Monica Hires Chief Resilience Officer  

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 17, 2017 -- Following the lead of vulnerable cities from Los Angeles and New Orleans to mega-metropolises on the other side of the globe, Santa Monica has created a new post to develop a “resilience strategy” in the event of a major earthquake, tsunami, pandemics, terrorism and “chronic stressors” such as climate change.

City Manager Rick Cole announced Friday he had hired Lindsay M. Barker for his executive team as the City’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). She began her job January 9 at a salary of $125,496 a year.
Picture of Lindsay Barker

Barker -- will oversee the City’s Office of Emergency Management, including its 24/7 public safety dispatch center.

As part of the job, Barker also will develop a “resilience” response plan to help the City “weather crises beyond natural disasters, including climate change and other potential threats,” a statement from the City’s communications office said.

Jobs like Santa Monica’s CRO have been trending in recent years as cities -- home to most of the world’s population -- explore new ways to tackle emergencies such as 2005’s Hurricane Katina, which authorities say was the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history, and the bungled response by government officials.

“Resilience” is a fairly new concept in urban planning and has gotten a big boost from a Rockefeller Foundation initiative called “100 Resilient Cities,” which offers grants and other assistance to cities worldwide that hope to serve as lead strategists in dealing with potential threats to their communities.

Santa Monica is not a part of the 100 Resilient Cities project, but the City’s statement said it believes in the “underlying need to be future-proof.”

The “100 Resilient Cities” initiative began in 2013 with offers of funding and other assistance to cities willing to take on the challenge. After starting with 32 cities, the project last year reached its goal of including 100 cities worldwide.

Many of the cities taking part are metropolises scattered across the globe with histories of natural disasters made worse by overpopulation, poverty and crumbling infrastructure.

In California, the list includes Los Angeles, a founding member of 100 Resilient Cities, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

In all, almost two dozen of the country’s largest cities are involved with the initiative, including New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Dallas.

The smallest city is Boulder, Colorado, which has a population of about 103,000, or about 10,000 more than Santa Monica's 93,640.

Cole said the City had been looking for candidates with a background in emergency services and “with the vision and leadership necessary to build innovative resiliency initiatives.

“Lindsay has the required strengths along with passion and grit that will make her an asset to this community and to keeping Santa Monica resilient in a changing world,” he said.

Barker joins the City after more than six years with Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, where she directed the hospital’s emergency operations as director of emergency management and public safety.

In that position, she also served as the St. John’s representative to the L.A. Emergency Management Services Agency and the L.A. Regional Intelligence Center.

Barker also has experience working with the L.A. County Department of Public Health and has served as an emergency services training coordinator for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. She worked with the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department/Office of Emergency Services through an AmeriCorps National Preparedness and Response program, the City said.

In addition, Barker served as a public health preparedness associate for the Battelle Memorial Institute, where she conducted studies for the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine and the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Health Affairs, City officials said.

She received her BA in International Service at American University and her Master’s in Public Health from UCLA.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue my service to the City of Santa Monica,” Barker said. “I strongly believe that by working closely with residents, businesses, and local organizations, we will collectively strengthen the city’s existing resilience and better prepare our neighborhoods for any potential adverse event.”

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