Laura Olson

Jacksonville State University

Contact Info

Laura Olson works with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Recovery Unit as a Senior Consultant. She conducts Post-Disaster Needs Assessments after major events internationally, designs solutions to Disaster Risk Reduction and recovery dilemmas, and trains government employees on disaster management best practices. She has worked in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa with the UN leading recovery and DRR missions. She also works with FEMAs National Disaster Recovery Support team on the transfer of best practice knowledge to U.S. communities trying to rebuild after natural disasters. She has authored policy briefs on drought and adaptation measures for the National Security Council, and she works on the topic of forced migration and disaster in the U.S. and international contexts.

Her scholarly work includes teaching in Georgetown University’s Emergency & Disaster Management (EDM) program and research projects with Virginia Tech’s Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience (GFURR), where she is a Senior Research Fellow. She has responded to disasters and crises for 15 years with a variety of different entities: FEMA, HUD, the White House, the American Red Cross, United Way, VOAD groups, and the United Nations. Major incidents she has responded to include Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, the Tuscaloosa tornado, Hurricane Sandy, the war in the Gaza Strip and a number of other domestic and internationals disasters. She has a PhD in Public Administration from The George Washington University, a Master’s Degree in Political Science and German Literature from the Karls-Ruprecht-Universität Heidelberg, and a B.A. in Political Philosophy from Macalester College.