June 11, 2024, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT

A Missing Ingredient: Adding Capacity to the Federal Vulnerability Mapping Mix

City Planning

Webinar Description:

Federal climate vulnerability maps are used to identify and allocate billions of dollars to disadvantaged, at-risk, and in-need communities. While this is an important step in supporting these communities, a recent study found that such maps fail to identify those on the lower end of the capacity spectrum.

This webinar features speakers from Headwaters Economics and the Bill Anderson Fund who will discuss their study that compared the Council on Environmental Quality Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Disaster Resilience Zones with Headwaters Economics Rural Capacity Index.

The findings indicate that considering a community’s capacity to plan, fund, and maintain disaster risk reduction projects would augment vulnerability maps and result in more strategic grants and investments in infrastructure—including transportation, energy, and climate resilience projects. Join us to learn about the implications of this research.


Tiffany Cousins, Virginia Tech
Joseph Karanja, Arizona State University
Patty Hernandez, Headwaters Economics

Natural Hazards Center Overview Slides
Presentation Slides


Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool
Community Disaster Resilience Zones
Headwaters Economics’ Rural Capacity Index

Tiffany Cousins

Tiffany Cousins is a is a planning, governance, and globalization PhD student at Virginia Tech. She is a geographic information system and natural hazards researcher with academic and professional experience in geophysics, geography, and urban planning (environmental hazard management). A native of New York City with West Indian heritage, Cousins’ research uses crowdsourced data for pluvial flood mapping and modeling. Her career vision is to explore the application of GIS in disaster resilience and risk management.

Joseph Karanja

Joseph Karanja is a PhD student at Arizona State University. Karanja’s research interests focus on heat vulnerability, entailing the understanding of socioeconomic and biophysical drivers of heat vulnerability across multiple spatial and temporal scales, and the examination of associated heat-health outcomes. Additionally, Karanja investigates how different spatial analysis methods influence the determination of vulnerable populations and locations and their implications in policymaking. His research intersects key themes such as urban climate, biometeorology, scale, spatial statistics, and vulnerability science.

Patty Hernandez

Patty Hernandez is co-founder and executive director of Headwaters Economics. She has played a formative role in building the highly productive team, positive culture, and impactful work for which Headwaters Economics is known. Hernandez has 20 years of experience in economic development research, community assistance, technology solutions, and nonprofit leadership. She has led Headwaters Economics’ development of highly regarded interactive data tools—such as Neighborhoods at Risk and Wildfire Risk to Communities—that help communities adapt to climate change. With an abiding interest in community development and equity, Hernandez has worked with a wide network of partners to identify and analyze relevant data for community planning and natural hazards, and to make the data easily accessible.

Continuing Education Credits:

This webinar is eligible for one contact hour of emergency management training within the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) certification program. For more information about continuing education credits and how to earn them, please click here.