Digital Event

Diversity and Inclusion

In Whole-Community Disaster Management

Watch On-Demand




The Webinar

When disasters strike, they create tragedy for all people. However, in their aftermath, those with the fewest resources and least support suffer most. Emergencies may not create structural inequities, but in the absence of intentional planning, they have the most devastating, long-lasting impact on underserved populations, amplifying their divide from broader society.

The emergency response community has the opportunity to ensure that the diverse resource needs of each are integral to every phase of disaster management. Join Merit for an expert panel discussion with industry leaders and practitioners of whole-community equitable solutions as they think through modern approaches to challenges such as:

  • Whose voices need to be heard during preparedness and mitigation?
  • How can emergency managers respond with equity to the underserved?
  • Where does recovery disparity occur and what does it look like?
  • Which cost-recovery solutions help bring resources to high-needs neighborhoods?
  • What is sensitive, successful whole-community communication?


Meet our Experts

Chauncia Willis

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management

Chauncia Willis is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM). Ms. Willis is certified as an Emergency Manager, Professional Coach, and Cultural Diversity Professional with over 20 years of experience. Her expertise includes disaster management, national security event planning, leadership coaching, immigrant and refugee outreach, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion training. Prior to co-founding I-DIEM, Chauncia served as the Emergency Manager in Tampa, Florida for over 14 years where she developed successful programs benefiting marginalized populations. She has led national emergency planning efforts for political conventions, national football league games and international award shows. In her role as CEO for I-DIEM, she leads the effort to integrate equity into all facets of disaster policy, programs, and practice with the goal of increasing cultural competence and mitigating the harmful impacts of bias on underserved groups. Regarded as a national expert, Ms. Willis has provided witness testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives on multiple occasions on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as policy implementation. She is the author of “Stretching: The Race towards Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in America,” published December 2020.



Dr. Rodric Bowman

Director, Northeastern Operations at The Olson Group LTD

Dr. Rodric Bowman is a seasoned emergency manager with extensive experience developing and implementing comprehensive emergency management programs. Dr. Bowman served as the Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross, New Jersey Region where he oversaw the Disaster Cycle Services program which focused on addressing preparedness, response, and recovery needs for clients served. Immediately prior, Dr. Bowman worked as the Senior Director for Emergency Management Operations at NYC Health + Hospitals where he provided strategic guidance and tactical support to ensure the uninterrupted functionality of system-wide operations for the nation’s largest municipal healthcare delivery system. Prior to his role at NYC Health+ Hospitals, Dr. Bowman served the state of New Jersey as the Deputy Chief of the Preparedness Bureau at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). In his role at NJOHSP, he led planning efforts intended to enhance New Jersey’s disaster resilience.




Lauren D. Bonica, Moderator

Merit Director of Emergency Services

Lauren D. Bonica is an enthusiastic emergency management expert who strives to provide safety and service excellence through whole community, all hazards inclusivity for all populations and communities. As a Director of Emergency Services for Merit, Lauren fosters genuine coordination and collaboration with an alchemist attitude towards efficiency and accountability. Lauren continues her 23 year career in emergency services with a history as the Human Services Manager for Collier County Emergency Management-FL, the Director of Emergency Management for New Jersey Primary Care Association, life member and firefighter with Lawrenceville Fire Company, NJ and Emergency Preparedness Manager for Princeton University. Lauren holds her Florida Professional Emergency Manager certificate and obtained her Master Exercise Practitioner with FEMA with a focus on migrant and seasonal farm worker communities and underrepresented populations.



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