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American Red Cross Hosting Disaster Preparedness Summit

The American Red Cross is hosting a one-day conference on disaster planning Aug. 21 for leaders representing more than 75 business, government and community organizations so they can be prepared to partner and mobilize when disaster strikes. 

The 5th Annual American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Summit is Thursday, Aug. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the University of Chicago, Gleacher Center, 450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive in downtown Chicago. The conference is free of charge thanks to the sponsorship of corporate donors. Participants can register at or (312) 729-6346. 

"This event, which grew out of the Meta-Leadership Summit for Preparedness held in Chicago a few years ago, created a forum to foster collaboration and shared learning among leaders from the government, business and nonprofit sectors in order to improve the resiliency of Greater Chicago in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters," said Fran Edwardson, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Greater Chicago Region. 

This year's conference will focus on the recovery part in the disaster cycle, bringing together industry experts who led recovery tactics in areas of infrastructure, economic development, transit, housing and human services. 

Mike Foley, Chief Executive Officer North America Commercial and Regional Chairman of North America at Zurich, will open the conference and emphasize resiliency in disaster preparedness, and the importance of multi-stakeholder coordination in disaster planning and recovery. 

"Grounded in flood resiliency research, Zurich is collaborating with the insurance industry, business, academia, NGO's and government organizations to develop strategies to drive resilience at the community level," Foley said. "We believe Zurich and the insurance industry can add value to this discussion and work with the Red Cross to help communities understand and protect themselves from disaster risks, and in recovery." 

Other experts in recovery and business continuity will lead and participate in group discussions throughout the day. They include: 

• Retired Police Chief Lane J. Roberts of the City of Joplin, Missouri, who was the top law enforcement commander when an EF-5 tornado hit the city on May 22, 2011 with winds gusting in excess of 200 miles per hour, leaving 158 people dead and over 1,000 injured. More than 7,000 homes, businesses and public buildings were destroyed. Roberts will walk the audience through this disaster and share how the community is still working to recover today. 

• Leaders from the business, government and nonprofit sectors: American Red Cross, Amtrak, Aon, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, FEMA, Grainger, Internal Revenue Service, ITW, McCormick Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, Sears Holding Corporation, Tazewell County Emergency Management Agency, and United Airlines. 

The annual summit provides participants, from both public and private sectors, with disaster preparedness planning tools and resources from subject-matter experts on tactics for resiliency and continuity. 

Support from Signature Sponsor Zurich; Resiliency Sponsor Motorola Solutions Foundation; Presenting Sponsors Aon, CSX and Grainger; in addition to the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, and the United Way made this event possible. 


About the American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @ChicagoRedCross.