Remote video URL
Building Rural and Native Communities' Resilience to Disasters

Disasters don't differentiate between urban, suburban, and rural communities, but response efforts do. Rural and Native communities can get left out of all stages of preparing for disasters and recovering from them. From severe storms with high winds and flooding to deep freezes and wildfires, these events can disrupt rural energy, water, and communications infrastructure; damage property and environmental resources; harm local businesses and economies; and jeopardize life. Rural communities, particularly communities of color and those facing persistent poverty, are ill equipped for disasters and suffer through longer recovery processes.  

Join us for a lively discussion on how to improve supports for rural and Native communities facing disasters. Speakers spanning the rural Midwest, South, West, and Native lands across the country will examine the impacts of extreme weather events on rural and Native people and places. The conversation will showcase examples of successful planning, response, and recovery initiatives and highlight policy and program changes that can help rural communities get back on their feet more quickly. 



  • Farah Ahmad, Chief of Staff for Rural Development, US Department of Agriculture
  • Kimiko Barrett, Senior Wildfire Research and Policy Analyst, Headwaters Economics
  • Nikki Cooley, Comanager, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals' Tribal Climate Change Program, Northern Arizona University  
  • Alison Davis, H. B. Price Professor of Agricultural Economics and Executive Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, University of Kentucky  
  • Ines Polonius, Chief Executive Officer, Communities Unlimited 
  • Corianne Payton Scally, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute 
  • Xochitl Torres Small, Under Secretary for Rural Development, US Department of Agriculture 
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute




The words Communities Unlimited stacked on top of each other.Community and Economic Development Initative of Kentucky


Funding for this event is provided by Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a national leadership development program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to  

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event.

Date & Time Tuesday, April 19, 2022

  • Senior Fellow, Research
    Practice Area Lead: Housing as a Platform
  • President