Governor announces Karen Baker as Senior Advisor for Disaster Volunteering and Preparedness at Cal OES
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and California Volunteers today released the grantees awarded $50 million in local disaster resilience grants and announced the official launch of the state's new emergency preparedness campaign, known as Listos (Ready) California, to build resiliency in vulnerable communities at high risk for wildfires and other disasters.
Climate change has created a new wildfire reality in California and socially vulnerable communities are disproportionally impacted by devastating wildfires, earthquakes and other disasters. Listos California is a new effort to boost disaster preparedness by engaging a statewide network of community-based organizations, CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams), Listos, AmeriCorps NCCC, veterinary organizations, Fire Safe Councils and management teams to ensure the state's most vulnerable are ready when disaster strikes.
"Emergency preparedness is not government's responsibility alone. Solutions can't be top-down – they have to come from the bottom-up," said Governor Newsom. "We need more focus on building resiliency within California's most vulnerable communities for the destructive and deadly wildfires ahead. We're empowering non-profit organizations and emergency responders to work together to prepare for emergencies because California is at its best when we look out for each other."
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Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, added, "It is critical that Californians are prepared before a disaster strikes. Community preparedness and peer-to-peer networks can literally save lives and help our first responders during and after a disaster."
Governor Newsom and state lawmakers together invested $50 million through urgency legislation (AB 72) to establish an emergency preparedness campaign as a joint effort between California Volunteers and Cal OES.
The Governor also announced the appointment of Karen Baker, former Chief Service Officer, as the new Senior Advisor for Disaster Volunteering and Preparedness at Cal OES. Baker explained that the campaign will connect over one million of the most socially vulnerable Californians with culturally and linguistically competent support through a grassroots, people-centered approach.
"We know that people who are socially isolated or live in poverty, have language barriers, or other access or functional needs challenges, need to be the top priority for preparedness campaigns," Baker said. "Taking care of each other, showing courage when it matters most, is what we do in California."
California Volunteers has awarded $30 million to expand Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Listos programs, Fire Safe Councils, AmeriCorps NCCC and AmeriCorps Disaster Cadres in order to deliver culturally and linguistically relevant emergency preparedness curriculum, and to launch a statewide public outreach campaign that ensures California's most vulnerable communities have access to life-saving disaster preparedness resources.
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Cal OES has awarded $20 million to community-based organizations in 24 counties across the state to provide emergency preparedness education and to support communities as they develop new, uniquely tailored disaster preparedness approaches through peer-to-peer networks. Grants were divided into targeted county and statewide funding. This funding will also support animal management preparedness research and resources.
In May 2019, during the California For All CERT and Listos Preparedness Conference in San Diego, all of the volunteer teams associated with this effort were officially activated to build and expand their local-level efforts around preparedness.
Karen Baker, 57, of Sacramento, served as California's Chief Service Officer from 2012 to 2019. Baker was first appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger and became the country's first Secretary of Service and Volunteering in 2008. Baker was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the national team that created AmeriCorps, was the Director of Innovation for Share Our Strength and was Executive Director of Chrysalis, a homeless agency in Los Angeles. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $170,000. Baker is a Democrat.
For more information about Listos California, visit www.listoscalifornia.org.
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