Jeff Hebert (third from left) is New Orleans’s first Chief Resilience Officer

As the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) of New Orleans, MIT-trained city planner Jeff Hebert MCP ’04 is part of a pioneering effort to help cities around the globe develop strategies to deal with future social, economic, and physical shocks and stresses.

Hebert was named the city’s first CRO in 2014, a position made possible by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Huffpost Green caught up with the Louisiana native as he concluded his first year on the job.

His two biggest achievements:

“The first was the development of New Orleans’s first resilience strategy and to have it done in time for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

[On January 24], we were announced as one of the recipients of the National Disaster Resilience Competition—the second largest award in the country. Those were two key wins that were big down payments on the future of the city.”

On the major challenges of his new role:

“The [resilience] strategy is not a regular plan; it’s much more far reaching. A big challenge was outlining guiding principles and collaborative actions that could be applied across city government. This strategy goes beyond traditional public sector silos, serving as a call to action on generational issues.

The CRO… has a cross-departmental mandate. In city government, bureaucracies operate in silos and the whole purpose of a CRO is to disrupt these silos. Your portfolio is how to connect things together and how to innovate new ideas.”

Why designers and architects are equipped to address the challenges of creating resilient cities:

“I’m a designer myself. I have a different approach to my work because I am used to working in teams and the iterative process of design. What you learn through design training is a process which is all about continuing to improve something. That’s not something everyone is trained to do.”

Read the full interview at Huffpost Green.

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