New Resources on Leadership And Advocacy Share Learnings From Hurricane Recovery

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita five years ago, the Foundation for the Mid South saw a strategic niche where we could add value to long-term recovery efforts: helping to strengthen leadership and advocacy efforts within communities.  The storms provided a tipping point where leadership and policy makers had to quickly move beyond the status quo and address critical issues, including housing, environment, insurance, to name only a few.
Over twenty years of working in communities throughout the Mid South, the Foundation for the Mid South understands the connection between leadership and advocacy in successfully creating change that improves lives.  Without strong leadership in place to drive public policy, even the most effective and productive groups and initiatives cannot sustain efforts or accomplish their goals of long-term, equitable change. 
We are excited to share two new resources on leadership and advocacy that emerged from recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
A longtime focus of the Foundation for the Mid South’s work has been to strengthen leadership across the Mid South.  In Stepping Up, the Foundation shares the lessons learned from a loaned executive program established in the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  At a time when the city had a 30% deficit of key staff and limited financial resources, national and local foundations joined to provide highly qualified professionals to the city during the recovery period.  A key goal was to provide immediate expertise on complex recovery issues, but to also build the capacity and skills of the staff and other local leaders for the long term.
Download Stepping Up (pdf)

Another facet of our work has been to create change at the policy level.  The Foundation partnered with Alliance for Justice and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation to release Power Amidst Renewal—a report on the progress of advocacy efforts along the Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.   In the report, local and national organizations share lessons learned and stories about how organizations and collaborations became stronger or formed to advocate on behalf of specific issues, as well as increase civic engagement and issue awareness. The increased capacity of these groups became clear during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, when organizations, leaders, and collaborations were already established and equipped with the experience and skills to address the environmental, social, and economic repercussions from the disaster.
Download Power Amidst Renewal (pdf)
We hope the examples shown in these documents provide helpful ideas on innovative ways to support recovery in times of disaster, but also the long-term benefits that investments in leadership and advocacy have on improving lives and creating change for more vibrant and just communities.