In my role as Impact360’s Program Manager, communicating with our partners is everything. How can we build desirable tools without listening to the needs of disaster professionals? How can we connect people if we’re unaware of their challenges? And how do we find the right people to support our colleagues if we aren’t even aware of their skills and experiences?

I’ve always been driven and excited about learning more about the experiences of others – what they can teach me and others about the path ahead, and how they can be applied to help others. One of the guiding communications principles at Impact360 is “Yes, and.” “Yes, and” is intended to drive a conversation further and create a deeper understanding of our problems. We don’t do each other a favor when we end a discussion at “yes” or “no,” but throw an “and” in there, and suddenly we can learn so much more about each others’ experiences and needs.

Since joining Impact360 in Autumn of 2019, I’ve had conversations with many of you. I’ve learned more about your perspectives on what is missing in our profession, and what tools will help you do your job more effectively. We’ve also talked about how we can all work together to build more networks that integrate the skills and experiences of researchers and practitioners. The responses to my questions have been insightful, and I thought I’d share a few of the themes I’ve heard from our conversations.

1) There is no shortage of information, but there is a shortage of time. Our colleagues have made it clear that they have access to research and best practices, but time is in short supply. We need a tool that will help us cut through the weeds and synthesize existing research to allow us to know more and know more quickly.

2) We know a few people who know a few people, but our networks need to expand and integrate. I think we’ve all come to that moment when we realize we don’t know enough about a topic, but nobody else in the room does either. Even worse, nobody else in the room also knows who might know enough about the issue. Impact360 is determined to help disaster professionals minimize these moments by helping to connect you with experts. Whether you’re looking for a researcher or a practitioner skillset – reach out to me, and I would be more than happy to help find you the right partners.

3) We want to support one another. If one thing has been reinforced in my mind since I began these conversations, it is this: We all have experience and skills that we want to share. Whether we’re academic researchers, a local emergency manager, or a utility provider, we want to help people solve their problems. Still, we have to be aware of the problem in the first place.

Impact360 envisions a community of practice where we all see ourselves as disaster professionals first. Over the coming months, Impact360 will continue to build our capacities and tools to help keep us all moving forward. I look forward to working alongside you all to bring Impact360’s pillars to life. To develop stronger connections, integrate our approaches, and support one another in problem-solving.

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Reducing natural hazard impacts and disaster risk requires better communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners. We want to hear from you: What are the challenges and victories you encounter with integrating research and practice in your work?

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