WCI Seminar to Help Nonprofits Find Their Role in a Crisis

WCI Seminar to Help Nonprofits Find Their Role in a Crisis

West Central Initiative will be hosting, “Emergency! Finding Your Nonprofit’s Role in a Crisis” on Thursday, January 17 at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls.   

Come spend a day exploring your nonprofit's role in a major crisis, from the moment a disaster strikes to recovery. We'll talk about your internal capacity to be prepared before, during and after an emergency, and steps to help you become a resilient nonprofit.

The impacts of a disaster on a community will persist long after the cameras have left.  Often, the cameras are never even there, as the scale of the disaster doesn’t garner attention beyond a local spotlight.  Long-term recovery is left to the community and the nonprofits that serve it. In West Central Initiative’s work in the disaster realm, the most important lesson we have learned, besides having a plan, is to have already-established relationships with the resource providers prior to the disaster.   

Our day will start off with Patrick Waletzko, Otter Tail Safety and Emergency Services Director and County Emergency Management Director. Patrick will discuss the types of disaster we can likely expect to impact our part of the state, the steps that happen once disaster strikes, and the role of the Emergency Manager during a disaster. 

Nancy Beers oversees The Center for Disaster Philanthropy's (CDP) Midwest Early Recovery Fund, which focuses on supporting vulnerable populations following a disaster in 10 states in the Midwest. Before joining CDP, Nancy was Senior Director of Disaster Services for Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota where she led long-term disaster recovery work and Camp Noah, a nationally acclaimed trauma recovery program for children. Nancy is an expert in the field of long-term recovery and she will discuss what to expect during this phase and the key role that local nonprofits play.   

Thomas Hill from the United Way of Cass-Clay and Cindy Miller from FirstLink will conclude the speaker portion of the day sharing what they as nonprofits experienced internally as a result of the flooding of the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2009, and their roles as nonprofits serving the community during the recovery and long-term post-flood recovery.  

The speakers will then reconvene as a panel to answer attendee questions.

There is also space and time during lunch and after for making and reestablishing connections with other nonprofits and the emergency managers that serve the area.  

The intent of the day is to realize the following outcomes: 

  • Better understand the importance of being prepared internally for when a disaster occurs, and become familiar with resources that can assist in that preparation. 
  • Understand the types of disasters, the players and phases of disaster and where roles begin and end. 
  • Better understand long-term recovery and how long that can really be, and what role your nonprofit can play in long-term recovery efforts supporting the community. 
  • Connect with other local nonprofits in your community, begin exploring the formation of community teams and, at a minimum, establish or rekindle relationships with likely partners and providers.   

The seminar is free, but registration is required. Register online:; or call 800-735-2239. Space may be limited so registration is recommended by Jan. 3. The event is hosted by West Central Initiative and funded by the Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership.