Annie Vest Leads Two National and State Resilience Organizations
For Annie Vest, who leads Freese and Nichols’ mitigation and disaster planning work, there’s a dual impact to national involvement: She shares her expertise and project insights with those she helps train on building community resilience — and she brings back to her job the new knowledge she gains through her professional network.
This summer, Annie started a yearlong term as President of the National Hazard Mitigation Association. She has helped guide the organization since 2018 as a board member or officer.
Annie also started a term as Chair of the Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association in September, which reflects the depth and breadth of her commitment to professional service. OFMA recognized her with the inaugural Award for Excellence in Hazard Mitigation for “being a tireless advocate for increased resilience within Oklahoma communities and continually advancing the national discussion on mitigation policy.”
At the national level, NHMA focuses on grassroots efforts to reduce natural hazard risks, especially in the most vulnerable communities. The group parlays grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency into community projects, with NHMA members volunteering their technical expertise. The organization also advocates for policy changes, such as revising how FEMA measures the cost-effectiveness of its efforts or making it easier for communities to qualify for mitigation funding.
“NHMA gives me an opportunity to give back and learn from others who are experts in the field,” Annie said.
She said that among her goals as NHMA president is working with FEMA on training — and potentially a credential — focused on different aspects of mitigation planning, including floodplain management and land use/zoning considerations. The curriculum would equip local, federal and university employees with information and tools to improve resilience where they live and work.
Mentoring interns and training the next generation of mitigation specialists is another priority, Annie said. Among the most recent NHMA interns, GIS analyst Katy Mayo joined Freese and Nichols this year in the Alexandria office, where she supports our FEMA projects.
As NHMA president, Annie also sits on the Advisory Board for the Natural Hazards Center, located at the University of Colorado Boulder.