FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SONOMA, CA – July 19, 2021
Rebuild NorthBay Foundation (RNBF) today announces a bold transition to address the ongoing threat of wildfire devastation both locally and across the Western United States with their new initiative: After the Fire: Recover. Rebuild. Reimagine. Building on four years of knowledge and experience, this evolution of Rebuild NorthBay Foundation’s work in Northern California will bring wildfire leaders together to work across sectors and silos, while expanding access to wildfire resiliency and disaster recovery funds, tools, and systems.
RNBF’s Board of Directors and leadership spent the past year studying the challenges of wildfire disaster recovery to prepare for this shift, and is setting a course to expand capacity to serve eleven Western states. As the organization expands its reach, its work will focus on three program areas: 1) wildland & home resiliency 2) applied technologies to aid in resilience and recovery, and 3) help for wildfire affected communities navigating recovery.
RNBF Board President Judy Coffey lost her home in the Tubbs Fire and will continue to serve in her capacity at the helm of ATF3R through 2021: “In 2017, RNBF was an innovation, a vision, and we have spent the past nearly four years challenging the traditional disaster nonprofit model in effective and transformative ways. It has not been an easy path, but we have made and continue to make a significant difference in the landscape of both long-term recovery and wildfire mitigation.”
Once rare, megafires are increasingly more common globally, especially in the American West. The difference between a wildfire and a megafire comes down to size: a megafire [is] a wildfire that burns more than 40,500 hectares (100,000 acres) of land […] and [has] an unusually large impact on people and the environment. At the root of this cycle of megafires are three issues: ineffective wildland and forest management, housing expansion into the wildland urban interface, and climate change.
With high heat and profoundly dangerous drought conditions, 2021 is shaping up to be the worst wildfire season yet – right on the heels of the 2020’s record setting season which burned over 10 million acres and cost more than $16 billion dollars in damages and loss of life in America alone. The public sector has been overwhelmed by the massive need for assistance, and until recently philanthropy has not focused on wildfire disaster recovery. ATF3R will facilitate strategic coordination between sectors, work closely with both established and emerging community leaders to understand and address the barriers that make risk mitigation and wildfire recovery out of reach for too many, especially in rural areas of the West.
RNBF Executive Director Jennifer Gray Thompson will remain at the helm of ATF3R as the CEO. “When we first began on October 11, 2017, we did not know the future of megafires in the American West. It is now clear that our present and future reality is a systemic crisis where climate change is meeting decades of wildland mismanagement, resulting in massive wildfires with unprecedented impacts on our health, landscape, economy, and equity. Collectively, our western communities are fighting megafires and mitigating the risk at the same time; it is complex, difficult, and important work. Since the beginning, we have coordinated, collaborated, and advocated for a better federal wildfire mitigation and recovery program.”
With the transition to a larger impact area, ATF3R is to expanding its leadership team. Joining Gray Thompson at the helm is Charles Brooks, founder and Executive Director of Rebuild Paradise Foundation (RPF). In June 2020, Brooks joined ATF3R as well as the Chief Operating Office and will transition over to ATF3R full-time by January 2022.
Brooks and Gray Thompson have worked closely since November of 2018 when she encouraged Brooks to establish RPF after the Camp Fire destroyed his home in the town of Paradise, CA along with 18,800 other structures in the most destructive wildfire in state history. Over the past nearly three years, Brooks and Thompson have collaborated, advocated, and coordinated relief efforts not just for their local areas, but also for other fire affected communities. Along the way, they have established an effective, innovative and transformative shared vision for improving the space of wildfire disaster locally, regionally, and nationally. Brooks stated, “Joining After the Fire is an incredible opportunity to work alongside a long-standing mentor, partner and fellow disaster innovator. I look forward to the value that our combined experience will bring to the American West as we face unprecedented fire risk. Joining forces with ATF3R allows us to leverage and multiply the tools, technology, partnerships and regional knowledge we have gained on a national level.”
Both Brooks and Gray Thompson understand how complex and difficult the recovery from megafire disasters for the community as a whole, and for individual families. Survivors often are so overwhelmed after their loss, that a thoughtful and experienced helping hand can provide exactly what is needed to start on a road to recovery. Gray Thompson stresses how the work puts humanity in the center by serving by listening first and asking, “What do you need, and how can we help? We listen. We learn. We provide adaptable systems, trusted resources, and most importantly hope for a better, safer, faster, greener recovery. We are not heroes. We are not saviors. We are the helpers who have lived through it and believe no community should have to reinvent recovery.”
Rebuild NorthBay Foundation is a registered 501c3 organization dedicated to helping communities recover, rebuild and reimagine post-disaster, and Rebuild NorthBay is a registered 501c4 for our work in advocacy. Founded during the October 2017 North Bay wildfire disaster region of Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties, our mission and work has centered on long term recovery, fostering resiliency, and facilitating advocacy. Starting in July 2021, Rebuild NorthBay Foundation is doing business as (DBA) After the Fire: Recover. Rebuild. Reimagine. Please visit www.afterthefireUSA.org
RNBF and After the Fire: Recover. Rebuild. Reimagine. Our partners are dedicated to the long-term strategic recovery of our region, beginning with the mandate to increase our resiliency to megafires.