Wheaton College Color Logo

FEMA to Honor Wheaton College Disaster Expert with Award at the White House

September 12, 2016

Jamie Aten HeadshotDr. Jamie Aten, founder and co-director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College (HDI), will be honored with the Community Preparedness Champion Award during the 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards at the White House on September 13.

Dr. Aten is one of 11 recipients to receive this annual award; he will travel to the ceremony directly from the Louisiana flood zone, where he is active in relief efforts.  

“We are more prepared for disasters when everyone in the community works together,” said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. “FEMA is proud to honor individuals and organizations who are building communities that are more prepared for emergencies through creativity, innovation and collaboration.”

Aten is the founder and co-director with David Boan of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College. HDI is the country’s first faith-based academic disaster research center.

Building on his own personal experience with disaster, including surviving Hurricane Katrina and late stage cancer, Aten has gone on to research, train, or mobilize church leaders after numerous disasters around the globe in 10 different countries, including: Hurricanes Rita and Gustav; H1N1 pandemic and Ebola crisis; Mississippi Delta and Tuscaloosa Tornadoes; Civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, and Rwanda; Kenyan and Syrian refugee crises; Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Upper Big Branch Mining Explosion; Japan Tsunami and Earthquake; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; Haiti Earthquake; Umpqua Community College mass shooting and the South Carolina Flood.

Aten has trained more than 2,000 individuals and leaders within churches and other faith-based organizations to improve individual and community disaster preparedness. From September 7-12, Aten will be leading a team from HDI to help train and do research amid the flooded areas of Baton Rouge.

“I am unbelievably honored to receive this award,” said Aten. “I hope to encourage others to continue their work in helping groups prepare before disaster strikes. We have found an alarming trend—most churches realize there are threats, but few do anything ahead of time to actually prepare for disasters. Our mission is to help all faith-based communities be ready to provide holistic care after the unthinkable.”

For more about Aten’s work, visit jamieaten.com. You can also read his most recent articles on disaster preparedness in Psychology Today and The Washington Post. More information about the Humanitarian Disaster Institute is available at wheaton.edu/hdi.