Miriam Belblidia, CFM, MPA (She/Her)
Founder and Co-Director
Miriam is a leader in floodplain management, hazard mitigation, and stormwater best management practices. Miriam is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), received a Fulbright Fellow in water management to conduct research in the Netherlands, and worked as a Hazard Mitigation Specialist for the City of New Orleans. Miriam brings policy and program expertise, with extensive experience in flood mitigation, stormwater management, National Flood Insurance Program, hazard mitigation funding and planning.
Rachel Pickens (She/Her)
Rachel Pickens is the co-director of Lousiana Water Works, joining the organization in 2022. Prior to joining Louisiana Water Works, she was the Executive Director of the National Police Accountability Project. Rachel worked in the environmental justice sector in New Orleans, focusing mainly on community resilience and water management. She worked in the Lower 9th Ward and was a founding member of the Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans. From 2017 to 2018, she lived in Brisbane, Australia.
Rachel received her JD from Loyola University New Orleans and her BA in Art History from Boston University.
Alessandra Jerolleman, PhD, MPA, CFM
Specialist, Community Resilience and Hazard Mitigation
Alessandra joined the Water Works team in November 2014. She currently teaches for Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, and Jacksonville State University. Dr. Jerolleman’s experience includes the following: working as the lead grant writer and emergency planner for the First Peoples’ Conservation Council, community based resilience planning across the United States, serving as a Program Specialist in the Gulf Coast with Save the Children USA, working on a resilience initiative around children’s needs in emergencies; hazard mitigation planning at the local, state and campus level; community education and outreach regarding mitigation measures and preparedness; development of collaborative networks and information sharing avenues among practitioners; and, delivery of training and education to various stakeholders.
Dr. Jerolleman is one of the founders of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) and served as its Executive Director for its first seven years. She is involved in various aspects of planning and policy and the national and local level, including participation in several workshops each year. Dr. Jerolleman speaks on many topics including: hazard mitigation and climate change; campus planning; threat, hazard and vulnerability assessments; hazard mitigation planning; protecting children in disasters; and, public/private partnerships.
She is currently the Treasurer of the Lowlander Center and sits on the Executive Committee of the American Society of Public Administration’s Section on Emergency and Crisis Management. She previously served on the Community Resilience Advisory Group to the Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority and served as one of the Tri-Chairs for the National Hazard Mitigation Collaborative Alliance, as well as sitting on the board of the Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership. She is the co-author of a textbook, “Natural Hazard Mitigation,” published by CRC Press in 2012, and a second textbook, “The Private Sector’s Role in Disasters,” published by CRC Press in 2015. She obtained her doctoral degree at the University of New Orleans in 2013 for her dissertation titled: The Privatization of Hazard Mitigation: A Case Study of the Creation and Implementation of a Federal Program. Dr. Jerolleman has acquired wide-ranging experience in the private, non-profit, and academic sectors.
PAST TEAM: Many thanks to our former teammates, staff, advisors, and countless others who have volunteered their time, resources, and talents in the spirit of mutual aid. We are grateful to Klie Kliebert for contributing to our work in a variety of ways over the years. Their work at Imagine Water Works can be found at https://www.imaginewaterworks.org.