Advisory Board

Prof. Edward Blakely, Chair

One of the world’s leading scholars and practitioners of urban policy, Professor Edward Blakely has been Dean of the School of Urban Planning and Development at the University of Southern California, Dean of the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University in New York City and Chair of the Dept. of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. He recently served as  Honorary Professor in Urban Policy at The University of Sydney. He is also the Founder and Principal of The Cities Leadership Institute. In addition to Professor Blakely’s background in academia, he has an extensive record of public service that includes advising Presidents of the United States (Democratic and Republican),  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, state and federal governments in Australia and the United States, as well as governments in Korea, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, New Zealand , Vietnam and currently Chile and Italy. Blakelyglobal allows Professor Blakely to combine his passion for sustainable urban design with his expertise in climate change disaster for consulting, teaching and fostering capacity building in all levels of government. Professor Blakely is also a globally recognized expert in Metropolitan Planning and Governance having developed and served on Metropolitan Councils such as the Greater Sydney Commission and The Regional Planning Association of New York.

Adel Nur, Co-chair

With over twenty years’ experience as a talent representative, Adel dedicates himself to maintaining a diverse client roster. He has helped shape the careers of notable talents including: Laurence Fishburne, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luke Goss, Wentworth Miller, Frank Langella, Adewale Akkinouye-Agbaje, Silvia Colloca and Jean-Marc Barr to name a few.  Additionally, he is working to create the first of its kind digital content provider for the continent of Africa. A global approach is the cornerstone of Adel ́s career. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Rome, Italy, he is fluent in five languages (English, Italian, French, Spanish and Amharic) and conversant in Arabic. Adel is a regular at international film festivals and thrives working in the foreign market. With the Leon Sullivan foundation, he orchestrated a week-long business summit in Equatorial Guinea that had 13 Heads of State and thousands of participants from around Africa. It was one of the largest gatherings promoting African businesses to the U.S.

Omar Abou-Samra, Director of Preparedness, American Red Cross

Omar Abou-Samra is the Director of Preparedness for the American Red Cross and also leads the Global Disaster Preparedness Center, a partnership between the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Since 2012, Omar has led the development of innovative activities and programs including the Universal App Program, the WhatNow Service, and the Business Preparedness Initiative. He has also been instrumental in the development of important partnerships with Airbnb, Google, UPS and the Walt Disney Company as well as a leader in the wider Red Cross and Red Crescent network in areas of early warning and the use of new disaster preparedness technologies. Previously, Omar worked closely with American Red Cross chapters, volunteers and staff to implement key programs and initiatives related to disaster service delivery in addition to the responsibilities of leading disaster response on large relief operations including the Superstorm Sandy response. Omar holds a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.

Richard “Dick” Beahrs, Co-founder, UC Berkeley Environmental Leadership Program

Richard Beahrs (U.C. Berkeley ‘68) is the co-founder of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at Berkeley.   Since its founding in 2001, this initiative has provided three weeks of intensive training on different aspects of sustainable development to 740 participants from 114 countries. He also served on the UN Hunger Task Force as part of the Millennium Development Goals Initiative. Beahrs also was the head of New Business Development at Sports Illustrated and HBO and was the President of two cable networks. Beahrs is one of the inaugural donors to UC Disaster Resilience Network.

Mark Bertelsen, Former Senior Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Mark Bertelsen is a senior partner in Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s corporate practice. Mark joined the firm in 1972 and has played a major role in the development and growth of the firm. He was managing partner from 1990 to 1996 and previously served on the firm’s Executive Committee and Policy Committee. Mark is a business lawyer. He regularly advises senior management and boards of directors on matters relating to corporate governance, corporate finance and securities, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic alliances. Mark has advised and represented companies that have transformed their industry in computer hardware, software, telecommunications, semiconductors, and clean energy. He has also served as director of leading public software companies Software Publishing Corporation (1988-96), a leader in PC software; Autodesk (1992-2009), the world leader in 2D and 3D design software; Taleo Corporation (2000-07), a leading talent management company acquired by Oracle for $2 billion in 2012; and Informatica Corporation (1992-present), the leading data integration company. Mark has lectured and served on numerous panels at UC Berkeley School of Law, The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, and continuing legal education programs on corporate and securities law, corporate governance, and legal ethics. Prior to joining the firm, he served two years as an officer in the U.S. Army.  He holds a BA from UC Santa Barbara and a JD from UC Berkeley.

Abby Browning, CA Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Abby Browning is the Chief of the Office of Private Sector/ Non-Governmental Organization Coordination at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Abby is responsible for developing and maintaining CalOES’s relationships with business, associations, companies, and universities, as well as nonprofit, nongovernmental and philanthropic organizations.Prior to joining CalOES, Abby was the Special Advisor for International Trade in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. She was an essential member of the Brown Administration’s international team, working on trade missions to China and Mexico, as well as fostering countless other international business connections for California.Abby has also worked with the California Chamber of Commerce in the International Affairs and Corporate Relations departments, as well as the California Seismic Safety Commission. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from West Virginia University and she earned an M.A. from the School of Government at California State University, Sacramento.

Michelle Constant, CEO, Constant Associates

Michelle Constant is the CEO of Constant Associates, a disaster and crisis management consultancy. She brings over 20 years of experience spanning health security, emergency management, and business operations. As a practitioner, Ms. Constant provides expert consult to clients at all levels of government and the private sector on diseases and threats, including pandemics, bioterrorism, and active threats. Under her leadership, Constant Associates has established successful practices across four areas: emergency management, health security, healthcare preparedness, and counterterrorism. She significantly expanded the company’s client list to include Federal government, Fortune 100 tech, entertainment and biotech companies, and local clients across the US. The company has been recognized with 17 awards, been published across four journals, and has presented at the most prestigious conferences in the industry. Ms. Constant earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and holds dozens of sector and threat-specific certifications.  Ms. Constant maintains a strong commitment to philanthropy as demonstrated in her service as the past President of Women in Homeland Security and a mentor for USC School of Business women’s program.

Dr. Raquel Izumi, COO & President, Vincerx

Raquel Izumi, PhD, has been the Chief Operations Officer and President of Vincerx and a member of the Vincerx board of directors since March 2019. Before that, Dr Izumi co-founded Acerta Pharma and served as its executive vice president of clinical development from February 2013 to May 2020.  Dr Izumi also co-founded Aspire Therapeutics LLC and served as its chief scientific officer from June 2011 to February 2013. Before founding Aspire Therapeutics, Dr Izumi served as senior director of clinical development at Pharmacyclics LLC, a biopharmaceutical company, where she worked on designing and implementing seven clinical studies across various hematologic malignancies (including three studies that garnered breakthrough therapy designation) for the first BTK inhibitor (IMBRUVICA®) to enter clinical trials.  She began her research career at Amgen, where she held positions of increasing responsibility and participated in a successful BLA filing and approval for ARANESP®.   Dr Izumi was a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow at the UCLA where she obtained a PhD in microbiology and immunology. She received honors and distinction for her BA in biological sciences from the UCSB. 

Michael Mantell, President, Resources Legacy Fund

Michael Mantell is President of Resources Legacy Fund, which he founded to help design and implement initiatives for philanthropic foundations and individuals that result in significant conservation achievements. He also is president of the independent, affiliated Fund for a Better Future. Since the late 1990s, he has designed and participated in programs and projects that broadened the leadership and constituency for natural resources protection, with increasing focus on ensuring equity and engaging historically underserved communities, while achieving extensive conservation outcomes for land, park, water, and ocean resources and renewable energy. Mr. Mantell helped lead the 2010 campaign that prevented a rollback of California’s landmark climate change legislation. In the past decade, he has chaired campaigns resulting in voters approving over $8 billion of investments in water, land, park, and ocean conservation. Previously, as Undersecretary for Resources for the State of California, he oversaw the $2.8 billion budget of the Resources Agency. Prior to that, he was General Counsel for the World Wildlife Fund and a Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles. Mr. Mantell is author and co-author of several books and articles, the recipient of several national conservation awards, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and on the Governing Council of The Wilderness Society.

Dr. Kit Miyamoto, CEO, Miyamoto International

Dr. Miyamoto is a world-leading expert in disaster resiliency, response and reconstruction. He provides expert engineering and policy consultation to the World Bank, USAID, UN agencies, governments and private sector. He is a California Seismic Safety Commissioner, a Global CEO and structural engineer of Miyamoto International.  Dr. Miyamoto holds advance degrees from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and California State University where he has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus. His team won the Engineering News-Record’s “Best Global Project” award an unprecedented five times and the U.S. Presidential “E” award. Major media such as CNN, CBS, ABC, Al Jazeera, LA Times, NY Times, Times, and Rolling Stone have profiled him. He was also featured in the “Designing for Disaster” exhibit at the National Building Museum.