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February 21, 2024

Alessandra Jerolleman takes the lead on climate justice with the National CASC and brings a comprehensive approach to tackling equity and justice issues in climate adaptation. 

In 2005, Alessandra Jerolleman was in a master’s program at the University of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit her neighborhood of St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans. Like for so many, it was a life changing event. The hurricane destroyed her car, home, and neighborhood, and led to a shift in her career from studying urban school reform towards equity and justice issues in disaster recovery, disaster preparedness, and climate adaptation. That path led to her current positions as the Climate Justice Lead with the National CASC and Director of Research at Loyola University’s College of Law Center on Environment, Land, and Law.  Jerolleman was formerly the Director of the Doctoral Program in Emergency Management at Jacksonville State University and continues to support the program as Distinguished Affiliate Faculty.  

 

Jerolleman experienced equity issues in her own life as a member of an immigrant family and as a first-generation college student at Tulane University where she worked to overcome financial barriers to her education by working in coffee shops, tutoring, and by taking on student loans. Yet, some professors were not very understanding, telling her on more than one occasion that she shouldn’t be there if she couldn’t afford it. She wasn’t discouraged though, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2003. Later, the hurricane exposed many other equity issues in her wider community that she responded to by working with a consulting firm to help community members who had lost their homes in the hurricane connect with and access recovery program resources. In doing so, she navigated some of the many bureaucratic barriers people face when seeking help – the first barrier being the difficulty of navigating confusing and time-consuming paperwork. Finding power in knowledge and collaborations, she earned her master’s degree in public administration in 2006, co-founded the National Hazard Mitigation Association by 2008, earned her PhD in Urban Studies in 2013, and graduated from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2023, adding a legal background to her equity toolkit. Safe to say, Jerolleman’s resume is impressive.  

 

Her career choices have spanned working with families recovering from hurricane disasters to working with the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation as they face a loss of land to coastal erosion, demonstrating a merging of social sciences, community-driven research, education, and community-centered lawyering. This reflects her belief that a comprehensive approach is needed to solve large equity issues related to hazard mitigation, disaster justice, disaster recovery, and climate adaptation. 

 

Learn more about Alessandra Jerolleman’s career path in the original American Bar Association Journal story “Living through Hurricane Katrina inspired Alessandra Jerolleman’s disaster justice advocacy”.  

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