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The UR Symposiums in BC have been made possible through the commitment, energy, and intellectual contributions of many individuals. Each symposium has benefited from seed funding from entities hosting the event and additional sponsors. The 2020 Symposium was hosted by Natural Resources Canada and the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Pathways Project.
The 2020 online symposium was organized by Susanna Haas Lyons (process lead) and Jessica Shoubridge (program lead), and the DRR Pathways Project secretariat: Murray Journeay, Mike Ellerback, Sahar Safaie, and Darryl Hoefsloot.


Susanna Haas Lyons is a public engagement specialist who develops strategy and provides training for better conversations between the public and decision makers. She has over 18-years international leadership experience in the field of public participation. Bridging online and face-to-face methods, Susanna has worked on some of North America’s largest and complex citizen engagement projects, including serving as Chair of the City of Vancouver’s Flats Arterial Community Panel, acting as Senior Advisor to the Government of Alberta’s review of its public engagement system, and bringing together 4,000 existing and displaced residents of post-Katrina New Orleans to create redevelopment plans for the hurricane ravaged city and pioneering an online consultation platform with federal U.S.A agencies. Susanna is also an Associate with the Wosk Center for Dialogue. Susanna has been the process lead since the 2017 Symposium. 


Jessica Shoubridge is the Founder and Principal of Thrive Consulting (Climate and Resilience Planning). She is a professional planner with over 10 years of experience working as a project manager, and facilitator of strategies and actions that aim to reduce climate and natural hazard risk and build resilience in Southwest BC. She has worked across all orders of government, the private and nonprofit sectors to connect the dots between best available climate projections, natural hazard science and open risk models and the proactive actions and finance required to reduce such risks at the local, regional, provincial and national scales.


Before starting her consultancy, Jessica led the development of the City of Vancouver Earthquake Strategy, where she advocated for and worked towards open, integrated, multi-hazard risk modelling and holistic policies for existing buildings to inform a city-wide approach to enhancing resilience. She has worked with communities and on projects that have been recognized as leading edge by the United Nations (District of North Vancouver Sasakawa award), the federal government (Natural Resources Canada Award for Collaboration – DNV Community-wide Earthquake Risk Analysis), and the Planning Institute of British Columbia (New Directions in Planning- Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy). Jessica applies this experience and knowledge of global best practice to inform solutions that are locally-owned and is passionate about working to build resilience in Southwest BC, the Cascadia bio-region and beyond. She has a masters degree in Planning (Disaster Risk Management) from the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), UBC.

Jessica has been the program lead since the 2017 Symposium. 


Murray Journeay has spent the last thirty years exploring the geological architecture and evolution of mountain systems in western Canada, and the ways in which communities interact with this landscape in terms of sustainable land use and disaster resilience planning. Research activities with the Geological Survey of Canada have ranged from field-based investigations of regional tectonic processes that drive crustal deformation and related earthquake hazards in Western Canada to computer-based modelling of earthquake risk and risk reduction strategies. Murray currently leads the development of a national earthquake risk model for Canada to inform disaster resilience planning in accordance with policy and technical implementation guidelines established as part of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (United Nations, 2015: SFDRR). The model utilizes integrated risk assessment methods and emerging best practices of risk governance to develop a more holistic and empowering view of earthquake risk in Canada.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Structural geology and regional tectonics

  • Geospatial modelling and information sciences

  • Natural hazards

  • Quantitative analysis and scenario modelling

  • Integrated assessment and structured decision making

  • Sustainable land use and disaster resilience planning

Murray was part of the organizing team for the 2017 and 2020 Symposium. 

He is winding down his career at NRCan in the coming months to start his retirement- spending more time with his wife (Sue) doing things that they love such as biking, skiing, photography, and hiking.  But we all hope he will continue to share his expertise and insights in the field of earthquake risk assessment and disaster risk reduction in BC, Canada, and internationally.  The URBC 2020 team has created a page to celebrate his retirement with the URBC community. Click here to see the page. 


Sahar Safaie is the founder and principal consultant of Sage on Earth Consulting Ltd., based in North Vancouver. The niche of her expertise and services is to enhance the use of disaster and climate risk information in designing resilience policies, investments and programs. She has more than fifteen years of diverse experiences in BC and internationally including at United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) where she managed the global multi-hazard risk assessment as part of Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2015, convened the global session on risk identification at the Sendai DRR Conference in 2015 and co-authored two of the Sendai Framework implementation guidelines on National Disaster Risk Assessment and on National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies. Her past experiences also include working at Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) at The World Bank in D.C., and Risk Management Solutions (RMS) in California. Since 2019, Sahar and her team at Sage Consulting have been working closely with NRCan as the lead contractor for DRR Pathways project. Sahar has a master’s degree in Earthquake Engineering from UBC.


Mike Ellerbeck worked 14 years for Natural Resources Canada on administering and managing multilateral international cooperation projects in the fields of mining and geo-hazard in the Andes countries of South America.  Later, he served 5 years as the Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator on geo-mapping programs in the Canadian Arctic. In addition, Mr. Ellerbeck spent one year as a senior consultant working on monitoring and evaluation of multilateral disaster risk reduction programs in the Caribbean and Central America.  Recently, on interchange from NRCan, he served as Associate Director for Programs at the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute at the University of British Columbia, where he managed a team of natural resource project managers working largely in Latin America and Africa.  Currently he is project lead and indigenous engagement advisor at the Geological Survey of Canada. 

His current interests include promoting the use of public geoscience knowledge for land-use decision making at government, and community levels, with special emphasis on community communication strategies that facilitated the exchange of knowledge and incorporation of government geoscience knowledge into decision-making.



Darryl Hoesfloot Mr. Darryl Hoefsloot is an administrative professional who provides logistical, technical, and administrative support for the Understanding Risk 2020 team. A graduate of the UVic Masters of Public Administration program, Darryl currently works for Natural Resources Canada. Prior to working with NRCan, he was a logistical coordinator with National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and also worked previously for Environment Canada and Service Canada.

The core organizing team works with a group of session convenors, dialogue session moderators and a host of other contributors to pull together the program and advance the actionable strategies that will reduce risk and build resilience in Southwest BC. For more information about session convenors, moderators, and contributors for this year's symposium- please see the program.

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