Gavin Smith

Dr. Gavin Smith

Dr. Smith is the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence. Dr. Smith is currently engaged in planning-related research within the center, focused on a national evaluation of local and state hazard mitigation plans, the study of state recovery plans, and the development of sea-level rise adaptation strategies. Dr. Smith has published numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and technical reports addressing a range of topics including hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation.

Dr. Smith is a Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2011, Dr. Smith completed the text Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press) as well as several book chapters addressing the linkage between hazards analysis, planning, and sustainable development. Dr. Smith is the co-editor of the text Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Springer 2014).

Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Smith worked in the Mississippi Office of the Governor, serving as the Director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal. In this role, he and his staff focused on four primary tasks, including: the identification of federal, corporate, non-profit and foundation financial assistance; the provision of education, outreach and training to local governments and state agencies; providing counsel to the Governor, his staff and state agency officials regarding disaster recovery policy issues, and the implementation of the Governor’s Commission Report: After Katrina: Building Back Better than Ever. In this role he testified before Congress twice, providing recommended policy changes to improve the delivery of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction activities. He also helped develop the concept and wrote policy guidance associated with the $400 million Alternative Housing Pilot Program, an initiative intended to test the construction and deployment of improved emergency housing alternatives following Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Smith also served as the Assistant Director for Hazard Mitigation in the State of North Carolina. During his tenure with the Division, the Mitigation Section administered mitigation and disaster recovery grant funds in excess of $1.5 billion associated with 10 Presidential disaster declarations. Much of these funds were used to acquire and relocate or elevate more than 5,000 and 500 homes, respectively. Following Hurricane Floyd, Dr. Smith served as an advisor to Governor Hunt on policies and programs associated with long-term recovery in North Carolina. This work led to the development of 22 state programs (totaling $836 million) that addressed local needs not met by federal assistance, including the development of the State’s nationally recognized floodplain mapping initiative.


Contact Information:
Telephone: (919) 445-9395