Our Mission

Working together for community resilience, economic prosperity and a better quality of life for all in Louisiana.

LA SAFE (Louisiana's Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments) is made of passionate leaders and organizations committed to enabling our community members to take proactive steps towards mitigating and avoiding risk as well as increasing resilience to address coastal challenges. We are working together to acknowledge that adaptation, protection, and restoration must go hand in hand to address community growth and contraction according to flood risk. This project also realizes that some of our most vulnerable coastal communities will need to contemplate resettlement over the next 50 years and that migration trends are already illustrating some of the movement we expect to see in the future. As much as we are doing to restore and rebuild our coast, we will face a higher degree of flood risk and land loss over decades and generations to come.

We believe the LA SAFE process can help Louisiana’s communities and economies adapt to coastal challenges and take advantage of emerging opportunities by discussing adaptation alongside restoration. By demonstrating the power of citizen-led planning informed by science and fueled by the vision of residents, LA SAFE is developing a suite of adaptation projects that can be used as we become a stronger, safer, more resilient Louisiana.

Co-Design Process Overview

To address our changing coastline and increased flood risk across our communities and economies, the LA SAFE process is an innovative approach to community adaptation. In order to prepare for a more resilient future, we created a planning process that integrates planning expertise, science, and most importantly, community members across the coast who are facing the challenge firsthand. The cycle of the process is iterative, continually moving between outreach and engagement, research and analysis – throughout the cycle, the LA SAFE team meets with stakeholders and community partners to address challenges and opportunities together. Our process relies on grassroots input from start to finish. We’ve created a feedback loop via five rounds of community meetings in each of our six initial launch parishes.

Is your parish not one of our target parishes?

Share Power

In a process that shares power, community members get to shape the goals, come up with solutions, and help choose which should be implemented first. All participants get to roll up their sleeves and add ideas to the plans, as well as make decisions on what will happen.

Prioritize Relationships

To prioritize relationships means that we take care of one another and take time to actually get to know each other as people. It means that we do not treat people just as a source of survey data or as a means to an end. We value building relationships and trust with community members on the front lines of our coastal challenge.

Include all Points of View

This process will include all points of view, which means that we value the many kinds of diversity in our communities—and that we need everyone’s ideas to come up with the smartest solutions. To include all points of view, we have to bring all community members to the table—and we have to make sure that everyone feels respected and comfortable to share their particular point of view.

Use all Kinds of Knowledge

To use all kinds of knowledge means that we give equal respect to different kinds of knowledge, whether the knowledge comes from technical training or formal education, or whether it comes from life experiences, emotional responses or instinct. When we use all kinds of knowledge, we open up so many more possibilities for brilliant ideas.

Test Solutions Early & Often

We want to test solutions early & often, which means that we share and talk through ideas for solutions before we develop them in detail. We want the community to come up with ideas, choose what is most important, and help figure out how they will work. Because we are not leaping to any final solutions, we will have plenty of time to go back or change plans along the way.

Holistic Approach

As Louisiana invests to restore our coast, we must consider how to best adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Considering demographic, social, economic and environmental shifts helps us to plan in our communities, across our parishes and within the broader region toward a stronger and safer Louisiana.

We often think of land loss and coastal change as environmental challenges, but we increasingly experience the effects of those environmental issues inside our communities and across our economies. Our wetland landscapes provide a natural buffer against flooding and extreme storm events. As those swamps and marshes subside and diminish, our communities and economic drivers embedded within them are more vulnerable to storms. Flood events damage businesses, destroy homes and communities while disrupting daily life. We must consider flood risk as we invest to maintain our everyday services, our schools, our hospitals and our infrastructure. We must better understand when, where, why and how residents are already moving from one community to another. We must consider future flood risk from continued land loss as our communities grow and we plan new development, even with the tremendous investments to restore our protective wetland buffer.

These challenges are not purely environmental ones; they impact our communities in a collection of ways. We must plan for our communities and culture as well as our economy and jobs as we consider our environment and sustainability.

Diverse Expertise

Our team includes planners, designers, community leaders, risk modelers, scientists, sociologists, architects, demographers, and most importantly, community members from across Louisiana’s coast. We are using this diversity of expertise to find a synergistic intersection of community vision, current and future environmental conditions, and the best planning practices.

Together, we are designing adaptation strategies that will support our communities and economies while addressing environmental risk.

Connecting Local to Regional

By the end of this process, each parish will have a strategy that includes programs, policies and projects to support southeast Louisiana communities over the next 50 years, as land loss and flood risk continue to increase. These challenges are ones we expect to face over decades and generations.

Through September 2017, we had engaged almost 1,500 residents. One thing that we have heard from them is that issues related to stormwater, transportation and development policy cross parish boundaries. At the same time, within our parishes, individual communities experience very different effects of land loss and increased flood risk.  Through this process, we are identifying local, regional, and state policy solutions as well as ways for governments to coordinate better across political boundaries.

Mission Partners

With the help of our partnerships, we are growing community networks and knowledge to help address challenges and develop solutions needed to respond to coastal changes and adapt across social, cultural, economic and environmental landscapes.


LA SAFE Table Hosts

A hallmark of the LA SAFE planning process is resident involvement. After presentations are made to everyone assembled, smaller group discussions are led by table hosts—residents who help guide conversations and capture the feedback of meeting participants. These residents are from within the six LA SAFE launch parishes or adjacent parishes and have contributed their time to learning the materials and activities so that they can answer questions and facilitate discussion. Here is a list of table hosts who help guide the review of materials, exercises, discussions, strategy development and planning at the resident level at our LA SAFE public meetings, both at the community and parish-wide levels. Some include organizations they represent. If you would like to get more involved or to serve as a table host, please email us at la.safe@la.gov.

Jefferson Parish

Angela Chalk

Joan Garner

Brittany Kime

 Katherine Prevost

Katrina Williams – Coastal Communities Consulting (also Plaquemines Parish)

Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes

Bette Billiot — United Houma Nation

Donald Bogen – BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing)

Sharon Foret — BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing)

Virgie Foret

Wayne Simoneaux

Regina Verdin

Anitra Woods

Plaquemines Parish

Richie Blink — National Wildlife Federation

Ly Chan (Cambodian community)

Sandy Nguyen — Coastal Communities Consulting (Vietnamese, Cambodian, Spanish and English-speaking fishing communities)

Lynda Om (Cambodian community)

Sandy Prom (Cambodian community)

Darilyn Turner — Zion Travelers Cooperative Center (East Bank)

Pat Vong (Cambodian community)

St. John the Baptist Parish

Patricia Davis — Plaquemines Community Care Centers Foundation (also for Plaquemines Parish)

St. Tammany Parish

Monica Hernandez

Our Planning Team

Mathew Sanders

Mathew Sanders is the resilience program and policy administrator for the State of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD).

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Liz Williams Russell

Liz Williams Russell designs and facilitates strategies to support communities influenced by land loss and relative sea-level rise across coastal Louisiana.

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Dakota Fisher

Dakota Fisher is the Resilience Program Analyst at the Louisiana Office of Community Development in the Disaster Recovery Unit.

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Rachelle Thomason

Rachelle Thomason works with communities, organizations and government agencies across Louisiana to grow local knowledge and local capacity around current and future coastal challenges with Foundation for Louisiana.

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Candace Watkins

Candace Watkins is the Disaster Recovery Specialist at the Louisiana Office of Community Development Disaster in the Recovery Unit.

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Caressa Chester

Caressa Chester supports the Coastal Community Resilience Program by assisting with the program’s increasing number of planning and outreach efforts and the continuous development of Coastal Resiliency Leverage Fund.

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More of Our Planning Team

  • Alison Rex
  • Allison Plyer
  • Bobbie Hill
  • Camille Manning Broome
  • Colette Pichon Battle
  • Connor McManus
  • Corey Miller
  • Cynthia Sarthou
  • Darilyn Demolle Turner
  • David Lee Simmons
  • David Waggonner
  • James Taylor
  • Jiayi Hong
  • Kate Peaden
  • Kia Bickham
  • Kyle Randall
  • Mac Ball
  • Maria Papacharalambous
  • Maura Wood
  • Monica Farris
  • Nicholas Matherne
  • Pam Jenkins
  • Perry Franklin
  • Ramiro Diaz
  • Richie Blink
  • Risa Mueller
  • Sandy Nguyen
  • Seth Magden
  • Simone Maloz
  • Steve Cochran
  • Steven Bingler
  • Tara Lambeth
  • Ted Guillot
  • Tom David