Video On Demand

Disaster to Development: Building Greater Resilience

March 29, 2017 • 4:00 – 5:30 pm EDT

There will be a reception following the event from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP separately to Chris Metzger (
Please join us at CSIS for a special event in honor of the legacy of Fred Cuny. This conversation will explore the need for greater resiliency in the disaster to development continuum and discuss innovative approaches and foreign assistance instruments and techniques that help build that resiliency -- including market-based approaches to building developmental resilience for vulnerable communities beset by disasters. We will use the legacy of Fred Cuny as an example of a true innovator in this practice and seek a more detailed conversation about new approaches and instruments that could have wider impact, if used appropriately.   
Fred Cuny was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1944 before moving with his family to Texas where he would later study engineering at Texas A&M University and urban planning at the University of Houston. A trip to Biafra in war-torn eastern Nigeria inspired him to use his engineering skills to help counter the widespread disease in Biafra’s countryside by building water drainage and sanitation systems. His work in implementing design-based solutions to disasters brought him to Somalia, Bangladesh, Yugoslavia, as well as numerous other countries in the developing world. 
In 1971, Mr. Cuny would found Intertect Relief and Reconstruction Corporation, a Dallas based non-profit that provided technical assistance and training to people in need. Tragically, he would disappear, along with three other relief specialists, during a humanitarian mission in Chechyna working to negotiate a ceasefire.  
Mr. Cuny was a pioneer in disaster relief, serving as one of the first humanitarian engineers. His kindness and bravery in working to assist vulnerable groups across the globe as well as other aid workers has cemented his legacy. He is the author of two successful books on international development and conflict and was profiled by the PBS program Frontline in a one-hour show entitled “The Lost American.” His vision of providing practical solutions to disasters and emergencies can be seen in the current programming of the Cuny Center, a research and educational institute that was named to honor its founder.

In addition to the generous support of CSIS and Daniel Runde, this event is also supported by The Cuny Center and Texas A&M University’s George H.W. Bush School of Government & Public Service and with promotional support from the USAID Alumni Association and Society for International Development-Washington Chapter (SID-W). 

There will be a reception following the event from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP separately to Chris Metzger (

Daniel F. Runde
Senior Vice President; William A. Schreyer Chair; Director, Project on Prosperity and Development

William J. Garvelink

Dayton Maxwell

Principal Subject Matter Expert for the Global Strategy Group at International Preparedness Associates, Inc
Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID
Consultant and Former Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistantce at USAID
Senior Vice President for Strategic Practice at Internews