On May 9, 2013, leaders from industry and government convened for the National Thought Leader Forum: Building Codes for a Stronger and Safer America event in Washington, DC. The event provided a senior-level forum for national dialogue on critical issues facing the hazard mitigation industry. 

Event speakers and panelists included:

  • U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) 
  • Debra Ballen, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) 
  • Bill Jenaway, President, Congressional Fire Services Institute 
  • Honorable Henry L. Green, President, National Institute of Building Sciences 
  • Jim Salek, Vice President of P&C Underwriting Policy and Programs, USAA 
  • U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS) 
  • Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA, Disaster Assistance Committee Chair, American Institute of Architects (AIA) 
  • Jim Rossberg, Managing Director, Engineering Programs, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 
  • Tami Torres Fillyaw, Senior Vice President, Outreach and Communications, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes 
  • Glenn A. Gaines, Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, United States Fire Administration (USFA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 
  • Thad Allen, Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton 

More than 60 event participants engaged in the conversation that highlighted the economic, social, and safety benefits of stronger building codes. In presentations and subsequent dialogue, there was consensus that establishing defensible building codes requires solid research-based science and lessons learned from previous natural disasters. Panelists pointed to a series of recent events ranging from Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina to the community impacted by the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. In each instance, they noted the importance of both establishing and enforcing building codes to include construction materials, building technique, and design specifications. By investing in these critical mitigation activities, government, industry, and individuals will save money, time, and ultimately lives in recovery.

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