Erin Downey

Senior HHI Fellow

Dr. Downey has more than 20 years experience in building healthcare crisis response systems, including 12 years working with the U.S. Government managing the administration of more than $17.3 million healthcare and medical emergency preparedness contracts.

Most recently she has served as Health System Transition Advisor for USAID in Guinea, in response to the Ebola crisis. Previous to this, at the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, she was the principal briefer to the Assistant Secretary and Executive Officers for the Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration. Serving as an AAAS Diplomacy, Science and Development Fellow she provided analysis on:

1. Humanitarian, refugee and geo-political matters to U.S. diplomats

2. Humanitarian assistance/disaster response impacts to health and medical systems during crises, and

3. Emerging humanitarian trends for healthcare, hospitals and security systems during crises.

As an analyst she has provided critical examination of health and humanitarian topics of: Syria (civil conflict, refugee impact to neighboring countries of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq); Libya (mass evacuation); Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia (drought, famine, internal displacement); Sudan-South Sudan (mass migration, newly formed states); Japan (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear exposure); Pakistan (flooding); and Haiti (ongoing earthquake recovery, cholera outbreaks). During this time she published 4 Classified Assessments delivered directly to the U.S. Secretary of State emphasizing the role of science in humanitarian analysis.

Her collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Hospital Preparedness Program extended from implementing emergency management initiatives for more than 220 Louisiana hospitals to contributing to modeling strategies for measuring change in hospital preparedness levels nationally. Collaborative efforts included regular interface with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations, to develop mitigation metrics, examine healthcare-critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, and support catastrophic planning initiatives.

As the former Director of Emergency Preparedness for the Louisiana Hospital Association she held a statewide leadership role for developing collaborative systems among hospitals and public health partners for building local medical response capacity for 4.5 million people, 9 regions, and 25 regional coordinators. She was stationed at the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for 7 declared disasters from 2002-05, including the largest natural disaster (Hurricanes Katrina/Rita) and the largest community evacuation (Hurricanes Gustav/Ike) in U.S. history. These systems, including their evaluation and monitoring mechanisms, remain in place today.

As former adjunct assistant faculty at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Global

Environmental Health Sciences, she designed and instructed a Masters in Public Health of Disaster Management “Population Issues During Disasters” emphasizing health and medical response, disaster science, and policy applications for building national systems. She has served as a mentor for more than 20 graduate students of emergency management disciplines.

Currently, as Vice President of Congress for the World Association for Disaster Emergency Medicine she collaborates with the World Health Organization and the International Committee for the Red Cross’ Healthcare in Danger initiative. She is a Scientific Committee Member for the Israeli International Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters Conferences. As a conference planning lead for 6 HHS Integrated Training Summits and a former Board Member of the International Healthcare Safety and Security Foundation, she contributes to strategy for the interface of national and global systems. She has been an invited speaker for over 65 global forums and received a Certificate of Appreciation, for her role in the Libya Task Force from the U.S. Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (2011).