2016 Program Overview

Day 1 Program

Day 2 Program


Day 1: Thursday, November 17, 2016 – Technical/Engineering Sessions

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Registration, Breakfast, and Exhibitors

9:00 AM

Understanding Risk: How to Conceptualize the Seismic Threat

It is clear that an earthquake threat exists in Southern California, but how do engineers understand and communicate the risk to clients? This session will explore the Seismic risk in Southern California and provide tools for communicating that risk to the wider population. Speakers will look at the differences between different types of risk commonly used to make decisions around building safety.

Dr. Ross Stein, Temblor
Dr. Nicolas Luco, USGS

9:45 AM

Case Study: How Does an Earthquake Affect a Structure?

There is a commonly held notion by the general public that a "code compliant" structure will fare well in a significant seismic event. This session will explore how accurate this idea is and look at case studies to demonstrate the performance of a "code compliant" structure. This can underscore the importance of strengthening existing structures and designing beyond the minimums of the building code.


Richard Chen, S.E., Miyamoto International

10:35 AM

Demystifying Performance Based Engineering

This session will answer the question: What is Performance Based Engineering? Panelists will explore the core concepts of performance-based engineering and delve into the intersection of building performance and code compliance and how performance based engineering can be used on all projects.


Dr. Curt Haselton, Haselton-Baker Risk Group

Mason Walters, S.E., Forell/Elsesser Engineers

11:25 AM

SEAOSC Soft Story and Non-Ductile Concrete Design Guides Overview

Overview of the SEAOSC Soft Story and Non-Ductile Concrete Design Guides developed by the Seismology and Existing Building Committees


Josh Gebelein, S.E., Brandow & Johnston

Garrett Hagen, S.E., Degenkolb Engineers

Russell McLellan, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.

12:15 PM

Lunch sponsored by Atlas Tube

Lunch Keynote: The New Executive Order for Federal Buildings

Dr. Steven McCabe, Deputy Director of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will join us from Washington, D.C. to share an overview of the new, updated standard to improve the resilience and enhance the capability of essential Federal buildings to function during and after an earthquake. He will discuss what the standard means, how it came into effect, and the likely implications.

1:15 PM

Practical Applications of Performance Based Engineering

Continuing the discussion from the morning session, this panel will address the issues that make buildings vulnerable. This session will tackle how Performance Based Engineering is applied in practice and how it can be used to identify vulnerable buildings and improve their performance.


Kamal Kalsi, S.E., Degenkolb Engineers

Dr. Chris Hilson, P.E., Degenkolb Engineers

2:05 PM

Implications of Performance Based Engineering: Financial, Legal, and Beyond

This session will discuss the implications of applying the principles of performance based engineering. We will explore the probabilistic nature of this design  methodology and discuss the legal responsibilities of engineers as well as potential impact to insurance costs.

Panel Discussion:

Dr. Jack Baker, Stanford University
Dr. Nilesh Shome, Risk Management Solutions
Simran Tiwana, J.D., Gordon & Rees

Moderator: Kate Stillwell, S.E., Jumpstart Recovery


3:20 PM

Resilience: What is the Engineer's Role?

How can engineers create more resilient cities? Is it the responsibility of the engineer to "sell" resilience to their clients or should the engineer advocate for increased codification of resilience? This session will explore how engineers can be part of the conversation on resilience and disaster preparedness while collaborating with policy makers and other decision makers.

Panel Discussion:

Evan Reis, S.E., US Resiliency Council

Dr. Farzad Naeim, S.E., Esq., Farzad Naeim, Inc.

Dr. Henry Burton, S.E., UCLA

Michael Cochran, S.E., Thornton Tomasetti

Moderator: Saeed Fathali, PhD, P.E., Structural Technologies

4:15 PM

Closing Remarks and Preview for Day 2

Day 2: Friday, November 18, 2016 – Policy and Cities Sessions

7:45 AM - 8:45 AM

Registration, Breakfast, and Exhibitors

8:45 AM

Welcome from SEAOSC

Morning Keynote: Advocating for Seismic Safety in California

Presenter: Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (CA 46th District)

Assemblyman Nazarian, a leading advocate at the state for seismic safety, will share what is happening at the state level to support local jurisdictions in strengthening vulnerable buildings. He will share what has been successful and what community leaders and others can do to promote statewide support for this important community and economic issue.

9:15 AM

Survey and Dr. Jones Introduction by Survey Sponsor Simpson Strong-Tie

The new Safer Cities Survey Research Findings and Analysis

Dr. Lucy Jones will present the outcomes of her research for the Safer Cities Survey. She will discuss the most vulnerable buildings in the Southern California community and the steps jurisdictions have taken across the region in addressing them. She'll offer her analysis of the Survey and explain what could be done to address these building issues in our region.

Presenter: Dr. Lucy JonesDr. Lucy Jones Center for Science & Society

9:50 AM

The Safer Cities Survey: Understanding Building Risk & Recommended Solutions

Now that we know the results of the Safer Cities Survey, SEAOSC will explain the key vulnerable buildings types, how to address the threat, and why we need to partner together to reduce the risk from the next big earthquake.

Presenter: Ken O'Dell, S.E., MHP

10:30 AM

Performance and Policy: How Policy Creates Safer Cities

This session will explore the most effective measures cities have taken to reduce the impact of the seismic risk on existing and vulnerable buildings. Case studies of various programs, initiatives, and enforcement will demonstrate the most effective processes undertaken by policy-makers have led to changes. The panel will look at how enforcement can be addressed as well as how to balance financial considerations with safety concerns.

Panel Discussion:

Daniel Zepeda, S.E., Degenkolb Engineers

Dr. Keith Porter, P.E., University of Colorado Boulder

Ashley Atkinson, AICP, City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Economic Development

Moderator: Conrad Paulson, S.E., Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates

11:30 AM

Localized Discussion: Working Towards a Stronger City

Each table will discuss a set of questions that can uniquely address the needs of the jurisdictions at each table. This interaction will lead to what each city can do to work with others in their community as well as regional organizations.

11:50 AM

Back to Work: How Policy Can Help a City Rebound After an Earthquake

After the earthquake, the ability for the region to get back to normal requires the rapid reopening of businesses. This session will explore various "back to business" programs that support expedited reopening of businesses and how they can rejuvenate a city in the aftermath of an earthquake. Cities can use these programs to build momentum to achieve regional resilience with minimal upfront cost. The panelists will share the implications of a slow reopening and discuss tactics to move forward.


David Cocke, S.E., Structural Focus

Jan Edwards, P.E., CBO, City of Glendale

Ines Pearce, Pearce Global Partners

Moderator: David Williams, S.E., Degenkolb Engineers

12:30 PM

The SEAOSC City Support Initiative: Finding Solutions through Partnership

Matt Barnard, S.E., Degenkolb Engineers


1:00 PM

Pushing for Resilience: How Can You Help?

Strengthening the safety of our cities takes more than just those with knowledge of building construction and performance. Each member of the community has a role to shape the outcome after the next earthquake by what we do today. This session will look at the role of the non-engineer in working with technical experts to build support and pursue the best policies for their communities, offering strategies and tips for effective ways of addressing the larger issue of a resilient city.

Panel Discussion:

Marissa Aho, AICP, City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office
Andrea Davis, Chair, Red Cross Greater

Susan Dowty, S.E., International Code Council

Moderator: Janah Risha, S.E., Risha Engineering

1:50 PM

Closing Remarks

2016 Speakers

Andrea Davis, The Walt Disney Company, Chair, Red Cross Los Angeles

Andrea serves as the Chair for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Regional Board of Directors and is the Director of Global Crisis Management and Business Continuity for The Walt Disney Company. There, she oversees an enterprise-wide department that is responsible for all-hazards emergency planning and testing for Disney and its affiliates world-wide. Prior to joining Disney, Andrea served as the External Affairs Director for FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office (LRO) where she oversaw all media, intergovernmental and congressional activities for the largest disaster recovery effort in United States history with a total recovery portfolio of over $20 billion. Prior to her arrival, FEMA received repeated negative press both locally and nationwide and no support from local and state partners. Andrea’s team undertook a massive outreach campaign to regain the public’s trust consisting of hosting one-on-one meetings with local and state officials and FEMA leadership as well as the media and community leaders. Their grassroots efforts have been credited with helping transform the public’s perception of FEMA, culminating with FEMA participating in over 300 groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies and the local media coining a new acronym- TGFF: Thank God for FEMA.

Prior to FEMA, Andrea served as the Regional Training and Exercise Planner for the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management and was the Emergency Manager for the 12th District of the Federal Reserve.

Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from CSU, Chico; a Master of Science in Public Health from Pennsylvania State University’s Medical School and was a 2013 inductee to the Women’s Emergency Management Hall of Fame.

Ashley Atkinson, AICP —  Senior Planning & Development Manager, Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of Economic Development

Ashley Atkinson is a professional planner with an economic development focus and more than a decade of experience in Los Angeles-area municipal agencies. Efforts she's led range from public building projects to future-focused strategies such as LA's seismic retrofit ordinances. As Mayor Eric Garcetti's Senior Planning & Development Manager, Ashley works with the departments of City Planning and Building & Safety to implement mayoral directives and achieve priority outcomes on land use, development, and housing issues. She joined the Mayor’s Office in August 2013 from the City of Long Beach, where she managed redevelopment projects and budgets. She holds a dual master’s degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning from USC’s Price School of Public Policy and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Ashley is serving as director of the American Planning Association’s Los Angeles section for 2016-2017.

Dr. Christopher Hilson, P.E., Ph.D.

Christopher Hilson is a design engineer with Degenkolb Engineers and has practiced structural engineering for over 5 years.  He has experience in the design of new structures as well as the seismic evaluation and retrofit of existing structures.  His research includes the investigation of concrete buildings after the 2010 Maule Earthquake in Chile, and the performance of slender walls and underreinforced wall boundary elements.Christopher Hilson has a B.S. in Structural Engineering from U.C. San Diego, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from U.C. Los Angeles.  He is a registered civil engineer in California.

Dr. Curt B Haselton, P.E., Ph.D.

Curt B. Haselton, Ph.D., P.E., is a Professor of Civil Engineering at California State University, Chico, and Co-Founder of Haselton Baker Risk Group (hbrisk.com) as well as the Seismic Performance Prediction Program (SP3).  SP3 is a commercial tool to implement FEMA P-58 analyses, with the goal of making broad use of FEMA P-58 feasible in practice.  Dr. Haselton's research is in the area of performance-based earthquake engineering, with focuses on building code development, collapse safety assessment, ground motion selection and scaling, damage and loss estimation, and the treatment of uncertainties. Dr. Haselton was recently the chair of the Building Seismic Safety Council team to rewriting Chapter 16 of ASCE 7.

Conrad Paulson, S.E.

Conrad Paulson is a Principal of structural engineering in the Los Angeles (Pasadena) office of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE). He has been employed at WJE for the past 34 years and has recently relocated to southern California.  While at WJE, he has conducted a wide variety of engineering projects, including structural failure investigations, post-earthquake reconnaissance, seismic structural evaluations, and field load testing of structures.  He was project manager for an investigation that looked into the collapse of the Canterbury Television Building during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.  He is a voting member of Task Committee TC‑7 of the AISC Committee on Specifications, which is tasked with developing AISC 341.1 ‑ Seismic Provisions for Evaluation and Retrofit of Structural Steel Buildings.  He is also Voting Member of ACI 318 Subcommittees B and R, where he is involved with code development efforts to permit Grade 80 reinforcement for use in seismic designs and Grade 100 reinforcement for general applications.

Daniel Zepeda, S.E.

Daniel Zepeda received his Master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and is a licensed Structural Engineer in California and a Principal with Degenkolb Engineers.  With over 12 years of experience in seismic evaluation and seismic strengthening of existing buildings, Daniel’s project breadth spans large medical centers, civic buildings and privately owned structures. He is the chair of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC)’s Existing Buildings Committee and is currently helping Cities in the Los Angeles area including the Cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood with their seismic programs. Daniel was a member of Degenkolb’s post-earthquake reconnaissance team that surveyed both the 2010 Chile Earthquake, the 2010 Baja California Earthquake and the 2016 Taiwan Earthquake.  He is also participating in the update of the latest version of ASCE 41.

David Cocke, S.E., F. SEI, F. ASCE

David Cocke founded Structural Focus in 2001 after 20 years at a previous firm in California. He is a registered structural engineer in fourteen states with expertise including new structural design, seismic evaluation, historic preservation, and retrofit design. Some of David’s more notable projects include the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Google’s Los Angeles headquarters, Red Bull North America headquarters, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple restoration, Glendale’s Masonic Temple, as well as multiple buildings at DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures. David is also co-founder and Managing Director of SAFEq Institute which serves as an expert resource for building owners, risk managers, engineers, and local jurisdictions seeking to minimize facility and business interruption losses caused by disasters. David is a recognized expert in building business resiliency and continuity related to disaster risks. He believes that pre-planning and partnerships with cities can greatly reduce business interruption after an earthquake or other disaster. That belief is the driving idea behind SAFEq Institute. David currently serves on the Board of Directors and Board of Governors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Structural Engineers Institute respectively, he has served in many leadership roles and on numerous Boards of Directors of professional engineering organizations as well as preservation organizations during his career.

David Williams, S.E.

David Williams S.E. is a Project Engineer at Degenkolb Engineers and has been involved in a number of projects, including new design and retrofit of existing structures.  Additionally, David has participated in several municipal seismic projects, including Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.  David is an active member of the Structural Engineering community and is currently the Co-Chair of the 2016 SEOASC Summit.

David Williams joined Degenkolb Engineers after completing his Master of Science at Stanford University.  During his graduate study, David conducted research using the HAZUS methodology to predict building losses and conduct life cycle analysis of structures.

Evan Reis, S.E.

Evan Reis, SE, works with public agencies and private companies nationwide to promote resilience and protect buildings and infrastructure against natural and man-made risks. Evan focuses on developing comprehensive resilience management strategies that include, mitigation, emergency management and business continuity planning, and financial risk transfer.

Evan graduated with this Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Structural Engineering from Stanford University in 1988. The following year he was back down on the Farm, helping the University recover from the Loma Prieta Earthquake and playing an integral part in its long-term seismic program, a relationship that continues today. He was the structural engineer for the seismic retrofit of several of Stanford’s most historic buildings, including the Memorial Church and Stanford Art Museum, each of which won national awards for their technical excellence and creative design.

Evan co-founded Certus Consulting in 2004, providing engineering and risk management services to some of California’s largest organizations in the education, healthcare, high technology, energy, insurance and government services sectors. At Certus, and later at AIR Worldwide, Evan translated often complex technical concepts into concrete value propositions for his clients. He has been an active member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the Risk and Insurance Management Society.

Evan co-founded the US Resiliency Council in 2011 as a way to educate building stakeholders and the public about the gap between the growing sustainability movement and true resilient design. The country was made painfully aware of this gap little more than a year later, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Evan noted that even though there were more LEED certified buildings in the New York area than anywhere in the world, these buildings were built to have a low impact on the environment, not for the environment to have a low impact on them.

Evan strives to provide an unqualified commitment to his clients and to the profession of structural engineering, and through his service with the USRC to promote and advocate for more resilient communities nationwide.

Dr. Farzad Naeim, Ph.D.

Dr. Farzad Naeim is the President of Farzad Naeim, Inc. and CEO of Mehrain Naeim International Inc. both of Irvine California. Dr. Naeim is also an Adjunct Professor at UCI and a faculty member at the European School for Advanced Studies in Reduction of Seismic Risk (ROSE). He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 1982 and his J.D. with highest honors in 2002. In 2007, he received the Fazlur Khan Medal for lifetime achievements in seismic design of tall buildings from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. He has served two terms (1995 and 2011) as the President of the Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council. Dr. Naeim is a Past-President and an honorary member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). He is currently Chair of California’s Strong Motion Instrumentation Advisory Committee and serves on the Seismic Advisory Board of Caltrans, Board of Expert Consultants of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and Advisory Council of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC). Farzad has published four textbooks, more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, and has developed 45 different software systems for earthquake engineering design and education. Dr. Naeim has served as Technical Director for many landmark structures in California and across the United States and has collaborated with researchers from Stanford, UCB, UCLA, USC, UCSD, UCI and University of British Columbia on various research projects.

Garrett Hagen, S.E.

Garrett Hagen joined Degenkolb in 2012 after completing his Master of Science from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, where his graduate research involved performance-based analysis of concrete structural walls. Garrett actively contributes to research regarding earthquake resilience and developing the state of practice for earthquake-resistant structures through several published papers, committee reports, and the development of ASCE 41.

Garrett was a member of the Degenkolb post-earthquake reconnaissance team that surveyed earthquake damage in Taiwan in February 2016. Bringing back lessons from Taiwan, Garrett assisted with writing guidelines for the Los Angeles ordinances to protect against hazards from LA’s existing non-ductile concrete and soft-story buildings.  He is also a delegate for the SEAOC state Existing Building Committee and a voting member on ACI Committees 369 and 374. Garrett’s portfolio includes design and seismic strengthening schemes for a variety of facilities.

Dr. Henry V. Burton, S.E., Ph.D.

Dr. Henry V. Burton is an Assistant Professor and the Englekirk Presidential Chair in Structural Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research is directed towards understanding and modeling the relationship between the performance of infrastructure systems within the built environment, and the ability of communities to minimize the extent of socioeconomic disruption following extreme events such as major earthquakes. Dr. Burton is a registered structural engineer in the state of California. Prior to obtaining his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, he spent six years in practice at Degenkolb Engineers, where he worked on numerous large scale projects involving design of new buildings and seismic evaluation and retrofit of existing buildings. Current projects include (1) utilizing remote sensing to assess the implication of tall building performance on the resilience of urban centers, (2) stochastic characterization of building aftershock collapse risk and (3) developing design and assessment methods for resilient and sustainable buildings. Henry is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Next Generation of Disaster Researchers Fellowship (2014) and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2016).

Ines Pearce

Ines Pearce is an all-hazard emergency management and business continuity expert with 23 years of professional experience, specializing in resilience and public-private partnership (PPP) for 18 of those years. For 10 years, Ines has been CEO of Pearce Global Partners Inc. facilitating resilience and practical solutions worldwide. As Senior Advisor to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, she directs the “National Disaster Help Desk for Business” facilitating disaster recovery such as in: Cedar Rapids, Nashville, Texas and South Carolina flooding; Nepal, Haiti, Napa and Japan earthquakes; Hurricanes Matthew and Sandy; California wildfires; and tornadoes in Joplin and Tuscaloosa.

Ms. Pearce served on the National Academies/NRC Committee to develop “Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience”.

Ms. Pearce has been an instrumental leader in the PPP that developed The Great ShakeOut, an annual public drill, outreach campaign and events that in 2015 reached over 43 million participants globally, the largest drill in world history. Ms. Pearce’s facilitation was integral to the Earthquake Country Alliance receiving both the 2012 National Award of Excellence for Outreach, as well as the 2012 Overall National Award of Excellence.

She’s President of the Disaster Resistant Business Toolkit (DRB Toolkit) Workgroup, a 501(c)(3) non-profit developing simple, disaster-planning tools increasing capacity of small to medium-sized businesses and non-profits to plan, survive & recover from all-hazards. Currently developing a business resiliency program in Turkey with the World Economic Forum and another initiative in Haiti.

Ines represented the World Economic Forum at the United Nations’ Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland, and addressed the UN regarding PPP at the World Conferences for Disaster Reduction in Kobe (2005) and 10 years later in Sendai, Japan (2016).

In 1998, Ms. Pearce was appointed Director of Seattle Project Impact, a public-private community partnership that developed collaborative solutions and on-going public education to mitigate disaster impacts in homes, schools, businesses, and improved hazard mapping, receiving numerous national excellence awards and an Emmy Award.

Ms. Pearce has recently joined in the launch of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, which is partnering with the Southern California Association of Governments to provide education on the earthquake risk and policy approaches to reduce the risk to local governments and help them understand what is at stake as well as how to bring the community together to support policies that will reduce risk.

Ines currently serves as President of the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) a non-profit coalition of private, public, and scientific representatives working together to improve the ability of Cascadia Region communities, businesses and homeowners to reduce the effects of earthquakes.

Jack W. Baker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Stanford University, Co-Founder, Haselton Baker Risk Group, LLC

Jack Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. His work focuses on modelling risk to buildings, infrastructure systems and other elements of the built environment. He has industry experience in seismic hazard assessment, ground motion selection, probabilistic risk assessment, and modeling of catastrophe losses for insurance and reinsurance companies. He Co-Founded Haselton Baker Risk Group in order to bring Performance Based Earthquake Engineering to a wider audience.

He has Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Structural Engineering from Stanford, an M.S. degree in Statistics from Stanford, and a B.A. degree in Mathematics/Physics from Whitman College. His awards include the Shah Family Innovation Prize from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, the Early Achievement Research Award from the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability and the Eugene L. Grant Award for excellence in teaching from Stanford.

Jan Edwards, P.E., C.B.O.

Ms. Edwards has a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Architectural Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  She has a  Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University and is a registered Professional Civil Engineer in the state of California.  Ms. Edwards is also an I.C.C. Certified Building Official for the City of Glendale, CA and a CAL-EMA Safety Assessment Program Evaluator.

After graduating college she worked for several small construction and engineering firms for twelve years before switching to the public sector in 1989. In the public sector she started as a plan check engineer, working in several jurisdictions before switching to Glendale in 1993 where she is currently the Building Official.  After the Northridge Earthquake she was designated the Building Department specialist for Unreinforced Masonry (URM) structural reviews. Glendale had approximately 2500 URM structures at that time. More recently there have been wild fires and mudslides that have destroyed or damaged structures in Glendale. 

During her years working in Building and Safety Ms. Edwards has reviewed many types of structures, including adaptive reuse of existing structures.  As Building Official Ms. Edwards has assisted in updating the Emergency Plan for Building and Safety and is currently working to develop or expand strategies for disaster response while allowing the daily business of plan review and inspections to continue.

Janah Risha, S.E., G.C. 

Janah Risha has spent his career working to solve problems and increase safety of the built environment. As a licensed civil and structural engineer and a licensed general contractor, he specializes in large scale design and trouble-shooting hard-to-build, highly technical projects. He established Risha Engineering in Burbank, California in 1999 providing engineering services for new building projects, seismic analysis for retrofitting of existing buildings, and structural design for special structures His firm operates under the principal that by design, buildings should be safe, efficient and unique, and the firm has been recognized for its creative and efficient engineering solutions, receiving several awards for the projects it completed, including  hospitals, schools, offices, restaurants, retail, industrial, institutional, entertainment and residential buildings. In particular, Mr. Risha has undertaken the renovations of the old Los Angeles Federal Reserve building in downtown Los Angeles; the adaptive re-use of the old Nabisco Building; and the design of a new 600 seat theatre for the Television Academy in North Hollywood.

Dedicated to advancing community priorities, Mr. Risha has served in various industry leadership roles, including as the President of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) in 2011-2012. During his term, he initiated the inaugural SEAOSC Summit, which brought together the stakeholders for resiliency in Southern California.  This event heightened awareness of the vulnerabilities in the soft story and non-ductile concrete structures, which culminated in Mayor Garcetti’s Resilience by Design program and the adoption of retrofit ordinances.

Mr. Risha obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1987 and went on to earn a master’s degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford University the following year. 

Josh Gebelein, S.E.

Josh Gebelein is an Associate Principal with Brandow & Johnston with 17 years of engineering experience.  During his career he has lived and practiced in Sacramento, Menlo Park, and Los Angeles, and has worked on international projects in New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Haiti and Turkey.  He enjoys learning about advances in seismology, earthquake engineering, and materials science, and then exploring how to apply that knowledge into real practice as well as code language updates. He is currently a SEAOSC Director, Seismology Committee Vice Chair and head of the Non-Ductile Concrete Design Guide task group.

Kamalpreet S. Kalsi, S.E.

Kamalpreet S. Kalsi is a project engineer with Degenkolb Engineers and has been practicing structural engineering for over 8 years. His experience focus includes design of new structures and seismic evaluation/upgrade of existing structures. His technical expertise includes 3D modeling and analysis of complex structures, nonlinear pushover and time history analyses. Kamalpreet S. Kalsi is also involved with Structural Engineering Association of Southern California (SEAOSC).

Kamalpreet S. Kalsi has a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering from University of California Los Angeles. He is registered structural engineer in California.

Kate Stillwell, S.E.

Kate Stillwell is Founder and CEO of Jumpstart Recovery, a new approach to earthquake insurance in California.  She is a licensed structural engineer, the immediate past president of SEAONC, and a co-founder of the US Resiliency Council.  Previously she has worked at EQECAT and GEM Foundation.

Ken O'Dell, S.E.

Ken O’Dell joined MHP in 1989. With over 25 years of broad experience in the structural engineering field, Ken has been involved with and responsible for a number of significant projects including entire school campuses (K-12 schools as well as higher education facilities), major hotels, housing, office projects, and commercial and retail structures throughout the western United States.

In addition to co-managing the Design team, Ken facilitates corporate marketing efforts, provides oversight for human resource issues, develops and deepens client relations, and is a valued resource for staff guidance. 

Dr. Keith Porter, Ph.D, P.E.

Dr. Porter is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Research Professor in Structural Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is also Principal of SPA Risk LLC, a consulting company. He specializes in societal risk from natural disasters and 2nd generation performance-based earthquake engineering. He has written 170 scholarly and professional works on disaster risk. He has studied public policy for safer cities in many contexts. For example, he served as chief engineer for the USGS’s ShakeOut planning scenario. He performed risk calculations that informed San Francisco’s mandatory soft story retrofit ordinance. He helped lead a study for the US Congress that found that public-sector investment in mitigation saves $4 per $1 spent. He is now leading a team to update that study. In recent research for the USGS, he estimated the costs and benefits of designing all new buildings with an earthquake importance factor of 1.5. 

Dr. Lucy Jones 

Known globally as an expert in earthquakes and resilience, Dr. Lucy Jones has dedicated her life to helping communities and leaders prepare for the inevitable. Dr. Lucy Jones retired from federal service in March 2016 after serving as a seismologist with the US Geological Survey since 1983. Most recently, she was the USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, leading the USGS’s long-term science planning for natural hazards research, and the SAFRR Project: Science Application for Risk Reduction, that she had created to apply USGS science to reduce risk in communities across the Nation. She continues as a Visiting Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech a post she has held since 1984, and is developing programs to connect policy makers with scientists and support the use of science in community decision making. In 2014, she led a partnership between the USGS and the City of Los Angeles to create solutions to four of the most significant seismic vulnerabilities in the City.

Dr. Jones has authored over 100 papers on research seismology with primary interest in earthquake statistics and integrated disaster scenarios, especially in southern California, including leading the science projects that created the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, the Great ShakeOut Drill and the ARkStorm Scenario.  Dr. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Language and Literature, Magna Cum Laude, from Brown University in 1976 and a Ph. D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.

Mason Walters, S.E.

Mason Walters is a Senior Principal at Forell/Elsesser Engineers, and has been with the firm since 1984.  He serves as the firm’s Technical Director, and has worked in the areas of structural and earthquake engineering and peer review for 36 years, with emphasis on developing high-performance structural solutions for large and complex structural projects.  He helped pioneer the application of Performance-Based Design, and the use of special seismically-protective measures for new and existing structures as well as long-span bridges.  His projects include the seismically isolated UCSF Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building, San Francisco and Oakland City Halls, the Utah State Capitol, and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.  Mason also managed the structural engineering team for the design and construction of the San Francisco International Airport Bart/Light Rail Station, and is the SEOR for the recently completed Cal Student Athlete High Performance Center, the Stanford McMurtry Art and Art History Building, and the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Mr. Walters has a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly, and a Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering/Structural Mechanics from U.C. Berkeley.  He is registered in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Idaho and DC.

Michael Cochran, S.E., SECB

Michael is on the board of directors of the United States Resiliency Council, a non-profit that looks to educate both building owners and the public about the performance of buildings during natural disasters.

Michael Cochran has an extensive background in new building design and seismic retrofit and renovation of existing buildings. He is skilled in the design of wood, steel and concrete structures, including those using steel moment and concentric brace frame design and cast-in-place construction.

During his 30-plus-year career, Michael has built up a portfolio that includes residential, office and retail projects, as well as facilities for aerospace companies. His new design credits include One Santa Fe, a 438-unit multifamily complex in Los Angeles, California; a pair of midrise office buildings at Howard Hughes Center in Las Vegas, Nevada; an office building for Fox Studios in Century City, California; and the preservation/conversion of a designated Los Angeles City historic monument into a private middle school. Michael was also responsible for seismic retrofits of several educational and commercial buildings throughout Southern California.

Giving Back to the Profession
For more than 20 years, Michael has been an active member of the California engineering community. He has given educational presentations, held leadership positions for several professional organizations and is currently a member of the advisory council for the architectural engineering program at California Polytechnic State University, San Louis Obispo. He has also been an active member on various American Institute of Steel Construction committees. Michael recently served on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s seismic safety task force and contributed to the development of “Resilience by Design,” a report which addressed the city’s greatest vulnerabilities from earthquakes and offered recommendations for improving seismic preparedness.

Dr. Nicolas Luco, Ph.D.

Dr. Nicolas Luco is a Research Structural Engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, Colorado. There he is an Associate Project Chief for the National Seismic Hazard Modeling Project, and a co-Project Chief for the Engineering Risk Assessment Project. In those roles, he serves as a liaison between the U.S. earthquake hazard, design/retrofit, and risk communities. Prior to joining the USGS in 2004, he was a Senior Analysis Engineer with the catastrophe loss modeling company AIR Worldwide Corporation. Dr. Luco earned his PhD in civil and environmental engineering and MS in Statistics from Stanford University.

Dr. Nilesh Shome, Ph.D., Vice President, Global Earthquake and Terrorism Products, Risk Management Solutions

Dr. Nilesh Shome is a Vice President in model development group at RMS. He is managing the development of global earthquake and the terrorism products. Currently he is leading the update of North America Earthquake model. He has more than 15 years of professional experience in loss estimation from natural hazards like

Dr. Nilesh Shome is a Vice President in model development group at RMS. He is managing the development of global earthquake and the terrorism products. Currently he is leading the update of North America Earthquake model. He has more than 15 years of professional experience in loss estimation from natural hazards like hurricanes and earthquakes as well as man-made hazards like terrorism. In RMS, he has developed vulnerability functions, updated the seismicity rates following Tohoku earthquake, developed simulation methodology for RMS(one), and many other projects.

Prior to joining RMS, Nilesh has worked at AIR and CoreLogic for developing and updating the catastrophe models. He has also worked as a consultant for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Applied Technical Council (ATC). He is a member of the US National Seismic Hazard Map Project (NSHMP) steering committee. He has a Ph.D. in structural engineering from Stanford University. He has received the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) award for the best journal paper.

Dr. Nilesh Shome is a Vice President in model development group at RMS. He is managing the development of global earthquake and the terrorism products. Currently he is leading the update of North America Earthquake model. He has more than 15 years of professional experience in loss estimation from natural hazards like hurricanes and earthquakes as well as man-made hazards like terrorism. In RMS, he has developed vulnerability functions, updated the seismicity rates following Tohoku earthquake, developed simulation methodology for RMS(one), and many other projects.

Prior to joining RMS, Nilesh has worked at AIR and CoreLogic for developing and updating the catastrophe models. He has also worked as a consultant for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Applied Technical Council (ATC). He is a member of the US National Seismic Hazard Map Project (NSHMP) steering committee. He has a Ph.D. in structural engineering from Stanford University. He has received the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) award for the best journal paper. hurricanes and earthquakes as well as man-made hazards like terrorism. In RMS, he has developed vulnerability functions, updated the seismicity rates following Tohoku earthquake, developed simulation methodology for RMS(one), and many other projects. Prior to joining RMS, Nilesh has worked at AIR and CoreLogic for developing and updating the catastrophe models. He has also worked as a consultant for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Applied Technical Council (ATC). He is a member of the US National Seismic Hazard Map Project (NSHMP) steering committee. He has a Ph.D. in structural engineering from Stanford University. He has received the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) award for the best journal paper.

Richard Chen, S.E.

Richard Chen, M.S., S.E., Principal in the Los Angeles office, is a well-known and respected earthquake structural engineer with 16 years of experience in mission-critical, public and commercial projects. With an extensive background in various types of construction, Richard has led residential and mixed-use construction projects totaling more than $1 billion. His most notable residential projects include University Gateway Student Apartments, a design-build project for the University of Southern California, the adaptive-reuse historical project, The Mint, and the mixed-use Lombardi project containing six residential levels above one level of retail and three levels of underground parking. His commercial successes include the Universal Pedestrian Bridge (Universal Studios), LAX Parking Garage and Elevator Renovation and the New Patagonia Headquarters.

Chen is a leader in hospitality development as well. His signature projects include the LAX Hyatt Hotel, Hope Street Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in West Lake. His accomplishments in the sports industry include the Citizens Business Bank Arena (11,000 seats) and the GOALS project, a series of 20 public soccer facilities. Richard holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of California, San Diego where, later, he participated in the design and construction of the $70 million Structural and Materials Engineering Building. His expertise earned him the SEAOSC Young Engineer Award in 2006. With a goal of giving back to the engineering field, Richard currently mentors graduate students at UCLA and UC San Diego.  In addition to his professional expertise, Richard is a 4th-degree black belt martial arts instructor in Shorinji Kempo. It's Miyamoto’s mission to make the world a better, safer place and the “opportunity to grow and improve the lives of people” that inspires Richard in his work as he leads the Los Angeles office.

Ross S. Stein, Ph.D.

Ross S. Stein is a Consulting Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University, Scientist Emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey, CEO and cofounder of Temblor.net, and President-Elect of the Tectonophysics section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He is a Fellow of the AGU and the Geological Society of America, was Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research, and later chaired AGU’s Board of Journal Editors. He received an Sc.B. from Brown University magna cum laude and with honors, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Stein received the 2012 Gilbert F. White Natural Hazards Award from AGU, gave a 2012 TEDx talk, ‘Defeating Earthquakes,’ and received the 2000 Eugene M. Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award of the USGS. In 2003, the Science Citation Index reported that Stein was the second most cited author in earthquake science during the preceding decade; he was tenth most cited during 1900-2010.

In 2003, the Science Citation Index reported that Stein was the second most-cited author in earthquake science during the preceding decade; he was the 10th most cited earthquake scientist for the 110-year span, 1900-2010. Stein was Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research in 1986-89, and later chaired AGU’s Board of Journal Editors. He has been published in Science and Nature many times, and Scientific American twice.

In 2009, Ross cofounded the Global Earthquake Model, a public-private partnership building a seismic risk model for the world. Ross chaired GEM’s Science Board through 2014; the GEM Foundation is now staffed by 24 people. Stein sits on the Natural Catastrophe Advisory Council of Zurich Insurance. Stein is a speaker in the 2015-2016 MPSF Speaker Series, the largest community lecture series in the U.S., with 5,000 subscribers.

Russell McLellan

Mr. McLellan has earned an M.S. in Structural Engineering from University of Southern California (USC) and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). Mr. McLellan has contributed to a variety of seismic rehabilitation projects along the west coast including the analyses and retrofit of: soft, weak, or open-front (SWOF) wood-frame, non-ductile concrete (NDC), and pre-northridge steel moment frame buildings. 

Dr. Saeed Fathali, Ph.D., P.E.

Dr. Saeed Fathali is the Director of Seismic Solutions at STRUCTURAL TECHNOLOGIES. Saeed received his PhD in Structural and Earthquake Engineering from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Following his graduation from UB in 2008, Saeed worked for Rutherford + Chekene in San Francisco for seven years where he worked on several applied research projects including probability-based seismic performance assessment of buildings, evaluation of code requirements for directional combination of building seismic responses, development of seismic guideline for roof-mounted solar panels, and evaluation and improvement of the current code formula for seismic design of acceleration-sensitive nonstructural components.  Saeed’s expertise in nonlinear response history analyses has benefited several seismic retrofit projects in the Bay Area, and the peer review of several high-rise structures and base-isolated hospitals along the West Coast. Saeed is an active member of several committees at both SEAOSC and SEAONC, and ACI, and serves as a manger on the board of ICC Evaluation Services (ICC-ES). 

Simran Tiwana, P.E.

Mr. Tiwana holds a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School and works on construction litigation matters at the nationwide law firm of Gordon & Rees. He is actively involved in construction disputes involving residential and commercial projects all over Southern California.  In addition to his legal endeavors, Mr. Tiwana has over 10 years of experience in the structural design of buildings and bridge projects. He holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in engineering and is a licensed professional engineer. His experience includes performance based design of multiple new construction and retrofit projects. As an engineer,  he has worked with a multitude of clients, ranging from small private investors, to  institutional clients, like the US Army Corps of Engineers, to private sector developers, like the Safeway Corporation, and the residential apartment building owner, AvalonBay Communities.  

Dr. Steven McCabe

In April 2011, Steven McCabe joined the Engineering Laboratory as the Deputy Director of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). NEHRP is the federal government's program to reduce risks to life and property from earthquakes. NEHRP consists of four federal agencies: FEMA, NSF, USGS, and NIST.

As of October 1, 2015, he was selected as the Group Leader of the Earthquake Engineering Group. In this position, he serves as the NIST representative on the NEHRP Program Coordination Working Group. He will continue to manage NEHRP research that is conducted or supported by NIST through its Earthquake Risk Mitigation R&D Program, which combines in-house and extramural expertise to address key research and knowledge-transfer issues in earthquake engineering. He also assists in cooperative work involving the NEHRP agencies and other federal, state, and public domains.

Prior to joining NIST, McCabe was Chief Executive Officer of NEES Consortium, Inc. from 2007 to 2010. There he was responsible for management and operation of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with an annual budget of $22 million. He managed the day-to-day operations of NEES headquarters and the network’s information technology (IT) development, and worked with NSF, the 15 NEES experimental sites, and the earthquake engineering research community to increase use of network facilities.

From 1985 to 2007, McCabe was a professor of structural engineering in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. He taught a variety of courses from beginning analysis through steel, concrete, and masonry structural design, and served as department chair from July 1998 through September 2002. His research interests included earthquake engineering and structural dynamics as well as the application of computer-based nonlinear analysis techniques to static and dynamic analysis problems. A particular interest is the identification of damage levels and reserve capacity in structures under dynamic loads. He researched reinforcing bar mechanical splice performance issues under extreme loading and developed criteria and design rules for headed reinforcing bars and other new reinforcing systems for concrete structures.

During 2002–2005 McCabe served as program manager for the Structural Systems and Hazard Mitigation of Structures Program in the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems at NSF. He managed research funding for structural performance under extreme loading, both natural and manmade, as well as supporting work in structural health monitoring. He was active in the construction and initial operational phases of NEES and managed the first two NEES research competitions.

Before beginning his academic career, McCabe worked at several engineering firms as a design and resident engineer primarily in the nuclear- and fossil-power industries. He is a registered professional engineer and has been active in many national and international professional societies.

Susan Dowty, S.E.

Ms. Susan Dowty, ICC Government Relations Manager for the State of CA, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 1984 and her Master of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach in 1990.  She is a registered civil and structural engineer in the State of California and has over thirty years experience in the interpretation and application of building code provisions. She served on the California Building Standards Commission from 2006 to 2010.  

2016 Sponsors

Survey Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsor

Bronze Sponsors

Atlas Tube
Brandow & Johnston, Inc.
DeWALT Engineered by Powers
DCI Engineers
DCSE Associates, Inc.
Englekirk Structural Engineers
MHP, Inc. Structural Engineers

Risha Engineering Group, Inc.
SIKA Corporation
Structural Technologies, LLC.

Thornton Tomasetti
Zarin-afsar & Assoc.,Inc.

Presenting Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Sika Corporation
Brandow & Johnston, INC
MHP, Inc. Structural Engineers
Englekirk Structural Engineers

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