Chief Resilience Officer Positions Opening in 100 Cities for the First Time

The vital importance of resilience is something we’ve grown to appreciate more and more, particularly in light of our most recent edition of the Disaster Resource GUIDE, “Relationships and the Road to Resilience.” It is encouraging for all in this industry, that a high profile organization like the Rockefeller Foundation is pouring $100 million into resiliency efforts.

The foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge is all about building resilience, with a focus on cities because that’s where the world’s population is becoming increasingly concentrated. Statistics on the foundation’s website show this: in 1913, 10% of the world’s population lived in cities; that became 50% in 2013 and is predicted to become 75% in 2050.

As the Centennial Challenge gets further under way, an interesting part of it is unfolding – new positions for the role of chief resilience officer, a brand new job, are opening up for the first time.

According to an article on, the program began in March in the Bay Area, where Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco are in the process of choosing their first ever chief resilience officers.

“Cities tend to operate in silos,” Judith Rodin, the Rockefeller Foundation’s president, was quoted as saying in the article. “And resilience is very much about building a systems approach. The idea is having a single post that really is integrating across systems--both within city government, but also between city government and other elements of the fabric of the community.”

Rodin also said that these kinds of investments in preparations for the future build what she calls a “resilience dividend.”

“So that it isn’t only an investment that helps you withstand the bad stuff when it happens--the big earthquake, or tsunami, or wildfire--but as you’re building resilience you’re building both more economic opportunity and therefore more jobs and new kinds of jobs. People benefit in the good times, and then they’re stronger and can rebound more quickly in the bad times,” Rodin said in the article.

So what is a chief resilience officer and what are people looking for in potential candidates for the position?

Well, it’s not 100% clear yet. One article we found, written when the Centennial Challenge was announced in May last year, said “For now, Rockefeller is unaware of any city already hosting a job quite like this one, so it's hard to say exactly how the role will work (or what a qualified candidate might look like). Perhaps some mix of urban/transportation planner and sustainability officer and emergency manager?”

The closest thing to a job description we have been able to find is this, in a December 2013 blog post by Rodin.

In describing the four kinds of support the selected cities will receive, Rodin writes they will get “the support to hire and empower a chief resilience officer, a central point of contact within each city to coordinate and oversee the resilience activities, coordinate stakeholders, and ensure resilience is a city-wide priority.”

She also says that the chief resilience officer will “develop a resilience plan, which will take stock of existing efforts, identify priority areas of needs, conduct analysis to understand the interconnected risks and opportunities, and develop a clear and actionable set of priorities and initiatives.”


For more information about the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge, click here:

For the Fast Company article, click here:

For the article from The Atlantic Cities we cited near the end of our piece, click here:

For Judith Rodin’s blog post, click here:

For an article about Melbourne, Australia’s plans for a new CRO, click here: