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Pepperdine School of Public Policy Forms New Academic Enterprise with Los Angeles Homeland Security Advisory Council

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy has announced it will form an innovative academic enterprise with the Los Angeles Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) focused on disaster preparedness, crisis management, and resiliency through engaging the public, private, and civic sectors. The new enterprise, to be called the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the School of Public Policy, is positioned to prepare the current and next generation of public leaders by harnessing the school’s unique curriculum dedicated to exploring a full range of cross-sector and information technology solutions to public policy challenges. The formation of this enterprise with HSAC, a current 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure the security and resilience of the Los Angeles region in the face of threats and hazards, will include the transfer of all HSAC assets and intellectual property to Pepperdine and is a strategic step for the University in expanding its role around issues facing crisis management today.

“Through the trail-blazing, innovative work of the Los Angeles Homeland Security Advisory Council, we are actually seeing viable solutions to issues important to our community,” said Pepperdine president Andrew K. Benton. “That Pepperdine, through its School of Public Policy, is going to have a major hand in this important and shaping effort is a great opportunity and a point of pride. We hope to use this opportunity to build social capital in greater Los Angeles and help make our community a safer, more caring place for all of our citizens.”

HSAC currently offers a variety of programs focused on technology, engagement, capability building, and partnerships for crisis managers, policymakers, and public safety professionals, in addition to students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree. Through the partnership with the School of Public Policy, HSAC will expand its current offerings, create new educational and training programs, and reach a broader participant group that includes graduate students and audiences throughout California and the nation.

“With the combination of educational programs and technology, it's fair to say that the launch of the new Homeland Security Advisory Council at the School of Public Policy is a groundbreaking initiative in American higher education,” said Pete Peterson (MPP ’07), dean of the School of Public Policy. “Where else should something creative like this happen but here in Los Angeles?”

Demonstrating a shared commitment to service, community, and the public good, the move also includes the acquisition of HSAC’s crisis and event management platform, SALUS - The Crisis Hub, which uses geographic information systems (GIS) to manage and analyze data in order to build upon existing relationships with municipal and state governments. GIS is typically used to visualize information, such as patterns and relationships, and helps crisis managers make informed decisions and gain a more complete situational awareness before, during, and after a crisis or major event. SALUS also supports and facilitates strategies that address homelessness in Los Angeles by providing a single, common platform accessible to the mayor’s office and all 16 departments in the city’s Unified Homelessness Response Center.

“Since its inception in 2002, HSAC has become indispensable to improving public safety communication and collaboration in Los Angeles,” said Peter Lowy, chair of HSAC. “The result is an L.A. region that is today better prepared, more secure, and increasingly more resilient in the face of threats and hazards. This new academic enterprise at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy is driven by our shared dedication to serving diverse communities with growing needs. I am eager to see the strength of our combined efforts in utilizing emerging technologies to advance meaningful policy solutions throughout Greater Los Angeles.”

HSAC is led by Lowy, who helms an active and dynamic board of influential Angelenos, and president and CEO Jim Featherstone, who joined the organization in 2016 after 30 years with the City of Los Angeles. Lowy will be named a Senior Fellow at the School of Public Policy, and Featherstone will serve as executive director of the new enterprise at Pepperdine. Additionally, the organization will continue to benefit from the guidance of distinguished board members including Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who serves as honorary chair; Los Angeles fire chief Ralph Terrazas; Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby; and Los Angeles police chief Michael Moore. HSAC also presently counts among its partners leading philanthropic organizations, including The Ahmanson Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation.

"Building a more resilient Los Angeles requires that we tap every resource at our disposal—and that means deepening partnerships with HSAC, relying on critical insights from institutions like Pepperdine, and equipping our leaders and first responders with vital data from SALUS in the face of disruptions, crises, or natural disasters," said Garcetti. "Our top priority is keeping Angelenos safe and secure, and we will continue to deploy every tool in our arsenal to strengthen public safety across our city."   

HSAC was founded jointly between James K. Hahn, then mayor of the City of Los Angeles, Lee Baca, then sheriff of Los Angeles County, and key leaders in business and philanthropy in partnership with the City and County of Los Angeles in 2002 following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The initiative sought to create a local, all-sector network that would enhance the Los Angeles region’s resilience to large-scale disasters, including active threats, earthquakes, wildfires, pandemics, severe weather, and cyber attacks. Since 2016 HSAC has pivoted its focus to better serve the evolving needs of local crisis managers and continues to build strategic partnerships among the private, public, and civic sectors, which serves to engage regional public safety leaders and stakeholders so they may advance creative public safety solutions.

“The Annenberg Foundation has supported initiatives like HSAC that utilize technology to foster improved communication and collaboration to positively impact our city,” said Wallis Annenberg. “Our longstanding commitment to education is another way in which we seek to strengthen communities. We applaud the new HSAC endeavor with Pepperdine to grow the organization's ability to strengthen Los Angeles and help foster our next generation of crisis leaders."

The HSAC annual gala, under its new auspices with Pepperdine, will be held on September 17, 2019, in Los Angeles and will honor Pepperdine president Andrew K. Benton and Wendy Greuel, former L.A. city controller and city councilwoman and a current HSAC board member.