2023 journal article
Environmental justice in disaster recovery: Recognition of the Latinx community by nonprofit leaders
CLIMATE RISK MANAGEMENT, 40.
Nonprofit organizations are important sources of aid and assistance in the aftermath of disasters, directly contributing to disaster recovery efforts in communities and in some cases broader environmental justice objectives. However, there is a need to better align nonprofit organization processes and programs to address the needs of disadvantaged communities. This study examines how leaders of nonprofit organizations navigate and address the needs and experiences of Latinx persons in their community. We draw from 18 semi-structured interviews with leaders of nonprofit organizations involved in disaster recovery in Wilmington, North Carolina after Hurricane Florence in 2018. Interviews focused on the degree that nonprofit leaders involved in disaster recovery recognize the Latinx community, how the process of recognition manifests among these leaders, and how recognition by these leaders is related to procedural and distributional justice. Findings suggest that leaders adopt more sophisticated recognition of disaster recovery needs of the Latinx community when they have direct experience working with Latinx persons, collaborate with individuals who understand the Latinx community, partner with other organizations, or leverage geospatial or other data on disaster impacts and demographics. Data generated in this study underscores the role that recognition can play in promoting progress towards procedural and distributional justice in the disaster recovery context. These findings suggest that assigned leaders of nonprofits can and do function to exacerbate inequities through their disaster recovery services. However, the findings also showcase nonprofit leaders are interested in promoting just outcomes, and one possible route is through greater emphasis on the role of recognition. This work can inform approaches to resilience planning and help leaders of nonprofit organizations understand the needs and experiences of disadvantaged communities, so they can restructure organization policies and programs to address the needs of those who are most vulnerable to environmental hazards.