Welcome to the Board, Christa Brelsford!
Haiti Partners is thrilled to announce the addition of our latest Board member, Christa Brelsford. Christa is a research scientist studying interactions between social and physical infrastructure systems, particularly in cities. She lives with her husband and two kids (soon to be three!) in Tennessee.
Christa has been involved with Haiti Partners for years. Back in 2009 when HP was first getting started, Christa was staying in the Leogane area of Haiti, where at the time we had two partner schools. Tragically, she was in a colleague’s house when the earthquake hit on January 12, 2010. Christa and several Haitian friends and colleagues narrowly escaped with their lives, but she didn’t escape the rubble completely and ultimately, after a harrowing time finding help that ended in her being medevaced to Miami, she had the lower part of her right leg amputated.
Christa became, as she puts it, “America’s face of the earthquake,” being repeatedly interviewed by major television outlets as she recovered from her injuries. Seeing an opportunity to put this national attention to use, Christa began “the Christa’s Angels Fund,” raising money to help the community in Haiti where she was staying, which was devastated by the earthquake, as well as the people who helped her immediately after the earthquake. An avid rock climber, Christa later went on to win the women’s world paraclimbing championship in 2014, the same year she received her PhD. in Sustainability from Arizona State University.
Asked what motivated her decision to join the Board, and what led to her continued support of HP over the years, Christa replied:
I have organized my personal and professional life around doing good in the world. After I was injured in the Haiti earthquake in 2010 I briefly became America’s face of the earthquake, and hoped to use the overwhelming attention I was receiving to help Haiti’s earthquake recovery process: both in the short term and in the long term. After the earthquake, I went back to graduate school, and as I simultaneously continued my graduate education and learned more about how Haiti Partners engages with their communities, I continued to see clear similarities between Haiti Partners methods and the currently recommended best practices discussed in the academic communities. ~ Christa Brelsford
All of us at Haiti Partners are very grateful to have Christa in this leadership role at the organization, to benefit from her experience, knowledge, and commitment to Haiti. To learn more about Christa, you can check out her bio on our Boards of Directors page.