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AECOM VP Jordanna Rubin works on disaster recovery programs

AECOM VP Jordanna Rubin works on disaster recovery programs

 April 17, 2024

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AECOM's People Spotlight series provides an inside look at the company's technical experts from around the world.

Jordanna Rubin is Vice President, Director of Disaster Resilience and Equity in AECOM's National Governments business in the United States, and discusses her inspiration and role with AECOM.

Supporting vulnerable and underserved communities

Jordanna has over 20 years of experience implementing resilient and equitable disaster recovery programs, and supporting vulnerable and underserved communities.

Before joining AECOM, Jordanna served as the director of resilience and sustainability for APTIM, environmental manager for the City of Miami Beach, assistant director for the Columbia University Energy Policy Center, and as an analyst for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Jordanna, for example, has helped relocate an indigenous community out of a high-risk zone in southern Louisiana, developed a COVID-19 food security program for vulnerable populations in Southern California, and implemented residential resilience programs. She has also managed disaster recovery teams in California, New York, Florida, Texas and Guam, implementing programs that have helped communities recover from disasters and help enrich their futures.

Recounting her own experience of natural disasters


Jordanna shares her inspiration for joining the industry. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, hit the southeast coast of Florida. Having never experienced a hurricane, Jordanna's family collected towels, buckets and some duct tape in case a window broke. As the wind and rain picked up, Jordanna rushed from her room and huddled under the kitchen table. Jordanna grabbed her cat and a few prized possessions – to which her parents looked at her with a confused look.

"We listened together to the noise that can only be described as a freight train roaring through the house, and we waited, holding our breath until it was over," explains Jordanna.

"Our family was beyond lucky that day because at the last minute, the Hurricane “wobbled” and turned south. But many of our friends and family further south were not as lucky. We heard stories of friends losing their homes, friends huddled in their cars when the roof tore off, schools destroyed and infrastructure damaged. Looking back on that day, I remember the fear and helplessness we felt before mother nature. As I journeyed on my career path, I kept that memory in my mind as I worked not only to help survivors of other human-made or natural disasters but also to mitigate future impacts and build more resilient communities," says Jordanna.


Working with a multi-disciplinary and diverse team

Jordanna's favorite AECOM projects tend to be those that bring together a multi-disciplinary team to work with a client.

"Our varying backgrounds and experiences shine a light on solutions that only a diverse team can create," comments Jordanna.


Jordanna and her team are supporting the Utah Department of Emergency Management with a program that will define and incorporate equity in their disaster mitigation programs. This project brings together a team of equity planners, mitigation experts and programmers to deliver a solution to the State. 

"Our team started by analyzing available hazard mitigation plans at both the state and local levels to understand key mitigation objectives across the state.  We are currently reviewing available social vulnerability tools to compare the various indicators used to identify vulnerable populations and how they define this population for Utah. The final objective of this project will be to both build the state their own tailored social vulnerability tool and incorporate equitable mitigation strategies within their mitigation portfolio," adds Jordanna.

Keeping people at the heart of her work 

AECOM community impact

When asked how her work has positively impacted the community, Jordanna explains: "In 2021, AECOM supported the establishment of an emergency intake site for unaccompanied children who had come across the U.S. border. AECOM provided clothing, toiletries, and medical and other services, to support more than 2,500 children. This included rapidly mobilizing architects, planners, engineers and case managers to design and create a safe and enriching environment for the children. I spent the first couple of months of the program supporting an amazing team that came together for one purpose: to support the children.  

"People are at the heart of the work we do in disaster response and recovery. It’s all about helping people get their lives back. The most meaningful moment of this project was when I met the cutest little boy, dressed in the soccer jersey we supplied. He gave me the biggest smile, waved at me and in his best broken English wished me a “good morning and to have a happy day”! And that makes it all worthwhile," adds Jordanna.

Sharing an important piece of career advice 

Learning from her own experience, Jordanna shares a valuable piece of career advice: "You don’t always need to have all the answers, and you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. You just need to be skilled in knowing how to find the right answer when you need it."


Inspired by Jordanna's impactful work?

At AECOM, women like Jordanna are using their skills and experiences to uplift communities and improve people’s lives.

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