May 29, 2020
May 29

Clinton Foundation, Airlink, and other partners launch virtual preparedness convening on June 1 as 2020 Atlantic hurricane season begins

New York, NY
Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 29, 2020

Contact: [email protected]


Clinton Foundation, Airlink, and other partners launch virtual preparedness convening on June 1 as 2020 Atlantic hurricane season begins 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, NGOs and governments are faced with the dual challenge of addressing a public health crisis while preparing for a hurricane season that is expected to be more intense than previous years 

New York, NY – In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network, the disaster response nonprofit Airlink, and other partners are launching a virtual convening this week focused on preparedness for natural disasters. This convening will bring together voices across the Caribbean with global NGOs to discuss how mitigation efforts and disaster response strategies can and must be adjusted to take into account the public health challenges the world currently faces.

Representatives from more than 130 organizations will participate, including: Regis Chapman, head of multi-country office for the Caribbean, World Food Programme; Ky Luu, COO, International Medical Corps; Kevin R. Petty, Ph.D., director, science and forecast operations and public-private partnerships, IBM, Watson Media and Weather, The Weather Company, an IBM Business; Elizabeth Riley, executive director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency; Nikima Royer, CEO, Digicel Dominica; Dr. Joy St. John, executive director, Caribbean Public Health Agency; Steve Smith, executive director, Airlink; Tahseen Sayed, country director for Caribbean countries, World Bank Group; and Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of health emergencies, Pan American Health Organization.

In anticipation of this convening, Airlink partnered with CGI to conduct a survey of more than 60 NGOs, government agencies, and other organizations, gathering data and insights into their expectations for this hurricane season, how COVID-19 will affect their plans and potential to respond, and how funding may be negatively impacted due to the broader economic fallout from the pandemic. 

According to the survey:

  • 80% of organizations reported that COVID-19 has presented or will present challenges to their ability to deliver programs, including health services, food security, water, and shelter;
  • 75% of respondents indicated that the pandemic will impact their 2020 funding goals; and,
  • 53% of organizations reported having experienced significant flight cancellations, and only 20% of organizations reported that they have been able to secure all necessary flights for personnel. 

Steven J. Smith, CEO of Airlink, said, “Airlink initiated this survey, partnering with CGI because we wanted to know the depth of the impact COVID-19 was having on disaster response, NGO operations, and their capacity to respond to future events. The impact of COVID-19 has been profound and will force the NGO community to address a variety of issues differently if we are to match in 2020 the levels of response from previous years.” 

The convening will begin on June 1 and continue through June 11. Members of the CGI Action Network will join discussions including:

  • COVID-19’s effect on hurricane preparedness and response;
  • Strengthening food security;
  • Health care in the face of hurricanes and COVID-19;
  • Renewable energy and critical facilities; and,
  • Adapting response efforts.

“Since the launch of the CGI Action Network, we have found that the best way to prepare and respond to natural disasters is through joint efforts. This is all the more critical now that we are operating in the context of a global pandemic. We have to find new ways of working - we have to be adaptable and work with fewer financial resources and different logistical constraints. This virtual convening will help us identify common challenges and find the best way forward to continue protecting and supporting communities who will be affected by hurricanes and the continued challenge of COVID-19 this year,” explained Lisena DeSantis, CEO of the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network.

A full schedule of this convening can be found at

To request interviews with any of the organizations above, please contact [email protected]

As our work continues to evolve, the Foundation will continue to issue updates at and across its social media profiles on Facebook at and on Twitter @ClintonFdn. For more on the people and partners that make our work possible, read our annual Impact Magazine.  


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About the Clinton Foundation

Building on a lifetime of public service, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation on the simple belief that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, everyone has a responsibility to act, and we all do better when we work together. 

For nearly two decades, that belief has energized the work of the Foundation in overcoming complex challenges and improving the lives of people across the United States and around the world. As an operating foundation, we work on issues directly or with strategic partners from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors to create economic opportunity, improve public health, and inspire civic engagement and service. 

Our programs are designed to make a real difference today while serving as proven models for tomorrow. The goal of every effort is to use available resources to get better results faster – at the lowest possible cost. We firmly believe that when diverse groups of people bring resources together in the spirit of true cooperation, transformative ideas will emerge to drive life-changing action. Learn more at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.


About Airlink  

Airlink ( is a nonprofit disaster relief organization linking the aviation industry and humanitarian response organizations to ensure relief workers and material aid reach those impacted by natural disasters and other humanitarian crises around the globe. Its network includes more than 130 aid organizations and 47 commercial and charter airlines. 

Since its inception in 2010, Airlink’s airline partners have flown more than 6,000 relief workers and transported more than 3,000,000 pounds of aid cargo. 

For more information, please visit or contact Andrew Williams, Communications Director, on 202-830-8514 or [email protected]. Follow Airlink on Facebook at and on Twitter @AirlinkFlight.