Past and Current Projects
Jim Schwab Consulting LLC is a one-person firm with a modest mission. Its expertise, however, is built on Jim Schwab’s innovative, highly regarded 31-year affiliation with the American Planning Association, which ended May 31, 2017, when Jim chose to work independently with the freedom to spend more time on writing and volunteer work in addition to paid consulting projects. That employment, which ended with his nine-year tenure as manager of the APA Hazards Planning Center, is highlighted on this site’s Professional Background page.
Jim Schwab Consulting LLC now undertakes consulting assignments where Jim’s expertise can play a critical role in advancing the field of planning for natural hazards, usually by enhancing the resources available to professional planners and allied professionals for dealing with hazard-related challenges, or by using current planning practice to enlarge the scope of such planning for coming generations of planners. In the spirit of sustained creativity, what that mission means is something worked out with prospective clients on a case-by-case basis. Jim is not interested in the quantity of such projects, but in their quality. He wants to expand the mark he has already left on the field of urban planning.
Johns Hopkins University (Post-Pandemic Recovery Project)
Jim is signing on with a team from Johns Hopkins University to explore best ways to establish metrics for post-pandemic recovery among the most disadvantaged survivors of the current COVID-19 pandemic to help guide local decision makers to know that coordinated efforts to guide recovery are working for the hardest-hit communities and individuals. This project is ongoing in 2023.
Emergency Management Institute
Jim is certified to teach two recovery-focused courses of FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute and expects to spend some time in that role this year. He co-instructed one course in mid-February and is scheduled for another in late April, 2023.
If you have a proposal for consideration, contact Principal James C. Schwab, FAICP, at [email protected].
Jim Schwab Consulting joined a project team led by BNIM that began work in August 2020 on comprehensive planning for two flood-impacted counties, Mills and Fremont, in southwest Iowa under a 19-month contract with the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Jim will be providing hazard mitigation and disaster recovery expertise and analyzing how those goals can be incorporated into comprehensive and other plans for the two counties, enhancing resilience and economic recovery. This project was completed by the end of January in 2022. The final report of that project is now available online through IEDA.
Jim Schwab Consulting was also enlisted by Pew Charitable Trusts to assist in developing their response to a recent FEMA Request for Information regarding the National Flood Insurance Program. Jim has worked on a pro bono advisory basis with Pew in the past, but this was the first compensated consulting assignment. That assignment was also completed in January 2022.
American Planning Association
Immediately upon his retirement from APA, Jim was presented with a short-term agreement with APA to assist in the transition to new leadership for the Hazards Planning Center. Lasting into September 2017, this primarily consisted of three elements:
- Helping APA meet the deadline for a new grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by successfully preparing a proposal that included work on the interrelationship between droughts and flooding, and on tracking state legislation pertaining to planning for natural hazards, climate change, and resilience. Later in the summer, that proposal was funded for approximately $275,000 over FY2018-2019.
- Providing on-site and other mentoring for new HPC manager Shannon Burke, who joined APA on July 5, 2017.
- Completing APA work on “Improving Community Resilience through Risk Modeling,” a project funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and led by AECOM with Digital Coast partners APA, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and the National Association of Counties as subcontractors. The project included direct training work with staff of two pilot communities—San Luis Obispo County, California, and Brevard County, Florida.
National Drought Mitigation Center
In November 2017, Jim undertook an assignment with the National Drought Mitigation Center, part of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, through September 2018. NDMC sought to build out its GIS-based online resources for communities seeking planning resources and best practices in preparing for drought. The work involved a series of specific tasks conceived by Jim and worked out with NDMC staff to achieve this goal to construct a meaningful framework for identifying and properly categorizing such resources on a nationwide basis, recognizing the variations in state programs for facilitating drought mitigation and water planning.
Association of State Floodplain Managers
In May 2018, Jim accepted an assignment with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) to assist and advise the effort to produce a Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Report on incorporating climate resilience into local government capital improvements planning. ASFPM partnered with the American Planning Association‘s Hazards Planning Center on the successful 2015 proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under NOAA’s Coastal Resilience Grants program. PAS Reports are APA products intended to educate planners and allied professionals on various important planning topics. Jim was previously involved with this project through helping prepare the grant proposal, then as project manager for APA’s participation in the project while manager of the Hazards Planning Center, before retiring from APA in 2017. This project is now complete, resulting, among other things, in the publication by APA of PAS Report 596, Planning for Infrastructure Resilience, in January 2020.
Subsequently, Jim aided editorial production of an ASFPM guide on floodplain management for elected officials in November and December 2019. In January 2020, he also was one of three consultants hired to help ASFPM develop a four-hour training workshop based on the material in APA’s PAS Report 584, Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas, spending a week at ASFPM’s Madison headquarters for the purpose.
Instructor for Sustainable City Network
POST-DISASTER RECOVERY PLANNING BEFORE & AFTER – 4-Hour Online Course – Aug. 21 & 22, 2018
Sustainable City Network hosted a 4-hour online course for anyone responsible for initiatives related to resilience and disaster recovery planning. In the first 2-hour session, Jim reviewed the overall concept of recovery planning and the need for widespread involvement by various sectors of the community. The second segment led participants through information gathering, assessing the scale and spectrum of the disaster, and how to involve the public in meaningful long-term recovery planning.
Jim Schwab has been selected as an instructor for two courses on disaster recovery planning (209, 210) for FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. As part of that process, Jim Schwab Consulting has completed SAM registration as a federal contractor as of July 2020.
Jim Schwab joined a team of 12 experts commissioned by two national organizations, Collaborative for Student Success and Center on Reinventing Public Education, to review school district reopening plans in an effort to highlight promising practices in meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19. This short-term effort took place in July and August of 2020, involving peer review of the plans in response to this extraordinary situation.
Pro Bono Work
In this Since leaving APA, Jim has recognized that he is in a unique position to assist his profession and society in non-compensated roles. He is a strong believer in “giving back” after a highly successful career that has produced significant accolades. These efforts include:
- Jim is currently involved in two federal working groups: He is involved in FEMA’s National Risk Index – Social Vulnerability Working Group; and he is part of a group helping HUD develop its HUD Site Planning Disaster Mitigation Guidebook.
- Jim assisted FEMA Region VIII (Denver) in developing and delivering a National Disaster Recovery Framework training course in August 2019, with a focus on drought recovery.
- On January 1, 2020, Jim became chair of the APA Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division. This two-year role involves leading the Division and its approximately 1,500 members in providing professional education opportunities, public service opportunities following natural disasters, and communication through APA on major disaster-related planning issues. As his signature project, Jim is leading an effort to produce a documentary video discussing the importance of planners’ involvement in issues of hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation planning. His term ended on January 1, 2022, at which time he remained a member of the HMDR Executive Committee in the capacity of immediate past chair. In this role, he is now leading an effort to develop a documentary film, Planning to Turn the Tide, on the role of planners and planning in helping communities to address the challenges of natural disasters and climate change. He is acting as the script writer and executive producer of the project, for which HMDR is currently seeking sponsors. Those wishing to support the project may do so at https://give.planning.org/MD6128. Information on the project can be accessed here.
- Following two speaking appearances in Texas for the Texas APA chapter in late October and early November 2017, Jim became involved with the Hurricane Harvey Recovery task force the chapter established, which also involves representatives from FEMA’s Community Planning and Capacity Building team, Texas A&M University, local officials in affected communities, and others. He assisted the chapter’s February 21, 2020, event in Rockport, Texas, “Navigating a Wetter World,” which included an exchange of experiences between planners for Sandy recovery in New York and New Jersey and Harvey recovery planners in Texas.
- As he has done since April 2013, Jim continues to produce his popular “Home of the Brave” blog, providing insights and education to readers on a range of urban planning and public policy issues, obviously including those pertaining to natural hazards and disaster recovery.