Darrin Punchard, FAICP, CFM

Darrin Punchard is a nationally recognized leader and pioneer in the field of hazards planning. For over 25 years, he has devoted his career to working with local communities to prevent natural hazards from becoming disasters. He has extensive experience in hazard mitigation planning with specialized expertise in risk assessment, risk communication, benefit-cost analysis, and the development of actionable strategies that include structural and non-structural measures for risk reduction.

Since 2001 Darrin has consulted with federal, state, regional, tribal, and local government clients across the United States to assess and reduce their vulnerability to natural and human-caused hazards. He prepared some of the nation’s first federally approved hazard mitigation plans following passage of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) and to date has assisted more than 700 communities in similar planning efforts. He has also helped communities prepare local floodplain management plans that have achieved among the highest credit scores in the nation under FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS). Darrin has also been involved in the long-term recovery and redevelopment process for some of the nation’s most destructive disasters including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.

Darrin’s public service career includes serving as the state hazard mitigation officer for North Carolina. In this role he coordinated FEMA’s groundbreaking Project Impact program and launched the State’s Hazard Mitigation Planning Initiative, a statewide effort to promote the voluntary development of local hazard mitigation plans prior to DMA 2000. His career began in Florida where he worked as a local hazard mitigation planner for the Alachua County Office of Emergency Management, and later as a state hazard mitigation planner for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Darrin is an active figure in championing innovative methods and practices for disaster risk reduction, often serving as an invited speaker and instructor for the natural hazard profession’s foremost national conferences and workshops. He has authored and contributed to a number of prominent publications in the hazard mitigation industry, including FEMA’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance series and Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning as published by the American Planning Association (APA). He has also served as guest lecturer for graduate students at Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the topics of disaster mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resiliency and sustainability.

Darrin is a co-founder of APA’s Hazard Mitigation & Disaster Recovery Division, and he served six years on the board of directors for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. He has also served as a subject matter expert in support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s global 100 Resilient Cities initiative and Resilience Academies for the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Darrin earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island. In recognition of his transformational achievements in the field of hazards planning, Darrin was inducted into the AICP College of Fellows in 2022, the highest honor awarded in the profession of urban planning.