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Chief Resilience Officer, City of Houston

Marissa has served as the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) for the City of Houston since February 2019, leading the city’s partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. She leads city-wide resilience-building efforts to help Houston prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from the “shocks” – catastrophic events like hurricanes, floods, and cyberattacks – and “stresses” – slow-moving disasters like aging infrastructure, homelessness, and economic inequality, which are increasingly part of 21st century life.

While serving in this role in Los Angeles (prior to her current position), Marissa managed the successful release of Resilient Los Angeles, a comprehensive plan featuring 96 immediate actions which give residents the tools to plan and prepare for inevitable shocks and stresses. In the strategy’s implementation phase, Aho paved the way for Los Angeles to embed resilience as a value that guides municipal planning throughout the city, culminating in the appointment of over 30 departmental chief resilience officers (DCROs) who form an in-city network of resilience practitioners in each branch of city government.

Other innovative initiatives in Resilient Los Angeles include developing an urban heat vulnerability index and mitigation plan, placing an equity lens over the city’s response to increasing extreme heat.

Prior to serving as the Los Angeles CRO, she held senior staff positions at two Los Angeles planning and land use consulting firms. Aho has 15 years of policy, planning, and project management experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors where she has worked with interdisciplinary teams to find creative solutions to complex problems. She has a BA in political science from American University and a master of planning from the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy. She is the Region VI commissioner for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), section director of the Los Angeles Section of the American Planning Association (APA LA), and is a member of the USC Price Alumni Association board of directors.

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