ReFOCUS is a New Orleans-based fledgling nonprofit that implements Photovoice projects. The Photovoice methodology provides cameras to marginalized groups of people with the goal of showing issues, policies, and life from their own point of view.
In 2017 ReFOCUS will grow to the next level in provision of Photovoice projects and helping others have their voices heard. By obtaining our 501c3 status as well as providing internship opportunities for local college students, we’ll be able to expand our services to the New Orleans homeless population and offer additional Photovoice projects.
The founders of ReFOCUS met while completing their MS degrees at Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, and became a team for the Changemakers Institute at the Taylor Center, the Social Innovation/Social Entrepreneurship program at Tulane. They took the Photo Project first to the Clinton Global Initiative University gathering in Berkeley, California in April 2016. In May of 2016 they launched the first year of the MyNew Orleans Photo Project.
Since then, ReFOCUS has completed the first year of the MyNew Orleans Photo Project, producing 3 gallery shows and a full-color calendar of the top photos selected by a professional panel of judges. In addition to completing a second round of the MyNew Orleans project, in 2017 ReFOCUS is establishing 501(c)3 nonprofit status and partnerships with other organizations for photovoice projects are in the works. Tentative partnerships have been established with Narrative 4, an empathy storytelling nonprofit, and the New Orleans Public Library, among others.
After completing a BA in Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas and an MS in Geography at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Heather spent 18 years as a GIS Specialist and Technical Instructor at MJ Harden Associates (Kansas City), ESRI (St Louis regional office), and URS-St Louis. She volunteered for GISCorps for over 10 years, and was deployed to Indonesia in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and to Mississippi in response to Katrina, both in 2005. She has been active as a GISCorps Core Committee Member and a Digital Humanitarian Network Coordinator, and spent 3 years deployed to the Gulf Coast for Katrina recovery work with FEMA. In 2014 she returned to New Orleans to pursue her MS in Disaster Resilience at Tulane University, and in addition to leading the MyNew Orleans Photo Project and other ReFOCUS projects, is a trainer in FEMA’s Reservist program.
Elisabeth received her BA in Language Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. While in pursuing her undergraduate degree, she worked at the local teen center where she organized events and contributed to the support and safety of participants. She then worked for 2 years with homeless and foster youth, counseling and assisting teenagers and young adults access services. Elisabeth has also been involved in education, training, and disaster response. Her volunteer work with the Red Cross of New York City inspired her to pursue her M.S. in Disaster Resilience at Tulane University.