Marissa Aho, AICP has served as the Policy Director/Chief Resilience Officer for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since July 2021. DNR manages nearly 6 million acres of public lands – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to forests and farms, commercial developments and recreation areas. Marissa leads the agency’s policy, resilience, and equity and environmental justice team. She previously served as the first Chief Resilience Officer for the cities of Los Angeles and Houston. She led the development and implementation of the cities’ resilience strategies (Resilient Los Angeles and Resilient Houston) that are focused on preparing for catastrophic events and addressing chronic stressors. These implementation projects and programs range from earthquake early warning and seismic retrofits, to imbedding resilience measures into affordable housing projects, to urban heat island mapping and advancing cooling measure including tree planting and green stormwater infrastructure, to integrating resilience into Hurricane Harvey recover, COVID-19 response and recovery and Texas Winter Storm response and recovery.
Prior she was an urban planning and land use consultant at two private firms in Los Angeles for 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government (CLEG) from American University in Washington D.C. and a Master of Planning degree from the University of Southern California. She serves as an advisor to the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society.