John Michael Early

John Michael Early is a native of Mid-City and a graduate of Jesuit High School. In addition to dual degrees in History and Economics from LSU, he also earned a minor in Disaster Science and Management, which included an internship at the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness. 

John-Michael teaches high school English at Sojourner Truth Academy as a member of Teach For America's 2010 Greater New Orleans corps. Additionally, he plays in the local funk/rock band Flow Tribe and is a Nationally Registered EMT.

Early on

For New Orleanians, gives us a sense of comfort and hope. It means that our citizens, regardless of means, can live free from fear. Only with this collective peace will our city continue to grow and prosper, bringing its natives home, and drawing new residents to take a risk and explore all that New Orleans has to offer. 

For the rest of the world, helps prove that New Orleans can and will live with the water. It demonstrates that we are forward thinking, responsible, and that we have the initiative and creativity to embrace our history and geography.

Luke Hoar de Galvan

Luke Hoar de Galvan arrived to New Orleans from Boston as a Team Leader for City Year Louisiana, serving at Carver High School. He now manages recruitment and operations for City Year, is a founding member of the Krewe of Mariah, is a right hand man for Dear New Orleans and DJ’s at the Hi Ho Lounge on Wednesday nights.

Joan Ellen Young

Joan Ellen moved to New Orleans from Oklahoma in 1966, following Hurricane Betsy.  She fell in love with the city, the people, the food, and the charm of a community living out loud.  After many years working in various industries in New Orleans as a full-charge bookkeeper and office manager, she obtained a Masters in Mental Health Counseling from the University of New Orleans, and is now a Licensed Professional Counselor [LPC], with a private practice in individual & couples counseling, trauma resolution, and gender issues.    She is a lymphoma survivor, has an amazing daughter, a wonderful son-in-law, three almost perfect grandchildren, lives near Bayou St. John in an 1890s shotgun double with two cats and keeps busy with specialty sewing, bonsai, dancing, and costume sorting for a Carnival Krewe.

Young on

The first time I ever left New Orleans for a hurricane was during Katrina.  I was living in Lakeview then, near the 17th Street Canal, and while I only had 6” of water, all of it was over the roof!  Knowing that my family and I were safe, even if I had only 3 changes of clothes, my sewing machine & my cats, I still believe I am lucky!  Like so many others, I’ve lived in a FEMA trailer [!], and gotten to really know my neighbors and this charming, caring, careless city so deeply that I don’t want anyone else to have to endure what we all had to face then, being unable to leave safely so that we could return home to the place where we belong.  As I often tell my clients, to be healthy, we have to get our expectations in line with reality.  I love that do will do just that and give us peace of mind, dignity and hope so that we can continue to laissez les bon temps rouler [mais pas l’eau]!

Nathan Cataline

Nathan originally hails from Sacramento, California. Moving from one high flood risk river delta to another in 2011, he's fallen in love with New Orleans its neighborhoods, and its residents. He currently works as the Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for the Louisiana Housing Alliance, fighting the good fight to ensure that all Louisianan's have a a decent place to call home.

Cataline on

Everyone in New Orleans should be able to safely leave and return to the city in the event of a disaster. I joined Evacuteer to connect people to the resources they need to be informed and be prepared. New Orleans is our home, its residents are our family, Evacuteer's role is to make sure that everybody gets a little respect (R-E-S-P-E-C-T).

Communications Committee:

Jennifer Calzada

Jennifer is a New Orleans native who, for a time in her 20s, would have moved for the right opportunity to get ahead. Now, after being lucky enough to have gotten ahead in a city she loves, you would have to drag her out of New Orleans kicking and screaming. Jennifer graduated Loyola University with a major in Communications and later received a Masters in Media Studies from the New School in New York. She spent 19 years in advertising, marketing and media, ending that part of her career at the corporate level of a national media company. In 2008, she made a major career shift and became Director of the Medical Simulation Center (think simulated hospital with robot patients) at Tulane University School of Medicine. She is also pursing a second master’s degree (MPH) in Environmental Health at Tulane’s School of Public Health.
Calzada on

Like many natives, I don’t evacuate and didn’t for Katrina. Then 2 days later it was clear we needed to get out. For weeks we watched on the national news the struggles of the thousands who did not have the means to leave on their own. It was a scary thought that one dead car battery and that could be you. Fast forward a few years and I met Sayde when we served on another non-profit board together, Halloween’s in New Orleans, a wonderful group that produces one of the premier Halloween events and helps fund Project Lazarus.

I heard about Evacuteer, through Sayde, and saw the tremendous value in the mission. No one should have to stay through an evacuation just because they can’t get in a car and drive themselves out. It’s a fact of life that some people will always to say “I won’t go.” Evacuteer makes sure no one has to say “I can’t go.”

Justin Alsterberg

Less than a month after moving to New Orleans, Justin first experienced the chaos that can accompany a Hurricane evacuation, loading his car with several law school friends who did not have transportation of their own and driving through the night to Houston to avoid Hurricane Ivan which had threatened New Orleans before turning to the east.  Less than a week after returning to New Orleans for his second year in law school, he again found himself driving a car full of law school friends out of town, but had no idea at the time it would be over four months until he could return, and even today, he will never forget the state of the city when he returned in January, 2006.  Over six years later, he has established firm roots in the city he loves and considers home.

Justin was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, and made his way to New Orleans in 2004 to attend Tulane University Law School after graduating with Honors from the University of Michigan.  Justin is a member of the Louisiana Bar and has practiced law with the New Orleans Based law firm of Hailey McNamara, LLP since graduating from Tulane Law School in 2007.  He serves on the Special Projects committee of and also provides his legal expertise and experience to whenever the need arises.

Alsterberg on

I will never forget my first drive back into the city when I returned in January of 2006, when over 3/4 of the city was still dark and desolate.  Now, over six years later, I truly believe New Orleans is back and better than ever, and that is because of the efforts many who love this city as much as I do have made to help New Orleans come back and be what it is today.  However, we can never forget what happened during some of this city's darkest days, and that is why I joined after I learned about it, because the power of volunteer organizations like and the individuals that drive them has helped bring us so far, but there remains plenty to do to prove to the rest of the country New Orleans is back and better than ever, especially in the event we face another threat.

Joy Bruce

Joy is the Executive Director of CASA New Orleans.  She grew up in NOLA and then spent a decade living and working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She studied horticulture and business in undergrad at LSU, then received her master’s in Plant Pathology and went to work as a horticultural consultant for projects ranging from small businesses to Sean Payton’s backyard.  After the economic downturn, she made a deliberate career shift into the nonprofit realm and hasn’t looked back.  She served as the Director of Impact Initiatives and Disaster Coordinator for the ten parish region served by the Capital Area United Way, was Chair of the Long Term Recovery Committee after Hurricane Gustav, played an integral role in the regional and state VOADs (Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster), and regularly trained nonprofits in outcomes measures and social media for social good.

After trying for years to return home, she found the perfect fit with CASA New Orleans and is now happily living in the Irish Channel.  You can often find her taking photographs, tailgating, at a festival, or in the front row cheering for her husband’s band.

Bruce on

When Katrina hit, my family in New Orleans scattered – my dad and two youngest sisters joined me in my tiny loft apartment, another sister went to Shreveport, my brother drifted from Kentucky to Ohio to Texas, and my mother was in the Superdome.  I spent the week after the storm in the hospital with my sick father, lost my voice trying to find out where my mother was, and watched the steady stream of triaged New Orleans residents as they joined us in the ER.  I saw firsthand the chaos and the pain, but also the love and generosity of strangers.  I saw the complete meltdown in communications at every level – from the government to my family’s cell phones.  And I never, ever, want anyone to have to live through that again.  There is a better way, and is here to help.

Sofia Curdumi Pendley

Sofia Curdumi Pendley is a Program Manager at Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA). At the DRLA Sofia is responsible for the management of various disaster related research projects, including the Haiti Humanitarian Assistance Evaluation, Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Impact Assessment, and the Strengthening Leadership in Disaster Resilience Program. Sofia attended Tulane University where she studied Political Science and French. After graduating, Sofia taught English in Shanghai, China for two years. In 2007, Sofia returned to New Orleans and to Tulane to pursue a Masters in Public Health, which she was awarded in 2009. Sofia is a first generation American and very proud of her Cuban heritage. She loves New Orleans, its eclectic culture, and the spirit of its people. It is her hope that emergency preparedness practices will be instituted in every home in this city.

Curdumi Pendley on

My first experience with the City Assisted Evacuation Plan occurred in 2008 during the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Gustav. As an intern for the Emergency Services Department of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the Red Cross, I contacted many of the people who had registered with the CAEP to make sure that they were aware of the process, and to assure that they were able to get to the designated pick up points. What happened during Katrina can never happen again, we must all push to make ourselves, our community, our city stronger. The work that is doing is necessary for New Orleans and it is truly an honor to be a part of such an innovative organization.  


Cassandra Roumo, Community Engagement Fellow

The Community Engagement Fellow at, Cassandra holds a BA and MBA and she is also in the final phase of completing her Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Cassandra has worked in the nonprofit sector just shy of 20 years. She was a frequent visitor to New Orleans prior to the storm and relocated post Katrina because she was passionate about the need to rebuild the City of New Orleans.  

"In 2008 I was one of the residents’ fortunate enough to evacuate for Hurricane Gustav without assistance. I left just before the mandatory evacuation. I remember the day I returned and saw my elderly neighbor standing in the doorway of her home. A relative had brought her home to pick up some things and intended to take her back to Baton Rouge.  She refused to go because I had come back home and she felt safe. I felt horrible, because I had assumed she had a plan and that she was taken care of when I left the city. Today, the thought of what could have happened to someone who thought so much of me when I failed to make sure she had a plan haunts me. For me, the purpose and passion of hits home."