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NetHope’s Gisli Olafsson Honored by Microsoft Alumni Foundation

Earlier this week, pop vocalist Beyonce released a wonderful video called “I Was Here” in honor of World Humanitarian Day.

August 22, 2012

Earlier this week, pop vocalist Beyonce released a wonderful video called “I Was Here” in honor of World Humanitarian Day. It’s an incredibly moving piece that puts a spotlight on many of the courageous humanitarian workers that serve in some of the most challenging parts of the world.

Yesterday we received word that NetHope’s Emergency Response Director, Gisli Olafsson, has been named a finalist for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation’s prestigious Integral Fellow Award. It seems fitting that this recognition would come out at the same time as Beyonce’s amazing video.  For the last 20 years Gisli has been a hands-on emergency response practitioner, and more than just about anyone I know, can say “I Was Here.”

Gisli is generally recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in Emergency Response. His special expertise is Telecommunications and Information Management.  Over the years, Gisli’s service and dedication has touched nearly every imaginable type of emergency.

  • Gisli has been a member of the Iceland Search and Rescue team since 1994, participating in hundreds of rescue missions for his home country.
  • While living in the Seattle area, Gisli joined local search and rescue teams in over 90 search and rescue efforts.
  • As a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC), Gisli served as Operations Lead in the Ghana flooding (2007) and Information Manager after the Padang earthquake (2009)
  • While at Microsoft, Gisli led the Microsoft Disaster Response team response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (2008), the Sichuan earthquake (2008) and the H1N1 pandemic outbreak (2009).  Gisli also supported the Microsoft Disaster Response team after Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas (2009)
  • Gisli led the Icelandic Urban Search and Rescue team that landed 22 hours after the Haiti earthquake (2010).  His team was the first international rescue team to arrive in Haiti after the devastating quake.
  • Gisli led NetHope efforts supporting the emergency telecommunications efforts of the international NGO communities during the Pakistan flooding (2010-11), Tohoku province, Japan earthquake/tsunami emergency (2011) and the Horn of Africa Famine (2011).

Today, Gisli leads NetHope’s Emergency Response practice and is on standby for the next emergency.   Gisli is also leading an ambitious new program called the “Open Humanitarian Initiative."  Collaborating with the leading international and national response organizations, NetHope seeks to transform how information is shared and managed during and after an emergency.  To learn more about OHI, click here.

It’s a proud day for the entire NetHope community to see Gisli recognized by his peers as a finalist for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow award – congratulations Gisli!!

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