Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Ari Renoni

Ari is a Deputy Director for Recovery Programs at Hagerty Consulting, Inc (Hagerty). He has worked with the Recovery Division since 2014.  Ari is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) policy expert advising clients across the United States to maximize their recoveries from major disasters.


How did you first become involved in Emergency Management and the work you do at Hagerty?

Good fortune.

A former classmate of mine in graduate school (Maxwell School at Syracuse University) worked for Hagerty. It was 2014, and I was looking to transition my career away from international development, as I was working for the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) at the time and had lived abroad. I view my time in international work as disaster recovery-related because it focused on long-term healing from major shocks to specific communities: famine, national independence struggle, etc. I had taught students in sub-Saharan Africa and at US universities, which instilled in me qualities critical to effective emergency management: patience, consideration, and clear communication. So it was a natural transition – particularly since my current role at Hagerty is more about recovery strategy than immediate emergency response or disaster preparedness.

What do you find most rewarding about working in the Recovery Division at Hagerty?

The caliber of my colleagues and the work we do together to solve long-term recovery challenges. There is an important distinction between operational emergency response, which gets the most media and public attention, and the latter phase after camera crews go home. The first phase is pivotal, especially for saving lives. But it’s the second phase where more nuanced decisions that garner less public attention have perhaps the greatest implications – for years and decades. That’s the professional side. On the personal front, many of my colleagues are also my friends. And when I started at Hagerty, I was recently married.  Now, my wife and I have two children and a house, so my professional growth at Hagerty has coincided with personal growth at home, which has been quite rewarding.

What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of working on the NYC Sandy Recovery project?

NYC’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy is high-profile with vast impacts for millions of people and some of the most complex public infrastructure in the US. As a result, every decision is scrutinized. Every action is thoroughly considered. This pressurized context often helps me perform at my best. There is attendant stress and not every day is rewarding, of course. That said, the NYC Sandy Project has helped me clarify the approaches to disaster recovery that I believe work best: partnership at all levels is the only way to advance recovery goals, even when some partners seem to work against those goals; effective arguments must blend policy, political, and personal considerations customized to the targeted decision makers; and people are busy – so taking time to simplify complex information is a prerequisite to achieving anything.

What skills do you believe contributed to your growth at Hagerty, from Management Consultant to Deputy Director of Recovery?

Hard work. Genuine intellectual interest. And the flexibility to adapt to personalities and high demands.  These and strong communication skills – interpersonal and written – will take you far. I tried to take full advantage of every opportunity, big and small. The reality is that these skills are important – but growth requires more. It requires strong, supportive supervisors, which I am lucky to have had, and a mindset to take everything seriously.

Ari Renoni is a Deputy Director of Recovery Programs with Hagerty. He serves as the Deputy Policy Team Lead supporting clients in the New York City (NYC) Metro Area. Prior to Hagerty, Ari worked for the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education in Namibia, and for the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.  He lives in upstate NY with his wife and two children.

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