Listos California Preparedness Campaign

Episode #20

A California campaign is helping to engage the most vulnerable in that state as they promote five steps for safety and survival from disasters. In this episode of Disaster Recovery Roundtable, we hear from Justin Knighten, the previous co-chair of the Listos California Preparedness Campaign, about how it is reaching targeted audiences to support personal preparedness.

Topics Covered:

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced that the state’s emergency preparedness campaign (launched in August 2019) has surpassed its goal of engaging at least one million socially vulnerable Californians. The campaign, titled “Listos,” which means “ready” in Spanish, provides the communities it targets with accessible, in-language, and culturally competent disaster readiness information.
  • Along with California Volunteers, another state-managed program, Listos California, which is anchored at Cal OES, has provided more than 1.6 million Californians with information they would need in the event of a natural disaster.
  • The campaign is aimed at engaging community-based organizations, faith groups, social clubs, schools, civic or neighborhood groups to encourage five easy and free steps to prepare for a disaster like an earthquake, wildfire or flood.
  • The campaign provides simple tools and resources to build awareness and help get people in the community prepared.
  • Listos California’s tools differ from many conventional preparedness lessons that too often fail to get people to act. Campaign organizers believe their approach will increase the chances of success and bring more communities closer to being ready for a disaster.

Key Takeaways

  • [00:30] Introduction
  • [02:50] What was the incentive behind launching this program and how it started?
  • [05:18] How does the campaign work and how is it different from the traditional preparedness program that we see?
  • [07:20] I thought it was interesting that you employed techniques including using representatives from the same communities that you were engaging to help build trust in the program.
  • [09:30] Has there been any analysis for research to identify the type of groups the campaign needed to target?
  • [14:20] What were some of the big steps and ways the campaign supported Californians during last year’s wildfires and with COVID-19?
  • [19:50] Has your organization been tasked with supporting the state’s vaccine implementation efforts?
  • [21:00] What is your campaign’s goal for 2021?
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Justin Knighten
Justin Knighten
Former Co-Chair, California Listos Campaign, Incoming Director of FEMA External Affairs

Justin Knighten is a public affairs and communications strategist, storyteller and advocate who works to advance social justice, inclusion and human rights. Justin is an expert in leading successful issue and political communications campaigns to frame debates, build and restore reputations and fuel successful movements. In February 2019, Justin was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve in the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) as Assistant Deputy Director and Co-Chair of Listos California, a campaign to boost community resilience among the state’s most hard to reach, vulnerable populations by ensuring communities are ready for wildfires and other disasters. Justin was recently selected by the Biden Administration to head up FEMA’s External Affairs Division. Previously, Justin served as Senior Vice President of a Sacramento-based public affairs firm, Global Public Affairs Director of the Harvey Milk Foundation and Legislative Assistant at the California Environmental Protection Agency. 


Greg Padgett
Greg Padgett
Media & Communications Strategist

Greg Padgett is the host of Disaster Recovery Roundtable and brings 25 years' experience as a journalist, emergency manager, crisis communicator, and host. From 1991 to 2001, he was a journalist and meteorologist with several TV stations across the southeast U.S. He holds the American Meteorological Society's and National Weather Association's Broadcast Seals of Approval. He previously served as Natural Hazards Program Manager for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, overseeing the development of the state's hurricane, severe weather, flood, and earthquake response plans. He has organized statewide media tours, supported public information officer training, and provided technical assistance in developing response plans and Whole Community preparedness campaigns for local jurisdictions. He also served as an on-air meteorologist for the Weather Channel's Radio Network from 2002 to 2007. He is a past recipient of the National Weather Association's Broadcaster of the Year award.