Kate Ferencsik

Smart Community Corps – Kate Ferencsik

Project: Smart Sea Level Sensor
Location: Chatham County

Kate is a 3rd year Psychology Honors student, Spanish minor and a Stamps President’s Scholar at Georgia Tech.  She has been the Executive Financial Officer, Outreach Chair and is now the Executive Vice President of Buzz Mobile Heath. This Georgia Tech undergraduate-run mobile health clinic in partnership with Give Homeless Hope and Antioch Urban Ministries are trying to adapt a service-oriented, holistic approach to street medicine within the marginalized population of metropolitan Atlanta. This venture has only enhanced her passion to attend medical school, specialize in Infectious Disease and receive a Master’s in Public Health. Following medical school, Kate would like to continue her passion for community health engagement by establishing and implementing a sustainable health clinic model that can be used and adapted to serve vulnerable communities around the world.

Beyond her involvement in Buzz Mobile Health, Kate served on the executive board of the Stamps Scholars National Convention Planning Committee to manage and organize eight unique Threads run by Stamps Partner schools from around the country. Threads functioned to facilitate discussion for the convention’s 700+ attendees surrounding some of our nation’s greatest areas of debates including the Ethics of Healthcare, Digital Ethics, Mental Health, etc. She has also worked as a research assistant in the Cognitive Ergonomics Psychology Lab, organizing human factors analyses in conjunction with the CDC. Kate has also been a consistent volunteer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Grady Hospital.

Kate is assigned to the Chatham program and will be working directly with Nick Deffley, Sustainability Director at Chatham county.  She will be developing standard operating procedures and best practices for community engagement and communication methods around Sea level rise in vulnerable populations that can be scaled to other socially and environmentally vulnerable neighborhoods around Savannah.

She will also help organize formal public meetings with Hudson Hill Neighborhood (socially vulnerable communities with environmental justice issues).  Kate will also assist our Chatham partners to develop a map that overlays social vulnerability,  climate vulnerability, socio economic statistics, and community assets for the neighborhood.

Kate is a Savannah native and her insight about the city and past community outreach volunteering will be a valuable asset to our Chatham Partners.  She is excited to join our internship program and we are looking forward to her support to our Chatham community partners.

When Kate is not helping out with our Chatham county partners, she will be studying for MCAT during summer. We welcome Kate onboard and happy to have her on our Smart Community Corps Team.

Kate’s experience with SCC:

As an intern on the Chatham County Community Engagement team, I have been lucky to be a part of a team filled with constant excitement and excellent collaboration. As someone who has been involved in a variety of research projects in the past, I was impressed with the entire SMART Sea Level team’s commitment to engaging and focusing the community members that are most affected by the central issue of the project: rising sea levels. Dr. Kim Cobb and Dr. Russ Clark from Georgia Tech deserve to be commended for their roles in defying the status quo and leading a team determined to make a difference in the quality of life of the citizens of Savannah rather than only treating them as test subjects.

The primary focus of my work has been organizing and strengthening the relationships between the primary partners involved in our new team: Harambee House, an environmental justice group, Open Savannah, a Code for America group focused on making data easily available and digestible for community members, and the City of Savannah. Together, we have chosen to focus on Hudson Hill, a West Savannah community, to identify and record best community engagement practices that can be replicated throughout other vulnerable communities in the area. Our primary goal has been to deliver tangibles, including an Emergency Preparedness Plan and a community vulnerability profile, to a community that has been exhausted by researchers and groups collecting data they would never see.

My work has focused on engaging Hudson Hill community members throughout the Emergency Plan completion process, organizing meetings with community members and future partners, and organizing data outlining environmental, social, health, transportation, and housing vulnerabilities in the Hudson Hill community into a single, comprehensive report. We are also working to expand the educational programs implemented by CEISMIC to the West Savannah area that give local students the opportunity to understand the effect of rising sea levels and to get involved in the creation of the sea level sensors.

I have been very grateful for the mentorship and guidance of the entire SMART Sea Level Sensor team, who have allowed me to implement and share my own ideas. Most importantly, I have learned essential community engagement practices that I plan to implement in future projects, including the importance of forming relationships with organizations that already hold trust within the target community as well as being aware of vulnerable communities’ general mistrust of scientists and government officials and their tendencies to “parachute” in and “parachute” out.

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