Jess van Schalkwyk is a Stenden South Africa alumni who has dedicated her life to her passion for altruism, surfing and disaster management. Jess began her journey with Stenden South Africa in 2015, she then left to the Stenden campus in Thailand to complete a minor in International Relations and finally ended her journey with a ten month internship at All Hands and Hearts, a disaster relief nonprofit organization in the United States of America. Jess completed her thesis and earned her BBA degree in Disaster Relief Management- graduating Cum Laude.
During her internship, Jess was offered a permanent position with All Hands and Hearts as an International Contractor. She worked remotely for the organization from February 2017 to June 2020. Her time at the foundation saw her participating in 16 disaster relief programs globally, assisting with several immediate response deployments, speaking at international disaster relief conferences around the world and serving as a project manager and project lead within the organization.
Jess was then hired as a contractor for the Western Cape Government in July 2020. She assisted in supporting the activation of the Provincial Disaster Management Center and the response taken against the COVID-19 pandemic. She was tasked with organizing, coordinating and running the first ever advisory forum webinars in addition to planning and presenting strategies to manage the second wave of COVID-19 infections in the Western Cape.
Jess’s contract ended in December 2020, as of the 1st February 2021, she has been appointed the Assistant Director: Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (Disaster Risk Reduction) for the Western Cape! She is responsible for assisting in the coordination, monitoring and support of disaster management functions through the implementation of risk and vulnerability assessments within the province.
This portfolio includes:
- Assisting in the management of an Indicative Disaster Risk Profile
- Comprehensive disaster risk and vulnerability assessments
- Providing support to Municipal Disaster Management Centers in maintaining a credible risk profile
- Establishing and maintaining Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- Implementing Early Warning Systems and special intervention programs for high-risk hazards
- Supervising human resource and related functions as well as the finances in the sub-directorate
In addition to this portfolio, Jess continues to expand her knowledge within Disaster Management. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Disaster Management and Resilience through Coventry University as well as a Master of Science in Disaster Management through Rhodes University. Stenden South Africa is proud of Jess and looks forward to following her journey as she continues to shape the future of the Disaster Management field!