To foster more effective service delivery to those affected by disasters in Sonoma County through the collaboration of community agencies throughout the disaster cycle – mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.


  • Develop a County-wide coordinated network of shared resources, information and response efforts to best serve Sonoma communities before, during and following a disaster.
  • Support members in their disaster preparation and response efforts through networking, training, workshops and conferences.
  • Build relationships throughout and across Sonoma County, helping organizations understand each other’s capabilities, identify gaps and overlaps and prepare coordinated response efforts.

We want to involve any organization that actively helps the community during any phase of disaster utilizing the five C’s:

  • Cooperation
  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Collaboration
  • Compassion

What is COAD?

COAD stands for Community Organizations Active in Disaster.  This term is often used interchangeably with VOAD or Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and both are member organizations that include safety net organizations who collaborate with community, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations, government agencies, schools and private businesses to serve the most vulnerable in their community.

COAD member organizations focus on preparedness and are ready to respond with resources, volunteers and coordination of services to those who need assistance during and immediately after a disaster, and ideally hold the capacity to activate a long-term recovery group..

Every city, county and/or State VOAD is part of the National VOAD organization, established in 1970, and its network of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters.


Sonoma County VOAD existed for many years, but its activity level has varied.  Immediately prior to the October 2017 wildfires, its membership was largely inactive, but since then many Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), faith-based groups, the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, and the Office of Emergency Management have worked together to revitalize the VOAD and rebrand it as Sonoma County COAD with new infrastructure.

In January 2020, new bylaws and a slate of officers and committee members were established.  We held our first general membership meeting in January and are actively recruiting member and partner organizations. In August of 2020 we hired our first paid director.

Why do we need a COAD?

Time and money are a limited commodity during disaster and COAD aims to ensure the most effective investment of both by identifying gaps and reducing duplication. 

Organizations come together before, during and after an emergency and work as a team to plan for a disaster, provide disaster relief and rebuild their community.

How does it function?

The COAD is governed by Bylaws and Governance and Operations Teams.

The Governance Team consists of an elected Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary. The Operations Team includes Committee Chairs and Representatives/Liaisons from:

  • Department of Emergency Management
  • North Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross

The Operations Team currently meets monthly. Membership meetings are held every other month and committees and project teams meet as needed.

We act as liaison with County government and emergency responders through the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC); the Sonoma COAD acts as the sole entity to represent all community groups in the EOC, informing them of community resources and support in a disaster.

What happens when a disaster hits?

  • Cooperation
    • The Ops Lead and Director share time in the EOC
    • Provide COAD presence at evacuation and shelter site
    • Provide COAD presence at Local Assistance Center (LAC)
    • County attends COAD Exec meetings
  • Communication
    • The Executive Team immediately convenes and shares updates on
      • Individual agency activity and needs
      • Committee activation
    • Daily reports from the EOC are sent to the executive team
    • Frequent updates are sent to membership by director
    • Needs for agencies and community shared as they become know
  • Coordination
    • Exec team meets frequently
    • An Operations Lead (Ops Lead) is identified for the incident
    • Planning groups are activated for Food, Intake, LAC, and LTR
    • Members identify resources available for incident
    • General member activation meeting called
  • Collaboration
    • Collaborative intake form and process updated
    • Release of Information shared between COAD and County
    • All data collection follows continuity towards Disaster Case Management
    • Long Term Recovery group is launched
      • LTR Committees Form, Communication, Disaster Case Management, etc
  • Compassion
    • Emphasize and embed compassion in every aspect of our work together
    • Serves as part of our effort to promote equity
    • Show compassion through listening, patience, time, showing respect, and preserving dignity

Sonoma County COAD Director

Jeanette Pantoja

As the Sonoma County COAD Director, Jeanette works with 30+ non-profits, faith organizations, private sector businesses and government agencies to facilitate communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination during disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

She has a decade of experience cultivating relationships among institutions and community-based organizations from across various sectors to facilitate resource sharing, learning, and collective action. Her more recent work prior to COAD focused on health sector investments in housing stability and economic mobility and on the integration of public health into climate change planning processes. Jeanette has a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.