To foster more effective service delivery to those affected by disasters in Sonoma 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 four C’s:

  • Cooperation
  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Collaboration

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 an Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is made up of an elected Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary, Committee Chairs, Representatives from:

  • Shelter Council (Department of Health Services)
  • Access and Functional Needs
  • Department of Emergency Management
  • Office of Recovery and Resiliency

The Executive Committee 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

Sonoma County COAD Director

Rocio Rodriguez

As the newest Sonoma County COAD Director, Rocio 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 recently earned her Masters of Public Health in population and family health at Columbia University in the City of New York, and completed her certificate in public health and humanitarian action. While earning her masters she developed skills in program planning, program evaluation, and data analysis for application in humanitarian settings in service to and supporting communities affected by natural and man-made disasters. 

Administrative Support Specialist

Lyndsey Burcina

Lyndsey joins COAD as our administrative support specialist! She was born in Santa Rosa, and attended Elsie Allen High School where she was able to launch her career as a Restorative Justice Practitioner at the age of 17 becoming one of the youngest specialists in the country to present at and be recognized by the International Institute for Restorative Practices at their Word Conference in 2017. Since graduating in 2018 she has developed a curriculum now used in 13 states.

Lyndsey was raised to value and honor her Japanese-American heritage by her grandparents. She is a Japanese folk dance instructor with Enmanji Buddhist Temple in Sebastopol and the 2020 & 2021 title holder of Japanese-America’s Miss California. 

She has worked with many organizations within Sonoma County and has dedicated the last 5 years of her life to serving her community. Lyndsey looks forward to continuing to serve the county and to grow and learn as new opportunities arise.