Dr. Peterson currently facilitates The Lowlander Center, a nonprofit organization that helps create solutions through education, research, and advocacy, beginning at the community level, for Lowland people and places in the bayous of Louisiana. Social and environmental justice is at the core of the Center’s work. Through the Center, Lowlanders seek solutions to living with an ever-changing coastline and land loss, while visioning a future that builds capacity and resilience for place and people.
Peterson’s thirty years of post-disaster community redevelopment experience help communities to envision futures that mitigate vulnerabilities, to enhance existing systems, or to develop new systems to serve the public.
Peterson was a founding board member of the National Hazards Mitigation Association, collaborator with FEMA’s Project Impact, and national coordinator with Church World Service Disaster Services. She is an anthropologist who holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, a Master of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies-Ethnic Studies, University of Puget Sound. She was made a fellow in the Society of Applied Anthropology in 1998, received the Prince Award for outstanding dissertation, the William Gibson Environmental Award in 2010, the Rural Sociology Society’s 2014 Service to Rural Communities Award, and a citation from the State of Maryland for work on social and economic justice. She serves on the advisory board of the Thriving Earth Exchange, TEX, of the American Geophysical Union.