Danish Refugee Council
Natalie Topa was born to a Polish immigrant mother and a Ukrainian refugee father who grew up in Rio de Janeiro. Natalie was born in Buffalo, New York and then moved to Denver with her mother at age five. Natalie grew up in Colorado where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Human Services, and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning with a focus in Economic Development.
Natalie spent five years working in urban planning, community redevelopment, regional environmental planning, Naval-base closure, transit-oriented development, post-disaster recovery & Long-Term Planning (LTR-FEMA) and public-private partnership.
Natalie moved to South Sudan after signing off the 2005 Peace Agreement to work on post-war town planning and reconstruction, and then started to work with displaced populations on community reconstruction, agriculture, health and school facilities, water provision and civic engagement. Since then, Natalie has directed programs in climate change resilience using a systems-based approach that includes local governance, gender empowerment, market systems development, financial inclusion, food security and natural resource management.
Today, Natalie works as the Regional Resilience and Livelihoods Coordinator for East Africa and Yemen for the European Refugee Agency, bringing principles of permaculture and resilience design to post-disaster recovery as well as root causes of displacement in multiple sectors. She has been based in East Africa for 14 years, living in South Sudan and Kenya while working throughout Africa and Southeast Asia.