Catherine Powell [Credit: Airbnb]

Powell and Serino join board of directors

Worldwide: Catherine Powell, global head of hosting at Airbnb, and Rich Serino, a former deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], have joined’s board of directors., established as an independent non-profit organisation in December 2020, is governed by its board of directors, who play an instrumental role in guiding its work and mission. has worked alongside Airbnb for more than a decade to connect people in times of crisis to free, temporary stays with the support of hosts and non-profit organisations around the world. First inspired by a single host called Shell who opened up her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, [alongside Airbnb] has offered emergency stays for nearly 300,000 people, and guests have booked over 1.5 million nights in that period.

Serino and Powell, who spoke to STRz in an interview in March, will each bring decades of industry expertise to their new / expanded roles.

Serino has extensive leadership in emergency management, emergency medical and homeland security at local, state, federal, and international levels.

A distinguished senior fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health, supporting the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, he was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s [FEMA] eighth deputy administrator in October 2009 and served until 2014. During that time, Serino served as the agency’s COO where he managed a budget of more than $25 billion and responded to over 60 national disasters, including flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes across the United States.

Serino said: “I am honoured to join the board of since I have seen first hand the need for short-term housing after a disaster or crisis. The ability to house an individual or a family in their time of need can be truly life changing, and has and will continue to save and change lives by assisting with short-term housing.”

As the company’s global head of hosting, Powell oversees Airbnb’s community of more than four million hosts. Prior to Airbnb, she spent over 15 years at The Walt Disney Company, most recently as the president of Disney Parks Western Region, before joining Airbnb in January 2020.

She previously served as’s executive sponsor at Airbnb, leading collaboration between and the company, and ensuring has the resources it needs to provide emergency stays for people around the world. Her insights will continue to support when welcoming hosts who open their homes to refugees, asylum seekers, and people fleeing natural disasters.

Powell said: “Working closely with its partners and hosts, has seen its impact dramatically increase and has recently carried out some of its largest responses to date. Since war broke out in Ukraine, for example, the organisation has connected over 135,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine to temporary stays.

“It has been incredible to support this work, and I am honoured to deepen my involvement with as a board member,” she added.

To mark World Refugee Day in June, Airbnb’s charitable arm announced a series of initiatives to deepen its support for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as highlight their resilience and ongoing struggles around the world.’s board of directors now consists of seven leaders spanning the technology, design, non-profit, academic, and global humanitarian sectors. The board includes: Joe Gebbia [co-founder of Airbnb, chairman of, and co-founder of Samara]; Jennifer Bond; Sharyanne McSwain; Melissa Thomas-Hunt; Jocelyn Wyatt; and Powell and Serino.

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