by Donna Purchase

Over the course of the coming year, we will introduce you to the dynamic Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) Task Force Leaders. They are the engines that keep us running. If you are interested in joining a task force, visit

Ben Curran
A native Washingtonian, Ben lives in Southwest DC where he leads SWNA’s grassroots disaster preparedness group called Southwest Strong! which is committed to building a disaster- resilient Southwest DC.

Ben Curran grew up in Iran, South Africa, Tanzania, England, Togo, and Australia. He began work with the international Rescue Committee in Sudan during the Ethiopian refugee crisis. Afterwards, he supported the American Red Cross as an Assistant Shelter Manager during the Central American refugee situation on the southwestern U.S. border.

With a Master of Science in International Community Economic Development, he
Joined the FEMA Response Operations Office. His disaster deployments included:
hurricanes Hugo in Puerto Rico and Andrew in Louisiana; the Midwest floods in Kansas, lowa and Illinois; the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles; Oklahoma City bombing; September 11th in Washington D.C.; Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana; Typhoon Soudelor in Saipan; Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; COVID-19 FEMA headquarters response operations center in Washington D.C. Other overseas assignments included Operation Support Hope – Rwanda Genocide with the Office of
Foreign Disaster Assistance; Kobe earthquake; Hurricane Mitch; the Haiti earthquake and the Stability Pact in Hungary and Romania. At FEMA, Ben served as the Deputy Branch Chief for Mass Care, Voluntary Agency Coordination and Community Services.

He enjoys neighborhood festivals, showing off the city to visitors (especially international visitors), DC murals, the WPFW radio station, Ben’s Chili Bowl and all the funky DC Ethiopian buna beats.

Regina Blye, Co-Chair, Southwest Strong
Regina Blye is a dynamic “advocrat” committed to high-impact systems change. She targets public policy reform to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities by removing barriers to education, employment, healthcare, transportation, and housing. For ten years, she served as the Executive Director of a statewide nonprofit that promotes the independence and integration of Texans with disabilities into a community of their choice. Her advocacy led to President Barack Obama appointing Regina to serve on the United States Access Board for over six years. As a board member, she was responsible for developing accessibility guidelines and standards for the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).

Regina gives back to the community by serving as an Ambassador for the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund, Chair of the Southwest DC Community Center, Co-Chair of SWNA Southwest Strong! and as a board member of the DC State Fair. She believes in staying active, so you can catch her playing Wheelchair Rugby, teaching people to play Boccia, teaching Zumba, and playing music at community events.

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