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Kindling is a U.S. based tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2020 to support and inspire fire safety in vulnerable communities around the world. Our interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners have extensive experience in engineering, planning, and social and physical sciences in diverse geographies and sectors, such as the architecture/engineering/ construction industry, international development, humanitarian sector, disaster risk reduction, and public safety. Our team represents 13 countries by nationality and base location. As our organization grows, we aim to become increasingly diverse in backgrounds, experiences, geographies, disciplines, and more.

Board of Directors


Danielle Antonellis
Founder & Executive Director

Danielle is the Founder & Executive Director of Kindling. She has a proven track record of establishing and leading cross-discipline and cross-region teams to tackle intractable problems.  Before founding Kindling, Danielle was a Senior Fire Safety Consultant with Arup based in the US, UK, and Hong Kong. She led Arup’s global research program on fire safety in informal settlements and established a global multidisciplinary skills group called City Fire Resilience. Previous to Arup, Danielle was a Fire Suppression Systems Researcher and Technical Advisor at Johnson Controls (formerly Tyco). Danielle has a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Kathleen Almand
Chair of the Board

Kathleen served the National Fire Protection Association as Vice President, Research, until her recent retirement in May of 2019. She has a MSc. civil engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Maryland and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.  Prior to joining NFPA in 2004, Kathleen was the Executive Director of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and held research and management positions with the Civil Engineering Research Foundation, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the National Academy of Sciences.


Jim Quiter

Jim Quiter recently retired as a Principal at Arup, a global design, consulting and engineering firm. His last position with Arup was as Managing Principal of their Los Angeles office, a 300-person multi-discipline office with over $100 Million in revenue in his last year. Other positions at Arup have included being a member of their Board of Trustees, leading global management consulting, leading the Americas fire team, and leading the San Francisco and Chicago offices. Jim has also been an active volunteer. He is a member of the NFPA Standards Council, he is former Chairman of the NFPA Safety to Life Correlating Committee, and he is a Fellow and Past-President of SFPE. He is currently involved writing chapters for the latest editions of both the NFPA and SFPE Handbooks, and in teaching educational courses for SFPE. 


Jim Kennedy

Jim has a PhD in refugee camp design, and more than 15 years field experience in disaster-preparedness, post-disaster shelter and settlements, and camp planning. Jim's experience in the field has included countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Jim has worked for the UN, the Red Cross movement, and a number of international NGOs. Jim has also conducted research into fire safety and shelter for the UK government, and is involved in ongoing projects to integrate fire-safety planning with other aspects of safety and protection in camps.


Christine Pongratz

Christine is a fire engineering consultant at Arup, based in the Los Angeles office, with previous experience as a consultant for Arup’s London and Boston offices. Christine studied Fire Protection Engineering and has a significant understanding in subjects ranging from enclosure fire dynamics,  smoke management, human behavior in fire, suppression system design, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), Wildland Urban Interface fires, risk mitigation and resilience strategy. Christine has worked on projects spanning a variety of sectors, including healthcare, residential, rail, education, sports, arts & culture, retail, office and informal settlements. Christine utilizes her global perspective to

consider a variety of design solutions.

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Boris Couteaux

Boris is VP, Business and Product Development and Head of the Toronto office at impak, the first independent impact rating agency. In his prior role with Pollinate Energy, a social start-up working to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by giving them access to affordable products, Boris worked as City Co-founder in Kolkata, India. Before that, he worked in various positions in Commercial Banking at ING Bank in Belgium. Boris holds a Masters in Business Engineering and Finance from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (Belgium). 




Reasat Faisal
Senior Urban
Development Specialist


Sandra Vaiciulyte
Senior Fire Safety Researcher


Antonio Cicione
Fire Safety Engineer

Reasat is a passionate and seasoned development professional and Commonwealth Scholar with 9 years of work experience in international development at the national and international levels. He has a proven track record of successful program development, project design and management, research, fundraising, donor management, and strategic partnership development. Until September 2020, Reasat lead program development, resource mobilization, strategy, innovation and real-time data management teams of BRAC Urban Development Program in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is currently a Doctoral Researcher in Economics focusing on Climate Change & Urban Migration at The University of Westminster. Reasat also has a BSc in Electrical Engineering and a MA in Urban Planning with a focus on urban resilience.

Dr Sandra Vaiciulyte is an interdisciplinary researcher in fire safety, and human response to natural hazards. She has a background in sociology, behavioural sciences, fire safety engineering, and international communication and development. Sandra is passionate about bringing together social science and engineering principles to improve safety in urban environments. During her PhD Sandra focused on human response to wildland-urban interface evacuations at the University of Greenwich, London, later joining Arup, London office, where she had hands on experience in fire safety in buildings projects, fire safety research and fire safety education for engineers. Currently Sandra is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Dr Antonio Cicione has a PhD in Engineering from Stellenbosch University. He is an adjunct senior lecturer and lectures in the Principles of Fire Behaviour, Structural Fire Engineering and Numerical Fire modelling at Stellenbosch University. He supervises a number of PhD and Masters students studying a variety of structural and fire engineering topics. He was previously employed as a Research Associate at the BRE Fire Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh. He has been involved in numerous fire experiments, and has burned down more that 70 full-scale houses for research. He was also part of a team that conducted a number of large-scale fire experiments at the Underwriters Laboratories in Chicago. Dr Cicione has published a number of international journal and conference papers on a variety of fire and structural related papers. He consults to industry regarding specialist fire engineer projects, performs rational fire designs and conducts fire investigations. Dr Cicione is a committee member of SAICE’s fire division.

Our Advisors

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Kaitlin Shilling

Kaitlin has spent her career creating impact. She builds on a broad skill set to develop innovative strategies that reach across industries and bridge diverse groups. Passionate about social entrepreneurship, rewarding partnerships; and innovative approaches to challenges in development. Experience in Indonesia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Liberia, Haiti & Kyrgyzstan. Kaitlin established an online platform, PLUS, that connects social entrepreneurs to opportunities and helps them grow by offering business consultations. PLUS is the go-to resource for information on social entrepreneurs in Indonesia, and is the first to develop a publicly available directory of social enterprises across the country.

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George Faller

George has significant experience in the design and supervision of structural and fire safety engineering projects. He joined Ove Arup in 1981 and worked as a structural engineer on a wide variety of projects in Africa, Europe and Asia until 1996. In 1997 he joined Arup Fire in London to pursue fire engineering and in 2002 he moved to Spain to set up a fire safety team. Since March 2019 George has been working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as Chief Technical Advisor on the "Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Industry" programme.


Laura Hirst

Laura Hirst is a PhD researcher at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, working in collaboration with Operation Florian. Her research investigates vulnerability to fire risk in low income settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, using qualitative methods to understand how everyday urban fire risk is created, experienced and responded to by different stakeholders. As well as her research in Kenya, Laura was a key member of the Operation Florian team which carried out a fire risk assessment of refugee settings for Save the Children Lebanon, and supports further research on gender and learning around fire risk response in resource poor urban settings. 

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John Twigg

John Twigg is an Honorary Professor at University College London, an independent researcher and consultant on disaster risk reduction, and a co-editor of the journal Disasters. His research interests include community-based approaches, extensive risks, early warning systems, socio-economic vulnerability to disasters, policy and institutional aspects of disaster management, post-disaster transitions and urban resilience.

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Darlene Rini

Darlene Rini, PE, is a Senior Engineer in the Greater Los Angeles area where she leads the Wildfire Risk Mitigation practice. She has 18 years of experience as a project manager, fire engineer and team leader on a broad range of projects in the built environment in the US and abroad. Darlene's diverse knowledge has allowed her to apply her fire engineering expertise in broader contexts, specifically disaster risk management and societal resilience in developing and developed-country contexts. She integrates qualitative and quantitative socio-technical approaches to comprehensively assess societal risk and develop practical hazard mitigation/ management strategies at the city/county scale.


David Rush

Dr David Rush is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where he obtained his PhD in Fire Safety Engineering in 2013. His two main current research projects focus on fires in the informal settlements and slums of Cape Town (IRIS-Fire) and Nairobi (Tomorrow’s Cities), respectively. Using a combination of; quantitative and qualitative social surveys; state-of-the-art multi-scale experiments; computational fluid dynamics modelling; and unique and novel applications of existing satellite data and analysis, David and his team are developing tools and methods to understand and improve the resilience of these settlements to fire. David is a member of ISO/TC92/WG14 - Large outdoor fires and the built environment; was invited to give a keynote talk to the Institute of Fire Engineers Centenary Conference entitled, “Informal Settlement Fires: ‘Young people and fire; reducing risks and saving lives’”; and in 2018 received an EPSRC Recognising Inspiring Scientists and Engineers: Making Connections Award.