Sandy Rosenthal ~ Activist, Author, Podcast Host

Sandy Rosenthal

Sandy Rosenthal founded the non-profit in 2005. The group’s focus is educating the public that the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was due to federal engineering mistakes, not the wrath of nature.

Her book, Words Whispered in Water, is about how––against all odds––she altered the national narrative about the flooding disaster.  

In March of 2019, Rosenthal unveiled the Flooded House Museum at a major breach site. She initiated the installation of three historic plaques vetted by the state’s preservation office, hosts an annual levee breach bike tour, and much more.

For those efforts, Rosenthal has been honored with numerous awards most recently including Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year from Tulane University and Most Influential Woman from Mount Holyoke College. Rosenthal is an advocate for 62% of the American population living in counties protected by levees. Rosenthal has been married to Stephen Rosenthal since 1979, has three adult children, and two grandchildren living in San Francisco. She also has two small dogs named Twinkie and Cupcake.


Sandy is also the host of her own podcast: Beat the Big Guys

Most Popular Topics:

Words Whispered in Water
The catastrophic flooding of New Orleans in 2005 brought levees into the public conscience. Yet, flooding now seems to be happening almost everywhere. The majority of the nation’s population lives in counties protected by levees. This is an eye-opening talk pulling from Sandy’s personal experience and part of what she shares in her book by the same name. Your audience will learn why all this flooding is occurring, what it means, and what they can do to stay safe.

Being the David in a World of Goliaths

With corporations getting ever larger – and even able to influence the outcome of presidential elections – the power of a single individual might seem lost. But it’s alive and well. Your attendees will learn how, with minimal resources, to harness the energy of outside experts and mobilize citizen participation to accomplish short-term goals.

Your Opposition Might be Paid Actors!

If you’re a small business or a community-based group making the world a better place, you will likely face opposition in the form of a “grassroots group.” But the majority of these are fake – created by elite consultants working for wealthy people or corporations. In this presentation, you will learn how, with shoestring resources, to recognize the fake grassroots group and to pull back the curtain to expose it.


Partial List of Previous Speaking Engagements:

  • Tulane University
  • University of New Orleans
  • US Dept of State International Leadership Program
  • NFIP Reauthorization Conference
  • GGBC (Golden Gate Breakfast Club)
  • Tulane Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy
  • Santa Clara Water District
  • American Business Women’s Association
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Liskow & Lewis law firm
  • Society of Environmental Journalists, Annual Conference
  • American Mensa, New Orleans Chapter
  • Whistleblower Tour Event, panelist
  • Society of Professional Journalists annual conference
  • Loyola Institute of Politics
  • National Association of Environmental Law Conference
  • The Great Mississippi River: Restoring Balance Symposium
  • FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group) San Francisco
  • TCMC (Tri-Cities Marketing Council)
  • Security Pacific Real Estate
  • Rotary Clubs (New Orleans):  Downtown and International Airport
  • Rotary Clubs (District 5130):  Santa Rosa East, Napa, and Rohnert Park-Cotati
  • Rotary Clubs (District 5150):  San Mateo Sunrise, San Bruno, San Carlos, Novato Sunrise, Tiburon-Belvedere, Marin Sunrise, and Pacifica
  • Rotary Clubs (District 5160):  Benicia, Santa Clara, Alameda, Alamo, Vacaville, Danville/Sycamore, Richmond, Rossmoor, and Lafayette
  • Rotary Clubs (District 5170):  Los Gatos Morning, Fremont, Palo Alto, Scotts Valley, Los Altos, Morgan Hill, Capitola Aptos, Hayward, Almaden Valley, Newark, Hollister, Sunnyvale, Watsonville, Alameda, and Campbell
  • Rotary Clubs (District 5180):  Arden Arcade and East Sacramento
  • Rotary Clubs (Texas):  Summer Creek/Humble and Magnolia
  • Kiwanis Clubs of Napa and San Ramon Valley
  • NMC Regional Conference, Tulane University
  • Villages Men’s Social Club
  • SIR (Sons in Retirement) Branch 125 Westgate-San Jose
  • Featured in HBO Comic Relief 2006 with Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal


Partial List of Previous Podcasts:

All Things Authorpreneur with Suzanne Moore
The Dave Pamah Show
Midlife Reinvention with Kavita Ahuja
Going North with Dom Brightmon
Heidi’s LemonAid Stand with Heidi Alldredge
She Rises Studios with Hanna Olivas and Adriana Luna
Real Things Living with Brigitte Cutshall
Author Factor with Mike Capuzzi
b Cause Work Doesn’t Have to Suck with Erin Hatzikostas
School for Startups with Jim Beach
Famous Interviews with Joe Dimino
Aging with Purpose and Passion with Beverley Glazer
Empowering Process with Gail Kraft  
Speakers Who Get Results with Elizabeth Bachman
The Relatable Voice Podcast with Lucia Matuonto
Divas, Diamonds, & Dollars with Larisa Troche
The Atlantic – Floodlines with Vann R. Newkirk II
New Orleans Podcasting with Craig Kraemer
Discussions of Truth with Ian Trottier 
Talk Louisiana with Jim Engster
Greater New Orleans with Tom Bagwill
Marketing Myths and Magic
with Liza Sivek
All Things Authorpreneur with Suzanne Moore

Sandy is also the host of her own podcast: Beat the Big Guys

Rave Reviews:

Sandy shows how persistence in the face of reticent authority can uncover bad behavior and drive for positive change. She uncovers the shameful behavior of the Army Corps of Engineers that cost billions and untold lives. A compelling story!”
~ Stan Scardino, President, Rotary Club of Los Altos

Sandy’s presentation was very engaging. While she focused on the issues caused in New Orleans, there are thousands of communities throughout the US who are dependent on the safety and integrity of levees.”
~ Brian Schott, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Hayward

I highly recommend Sandy for any speaking engagement. Her presentation was eye-opening and contained many facts that were sure a surprise to our members.”
~ Kris Gonzalez, Program Chair, Rotary Club of San Bruno

“We enjoyed Sandy’s captivating presentation. She was prepared, had great media support, and told an interesting and fascinating story. We highly recommend her for your next function.”
~ Craig Stuart Adams, President, Golden Gate Breakfast Club

“Thank you so much for your time and your presentation to East Sacramento Rotary. Very enlightening. Your advocacy in the area of levees is much appreciated. Your results have a direct effect on those of us living with levees, especially in the Sacramento area. I’m always touched by how one person’s passion can have such a positive impact. Thank you!”
~ Maria Mengotti, President, Rotary Club of East Sacramento

“Sandy is an informed speaker about levees. She even did her own research and became familiar with water issues in our area and state.”
~ Brian O’Neill, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Almaden Valley

“Sandy’s public activism was an inspiration to all. The contents of her presentation connected with Rotarians on many different levels from the historical to the political to the ethical. It was striking to learn that the breach of the levees was closely linked to the breach of trust by the US Army Corps of Engineers.”
~ Pierre Thompson, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Richmond

“Sandy is well versed regarding the levee system in New Orleans. Our biggest takeaway was people should not be afraid to ask questions at any level of government.”
~ André Lewis, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Benicia

“Sandy’s passion and commitment to finding the truth were evident in her presentation. She did an excellent job of telling her story and the truth about the levee issues in New Orleans.”
~ John Becker, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Newark

“Sandy’s work is totally inspiring. Her presentation is interesting and spoke of her passion for accountability and seeking change and progress.”
~ Alice Lai-Bitker, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Alameda 

“Excellent presentation. Well worth listening to. This is the story of Hurricane Katrina ravaging New Orleans. It was classified as an act of Mother Nature but as she discovered is more likely a federal civil engineering mistake. Very interesting speaker. I particularly liked that she tied her presentation in with a discussion of local concerns like the rebuilding of Anderson Dam and Guadalupe River flooding.”
~ Walt Strach, Speaker Chair, SIR Branch 62, Sunnyvale

Her presentation was well done and there was active Q&A which she nailed. Her knowledge of the subject was excellent.”
~ Chuck Lindauer, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Los Altos

Download Press Kit Here: Words Whispered In Water Press Kit

Words Whispered in Water (Amazon)

Early Praise for Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina

Words Whispered in Water Press Kit

Technical book review by Columbia University


NPR’s John Burnett interviews Sandy Rosenthal about her debut book at 2020 Miami Book Fair

Sandy Rosenthal featured in Discovery Channel’s “Deadly Engineering”

Tulane University Honors Founder Sandy Rosenthal (setting the record straight)

A New Generation Learns About the Levee Breaches of New Orleans in 2005

Artists Recreate New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Destruction

Articles: Almost 2/3 of Americans live in counties with levees – The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune

Sorrow revisited: Re-creating Katrina’s muck in New Orleans – AP News

Katrina levee failures subject of new book – AP News

In hardest slam since Katrina, New Orleans’s levees stand firm – Washington Post

Upgraded New Orleans levees pass first major test – Business Insurance


One of only three non-fiction finalists for the Killer Nashville 2021 Silver Falchion Award.



Wikipedia Page