10 Qs with ANDREA DAVIS
President and CEO of the
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I’m one of those people that fell into this career of emergency management. In 1999, I had moved to the San Francisco Bay area after dropping out of law school– it just wasn’t my calling in life– and I was looking for a job. I was looking at “old school” classified ads in the local newspaper and saw an opportunity to work with the City and County of San Francisco writing emergency plans for nonprofits. At the time in 1999, there was a big focus on emergency planning for Y2K. I was very excited about the opportunity despite not knowing anything about emergency planning or even the field, I didn’t even know it existed! During the interview the Director of the Office of Emergency Management gave me great advice, he said that emergency management is all about coordinating and facilitating subject matters to help solve a problem. I then continued from the nonprofit world to the federal government and then the last 10 years have been spent in the private sector which landed me to where I am now, running my own company!
Recently, I read Brittany Perkins Castillo’s article about Women in Emergency Management which focused on the challenges that we as women face in the field and how we can counteract them. The article emphasized building friendships within the community. I feel Brittany did an excellent job of capturing how women can support each other. Shortly after reading her article, she reached to me to speak on a panel she was putting together. We had a wonderful conversation, and I could feel her passion to support women in the field exude from the phone!
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
I am an avid volunteer for the American Red Cross. I learned CPR from Red Cross as a teenager and used my training to save my young son’s life when he fell into a pool. Anytime I travel to a different country or location, I try to connect with the local Red Cross to see how I can support their mission.
Another key part of staying involved in my community is remaining a supporter of local nonprofits through board service. I am currently the Board Chair for the Northwest Arkansas American Red Cross
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I have three that come to mind. First, working with FEMA in the Louisiana Recovery Office post-Hurricane Katrina allowed me to see a different side of the storm’s impacts. I had the opportunity to work with school districts inside New Orleans and systematically bring back an entire school system. We were able to bring in world-class teachers and utilize the Teach America Program which helped to improve not only the students test scores, but the Parish’s school rankings post-Katrina. It was so awesome to see the amazing change that came out of such devastation.
Secondly, launching the Global Compassionate Care Program with Disney which helped supplycast members and their families support in a time of crisis anywhere on the planet.
Finally, while at Walmart I was at the helm of emergency management for the company during the global pandemic, it was so rewarding to see how the world’s largest retailer came together to get critical supplies to support communities all around the globe.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
Writing short stories and my love of baking have gotten me through some tough times. I decided to turn my two passions into a book and just finished writing a professional development, self-help, cookbook which shares my lessons learned and keys to success from nearly 25 years in emergency management. Each story has a corresponding "stress pairing" dessert recipe.
Fingers crossed you will see "I only Remember Grievances and Desserts: What I have learned from the Douche Bags, Cretons, and Vipers so far" on bookshelves soon!
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Life is very precious and short. Spend time figuring out what is most important to you then go and get it!
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
I feel the field of Emergency Management is currently at a crossroad of trying to define itself, EM doesn’t have a national code or a standardized approach to how it defined around the globe. Without a standardized approach, I believe it difficult for women to see where they fit in or define what their path in EM could be.
Listen more than you talk.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
The idea of misinformation being a crisis into itself. It is important for the Emergency Manager to become and remain that trusted source for the public to rely on in a time of crisis. It is hard for local and state emergency management to stay on top of what information the public needs to know while also dispelling rumors on all social media platforms. Having a forward-thinking mindset with emergency management requires us to spend time and make sure crisis communications are in place prior to a disaster striking.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING THEIR START IN THE FIELD?
Here are three tips that have helped me through the years:
• Be a sponge, there is so much information and opportunities to enter the field of emergency management. Ask questions, do informational interviews with individuals that you are interested in what they do, and reach out to folks via LinkedIn and introduce yourself.
• Join the International Association of Emergency Managers. Every job I have gotten has been from their job board. It allows you to build your network and find local associations.
• Volunteering within your community is big! Start getting experience and open your eyes to different opportunities within emergency management.