10 Qs with Valerie Lucus-McEwen
Lecturer EMER program at
California State University
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
When my youngest of four children started in school, I went to work for the American Red Cross as their Director of Health and Safety Services in Marin County, California in 1985. After three years, I decided to go back to school to finish my BA degree and was offered a part-time position with the Marin County EMS and OES departments doing their public education work. That was when I joined IAEM, achieved my CEM and got seriously interested in the whole emergency management field. I went to work for Lawrence Berkeley Lab as their EM in 2001 and that is when I got my MS degree and finished my CBCP. In 2006, I left the Lab for the position of EM at UC Davis and that is where I retired in 2010. I've been teaching emergency management students since then.
Don't stop learning from others in the field. Get as many degrees as you can, work on the certifications, join IAEM and DRII and participate in their committees and conferences. Network!
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
"The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland". I've read it several times and always enjoy it. It really speaks to successfully managing a real emergency with few resources. Lots of fun to read.
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I consider my community to be the EM profession, and I'm just part of the academic side of it. I attend all the conferences I can, subscribe to various magazines and blogs. I am a peer reviewer for the Journal of Emergency Management and am Vice-Chair of the IAEM Editorial Committee so I can keep up on the latest trends and ideas.
1. Working closely with IAEM to promote EM as a profession.
2. Teaching the next generation of emergency managers.
There were so many roadblocks when I was starting in this field. I didn't have a public safety or military background! I am not that big, so I had to be LOUD -- in addition to being professional, optimistic and educated. Thick skin helped a lot! My education and certificates certainly added to my reputation, especially when I got into the academic field. There are so many more opportunities and fewer roadblocks in EM these days.
My husband and I have a 38 ft Winnebago that we travel in most of the year. I set up my desk on the dashboard and as long as I can get the internet, I can keep working and learning.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
That's a hard one!! Those of us who are ambitious and energetic have trouble slowing down enough to have a good work/life balance.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
Where there might not have been a designated EM, or someone with that duty "as assigned", the field has really opened up. It isn't hard to find a position in some aspect of EM if you have the education, want to get the experience and are willing to relocate where the jobs are. A friend of mine characterized this as "Go Somewhere to Get Somewhere".
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
Look for opportunities to excel, get as educated as you can, love what you do.