My start within Emergency Management began as being a planner with the county I lived in with my local Emergency Management Agency. I wanted to get back to public service, as I was working in the private sector, and I wanted to be a part of my community.
I am most proud of starting the sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) program within the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency and expanding that program into a county wide task force, as well as linking that task force into the state as a resource to be used for Mutual Aid.
A large roadblock for women in this industry may be rooted in a lack of conversation. I think that there is a strong group of women in this industry who all struggle with similar things, but don’t talk about it. I think if we get the conversation going and see we are all dealing with similar issues, then we can find strength in numbers. That strength also manifests itself into confidence.
A hot topic and trend within the field of Emergency Management right now is a focus on mental health for our Emergency Managers during and post incident.
The strain felt by many during COVID-19 operations has really taken a toll on all of our mental well-being and shined a light on Emergency Managers as operators in the field. We had to not only navigate the world of fear and the unknown, but we also had to support those navigating it with resources, information, and steadfast diligence. This mission often found Emergency Managers at the forefront with the Medical Field and with the Public, providing coordination, resources, and information to the best of our ability in support of the mission at hand. This was done 24/7 with constantly changing information, the stress of the unknown, all while still trying to balance family issues. There were issues of burnout and stress.
My best advice for anyone (male or female) is to understand early on the value of relationships within Emergency Management. This field has many people who have had different experiences – be open to learning from them and apply that knowledge to your personal Emergency Management brand. Also, the first time I meet you should not be during an incident! I want to have already gotten to know you, so I can work best with you.
I recently read “The Prince” by Machiavelli, as it was given to me by a supervisor who saw I was struggling with reactions of some due to changes being implemented. The book introduces the realities of being a leader in such things as change and what to expect when such change is introduced. In the field we work in, change is inevitable and can often be met with discontent, which spells more under the service. Machiavelli explained this in such a way as to bring light upon some of the struggles Emergency Managers have in the field where attitudes of “we have always done it this way” no longer prove successful.
I think staying informed through social media is one way to stay connected. It might seem unprofessional and passive to some, but it holds valuable information about events and other things within my community for which I can stay involved.
I am newly engaged with a 6 yr old son and will soon be the official step mother to two teenagers. I am focused on my career when I am working, but I never shy away from a good conversation about family with others in my field, as that is what comes first.
My biggest tip is to remain honest about your personal commitments and manage your time around them. If there is an event which your child is a part of, that needs to be vocalized to your supervisor and be confident about it. Chances are your supervisor deals with similar things. If you stay on top of your work, then walking away for a few hours to attend a school function will be no problem. In our field, at some point, there will be extensive time expected of you during incidents, so take advantage of the “blue skies” to be involved with your children or go to that dentist appointment you’ve been avoiding!
Own when you make a mistake or when you do not know something. This does not make you look inept – it makes you look accountable and aware. Create a solution and look for the information by asking questions.