10 Qs with
Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Arapahoe County Colorado
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
Originally it was a requirement to take a few FEMA courses and participate in exercises. I dug into the material further and started pursuing additional certificates. In 2012 I was fortunate to make an out of state move and was hired into an Emergency Management Technician position. In the last decade our Office of Emergency Management grew tremendously as did the complementary degree programs for the industry. I am currently the Deputy Director and have watched our office expand to double original staffing numbers, with growth in the internal career opportunities in addition to growth and maturity of our program.
The article that landed me here!!! GovTech Today posting about how to succeed in Emergency Management.
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
I balance my outreach between our public safety, business and residential community members. Making the time to sit down with our fire districts to determine any resource challenges for an approaching fire season and what we may be able to leverage in support. Attending HOA meetings about preparedness and educating on how to pack a 72-hour kit or sign up for emergency alerts.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I assisted in the design and implementation of the County's first full time Emergency Operations Center. Our original space was not full time and doubled as a training room for the entire agency. We utilized Emergency Management Program Grant funds to source the equipment and technology that would meet our needs rather than forcing our process to work with existing and outdated equipment. The grand opening occurred one month prior to our level one COVID activation.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
I am a NWCG Type I Wildland Firefighter. I respond to local fires in addition to supporting resource requests for large fires throughout the state.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
Learning to say no (to work). The demands of an Emergency Manager's niche of skill sets are growing. Accepting that my day will ALWAYS have unfinished business when 5pm rolls around. Go home when your shift is over because it can all wait. Let your brain stop spinning and recharge. Learn to say no, delegate, or defer. Be vocal, honest, and upfront when you have family commitments.
Strong mentorships, but this is changing. There are higher education programs supporting the field now that didn't once exist. In general, there is still a significant level of unfamiliarity of what an Emergency Manager does. This creates its own roadblock with limited awareness to create mentorships, education programs, career paths, etc.
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
Don't be afraid to fail big if you learn from it. Be vulnerable and own it so everyone learns and develops a solution to move forward
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
Integration of mapping and the visualization of data. We are thriving on manipulating raw data sources into maps or other visual representations of that information. The happy medium of technology translated into an emergency management environment.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING THEIR START IN THE FIELD?
Consider how other job descriptions may apply to Emergency Management. We don't look for just titles when hiring. Relatable skills are critical and in fact can be a benefit to our office to vary the career backgrounds. Logistics, data analysis, mapping, critical thinking, project management, etc. These are qualities we hire for but may not be something on a traditional job description. Creative thinking, problem solving, and iteration are becoming the norm for us - speak to those skills sets on a resume and interview.