10 Qs with
Kay Goss, CEM
President, World Disaster Management, LLC
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I served then Governor Bill Clinton as his Senior Assistant for Intergovernmental Relations beginning in 1982, including the State Office of Emergency Services, emergency managers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and public safety, on his transition team and his Governor’s Office, until he became President in 1993, at which time I continued with those responsibilities with his successor. Then, President Clinton nominated me to become Associate FEMA Director.
Governor Haley Barber’s book on Hurricane Katrina and Jose’ Andres’ book “We Fed An Island.”
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
During COVID, it has been email, text, and ZOOM, but typically I prefer in person, so millions of air miles, conferences, IAEM, NEMA, and state EM conventions, plus the top one for me is the Annual FEMA Higher Education Symposium during the first week in June. Plus, I am a Senior Fellow at the National Academy for Public Administration and work on the Intergovernmental Relations Panel’s Emergency Management projects and also serve on the Board of Advisers for the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Assuming the responsibility for preparedness, training, and exercises, I first wanted to expand FEMA’s training for our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. When I found that we were training 5,000 per year, but turning down at least another 5,000 per year, I launched the FEMA Higher Education Program in 1994 and in 1997 the Annual FEMA Higher Education Symposium and now there are now over 700 emergency management and homeland security academic programs across the country.
I grew up on a farm and decided when I was 8 that I wanted to spend my life in public service. I have written five books, including The Handbook on Emergency Management for Oklahoma State University and the last one on my favorite public servant, MR.CHAIRMAN: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF WILBUR D MILLS.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
Feeder programs are somewhat limiting, such as firefighter, emergency medical services, military. However, the roadblocks are falling away. For example, the class I am teaching this semester at George Mason University has 50% women. Higher education is bringing increasing numbers of women and for the first time a woman is head of FEMA. Great progress.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
I have always enjoyed my work so much that I am thinking about it most of the time. However, my family (daughter and grandson) comes first, while I have been blessed with amazing mentors and so many friends around the world. They all have and continue to inspire me to continue to maximize my use of my time.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
Standards, accreditations, technology, integration of cyber security into emergency management and homeland security education and training.
Learn as much as you can, work hard, make as many friends as possible, and help as many people as possible, and have fun.
Emergency management is built on partnerships and continuing education. It is exciting as we learn new things every day and have new challenges just as regularly. The challenges never end. Unlimited growth professionally is available to all who commit to it.