10 Qs with MAGGIE JARRY
Emergency Coordinator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Headquarters, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
Yes. Hope, Health, and the Climate Crisis by Howard Frumkin. Also, any articles developed by or with Daniel Aldrich.
My first role was as 9/11 Call Center Director for World Vision New York starting in October 2001. I found myself in this role through a series of events on the day of 9/11 and in the days after. From that role, I moved to a role with Lutheran Social Services New York that was funded through Lutheran Disaster Response. Shortly after arriving in that new role with the Lutheran funded efforts, I was offered an opportunity to be the coordinator for creation of an unmet needs interagency committee that was forming with Lutheran Disaster Response of New York as the first donor for the table process. In that effort I led the effort to create the mission and formal systems for managing the unmet needs process, reframed the name of the table to "roundtable" to emphasize the importance of equality for everyone gathered at the table discussions from donor agency representatives to case managers. The idea was also to emphasize including multiple types of resources and centering on support to case managers who were working to support people impacted by the disaster. I also then built partnerships and organizational buy-in across several key agencies that were at the center of 9/11 response and recovery efforts at the time. The model remains intact and is used today by New York City, managed, and supported through New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS).
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
I participate in zoom related social networking opportunities. In my personal time, I am engaged in the Episcopal Church.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
I taught English in Japan for two years through the JET Programme in the late 90s.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Despite how much you love your work, and how much you might get energy and adrenaline from being "on" at work, it is critical that you completely disengage from your work regularly to do personal things. Close out your days or the end of your week so that you do not leave loose ends.... but if you cannot complete all your tasks - write yourself a list of what you need to do when you are "on" again. Then force yourself to completely disengage with some other activity that also absorbs your mind. A risk factor for our industry is being somewhat addicted to being at work (especially if deployed). This can be referred to as "operational addiction." It leads to burnout (not just compassion fatigue). It is extremely difficult to rebound from burn-out. Burn-out can kill a career. Think of the long game and fully disengage for weekends and your rotation days off.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
There are several projects that I am proud of, including in my current role as Emergency Coordinator for SAMHSA within U.S. Health and Human Services. That said, I take great personal satisfaction in knowing that some of the processes I helped to put into place in those early years’ of 9/11 recovery efforts became replicable in other locations and are still considered a model for how unmet needs roundtables are developed for other disasters in New York City and elsewhere.
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
Take the jobs you need to take to pay the bills and take jobs that spark something in you, even if you think it's not going to lead you to your "career goal." I have found that jobs I didn't think would take me toward the career I was aiming led me there in unusual ways. I have landed in some amazing jobs that surprised me in how they opened paths toward my vocation. Follow this quote from Howard Thurman: “Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Quite plainly - gender bias. It is disheartening and frustrating that it remains endemic in emergency management professional environments and is also replicated in faith-based organizations that specialize in disaster work. At times, that gender bias has two threads as some faith communities have structural bias against women in leadership roles, and then emergency management professional networks have also had their own biases, thereby making the network of faith-based emergency management agencies their own milieu of gender-bias environments. I have found this is less of an issue in public health departments and public health emergency management.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING THEIR START IN THE FIELD?
First and foremost, join networking groups such as this. I helped to start an informal network called Women in Disaster Recovery Network in New York City. The idea and intent were that women who had managed to carve out successful, dynamic careers in disaster recovery work could mentor new people entering disaster related industries. We had happy-hour gatherings and brown-bag lunches on key topics. Much wisdom was shared, and relationships were formed.
I think that it can be discouraging for many people entering these industries because they can face obstacles to promoting change and innovation. However, emergency management and disaster related work (in all phases - mitigation, resilience, response, recovery) is in a time of growth and change as a field. It is a dynamic time to be entering any corner of the industries that intersect on these topics.