2015 Symposium Speaker Bios
Randy Behm is the Chief of the Flood Risk and Floodplain Management Section for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, where he leads a team of engineers totally dedicated to identifying and reducing flood risk, formulating nonstructural mitigation measures, and supporting sound floodplain management. Mr. Behm has been in this position since July 2001. He is also Chairman of the Corps’ National Nonstructural Flood Proofing Committee. The committee consists of 10 members and technical advisors who advocate a complete set of nonstructural tools and techniques for reducing flood damages across the country. Mr. Behm is also the Omaha District’s Flood Risk Manager and Silver Jackets Coordinator, providing oversight for six active Silver Jacket teams within the District. Prior to these current positions Mr. Behm has served as a Program Manager, a Hydraulic Design Engineer, and a Project Manager. He has been an employee of the Omaha District for 28 years.
Vicki Bennett is director of Salt Lake City’s Office of Sustainability (and former Environmental Programs manager). Vicki has been integral in setting environmental policy to help create a more livable community. She and her team have been integrating environmental management, air quality, transportation issues, carbon management, recycling, and green waste diversion into Salt Lake City’s laws and lifestyle. Bennett has over 30 years of experience working on environmental issues. Prior to her work for Salt Lake City, Bennett’s background included implementing Environmental Management Systems for PacificCorp and international environmental consulting for a diverse group of industries. She holds a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of California at San Diego and an Executive M.B.A. from the University of Utah.
Mark Brehl has over fifteen years of experience serving in forest management and wildfire response related positions with the Flagstaff Fire Department, the National Park Service, private industry and non-governmental organizations. Working with the Flagstaff Fire Department Mr. Brehl serves the community in land use planning, forest management, fire response, prevention and public outreach. Working with private land owners and developers he communicates the Firewise principles to help balance societal needs with the sustainability of healthy forests and a reduced risk of wildfire. Mr. Brehl is an ISA Certified Arborist, Wildland Firefighter, Public Information Officer, and EMT. He participates in the City’s developmental review process, has served as chair of the Arizona Interagency Coordinating Group’s Firewise Sub-Committee, collaborates with the Ponderosa Fire Advisory Council, is the current president of the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership, Fire Adapted Community network member and fills various roles in the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project. When he’s not busy with his professional passions, Mark can often be found hiking canyons and mountains, floating down a desert river or simply napping under the beautiful ponderosa pine trees in the forests surrounding his home.
Matt Campbell is the National Coordinator for the Community Planning and Capacity Building Recovery Support Function and the Chief of the Capacity Building Branch within FEMA’s Office of Federal Disaster Coordination. Matt has over 17 years of FEMA experience in various capacities helping communities recover from disasters, building hazard mitigation capability and integrating natural and cultural resource considerations into disaster management. He has held titles as the Flood Grants Program lead and Senior Hazard Mitigation Specialist in the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and as the Deputy Environmental Officer in FEMA’s Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation. He was most recently the Emergency Support Function #14 Long Term Community Recovery National Coordinator for 5 years. He has also served as the co-lead for the White House Long Term Disaster Recovery Working Group’s focus group on State and Local Capacity, Planning and Technical Assistance. He has contributed to significant agency initiatives including development of National Disaster Recovery Framework, Hazard Mitigation Planning “How-to” publications and APA’s 1998 Pre-disaster Planning for Post Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction” report. He has served in a mitigation and recovery leadership capacity in many disaster events, such as the 1993 Midwest Floods, Hurricanes Marilyn, Floyd and Ike, and the long term recovery planning for Greensburg, Kansas, the 2008 Iowa Floods, the 2009 Tennessee floods, and CPCB RSF deployments for Hurricane Sandy. He represented the CPCB RSF on the Sandy Recovery Task Force. Matt has a Masters in Community Planning and a Bachelor’s in Geography. He lives in West Virginia with his wife Lisa and three children.
Erin Capps is a licensed attorney with expertise in Stafford Act compliance and interpreting the 44 Code of Federal Regulations. As Vice President of Operations at H2O Partners Inc., Erin oversees the development of FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) plans and grants as well as Public Assistance (PA) recovery efforts and helps develop and manage Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). She has worked closely with cities, counties, regional groups, non-profits, states, and federal agencies with planning and recovery efforts to help build resilient communities. Her legal background and broad experience has helped shape her understanding of compliance statutes and how they can be leveraged to maximize funding for various entities. As a former Co-Chair of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA), Ms. Capps has created conference panels on the challenges of making mitigation matter and co-authored a white paper on how to improve mitigation planning. Ms. Capps holds a Juris Doctor from Baylor University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising with a specialization in business from the University of Texas at Austin.
Arrietta Chakos is a public policy advisor on urban resilience. She works on local and national community resilience strategies and multi-sectoral engagement. Her work with San Francisco, Palo Alto, and regional institutions, such as the Association of Bay Area Governments, focuses on disaster readiness and community resilience. She is a member of the Resilience Roundtable at the National Academy of Sciences. She is also a member of the National Research Council Advisory Committee to the U.S. Global Change Research Program and chairs the Housner Fellow committee at the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Ms. Chakos served as research director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Acting in Time Advance Recovery Project. She was assistant city manager in Berkeley, California, directing innovative risk mitigation initiatives, intergovernmental coordination, and multi-institutional negotiations.
Sallie Clark was elected First Vice President of the National Association of Counties (NACo) on July 14, 2014 at the NACo Annual Conference: County Solutions and Idea Marketplace in Orleans Parish, La. Active in NACO since 2005, Clark is a longtime member and subcommittee vice chair of the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. She is also a member of the Financial Services Center Advisory Committee, Large Urban County Caucus Steering Committee and Cybersecurity Task Force. Previously, she served on the Veterans and Military Services Committee, Membership Committee and Arts and Culture Commission. Clark believes in telling the story about the importance of counties. Key components include providing cost ? effective services and working to reduce unfunded federal mandates. El Paso County was hit by two massive and deadly wildfires in 2012 and 2013. Clark focuses her NACo leadership to collaborate with and educate other counties on the lessons her county has learned in the areas of emergency preparedness, response, recovery and communications. Clark was elected to serve as an El Paso County Commissioner in 2004 and re ?elected in 2008 and 2012. She has served as board chair and vice chair. She was the fourth woman to have been elected to the El Paso County Board of Commissioners and is the third woman to have served as board chair. Clark has owned her own bed and breakfast business since 1986 and previously worked in the medical field. An avid user of social media technologies, Clark has won numerous awards for excellence in public and community service and has served in many state and local leadership positions, including the Colorado Commission on Criminal Justice, The Colorado Child Welfare Allocation Committee And Co?Chair of the Waldo Canyon Fire Recovery Group.
Joyce Coffee is the Managing Director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), functioning as the executive lead for the ND-GAIN Index and related adaptation research, outreach and implementation. Joyce brings 20 years of experience in environmental leadership, risk management, performance measurement and sustainability execution to her role as Managing Director. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she was a vice president at Edelman where she provided strategic counsel to global companies on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Joyce has also directed the City of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan, driving both climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Joyce started her career as an urban environmental consultant with the World Bank and the USAID U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership. Joyce was a founding board member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency and a Great Lakes delegate to the Brookings International Young Leaders Climate Change Summit. She has been named a Chicago Council on Global Affairs Emerging Leader and an Aspen Institute Socrates Fellow. Joyce is the author of the Climate Adaptation Exchange Blog.
Michael Cohen is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Renaissance Reinsurance, a global provider of reinsurance and insurance to cover the risk of natural and man-made catastrophes. Prior to his current position, Mr. Cohen was a director of industry and state relations at Freddie Mac. He also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House Community Empowerment Board in the Clinton White House, was the White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and ran the Office of Special Actions for HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. Michael was a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives and has held various other positions both in and out of government.
Vance Fossinger , has more than 25 years of civil engineering experience and is the Colorado Stormwater Operations Manager for Wilson & Company. He specializes in managing and performing stormwater drainage projects for public sector clients. He has substantial experience in drainage system analysis and master planning, floodplain analysis, and drainage facility design. Vance is the Project Manager for the Camp Creek Drainage Improvement Project in Colorado Springs.
Vance is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology from the University of Southern Colorado (CSU Pueblo). His experience spans the private and public sectors and includes: providing engineering services for drainage, roadway, land development, and dam and levee projects; serving as City Engineer and Floodplain Manager for the City of Rio Rancho New Mexico; and work in the excavation and underground utility industries. He is a member of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.
Greg Guibert is Boulder, Colorado’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Prior to his appointment, Greg worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as a risk and development project specialist, developing and managing innovative projects that address complex social and environmental challenges at the intersection of science, policy, and practice. His projects included such diverse areas as ‘translating’ climate science for decision support, food systems and security under changing climates, and cyber-infrastructure for observing networks. As a senior associate with the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) he worked on the Rockefeller Foundation funded Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) to develop analytical frameworks and tools for building urban resilience to climate change and its impacts in 10 cities across South and Southeast Asia.
Bob Henson Bob Henson is one of the world’s premier science writers in meteorology and climate change and is presently Weather Underground’s Weather and Climate Science Blogger. Prior to Weather Underground, Bob was a writer/editor/media relations specialist for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Bob has written five books on weather and climate change, including the number one textbook for 101-level college meteorology courses, Meteorology Today (11th edition). In addition, Bob literally “wrote the book on climate change”–he is author of “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change”. Bob is a contributing editor of Weatherwise magazine and has also written more than 50 articles for Nature, Scientific American, Discover, Sierra, The Guardian, AIR & SPACE/Smithsonian, and other media outlets. Bob earned his Bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Rice University in 1983, and went on to get a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1988, where he engaged in a fair bit of storm chasing on the side.
Tom Hughes serves as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO). In this capacity he functions as the principal staff assistant to the PEMA Director and the Director of the Bureau of Recovery and Mitigation in hazard mitigation, recovery and resiliency matters. Mr. Hughes supervises Hazard Mitigation personnel assigned to the Bureau and has oversight on all mitigation plans and projects. He serves as Chairman of the State All-Hazard Mitigation Planning Team and is member of Pennsylvania’s Land-Use Committee. He Co-Chairs the chartered Pennsylvania Silver Jackets Program which involves federal, state, local and professional association stakeholders. He has been certified by the International Association of Emergency Managers three times for the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) ® and holds a B.A in Business Administration and and an A.A in Financial Management with the Community College of the Air Force. He has been with the PA Emergency Management Agency for 21 years working in various state management positions and retired from the USAF Reserves as a CMSgt as a Mission Support Superintendent with 26 years on active duty and reserves. He has supported active duty deployments for Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, South Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom in Emergency Management capacities.
Brandon Katz has been with JLTRe for 2 years coming on the heel of his nearly 6 years of time at Risk Management Solutions (RMS) where he was a Lead Flood Risk Modeler. At RMS he was a key member on the team that built the China Typhoon Flood Model, the European Inland Flood Model, the North American Hurricane Model, and worked on the still active development for the US Inland Flood Model. Previous to RMS, Brandon was a student at the Pennsylvania State University where he gained his B.S. and M.S. in Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics with a concentration on Climate Studies. He has particular knowledge of how floods are modeled and in the last 6 months has been working on various flood related projects under the JLT CATflood project aegis including version 1 of the Canadian Flood Risk Score (CFRS) model.
Mark Levitan currently leads R&D programs in wind engineering and coastal inundation for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Prior to joining NIST, Dr. Levitan was the Charles P. Siess Jr. Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Louisiana State University and Director of the LSU Hurricane Center.
Bryna Lipper is Vice President for Relationships, for the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities. She has held leadership roles in government, non-profit, and private sector organizations dedicated to advancing the quality of urban life. Most recently, she was the Director of Philanthropic Research and Initiatives for the Office of International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where she led the Department’s strategies to spur philanthropic partnerships, promote policy innovation, and increase investments aligned with federal priorities. At HUD she also directed comparative international research programs focused on innovative urban policies. Her previous experience also includes roles as Vice President for Marketing, Communications, and Government Affairs at the National Building Museum; co-founder of the Global Studio—a non-profit organization encouraging design students and building professionals to work in underserved communities with vulnerable populations; and at the Australian firm of Architects Johannsen & Associates. Before transitioning to a career in urban development, Bryna was also a Vice President of the marketing and consumer licensing agency Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (BD&A).
Bryna holds a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Sydney and a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and was a Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities PLACES Fellow.
Janiele Maffei is Chief Mitigation Officer of the California Earthquake Authority in Sacramento, California. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she obtained her AB degree in architecture and an MS in civil engineering. Maffei is a registered structural engineer who has worked in the earthquake engineering industry for over 30 years. Her experience includes the design of new building structures and seismic strengthening of existing structures. She designed, launched and is now operating the Earthquake Brace + Program for the CEA, which provides resources and knowledge to homeowners trying to retrofit their wood-frame homes.
Tim Mitros has more than 33 years of civil engineering experience and is the Development Review & Stormwater Manager for the City of Colorado Springs. Besides specializing in Development Review projects for the City of Colorado Springs, Tim has managed the Waldo Canyon Fire Flood Mitigation and the 2013 Cheyenne Creek Flood restoration efforts for the City of Colorado Springs.
As a licensed Professional Engineer in Colorado, he has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. His experience spans over 23 years with the City of Colorado Springs, nine years with El Paso County Department of Transportation and one year with the City of Grand Junction, Colorado.
Molly Mowery has been working in the field of community planning and wildfire mitigation for nearly ten years. She currently works for the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network and manages her own consulting firm, Wildfire Planning International. Molly’s experience spans all levels – local, state and national government agencies, citizens, non-profits and professional organizations. Her unique expertise focuses on finding community-based, sustainable solutions to the challenges posed by wildfire risk. Molly is a current board member of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, and previously served on the board for the Canadian non-profit association, Partners in Protection. She is an active member of the American Planning Association. She has presented and published internationally on a variety of wildfire mitigation and planning topics. Molly holds a Bachelor of Arts from Naropa University and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kevin Nelson is a senior policy analyst for the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The Office focuses on smart growth issues of local, regional and national significance. To accomplish this, the EPA collaborates with a network of environmental, land use, transportation, open space, design and community-based organizations to highlight best practices and extol the environmental benefits of smart growth development. Mr. Nelson focuses removing barriers to smart growth implementation. This is primarily accomplished through managing the office’s technical assistance, including assistance to communities that are impacted by climate change and are looking for solutions and best practices for sustainability.
Kirsten Orwig joined Swiss Re in 2013 as an Atmospheric Perils Specialist to lead atmospheric hazards risk assessment modeling and outreach. In her short tenure there, she has developed a new approach to tornado risk assessment modeling, served on the American Geophysical Union Natural Hazards Focus Group Executive Board and as Co-Chair of the Natural Hazards Focus Group Planning Committee, has had numerous speaking engagements on topics ranging from climate change and severe weather to catastrophe insurance, co-authored a publication on US Tornadoes: An Examination of the Past to Prepare for the Future, and more. Before joining Swiss Re, she worked as a Systems Integration Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, leading modeling and forecasting research and public/private partnerships to more efficiently integrate wind and solar power onto the nation’s electrical grid. Prior to NREL, she served as Senior Scientist at CPP Inc., a wind engineering consulting firm in Fort Collins, CO, where she largely focused on modeling wind in complex terrain and tornado risk assessment. She earned a B.S. double-majoring in Chemistry and Physical Science, earned an M.S. in Atmospheric Science, and was awarded an NSF IGERT Fellowship to complete a PhD in Wind Science and Engineering, a multi-disciplinary program incorporating Statistics, Atmospheric Science, Economics, and Structural Engineering. Her research focused on the measurement and characterization of strong winds with implications for building design practices.
Darrin Punchard is a principal consultant with Hawksley Consulting, serving as the Risk & Resilience practice leader for the Americas region. He is an urban planner and floodplain manager who has spent his entire career working with local communities to reduce their risk to natural hazards. He has nearly 20 years of experience in hazard mitigation planning with specialized expertise in risk assessment, benefit-cost analysis, and the development of actionable mitigation/adaptation strategies that include structural and non-structural measures for risk reduction. Darrin prepared some of the nation’s first federally-approved hazard mitigation plans following passage of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and to date has assisted more than 500 communities in similar planning efforts.
Darrin’s public service career includes serving as the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for North Carolina, and as a local and state hazard mitigation planner in Florida. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association and on the Executive Committee for the Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Division of the American Planning Association.
Sharyl Rabinovici is a behavioral scientist, policy analyst, and strategy consultant specializing in disaster preparedness and community resilience. Sharyl brings a distinct interdisciplinary perspective to this work, drawing up on her PhD in Public Policy from UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy as well as a BA in Geology from Stanford and five years doing loss estimation, cost-benefit analysis, and risk modeling with the US Geological Survey. She is currently working with several California governmental entities and non-profits in implementing and improving their risk communication and earthquake preparedness programs.
James Redick is the Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response for the City of Norfolk, VA, one of the original Cities selected to participate in the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. He is a Certified Emergency Manager with the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) and the 2012 Virginia Emergency Management Professional of the Year. Among the numerous committees on which he serves, Jim built up and chairs “Team Norfolk Emergency Operations” – a group of community partners spanning public, private, nonprofit, higher education and military – who’s focus is on unity of effort in mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. He was appointed to a second term on the Virginia Governor’s Secure Commonwealth Panel, where he Co-Chaired with Virginia Senator John Watkins a Sub-Panel focused on the high probability / high impact threat of recurrent flooding and sea level rise.
Jim is an adjunct instructor for his alma mater, Old Dominion University, teaching Emergency Management and Policy. His passion in the field includes cross-sector collaboration, use of technology and critical infrastructure protection. He is a graduate from the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center of Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leadership Program, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management from Regent University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from ODU.
Matt Sitkowski is the Science & Weather Content Coordinator at The Weather Channel. He works with senior management, meteorologists, on-camera talent, and graphic artists to determine and coordinate the production of daily weather stories. In addition, he is a producer for WX Geeks, a Sunday morning talk show hosted by Dr. Marshall Shepherd. WX Geeks serves as a national platform to discuss weather and climate policy, communication failures and successes, and other topical issues of interest to the weather enterprise. He received his PhD in Atmospheric Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has published several peer-reviewed articles with emphasis on hurricane intensity and structure changes. In August of 2011, he flew aboard a hurricane hunter aircraft into the eye of Hurricane Irene. While earning a BS in Meteorology at Florida State University and a MS in Meteorology at University of Hawaii-Manoa, he worked at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL and the Honolulu Forecast Office/Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, HI.
Kevin Simmons is known internationally for his work on the economics of natural hazards. His research has been highlighted and he has been interviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS Evening News, Fox Business, Bloomberg TV, Christian Science Monitor and USA Today among others. He has published more than 60 articles and co-authored 2 books with Dan Sutter, Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes and Deadly Season: Analyzing the 2011 Tornado Outbreaks. Dr. Simmons served as a Fulbright Scholar to Norway in 2010 and again to Canada in 2014. Currently, he is a Professor of Economics at Austin College where he holds the endowed Clara R. and Leo F. Corrigan Chair of Economics.
Katie Skakel is a planning consultant with 25 years experience in land use planning, floodplain management, mitigation, climate adaptation and resiliency planning. Katie has worked extensively across the US, including the Adirondacks and Appalachian Regions, New England states, the Great Midwest Floods of 1993, and the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Special projects in floodplain management and mitigation include technical leadership in Hurricane Sandy Mitigation efforts. Working with communities in New York, Katie provided technical guidance on substantial damage properties, the Community Rating System, remapping, Haz US and coastal construction and sustainable design. Katie’s extensive work as a Regional Planner in Massachusetts and as a FEMA Specialist provided communities with a unique experienced task-orientated planner that could work with communities devastated by floods and other natural disasters.
Katie serves as a Board Member on the Natural Hazards Mitigation Association (NHMA). She is passionate about sharing technical training on consensus building to stop the disaster cycle. Through her training with Transition Town Planning, the Oregon Natural Step, and Transformational Resilience (TR), Katie hopes to increase the collective conversation about how to create a resilient community, which integrates green design practices, and lessons learned from Ecological Adaptation Principles and planning for a whole community approach. This past year, Katie worked as a Senior Hazard Mitigation Planner for Tetra Tech providing technical analysis on New York Rising Projects, King County, Wa, City and County of Los Angeles Floodplain Plan, and Cook County, Ill (the largest Multi- Hazard Mitigation Plan undertaken nationally (of 130 communities)).
Katie’s ability to work compassionately and provide clear technical information to community leaders has proved to be a great asset in rebuilding and/or relocated communities in Alaska. Katie received her Bachelor of Science from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY which included semesters in Kenya, East Africa and Appalachia. Katie has graduate course work in environmental law and land use planning from Tufts University and University of Massachusetts as well as non-degree graduate course work – site planning and review from Portland State University. Katie managed a program for the Ford Foundation through the Overseas Development Network (ODN) where she gained insights into several organizational NGO’s working in Appalachia about what it means to empower communities. Katie continues to work on regional planning issues and non-profits such as the Gorge Grown Food Network to bring a sustainable food system to the area she calls home; the Columbia River Gorge.
Ed Thomas is the President of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. He is both an elected Fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation and an elected member of the Council of the State and Local Government Section of the American Bar Association (ABA). He is also the Chair of the Hazards Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee, of the ABA. In addition, Ed serves on the Advisory Committee of the Natural Hazards Center of the University of Colorado; and is an active member of the Association of State Wetland Managers, and the American Planning association. He is a former board Member of the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
Ed retired from the Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency after nearly thirty-five years of Public Service. During his time in government, he worked primarily in Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness and Response. He also was extensively involved in Community Development, during his nearly 10 years with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ed also worked for the Michael Baker Jr. Engineering firm for over eight years.
Ed worked on about two hundred disasters and emergencies, serving as the President’s on scene representative, the Federal Coordinating Officer, dozens of times.
Attorney Thomas is a graduate of Fordham College and a magna cum laude graduate of the New England School of Law in Boston. He a frequent lecturer on Emergency Management issues, especially the Constitutional and Legal Aspects of Floodplain Regulations. He has authored dozens of publications and articles on various Disaster related issues and regularly participates as a member of National Task Forces and other boards in developing National disaster-related and floodplain management policies.
Ed has received numerous national and international awards including the nation’s highest award for Floodplain Management: The Goddard-White Award from the Association of State Floodplain Managers. In addition, he received the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award from the International Gulf of Maine Council, for his efforts in helping develop the NOAA StormSmart Coasts Program; as well as the first lifetime achievement award from the Georgia Association of Floodplain Management; and the Arkansas “Silver Sandbag” Award.
He manages a private practice of Law, Edward A. Thomas Esq., LLC and lives with his wife in the floodplain of beautiful Marina Bay in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Brian Varrella is the Chair of the Colorado Association of State Floodplain Managers (CASFM.org) and the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Region 8 Director. He is a licensed professional engineer and certified floodplain manager living and working for Olsson Associates in Fort Collins, Colorado. He previously served as Floodplain Manager, Fire Recovery Specialist, and Emergency Manager for the City of Fort Collins from 2008 to 2015.
Brian has worked in 22 states in his career and his experience is equally balanced between private consulting experience and public sector service. His primary career mission is to promote policies and activities that expand natural and beneficial functions of floodplains and watersheds. Brian has a passion for clean air, clear water, and fresh snow, and you will typically find him skiing, fishing or hiking in Colorado’s pristine high country.
Jason Vogel is a social scientist (and former physical scientist) who specializes in the science/policy interface. He has engaged in extensive work on climate change, especially impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability analysis. Dr. Vogel has performed climate change work supporting all levels of government, from adaptation planning for municipal and state governments, to evaluations of national-scale vulnerability assessment methodologies for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to the incorporation of climate risks into funding mechanisms for the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Program. He has engaged in project and program evaluation commissions, both on climate change and natural resource management. For example, he recently engaged in an assessment of water security and climate change in the Philippines as well as developing agency-wide guidance for incorporating climate change adaptation into a water resources project design. Dr. Vogel also led a technical team in developing the Boulder County Climate Change Preparedness Plan to address county-wide climate risks to water resources, emergency management, public health, and agriculture and natural resources. In addition to having a background in climate change sciences and atmospheric chemistry, Dr. Vogel was trained in qualitative and quantitative methods for policy analysis, including Q methodology, cluster analysis, statistics, and the policy sciences heuristics for analyzing the policy process, social process, and policy problems. He has published peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals such as the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Climatic Change, Journal of Forestry, Policy Sciences, and Arctic. Dr. Vogel holds a PhD in environmental studies and an MS in astrophysical, planetary, and atmospheric sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder; as well as a BS in chemistry and a BA in humanities from the University of Texas at Austin.
Clark Woodward is the founder and CEO of RedZone Software, a developer of disaster response software tools for the public safety, insurance and risk management markets. RedZone provides insurers and public utilities with natural disaster tracking, automated exposure analysis, notification on a geospatial policy management platform.
Since 2001, Clark has been involved with a wide variety of mitigation and response programs across the country including completion of more than 100,000 home assessments Wildland Urban Interface, firefighter training and homeowner education programs. He has extensive operating experience in the public safety industry as a GIS Specialist for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, and was a former officer on the Four Mile Fire Department in Boulder.
Roy Wright serves as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation. He leads FEMA’s risk management, risk reduction, and flood insurance programs. These programs promote a risk-conscious culture, enable faster recovery from flood disasters, and address long-term vulnerabilities to life, property, and well-being in communities across the Nation.
Mr. Wright directs the National Flood Insurance Program, the mitigation programs under FEMA’s Stafford Act authorities, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, and the National Dam Safety Program. Mr. Wright is also responsible for the delivery of environmental and historic preservation technical assistance and compliance across all FEMA programs. He chairs the inter-agency Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) that coordinates mitigation and resilience efforts across the Federal Government in consultation with State, local, Tribal, and Territorial governments as well as the private sector.
Mr. Wright was appointed to the Federal Senior Executive Service in 2013. He holds a Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to taking this role, Mr. Wright has served as a strategy consultant, as the program executive for FEMA’s Risk MAP program, and as policy advisor to the Secretary of the Interior focused on land conservation measures. A native of California, Roy and his family live in northern Virginia.