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U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit on Fire Prevention and Control 2023

Summit Speakers

U.S. Fire Administration
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
David J. Alexander, PhD

David J. Alexander, PhD

Senior Science Advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Science & Technology Directorate

Dr. David J Alexander serves as a Senior Science Advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Science & Technology Directorate. In that capacity, Dr. Alexander leads the Enduring Sciences Branch of DHS S&T’s Technology Centers Division which focuses on interdisciplinary research across the physical, social and life sciences to enhance knowledge, advance state of the art, inform investments and drive actions in national threats, hazards, and risks.  Other programs he has spearheaded in DHS S&T include leading the S&T Flood Apex and Hurricane Technology Modernization programs as well as an analysis of Wildland Fire Operational Requirements and Capabilities in support of FEMA, US Fire Administration and other key stakeholders.  Prior to his role in DHS S&T, Dr. Alexander served as the first appointed Geospatial Information Officer (GIO) for DHS and as Enterprise GIS Branch lead within FEMA. Before coming to DHS, Dr. Alexander acquired practical experience across the local, state, federal, and private sectors. He has more than 25 years of experience in Homeland Security related science and technology.

Dr. Alexander currently serves as a co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Resilience Science and Technology and member of the International Scientific Committee of the Eight International Conference on Floodplain Management.

He previously served as a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Council, DHS representative to the Federal Geographic Data Committee, co-champion for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, chair of the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Level Data Subcommittee, and chair of the DHS COP Executive Steering Committee.

Dr. Alexander holds a Doctor of Philosophy from George Mason University, Master’s degree in business management from Colorado Technical University, Master’s degree in Geography from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in History from the University of South Carolina – Aiken.

Dr. Alexander is also an adjunct faculty member at Delta State University within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Chief Michael Baker

Chief Michael Baker

Fire Chief, Tulsa Fire Department (OK)

Michael Baker is the Fire Chief for the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Appointed by Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum in June of 2020, Chief Baker leads a department of 730 members working from 30 fire station locations. A 28-year veteran of the Tulsa Fire Department, Chief Baker held previous roles as Chief of Emergency Medical Services, Public Information Officer, and Fire Captain.

Chief Baker holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Security) from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and a Bachelors in University Studies (Political Science, Sociology, and Emergency Management) from Oklahoma State University. Chief Baker is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program and was selected as a 2016 EMS 10 award recipient for EMS Innovation by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

Adam Barowy

Adam Barowy

Research Engineer, Underwriters Laboratories - Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)

Adam Barowy is a Research Engineer at UL’s Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI). At FSRI, Adam leads research to better understand fire and explosion hazards created by lithium-ion battery failures and he works with the fire service, fire protection engineers and the codes and standards community to develop solutions. Before FSRI, Mr. Barowy spent nine years at the UL Solutions’ lab in Chicago developing UL Standards and Test Methods, evaluating emerging fire hazards and testing innovative fire protection technologies. Adam advanced UL’s capabilities for characterizing thermal, fire and explosion hazards of batteries, led the technical development of UL’s Energy Storage System Test Method, UL 9540A, and established UL’s large scale ESS fire testing program. Prior to UL, Adam worked at NIST conducting structure fire experiments to enable improved firefighting tactics, reconstructed LODD/injury fire incidents and evaluated firefighting equipment. Adam volunteered with the Amherst Fire Department while obtaining his BS in Mechanical Engineering at UMass Amherst and earned his MS in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter

Climate Services Program Manager, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS)

Stephen Baxter is the NWS Climate Services Program Manager, a role he has held since 2021, where he coordinates NWS policy related to climate services delivery. Prior to that, he served as the NWS Winter Weather Services Program Manager at NWS Headquarters beginning in 2020. Steve began his NWS career at the Climate Prediction Center where he worked for over 10 years, focusing on operational climate forecast production and applied research on subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) climate variability. Steve holds a B.S. in Meteorology from Millersville University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

National Local Assistance State Team (LAST) Coordinator, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Ian Bennett is the National Local Assistance State Team (LAST) Coordinator for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.  In addition, Ian coordinates the Taking Care of Our Own program and the Unformed Outreach Programs.  He has been associated with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation since 2001 serving as a member of the planning section of the Command staff assembled to manage the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend held each October at the National Fire Academy.  Ian retired as the Fire Chief for the City of Harrisonburg, Virginia after 33 years in the fire service, serving departments in Virginia, Colorado and Alabama.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University and completed the Executive Fire Officer program through the National Fire Academy. 

Tyson Bertone-Riggs

Coordinator for Wildland Fire Mitgaton and Management Commission
Chief Donna Black

Chief Donna Black

International Association of Fire Chiefs
Fire Chief, Duck Fire Department (NC)

Chief Donna Black has been in the fire service for over 22 years. She started her career as a volunteer, and has worked her way through the ranks (as both a paid and volunteer firefighter), culminating in 2006 when she was selected as the Fire Chief for the Town of Duck.  She has worked to continually educate the community and collaborate with the Town Manager to increase level of service by integrating career fire positions to support the volunteer firefighter efforts. This approach has been successful in maintaining an environment of inclusiveness and providing continuity to Duck’s service demands.

Chief Black attended the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program in 2011 and obtained a post-graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the Gillings School of Public Health at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She oversees the Emergency Operations planning for the Town. Currently, Chief Black holds her Chief Fire Officer Designation and serves as the International Director representing VCOS on the the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Board of Directors. She is also the Co-Chair of the IAFC Women Chiefs Council. One of her primary aims is to continue to advocate for highly effective volunteer and combination fire departments and to address critical topics pertaining to emergency response.

Dr. Jefferey L. Burgess, MD, MS, MPH

Jefferey L. Burgess, MD, MS, MPH

Director Center for Firefighter Health Collaborative Research
Professor, University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study

Dr. Burgess is a Professor and Director of the Firefighter Health Collaborative Research Program at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health. He received his MD from the University of Washington in 1988, an MS in Toxicology with a Concentration in Industrial Hygiene from the University of Arizona in 1993 and an MPH in Environmental Health from the University of Washington in 1996. He previously worked as an Emergency Medicine physician, Medical Toxicologist and Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician. He has worked on research with firefighters for over 30 years, focused on cancer risk and prevention since 2015. Dr. Burgess is also Director of the national multicenter Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study (FFCCS), funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other organizations. 

Lorraine Carli

Lorraine Carli

Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Lorraine Carli is vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association where she oversees media, public affairs and advocacy activities; the organization’s magazine NFPA Journal; NFPA’s Wildfire, Public Education and US/Canada Regional Operations Divisions; Community Risk Reduction and Stakeholder Engagement.

Carli is president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, president of the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI) board of directors, member of the board of directors for the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation, and past president of the board of directors for The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.

Carli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. She has been an adjunct professor at Suffolk University in Boston, teaching graduate public relations courses.

Marcus T. Coleman, Jr.

Marcus T. Coleman, Jr.

Director for the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (DHS Partnerships Center)

Marcus Coleman serves as the Director for the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (DHS Partnerships Center), one of several centers of the White House Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Marcus’ has served at the intersection of building public private partnerships with faith-based and non-profit organizations for more than 15 years.

As the Director of the DHS Partnerships Center, Marcus leads a team focused on building partnerships alongside others at FEMA and DHS to advance equity in emergency management and strengths climate resilience, improving the safety and security of the places where people worship, fellowship and serve and provides technical assistance to emergency managers, first responders and national security professionals on engaging faith-based and community organizations across all five mission areas. The office is also an active partner of the DHS Blue Campaign, an effort designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.

Marcus’ began his career at FEMA in 2010, where he was a program manager for the Individual and Community Preparedness Division. There he worked to create partnerships that represented both the public and private sectors which included co-developing FEMA – Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Course | IS-909: Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone.  In 2013, Marcus transitioned to the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships serving as Special Assistant to the Director. In 2018 Marcus transitioned to the private sector working at HWC where he supported projects that include marketing flood insurance and providing program management support to the Risk MAP program.

Throughout his time at the DHS Partnerships Center, Coleman supported a number of disaster activations and special mission responses. This including responding to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the 2015 influx of unaccompanied children, Hurricane Ida, the Kentucky Severe Storms, Straight-line Winds, Flooding, and Tornadoes, Operation Allies Welcome and leading post-incident national outreach and messaging after several active shooter incidents. In 2016, he won a FEMA Administrator’s Award for the work he did to encourage collaboration between faith leaders and first responders to improve the safety and security of places of worship.

Coleman’s contributions to emergency management also include co-developing FEMA’s guidance for Engaging Faith-based and Community Organizations: Planning Considerations for Emergency Managers and contributing to FEMA’s course on Religious and Cultural Literacy and Competency in Disasters and leading the development and implementation of several national memorandums of agreement with organizations serving historically underrepresented communities. He has also written several articles featured in the Crisis Response Journal and has been featured in his current capacity on media outlets including the Better Samaritan Podcast; the Climate Initiative and the Chavis Chronicles.

Marcus is an alum of Howard University, American University, Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the Obama for America Campaign. Outside of his role at FEMA, Marcus stays active as a proud resident of Washington, DC as an Advisory Board Member for the National Institute of Civic Discourse, Board Member for Fair Chance and an active member of the Truman National Security Project, the Next Generation National Security #NextGenNatSec, and the Diversity in National Security Network.

To learn more about the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships please visit

Deanne Criswell

Deanne Criswell

FEMA Administrator

Deanne Criswell was confirmed by the Senate on April 22, 2021 as the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Criswell served as the Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department from 2019 to 2021. She previously served at FEMA as the leader of one of the Agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) and as a Federal Coordinating Officer. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado and as an executive in the homeland security sector of the Cadmus Group LLC. As a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, Ms. Criswell served 21 years as a firefighter and Deputy Fire Chief.

Chief John Donnelly

Chief John Donnelly

Fire and EMS Chief, District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department

Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly, Sr. was nominated by Mayor Muriel Bowser on September 4, 2020 to serve as the next Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief and to lead the 2,100 member DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

He was confirmed by the Council of the District of Columbia on December 15, 2020.

Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly, Sr. started his career with DC Fire and EMS in 1992 at Truck 16. Over the course of his career he has served at Rescue Squad 3, Tower 3, Battalion Fire Chief 2; as the Division Commander of Special Operations, Homeland Security, and Apparatus Division; and as a member of the Command Staff in Special Projects and Executive Officer Roles. In 2018, Chief Donnelly was promoted to the newly established Professional Development Bureau which includes the Human Resources Division which includes the Payroll and Compliance Offices, Professional Standards Division, Training Division, the Medical Services Division, and the Grants Office.

Caitlin Durkovich

Caitlin Durkovich

Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor for Resilience and Response
Jon Ehrenfeld

Jon Ehrenfeld

Mobile Integrated Health Program Manager, Seattle Fire Department (WA)
Jon Ehrenfeld has served as the program manager for the Seattle Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Health program since 2016. He oversees the program’s co-responder team, Health One, which comprises specially-trained firefighters and civilian case managers. He has a background in program management, disaster preparedness and recovery, and holds a master’s degree in international relations. Jon served as a paramedic in Montgomery County, Maryland and lives with his family in Seattle, WA.
Dr. Kenny Fent​

Dr. Kenny Fent

Commander, USPHS / Researcher National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Researcher, CDC NIOSH

Kenny Fent obtained his Master of Science and doctorate in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Fent joined NIOSH in 2008, where he currently works as a research industrial hygienist. He is also a Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, where he is a member of a rapid deployment team and has responded to numerous emergency events, including the Ebola response in West Africa. Some of his more notable research at NIOSH has been on assessing dermal and inhalation exposures to combustion byproducts in firefighters. Currently, Dr. Fent is involved in a comprehensive study of cardiovascular and carcinogenic risks during modern firefighting. He also serves on two technical advisory committees for the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation and as a consultant on several other research studies. He has published over 45 technical reports and journal articles and presented his findings nationally and internationally.

Melissa Floca​

Melissa Floca

Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Cyberinfrastructure and Convergence Research and Education (CICORE) Division at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, UCSD

Melissa Floca is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Cyberinfrastructure and Convergence Research and Education (CICORE) Division at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, UCSD where she works to build partnerships for technological solutions to complex societal challenges. She also serves as the Senior Advisor for Cross-Border Initiatives at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, where she launched the Border Fellows Program.

Eriks Gabliks

Eriks Gabliks

Superintendent, National Fire Academy (NFA)

Eriks Gabliks is the superintendent of the National Fire Academy (NFA). He was named to this position in November 2020. As superintendent, Mr. Gabliks provides leadership for the NFA, which focuses on enhancing the ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and other emergencies.

His interest in the fire service began in 1982 when he joined his neighborhood volunteer fire company in Adelphia, New Jersey. Over the years, he would serve with 4 volunteer, combination and career fire agencies.

In 1991, Mr. Gabliks joined the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). DPSST sets professional training and licensing standards for more than 41,000 public and private safety professionals in the state of Oregon. DPSST also operates the Oregon Public Safety Academy, which provides training to more than 25,000 first responders on an annual basis. He served as agency director from 2010 to 2020, overseeing a staff of more than 450 employees. He is the first employee in the agency’s history to have ascended to this position from the internal ranks and served under 3 governors.

Mr. Gabliks holds a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Portland State University. He has also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the NFA and the Executive Development Institute at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Mr. Gabliks is past president of the North American Fire Training Directors and serves on various state and national organizations, including the Drexel University Fire Injury Research and Safety Trends Advisory Committee and many others.

He is a first generation Latvian and speaks, reads and writes the language.

Rebecca D. Harned

Rebecca Harned

Advisor, U.S. Fire Administration

Rebecca Harned possesses over 15 years of working in the field of emergency management, with specialized expertise in the National Incident Management System, information sharing, and geospatial technology.  She currently serves as the Senior Director at NAPSG Foundation, where is responsible for providing strategic guidance overall programs and disaster response efforts, in addition to serving as the Principal Investigator for the Innovative Mutual Aid Policy and Technology program. Her greatest passion is in working at the nexus of preparedness policy and technology, in working with the community to examine the most vexing challenges, and facilitating the development of creative and practical solutions that build preparedness at the local level first, and are scalable nationwide.

Ms. Harned previously served as the Senior Advisor to the National Integration Center at the Federal Emergency Management Agency where she co-led the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness across the Federal interagency and Whole Community. Prior to her work at NAPSG and FEMA, she managed the Communications Interoperability and supported the Safe Energy & Transportation programs for the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM). She started her career working in local planning and environment, health, and safety at the Metropolitan District Commission in Connecticut. She holds a BA in Biology from Colby-Sawyer College and an MA in International Peace and Conflict Studies from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace.

Coitt Kessler​

Coitt Kessler

IAFF/IAFC Robotic Workgroup, Committee Chair, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

Coitt Kessler is a retired member of the Austin Fire Department (AFD) and spent eight years as the Program Manager for AFD’s Robotic Emergency Deployment (RED) Team. He was most recently assigned to the Austin Fire Department Homeland Security and Special Operations Division. His accomplishments include being a founding member and Master Instructor for the IAFF’s FireGround Survival Program, Chairperson for Local 975’s IAFF Wellness Fitness Initiative Committee, and proudly serving for ten years in the US Military. Coitt is a contributing member of an advisory group for the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) on Standard Test Methods for Response Robots, a work group member for both DRONERESPONDERS and the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission for training and accreditation (PSAAC), a contributor to the 2017 Congressional roadmap for unmanned systems, and represents AFD and the IAFF on NFPA’s 2400 Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) used for Public Safety Operations.

Chief John J. Hodgens

Chief John J. Hodgens

Chief of Department, FDNY

Chief Hodgens is a 37-year veteran who was appointed as the FDNY Chief of Department in 2022. He oversees the Department’s 16,000 uniformed Firefighters and EMS personnel and four major agency Bureaus: Fire Operations, EMS Operations, Training, and Fire Prevention..

Prior to being appointed as the Chief of Department, Chief Hodgens served as the Chief of Fire Operations, overseeing the day-to-day work of more than 11,000 firefighters and fire officers, as well as dozens of high-ranking Staff Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs and Battalion Chiefs.

Chief Hodgens joined the Department in 1986, and his first assignment was at Ladder Company 11 in Manhattan. He worked there until his promotion to Lieutenant in 1998, when he was transferred to Battalion 41 in Brooklyn, and was later assigned to Ladder Company 157 in Flatbush. Five years later, he was promoted to Captain and worked in the 8th Division on Staten Island, later becoming the officer in charge of Ladder Company 87 in Eltingville. In 2006, he was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to Battalion 38 in Crown Heights Brooklyn. In 2012, he was promoted to Deputy Chief and served as the Division Commander of Division 8, responsible for fire companies assigned to Staten Island and Brooklyn.

He has been cited for bravery twice in his career, including the rescue of an unconscious occupant from a fire in a Lower East Side apartment building in 1992 as a Firefighter in Ladder Company 11. He was awarded the Emerald Society Medal for his heroic actions.

He studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Columbia Southern University, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Fire Science and Emergency Management. He also graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leadership Program (2021), the FDNY’s Advanced Leadership Course (2014) and the Officers Management Institute (2013). Chief Hodgens’ father, John J. Hodgens Sr., also rose to the rank of Chief, and served as the Chief of Fire Prevention. He retired in 1997 as an Assistant Chief after 32 years of service.

Cory Hohs

Founder, CEO, HAAS Alert

Cory Hohs is the founder and CEO of HAAS Alert – a safety service for First Responders and Government fleets that prevents collisions through embedded navigation and automotive alerting. Cory has over a decade of engineering and product management in spatial navigation systems for automotive and mobile technologies, the bulk of his career was at NAVTEQ/HERE Maps. After starting HAAS Alert, he is now Principal on multiple standards bodies for fleets and manufacturer associations, and has been working in the connected and autonomous vehicle space for First Responder and roadway fleet safety for over 5 years. To date, HAAS Alert has processed nearly 1Billion driver alerts and is live in over 240 city and private fleets servicing Police, Fire, EMS, utility, Towing, Construction, School Bus, Waste and Sanitation, Safety Patrols, and other roadway vehicles. HAAS Alert is a federal prime contractor with contracts with Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, recipient of Federal Highway NHTSA projects, multiple Department of Transportation projects, as well as comes standard on multiple fleet manufacturers.

Tonya Hoover

Tonya Hoover

Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator, U.S. Fire Administration

Tonya Hoover is the deputy U.S. fire administrator at the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). She was named to this position in January 2020. As the senior career federal fire official, she is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the USFA.

This includes the annual training of over 100,000 first responders at and through the National Fire Academy (NFA); the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which documents and analyzes 27 million fire department emergency responses a year; the USFA’s fire prevention, public information and public education programs; and the 26 campus buildings and the grounds of the historic National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Chief Hoover is an accomplished executive with more than 20 years of management experience in both local and state government. She has successfully worked at high levels of government in developing and implementing fire protection, fire prevention, fire training and community risk reduction programs.

From May 2017 to January 2020, Chief Hoover served as the superintendent of the USFA’s NFA, which focuses on enhancing the ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and related emergencies.

From July 2009 to July 2016, Chief Hoover served as the California state fire marshal, where she was responsible for statewide fire prevention, fire service training, pipeline safety, code and regulations development, and analysis and implementation. She was the California assistant state fire marshal from September 2007 to June 2009. Previously, Chief Hoover served as a fire marshal/battalion chief for a local fire department and was a deputy campus fire marshal for the University of California at Berkeley. Chief Hoover served on the board of directors for the National Fire Protection Association and the International Fire Service Training Association and continues to engage with the International Code Council.

Chief Hoover received her MBA in Business and Human Resources from the University of Phoenix in 2006 and a Bachelor of Science in Technical Education, specializing in Fire Protection and Safety, from Oklahoma State University in 1985. She holds an associate degree in Fire Protection Engineering Technology (also from Oklahoma State University) and possesses a California lifetime teaching credential for fire science.

Dr. Sara Jahnke

Dr. Sara Jahnke

Director, Senior Scientist, the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research - NDRI-USA, Inc.

Dr. Sara Jahnke is the Director and a Senior Scientist with the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research within NDRI-USA, Inc. With over a decade of research experience on firefighters, she has been the Principal Investigator on several national studies as well as dozens of studies as a co-investigator.  Her work has focused on a range of health concerns including the health of women firefighters, behavioral health, risk of injury, cancer, cardiovascular risk factors, and substance use with funding from FEMA, the National Institutes of Health and other foundations. 

Edward A. Kelly

Ed Kelly

General President, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

Elected the IAFF’s 10th General President at the IAFF 55th Convention in March 2021, Edward A. Kelly is the son, grandson, brother, nephew and cousin of fire fighters. Kelly previously served as the IAFF’s 11th General Secretary-Treasurer from 2016-2021.

Kelly joined the Boston Fire Department as a fire fighter/EMT in 1997, where he was assigned to Ladder Company 17 in Boston’s South End. In 1999, he was assigned to the Technical Rescue team that assisted Worcester Local 1009 at the Cold Storage Warehouse fire, which claimed the lives of six IAFF Local 1009 members. Kelly was also among the thousands of fire fighters at Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center and responded to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Kelly rapidly climbed the ranks of organized labor and is known and respected for his strong dedication to the rank-and-file members of the IAFF and his visionary leadership across the labor movement. He served as president of Boston, MA Local 718 in one of the most contentious times in the local’s history, engaging in a bitter duel with the city’s administration over the local’s collective bargaining rights. He went on to become president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts in 2011, a post he held until his election as IAFF General Secretary-Treasurer.

During his tenure as General Secretary-Treasurer, Kelly implemented multiple programs to support IAFF local leaders, including overseeing the development and implementation of IAFF System Management Active Response Technology (SMART), which provides communication and database tools to the IAFF affiliates in the United States and Canada. Kelly also implemented innovative new processes to streamline dues collection from affiliates. As treasurer, Kelly made organizational changes in healthcare and other expense reductions, which saved approximately $2 million. Kelly also made changes to ensure compliance with various oversight and regulatory obligations to protect the union from scrutiny.

As the recordkeeper for the International, Kelly modernized the operations of the General Secretary-Treasurer’s office, while preserving the long history of the IAFF by making every historical record within his office available to members. He instituted policies and procedures that resulted in greater transparency and trust across the membership of the IAFF.

A graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program class of 2015, he was named Labor Leader of the Year by the Greater Boston Labor Council. Kelly was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to serve as a commissioner at the Department of Fire Services, as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, one of the largest healthcare purchasers in the Northeast. Kelly also served as the elected Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

As part of Kelly’s charitable efforts, he is a co-founder and member of the Board of Directors for Massachusetts Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Heroes and a trustee for the Boston Fire Department Charitable Association, first established in 1828 to ensure proper burial for indigent fire fighters and which now assists widows and widowers of fire fighters of modest means. A proud military veteran, Kelly served as a fire fighter in the U.S. Air Force.

As an active fire fighter, Kelly brings a direct connection from the rank-and-file IAFF members in firehouses and fire halls across both countries to the very top of their union.

Steve Kerber

Steve Kerber

Vice President, Executive Director, UL's Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI)

Steve Kerber is Vice President and Executive Director of the Fire Safety Research Institute at UL Research Institutes. He leads a fire safety research team dedicated to addressing the worlds unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers to reduce death, injury and loss from fire.  Steve has led research in the areas of fire safety engineering, firefighter safety, fire forensics, and fire science. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland and PhD from Lund University in Sweden.  Steve is also a 13-year veteran of the fire service, with most of his service at the College Park Fire Department in Prince George’s County Maryland where he served at ranks up through Deputy Chief.  Steve has also been appointed to the rank of Honorary Battalion Chief by the Fire Department of New York, was named the 2014 International Society of Fire Service Instructors and Fire Engineering George D. Post Instructor of the Year, was awarded the 2019 Metropolitan Fire Chiefs President’s Award of Distinction and is a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.

Justin Knighten​

Justin Knighten

Director, Office of External Affairs, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Justin Knighten is a public affairs and communications strategist, storyteller and advocate who works to advance social justice, inclusion and human rights. With a career based on cross sector experience and having served as a Mayoral, Gubernatorial and currently as a Presidential appointee, Justin is driven by complex challenges, leading teams and rethinking what’s possible to achieve results.

Justin is an appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration, and serves at the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director of the Office of External Affairs. Justin directs several teams designed to engage external partners and carry the narrative of the agency, some of which include communications, public affairs, intergovernmental affairs, and congressional affairs.

Previously, Justin held several positions across the Governor Gavin Newsom Administration, including Director of Strategic Communications and External Affairs at California Volunteers, Office of the Governor and Assistant Deputy Director at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Most notably, Justin served as Co-Chair of Gov. Newsom’s $50 Million Listos California campaign, a groundbreaking effort to boost disaster resilience among the state’s most hard to reach and socially vulnerable populations. With a novel approach based on traditional voter engagement style tactics and an accessible and culturally competent public education campaign that leveraged community organizing, behavioral change science and data-driven practices, Listos California changed the game in people-centered disaster preparedness and how to effectively invest public funding to foster government-community collaboration.

​Prior to joining the Newsom Administration, Justin served as senior vice president of a boutique public affairs firm and as global public affairs and media director of the Harvey Milk Foundation.

Chief Frank Leeb​

Chief Frank Leeb

Deputy Assistant Chief, FDNY

Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb has served the FDNY since 1992. He is the Chief of Safety for the FDNY’s 17,000 employees. His previous staff positions include the Chief of Training and the Chief of the Fire Academy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fire service administration from SUNY Empire State and a master’s degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). He has served as an advisory panel member for UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute’s (FSRI) “Study of Coordinated Attack in Acquired Structures” and is a principal on the NFPA Technical Committees 420, 1585, and 1710.

Frank Leto

Frank Leto

Director, FDNY Counseling Service Unit (CSU)
Captain (Ret.), FDNY

Frank Leto, retired FDNY, has been a leader in fire service behavioral health since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.  He travels nationally and internationally developing behavioral health protocols and aiding communities after major events. Mr. Leto is a member of the IAFF Behavioral Health Committee, sits on the advisory board to the IAFF Center of Excellence and is a member of the IAFF Disaster Response To-Go Team.  Frank has worked closely with the NFFF and is a member of the FRCE Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. He also collaborates in research, regarding pressing health and safety issues throughout the fire service. Frank was one of the first graduates of the West Point Military Academy’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program. He also holds degrees and advanced certificates from Binghamton University and New York University.  

Alejandro N. Mayorkas

United States Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security by President Biden on February 2, 2021.  

David A. Miramontes

David A. Miramontes MD FACEP FAEMS NREMT-P

EMS Medical Director, San Antonio Fire Department (TX)

Dr. David Miramontes started as a volunteer Firefighter-EMT while still in high school  and received training as a EMT Advanced , worked a total of ten years as a Registered Nurse in ER and ICU), Mobile Intensive Care Nurse, and then received his BS in Physiology at UC Davis. He attended the Medical College of Ohio and Emergency Medicine Residency at the St Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo Ohio, where he also was a Lifeflight Physician.  He was the EMS Director for the City of Toledo Fire Dept. and 18 rural and suburban EMS agencies. He assumed command as the Assistant Fire Chief and Medical Director for District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department (Washington, DC) from 2011-14 and currently serves at EMS Medical Director for the San Antonio Fire Department. 

Chief Ernest (Ernie) Mitchell, Jr.

Chief Ernest (Ernie) Mitchell, Jr.

U.S. Fire Administrator (Retired)
Fire Chief (Retired), City of Pasadena Fire Department (CA)
Chairman of the Board, First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational Illness, Injuries and Deaths, Inc.
Board Member, National Fallen Firfefighters Foundation

Ernest Mitchell, Jr. was the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration. He began his tenure on December 5, 2011 and was responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration, the programs and training activities at the National Emergency Training Center.

Chief Mitchell retired as the Fire Chief and Assistant Director of Disaster Emergency Services for the City of Pasadena, California Fire Department after 33 years in the fire service. Chief Mitchell is an active member and former officer of the IAFC. During his last year in Pasadena he was also President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where he continued until the completion of his term. He served in Pasadena from 1998 until 2004. Prior to becoming Fire Chief in Pasadena, Chief Mitchell served as Fire Chief and Deputy City Manager in the City of Monrovia, California for seven years. He began his career as a fire fighter with the City of Compton, California. He served there for twenty years in various ranks until leaving to become Fire Chief in the City of Monrovia.

His most recent professional affiliations include serving as a member of the International Fire Service Training Association Executive Board, the International Association of Firefighters Hazardous Materials Advisory Board, the IAFC President’s Council, the IAFC Foundation Board, and the IAFC/IAFF Labor/Management Initiative Facilitator Team.

In previous years he has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee; on numerous committees and task forces of the IAFC; and presided over several fire service organizations, including: the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association; the League of California Cities Fire Chiefs and the Foothill Fire Chiefs. He has also been an Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighters’ Everyone Goes Home ® Program, an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Fire Chief Magazine.

Chief Mitchell has an Associate of Science Degree in Fire Science from Long Beach City College; a Bachelor Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco; and a Master of Public Administration Degree from California State University at Northridge.

During his career Chief Mitchell has either chaired or been a member of many working committees that contributed to the progress and development of communities as well as local, state and national fire and emergency services. He is a past recipient of the IAFC President’s Award for Service and has received several community awards for service.

He is a past recipient of numerous community and organizational honors, including: the IAFC President’s Award for Service, designation as a City of Compton Hometown Hero, and selection to the Long Beach City College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Mike Morgan​

Mike Morgan

Director, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control
Mike Morgan has served as the Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, within the Colorado Department of Public Safety, since April of 2016. The Division is responsible for administering the firefighter certification and training programs, school and health care building and fire codes, administering the Wildfire Resiliency Code Board and the Colorado Fire Commission, structure hardening programs, fire and arson investigation, statewide Community Risk Reduction programs, research and development of technologies for firefighting and public safety efficiencies, as well as wildfire management and all hazards response in support of local, county, state and federal fire agencies and partners. Prior to assuming responsibilities with the Division, Mike spent 30 years with Rifle Fire Protection District/Colorado River Fire Rescue, a full-service combination fire department in Garfield County Colorado, beginning his career as a volunteer firefighter in 1986, becoming the first paid employee as Fire Marshall in 1991, the first paid Chief of the agency in 1997 and served as Chief until his departure to the Division in 2016. Mike currently serves on the National Association of State Fire Marshal’s Board of Directors, the Fire Safety Research Institute Wildland Urban Interface Advisory Committee, the Federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, the Colorado Fire Commission, the Homeland Security Advisory Committee, and the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Committee. Mike also has served as a Board Member for the Colorado State Fire Chiefs for over 10 years including two terms as President and has done several projects with the International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer and Combination Officers Section as well as many other boards and commissions over his career. He was a recipient of the John Buckman III Leadership Award in 2014.

Dr. Susan Moore

Associate Director of Science, CDC NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

U.S. Fire Administrator
Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell was appointed by President Joseph Biden as the U.S. Fire Administrator on October 25, 2021. Prior to her appointment, Lori served nearly 3 years as the President and CEO of the International Public Safety Data Institute (IPSDI), which she founded after retiring from a 26-year tenure as a senior executive in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). She began her fire service career in 1987 as a fire department paramedic in the City of Memphis Fire Department, Memphis Tennessee. Today, as a Doctor of Public Health and data scientist, Lori is an award-winning international speaker, presenter, and author. She is considered an expert in executive leadership, community risk assessment, emergency response system evaluation, public safety resource deployment, and generational differences in the workplace.
Patrick Morrison

Patrick Morrison

Chief of Field Services, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

Patrick Morrison is the Chief of Field Services for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The IAFF is a labor union representing over 335,000 professional fire fighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in the United States and Canada. In this role, he oversees member-facing divisions of the organization, including the Division of Health, Safety and Medicine, the Division of Technical Assistance and Information Resources, and the Division of Education, Grants and Human Relations.

Prior to serving in that role, Mr. Morrison served as Assistant to the General President for Health, Safety and Medicine. The Division of Health, Safety and Medicine provides IAFF affiliates with a comprehensive array of services addressing the occupational health and safety of fire fighters and EMS personnel. He was responsible for the daily operations of the Division as well as the development and implementation of fire service occupational health and safety standards, including crucial health and safety issues published by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and IAFF Wellness Fitness Labor/Management Task Force.

Mr. Morrison’s expertise is in the design and implementation of behavioral health, safety, and wellness programs to improve fire fighters’ overall physical and mental health, address their medical needs, and increase protections from the hazardous elements of firefighting. Prior to joining the IAFF, Mr. Morrison was a career fire fighter for 21 years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Fairfax, Virginia.

Jim Pauley

Jim Pauley

President & CEO, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Jim Pauley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA is a global, non-profit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the NFPA Research Foundation.

Prior to joining NFPA, Mr. Pauley concluded a 30-year career in the electrical and energy industry where he most recently served as Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Government Relations for Schneider Electric.

Mr. Pauley has served in a number of past leadership positions including Chairman of the Board for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky and was a licensed professional engineer in Kentucky.



Dallas County EMS/Public Safety Medical Director (TX)
Adjunct Professor of Management, Policy & Community Health, University of Texas Health Sciences Center

Dr. Paul Pepe not only serves as Dallas County (TX) EMS/Public Safety Medical Director, but also as Adjunct Professor of Management, Policy & Community Health, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Houston, TX as  well as EMS Medical Director for Research, Education, and Special Operations for Broward, Palm Beach & Brevard Counties (FL) and numerous south Florida municipalities. A Professor of Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics, Public Health and Chair of Emergency Medicine for several decades, he was the Regional Director, Disaster/Event Preparedness at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Emergency-Trauma Center in Dallas. He now leads the influential and very cohesive medical “Eagles” global alliance of Metropolitan EMS (9-1-1 system) Medical Directors comprised of the designated physicians providing medical oversight for most of the nation’s 50-60 largest cities, both in terms of day-to-day emergency responses, but also the medical aspects of major crisis management. This very influential team of medical leaders constitutes a highly-cohesive and progressive network of public servants who are medically responsible for over 110 million Americans living, working, and visiting in their respective jurisdictions. For 5-decades, Dr. Pepe, himself, has medically-guided several of our nation’s largest fire services, but he also has pioneered many of the pivotal advances we now use in resuscitation medicine, trauma care, EMS operations and mass casualty response; this includes >500 scientific publications and many landmark papers in the medical literature.

Early in his career, this critical-care (ICU) clinician scientist became a “street doctor” in Seattle (1970s) and then became the first full-time EMS medical director (Houston / 1980s, early 90s), forging the EMS-subspecialty and dramatically-increasing survival rates while also producing vanguard research over and over. After serving as Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Emergency Medical Director (late 1990s), he became the Dallas County Fire Medical Director (2000-present). He has served as the emergency medicine, trauma and health security consultant to numerous high-profile entities, ranging from the White House Medical Unit and U.S. Secret Services to the National Basketball Association (NBA) trainers and major entertainment tours such as U2. After 9/11, he co-founded the National Disaster Life Support courses (2002) and is about to publish a seminal text on Mass Gathering Medicine. Cited in the U.S. Congressional Record for his boots-on-the-ground actions in major national disasters, he still makes 9-1-1 responses routinely and, accordingly served in a leadership role for horrific events such as the 2016  Dallas police ambush and 2018 Parkland Florida high school massacre. In 2005, while receiving a national lifetime achievement award presented by the Surgeon General of the United States in Washington on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Pepe was already being called “the most productive emergency medical services physician of our generation.” Many would re-affirm that same attribution today.

Chief Samuel Peña​

Chief Samuel Peña

Fire Chief, Houston Fire Department (TX)

Samuel Peña has a diverse Public Safety background spanning over 29 years, currently serving as Fire Chief for the Houston Fire Department (HFD) in Houston, TX. He previously served as Fire Chief for the El Paso Fire Department (EPFD) in El Paso, TX. After 4 years in the U.S. Air Force, Peña joined the EPFD in 1994 where he served for 22 years, the last 3.5 years as Chief of that department. Peña has been promoted to various supervisory and chief officer roles throughout his career. Chief Peña is a PEER Assessor for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and has participated in numerous assessments of major city fire departments and military facility fire protection agencies. He has been a Credentialed Paramedic, and an Advanced Medical Coordinator for the Texas Department of State Health Service. He holds certifications in Structural Firefighting, Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter, Hazardous Materials Technician, Confined Space Rescue Technician, and Fire and EMS Instructor, and has commanded Fire/Rescue resources at various incidents of significance including Hurricane Harvey (2017), Super Bowl 51 (2017), Tropical Storm Imelda (2019), Tropical Storm Beta (2020), Watson Grinding Explosion (2020), Hurricane Nicholas (2021), Winter Storm Uri (2021), Astroworld Festival Incident (2021), and World Series (2017, 2019, 2021, 2022).

Chief Peña has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas-El Paso, and Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Texas-El Paso. He has instructed certification courses in various fire and emergency medical service disciplines. Chief Peña contributed on the 21st-Century Fire and Emergency Services white paper for the Center for CPSE and the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA), cited in Advanced Fire and Emergency Services Administration, 2nd Edition, published in 2022 by Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.; and Command Presence; Increase Your Influence, published in 2023 by Fire Engineering Books & Videos. Peña was named as the 2023 Fire Chief of the Year by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and is active in a variety of national associations and serves on numerous committees.

Jennifer Pipa

Vice President, Disaster Programs, American Red Cross
Vickie Pritchett​

Vickie Pritchett

Vice President of Advocacy & Outreach, National Fire Sprinkler Association
Vickie Pritchett became involved in the fire service in 1997. Vickie served on the Board of Directors for the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department from 1998-2013, and was awarded lifetime membership into PVVFD in December of 2013. Vickie served as the Community Development Liaison for the Town of Pleasant View and Executive Director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Cheatham County at the time she began her service to the local volunteer fire department. During this time she was instrumental in bringing fire service officials, builders and developers, and elected officials together. This coordination resulted in a zero square foot fire sprinkler ordinance for the town in 2001, and county-wide in 2006. Vickie’s dedication to the improvement of quality of life, passion for the community, and her ability to bring people together makes her the “spark plug” and advocate of fire sprinkler requirements at the local, state, and federal level. She has presented across the state of Tennessee and the nation. She has worked in Washington D.C. to promote fire protection issues and to highlight the differences that can be made by fire sprinklers and the legislation that requires them. Vickie is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and received her MBA from Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management. She is a VCOS Symposium committee member, Board Member of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Board member of the IAFC Fire & Life Safety Section, Board Member of Common Voices, and is a member of both NFPA and ICC.
Kevin D. Quinn

Chief Kevin D. Quinn

Deputy Chief (Retired), Union Fire District (RI)
Board Member, National Volunteer Fire Council
Board Member, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
Kevin D. Quinn is in his 48th year of experience in the fire service. He recently retired as a Deputy Chief of the Union Fire District in South Kingstown, RI, and has returned to where he began in the volunteer fire service – actively responding to fires and alarms with his original Station #3 of the Union Fire District. Quinn currently serves as the National Volunteer Fire Council 1st Vice Chairman, Immediate Past Chair-man of the NVFC and served briefly as the NVFC Interim CEO. Kevin serves on 5 National Boards: Board member of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), NVFC Board of Directors, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Board member and in his second term on the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors. He just finished his 2nd term of the ICC Fire Code Acton Committee. Chief Quinn has served on the National Volunteer Fire Council Board of Directors for 45 years as Alternate/Director for Rhode Is-land. He holds a Master of Science in Counseling and Educational Psychology and a Master of Science in Education. Kevin continues to serve his community volunteering with the Union Fire District.
Chief Shane Ray​

Chief Shane Ray

President, National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA)
Board Member, Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)
Shane Ray has been a volunteer firefighter since 1984 and a career firefighter since 1994. He has also served as a mayor for six years and the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Legislative Chairman for 12 years. Ray’s love for politics started as fire chief of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, where he served 13 years. He then served under Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina as superintendent and state fire marshal. He currently serves as the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and is a lifetime member of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout his career, he has been committed to public service with a “Do It Different” mentality and that all stakeholders are important.
Lester Rich

Lester V. Rich, MIFireE, IAAI-CFI

Deputy Superintendent, National Fire Academy
Lester is a scholar-practitioner with experience spanning 30 years of specialized investigative skills, collaborative leadership, dynamic team building entrepreneurship, and educational academy leadership. Lester is a Member in the Institution of Fire Engineers, an IAAI-CFI™ and has a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology, with an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice. He is the Deputy Superintendent at the U.S. Fire Administration’s, National Fire Academy. A North Carolina native, he is a sought-after international speaker and educator delivering impactful and entertaining educational content in his own “folksy way.”
Chief Randy Royal

Chief Randy Royal

Fire Chief, Colorado Springs Fire Department (CO)

Randy Royal has been a member of the Colorado Springs Fire Department for over 36 years and serves as the Fire Chief, having previously held the rank of Deputy Chief of Operations, Deputy Chief of Support Services, and Shift Commander/Battalion Chief.  He has worked in emergency services for over 45 years (28 years as a paramedic.) having previously been involved with volunteer fire and private EMS transport agencies.  Chief Royal graduated from Flagler College and has regularly attended the National Fire Academy receiving the Executive Fire Officer designation.  He also holds the Chief Fire Officer designation through the Center of Public Safety Excellence and is a graduate of the Fire Service Executive Development Institute.  He has taught classes at Fire-Rescue International, Fire-Rescue Med, the Missouri Valley Division conference, the Alabama State Chiefs Conference, and Colorado’s Fire Leadership Challenge, as well as numerous venues around the state and region.  He presently serves as Secretary the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association’s Executive Board.

David A. Sampson

David A. Sampson

President & CEO, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA)

David A. Sampson is the president and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA). He has led the industry through some of the most consequential insurance issues of the last decade, including the COVID-19 response, preserving state statutory accounting during once-in-a-generation tax reform, and ensuring that the Dodd-Frank Act recognized the strong consumer protections already provided by state insurance regulators and the guaranty fund system.

Before joining the industry in 2007, Sampson served in the George W. Bush Administration in two presidential-appointed and Senate-confirmed positions. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and was a member of President Bush’s Management Council. Previously, Sampson served in the Governor George W. Bush Administration as Chair of the Texas Council on Workforce and Economic Competitiveness and Vice Chair of the Texas Strategic Economic Development Planning Commission. He also led the Arlington, Texas Chamber of Commerce as the President and CEO.

Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke, MD, FAEMS ​

Kenneth A. Scheppke, MD, FAEMS

Deputy Secretary for Health, Florida Department of Health

Dr. Kenneth Scheppke is dual board-certified in the fields of emergency medicine and EMS. He currently serves as the Deputy Secretary for Health having previously served as the State EMS Medical Director for the Florida Department of Health as well as the Chief Medical Officer for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

He is a well-known leader and educator in EMS having received several National EMS awards for innovation, education, research and leadership including the 2017 JEMS EMS Innovator of the Year Award, the 2020 US and International Gathering of Eagles Educator of the Year Award, the 2020 and 2021 Society of Critical Care Medicine Star Research Achievement Awards, and the 2021 NAEMT National EMS Medical Director of the Year Award.

He has been the primary medical expert behind numerous statewide public health initiatives including a first of its kind in the nation Coordinated Opioid Recovery Network, Resuscitate Florida a program designed to raise survival for cardiac arrest patients, several innovative solutions to reduce the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic including EMS driven mass care programs and the statewide delivery of monoclonal antibodies to hundreds of thousands of patients. He additionally is working to expand the role of EMS in mitigating future health care disasters as well as to improve health care system access and resiliency.

In addition to his medical expertise, Dr. Scheppke is an instrument rated private pilot who routinely volunteers to fly animals (who are at risk for euthanasia) to safe foster and non-kill shelters pending their adoption. He also flies in times of disaster such as in the post landfall aftermath of hurricanes Irma, Michael and Dorian, helping to deliver critical relief supplies when ground transportation was not available.

Annie Schmidt​

Annie Schmidt

Coordinator for Wildland Fire Mitgaton and Management Commission

Annie supports community-based wildfire practitioners across the nation in her role with the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network. She facilitates learning opportunities for network members, acts as a network liaison, and serves as the point of contact for practitioner-research engagement. Prior to her work with FAC Net, Annie worked for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources facilitating a report to Washington’s legislature centered on three critical wildfire questions. During her tenure with the Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, Annie helped create the first state-level expansion network, led its policy and partnership effort, and advocated for community adaptation throughout Washington. As the former Director of the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition, Annie developed the After the Fire Toolkit and led a grassroots collaborative focused on creating long-term behavior change to live better with wildfire. Notable projects include authoring the Roadmap for Collaboration Before, During, and After the NEPA Process and development of Washington State’s Strategic Plan for Wildland Fire. Annie lives in Leavenworth, Washington with her husband and three kids. In her spare time, Annie loves to fish, sew, and volunteer with her local fire department.

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall

White House Homeland Security Advisor
Thomas C. Sivak

Tom Sivak

Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 5

Mr. Thomas C. Sivak is the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 5 Administrator. Throughout his 15-year emergency management and public safety career, Mr. Sivak has proudly worked for private, urban area and county public sector organizations and filled leadership roles for several major incident and event activations including the 2012 Super Bowl, 2018 Mercy Hospital active shooter situation, COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest in May and August 2020, and presidential election consequence management.

Recognized as a subject matter expert in safety, security, emergency management, disaster relief, pandemic response, and coordination, Mr. Sivak is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers and a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security. He holds a Master of Science in Public Service Leadership from DePaul University, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University and is originally from East Cleveland, Ohio.

Victor Stagnaro

Victor Stagnaro

CEO, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
Victor Stagnaro joined the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) staff in 2010 and serves as the CEO overseeing the Foundation’s Family and Fire Service Programs, Marketing, and Business Management. He has over 30 years of experience in the fire service. He was hired by the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department in 1985. In addition to serving as a firefighter and station officer, he has been a fire instructor, Public Information Officer, Battalion Chief, Executive Officer to the Fire Chief, Fire Marshal, and Operations Shift Chief. Victor authored a chapter in Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II on EMS in the Fire Service. He retired as the Deputy Fire Chief of Emergency Operations in early 2010. He has been involved with the Foundation dating back to 1998, when he served as the Incident Commander for the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend for several years, and he served as a member of the initial New York Response Team on 9/11 for the Foundation.
Denise L. Smith, PhD

Denise L. Smith, PhD

Director, First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory; Skidmore College; University of Illinois, Fire Service Institute

Dr. Smith is a Professor of Health and Human Physiological Sciences and the Tisch Family Distinguished Professor.  She also serves as Director of the First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory. Dr. Smith earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in exercise physiology and has coauthored an Exercise Physiology textbook and an Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology textbook. She has also published more than 70 scientific peer-reviewed articles and been awarded over $15 million in research funding from FEMA-AFG, DHS S&T, NIOSH and DOD. Dr. Smith is a leading researcher in cardiovascular health in the fire service and has lectured extensively on improving firefighter health and safety. She received the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Alice Hamilton Award (2018) and the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Service Leadership and Management Research (2015). Dr. Smith is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, serves on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health committee, is on the Advisory Board for the Underwriters Laboratory Firefighter Safety Research Institute, and regularly conducts fatality investigations for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Jeannette Sutton, PhD

Associate Professor, University at Albany, Department of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security

Jeannette Sutton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security at the University at Albany where she directs the Emergency and Risk Communication Message Testing Lab.  Sutton has led research associated with natural, technological, and human induced phenomena, with a focus on alerts and warnings over short messaging channels.  She has received more than 10 million dollars in federal funding from organizations including the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Homeland Security, the United States Geological Survey, and the Army National Laboratory. She served for six years as the primary social scientist on the National Institute of Standards and Technology National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee and is currently an appointed member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop planning committee on Advancing Risk Communication with Decision-Makers for Extreme Tropical Cyclones: Learning from Extreme and Unprecedented Weather Events.   She received her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed her postdoctoral training at the Natural Hazards Center.  

Adam Thiel

Adam Thiel

Fire Commissioner, Philadelphia Fire Department (PA)
Director of the Office of Emergency Management, City of Philadelphia

Adam K. Thiel is the fire commissioner and director of the Office of Emergency Management in the city of Philadelphia. Thiel previously served as a fire chief in the National Capital Region and as a state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thiel’s operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

Dr. Hanna Vick​

Dr. Hannah Vick

Senior Policy Advisor, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Office of External Affairs
Marcus Vilhelmsson​

Marcus Vilhelmsson

Head of Fire and Rescue at MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency)
Marcus Vilhelmsson is the Head of Fire & Rescue Section at MSB (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency) in Karlstad, Varmland County, Sweden. He is a leader with an influential personality and 20 over years of experience from services across multiple industries in global multicultural environments.