IEM Celebrated Women’s History Month with the Nation’s Leading Emergency Management, Resilience & Disaster Recovery Experts

Female leaders reflected on their careers, recent disasters, climate change, and the future of their professions

Morrisville, NC, March 31, 2023 – As Women’s History Month closes, IEM reflects on the contributions made by women, and most notably to the field of emergency management. As a woman-founded and owned company, IEM recognizes the significant role women have in preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating against disasters, public health emergencies, and other crises.

This month, IEM was honored to convene groups of leaders for two virtual panel discussions highlighting the perspectives of leaders at all levels of the public sector, and the private sector, in resilience and disaster recovery. The women who participated in these panels each brought unique experiences, insight and expertise to the discussions on how to promote and advance resilience and long-term recovery across the nation.

Our first panel, focusing on Resilience, was held on March 8, 2023. IEM’s Director of Big City Emergency Management, Samantha Phillips, moderated the discussion and was joined by Montana Disaster & Emergency Services Emergency Management Director, Delila Bruno, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department General Manager, Carol Parks, and Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Administrator for FEMA Resilience, Victoria Salinas.

Key insight shared during this discussion included:

  • Resilience in everyday issues: Emergency management professionals are called on more frequently to address everyday issues including homelessness and extreme heat. It requires a different kind of activation to provide solutions for long-term challenges and with slow on-set, meaning there is not a specific triggering event.
  • Climate change: There are different approaches to thinking about climate change as it relates to resilience. Communities can armor up as usual or embrace the future and adapt to new challenges.
  • Emergency management (EM) for the future: EM is the center or foundation of healing the planet and creating connections across society. How we heal and take care of communities helps us move forward on a planetary level.
  • Everything services: Emergency and disaster management is also everything management as we deal with issues and crises of many kinds. Professionals in the field are problem solvers in general to help everyone perform better and multiply their forces.

The full recording of the Resilience panel discussion is available here.

The second panel on Disaster Recovery on March 21, 2023, featured IEM’s Senior Executive Advisor and former HUD Deputy Secretary, Pamela Patenaude, moderating a discussion joined by Chairwoman of the Puerto Rico’s Builders Association, Vanessa de Mari Monserrate, Louisiana Office of Community Development Special Projects Manager for Disaster Recovery and Resilience, Sandra Gunner, and Chief Officer for Legal Affairs of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Division of Disaster Recovery and Mitigation, Elizabeth Mackay.

This group of leaders discussed key factors in disaster recovery and their careers including:

  • Women as disaster recovery professionals: In the field of disaster recovery, women are doing a job they know how to do well, using a skillset that they excel at, to help communities rebuild. Passion, dedication, and following through are important keys to success.
  • Emotional displacement: Disasters cause emotional displacement as well as physical displacement. Aside from physical rebuilding, there is a lot of work necessary to regain a sense of normalcy and a feeling of home for disaster survivors.
  • Disaster recovery as a growth industry: As disasters evolve, so does disaster recovery. Professionals in the field must think about what communities are currently facing as well as what they will face in the future to better prepare them for future challenges and to ensure resilicency.
  • Importance of building codes and regulations: During the disaster recovery process, it is also important to educate the communities on the importance of rebuilding up to code and regulations, and the dangers of not doing so.
  • Disasters are blind: When creating disaster recovery policies, professionals must remember that disasters do not know political boundaries, geographic locations, or income levels. Humans are the ones who put those in place. We have to look at recovery and rebuilding with a variety of lenses including equity and inclusion.

The full recording of the Disaster Recovery panel discussion is available here.

Although Women’s History Month concludes today, IEM remains dedicated to recognizing the significant contributions made by women year-round as we work to build a safe, secure and resilient world.