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Mentors

Committed to the SURGE

Director and Professor, Emergency Management Program
Kansas Wesleyan University

Originally from Texarkana, Texas. Dr. Booker attended Texas A&M University-College Station where he received his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and a certificate in Homeland Security from the Bush School of Public Policy. Additionally, he holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M University-Texarkana and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Jarvis Christian College. Dr. Booker has amassed over 13 years of law enforcement experience ranging from serving as a police officer and detective in narcotics, gang unit and property crimes, Special Weapons and Tactic (SWAT) hostage negotiator and adult probation officer. His research and scholarly interests include campus safety and institution crisis management planning. Currently, he is the Director and Professor of Emergency Management Programs at Kansas Wesleyan University, a board member for both the Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as, a member of the Kansas Incident Management Team.

Assistant Professor, Structural Engineering
Englekirk Presidential Endowed Chair in Structural Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Burton's research and teaching are broadly focused on improving the resilience of urban regions to natural disasters. Specific areas of interest include (1) developing enhanced earthquake resistant building systems, (2) performance-based life-cycle design and assessment, (3) modeling the relationship between the performance of infrastructure systems within the built environment, and the ability of communities to minimize the extent of socioeconomic disruption following extreme events such as major earthquakes. Dr. Burton joined the University of California, Los Angeles Civil and Environmental Engineering Department after completing his Ph.D. in Structural Engineering at Stanford University. He has significant industry experience and is a registered structural engineer (S.E.) in the state of California. Additionally, he spent six years in practice at Degenkolb Engineers where he worked on a number of projects involving seismic design, evaluation, and retrofit of existing buildings.

Boardman Endowed Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Public Administration
University of Central Florida

Dr. Emrich is an Endowed Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Public Administration within the School of Public Administration and a founding member of the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research at UCF. His research interests include the application of geospatial web-based technologies to emergency management planning and practice, long-term recovery from disaster, and the intersection of social vulnerability and community resilience in the face of disaster. He has provided GIS support for response and long-term recovery to the states of FL, LA, MS, SC, and WV and is actively involved in identifying trends in long-term recovery and instances of inequality in disaster recovery. Additionally, Dr. Emrich is an advocate for the transition of knowledge from academia and research into real-world decision support. He continues to develop theory, data, metrics, methods, applications, and spatial analytics for understanding the newly emergent field of hazard vulnerability science and differential recovery.

Distinguished University Professor, Public Management and Policy
Interim Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Georgia State University

Dr. Esnard has been involved in a number of research initiatives, including NSF funded projects on topics of population displacement from catastrophic disasters, school recovery after disasters, long-term recovery, and community resilience. She is the coauthor of the 2014 book Displaced by Disasters: Recovery and Resilience in a Globalizing World, and co-editor of the 2017 book Coming Home after Disaster: Multiple Dimensions of Housing Recovery. Esnard holds degrees in Agricultural Engineering (B.Sc., University of the West Indies-Trinidad), Agronomy and Soils (M.S., University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez) and Regional Planning (Ph.D., UMASS-Amherst). She also completed a two-year post-doc at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Public Service Faculty 
University of Georgia

Jill Gambill is public service faculty at the University of Georgia, serving as the coastal resilience specialist for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. As co-author of Georgia’s first sea level rise adaptation plan, Jill works with communities across the Southeast U.S. to prepare, respond and adapt to coastal hazards. She endeavors to centralize equity within climate adaptation planning and create opportunities for cross-sectoral and inclusive engagement. These efforts have earned her and her collaborators the 2017 University Economic Development Association’s Award of Excellence, 2015 National Sea Grant Superior Outreach Award and 2014 and 2016 Georgia Trend Magazine’s Four for the Future Award. Jill is passionate about learning how to better address systemic, structural inequities that can compound the impacts of a changing climate. So much so that in addition to raising a family and serving as faculty, she is in her 4th year of a PhD in Geography and Integrative Conservation.With us since our founding, Taylor Quill is one of our veteran team members. They bring their years of experience and skills to the forefront in helping our organization grow and succeed.

Former Associate FEMA Director

After 12 years in Arkansas Governor’s office, coordinating emergency management, fire service, emergency medical services, police and fire retirement system, and public safety, she was nominated by the President and confirmed unanimously by US Senate, as Associate FEMA Director to lead National Preparedness, Training, Higher Education, and Exercises, including EMI, Mount Weather Emergency Assistance Center, NATO Civil Emergency Planning Committee staff, international outreach to 43 countries, National Chair of the National Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Radiological Emergency Preparedness in partnership with US utilities, and the Chemical Stockpile destruction in partnership with the US Army and founding the FEMA Higher Education Program; the initial standards work on the EMAP Program; Top Off Exercises; State and Local Guidance; Community and Family Preparedness; Outreach to Tribes, African Americans, Hispanics, and Women, and Churches.

Associate Professor
Head of the Department of Emergency Management
North Dakota State University

Dr. Jensen is among the first doctoral degree holders in Emergency Management and holds an M.S. in Emergency Management and a B.A. in Political Science. Jensen’s specialty is the collection, integration, and synthesis of literature across disciplines and topics in the areas of mitigation, response, recovery and preparedness with respect to individuals and households, organizations, communities, and nations. To date, she has collected, categorized, and synthesized more than 25, 000 pieces of scholarship. Her work now focusses on identifying and/or building theory from within this body of work and using it to inform education, research, practice, and policy. Previously, she conducted research on a range of topics central to emergency management (e.g., response and recovery effectiveness, NIMS/ICS, individual and household recovery, and nonprofit participation in recovery).

Assistant Professor, Counseling, Developmental & Educational Psychology
Boston College

Prior to joining the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, Betty Lai was an assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a specialization in children and families from the University of Miami. She completed her clinical internship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Lai was a Next Generation of Hazard and Disasters Researchers Fellow, and a 2014 National Scholar for the Academy on Violence and Abuse.

Dr. Lai's research focuses on how children and families respond to disasters and other traumatic stressors. Her recent work has focused on children's mental health symptoms, physical health symptoms, and school functioning following large scale disasters (e.g., Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Charley, bushfires in Australia). Her work also examines how advanced statistical modeling strategies may be applied to better understand how to minimize the effects of disasters on children’s functioning.

Executive Director
Healthcare Ready

Nicolette Louissaint, Ph.D. serves as the Executive Director of Healthcare Ready, a nonprofit organization set up to ensure that the catastrophic breakdowns in patient access to healthcare would never happen again. In this role, she leads the organizations efforts to build greater healthcare preparedness and response efforts in coordination with the public and private sectors. Her particular areas of interest are biosecurity and supply chain complexities. Nicolette holds Bachelors of Science degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University. She earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. She has been recognized as a “40 under 40 leaders in minority health” by the National Minority Quality Forum by the Congressional Black Caucus (2016), a “Leading Woman in Maryland” by The Daily Record (2017), and a finalist for “Program Leader of the Year” by the Disaster Recovery Institute International (2017).

Professor, Sociology
Eastern Illinois University

Bill Lovekamp completed his doctorate in sociology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and is a professor of Sociology at Eastern Illinois University. He currently serves as secretary-treasurer of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on the Sociology of Disasters (ISA RC39). He is a co-editor of the book Social Vulnerability to Disasters, (2nd ed), and research has appeared in HazNet, The International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, The Association of Gravestone Studies Quarterly, Markers and Teaching Sociology. Current research focuses on cemetery preservation in the Smoky Mountains and examining the impact of disasters on cemeteries and communities. His most recent led to the production of a documentary called "Nature's Fury and the Human Spirit: The Charleston and Mattoon Tornado 26 May, 1917".

Assistant Professor, Psychology
Montclair State University

Dr. Lowe completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and her clinical internship at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital. Prior to her current position, Dr. Lowe was an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology. Her research focuses on the long-term mental health consequences of traumatic events, longitudinal pathways from trauma exposure to psychiatric symptoms, and factors at various ecological levels – from genes to neighborhoods – that influence response. She has explored these topics in the aftermath of several natural and human-made disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Sandy, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Branch Director
Department of Homeland Security/ Federal Emergency Management Agency

Dr. Jacqueline McBride, CEM, CPM, CVA, CDRCC, a 2015 graduate of the DHS/FEMA Emergency Management Institute’s Executive Academy, has served more than 35 years as a leader and chief in federal, county, and municipal emergency management agencies. She is a visionary, critical and analytical thinker, trainer and mentor, and strategic planner and problem solve; with extensive leadership and management experience in disaster resiliency and sustainability; disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery; homeland security; and business continuity. Dr. McBride is currently a 23-year, career reservist, serving as a FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Branch Director. She is the first person and female appointed, by the State of New Jersey Department of Civil Service, as a deputy coordinator of emergency management. In 1991, she researched and published the first Emergency Managers and Leadership dissertation in the USA.In 1995, she served as NGO delegate - 4th World Conference on Women.

Professor, Dean of College of Aviation and Public Services
Utah Valley University

David A. McEntire, Ph.D., is the Dean of the College of Health and Public Service (CHPS). The programs McEntire oversees include Aviation, Criminal Justice, Emergency Services, Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Public and Community Health, Public Service, and Respiratory Therapy. The Police Officer Standards and Training program and the Utah Fire Rescue Academy are also located in CHPS.

Dean

Dr. Phillips is the author of Disaster Recovery, Introduction to Emergency Management, Qualitative Disaster Research and Mennonite Disaster Service: Building a Therapeutic Community after the Gulf Coast Storms. She has co-edited Social Vulnerability to Disasters and Women and Disasters: from theory to practice. Dr. Phillips is the recipient of the Blanchard Award for excellence in emergency management education and the Myers Award for work on the effects of disasters on women. She was inducted into the International Women’s Hall of Fame for Emergency Management and Homeland Security in 2013. She has been funded by the National Science Foundation to study disasters, particularly as they affect vulnerable populations.Jesse Neimus joined surgedisasters.com with the vision and drive to improve upon our Non-Profit, and focused on developing the organization with experience and integrity.

Professor
BPSA Program Coordinator
Florida Atlantic University

Alka Sapat, Ph.D. is a professor in the School of Public Administration and Coordinator, Bachelor of Public Safety Administration at Florida Atlantic University. Her expertise encompasses disaster management, public policy processes, vulnerability and resilience assessment, and methodology. She has been involved in a number of initiatives, including NSF funded projects on topics of building code regulations, population displacement after disasters and implications for housing, and the role of the NGOs in disaster recovery. She is the coauthor of the 2014 book Displaced by Disasters: Recovery and Resilience in a Globalizing World, and co-editor of the 2017 book Coming Home after Disaster: Multiple Dimensions of Housing Recovery.

Joseph Trainor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration
University of Delaware

Dr. Trainor is an Associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware where he serves as the Director of the Disaster Science and Management Degree programs and as the Director of Doctoral Studies. He is also Core Faculty Member in the Disaster Research Center, where he, conducts research, provides consultation, teaches, and mentors students. Dr. Trainor’s work includes multi-disciplinary, mixed methods, qualitative, and quantitative research focused on disasters and crises. His studies include “basic” science, applied research, and rapid reconnaissance post-disaster fieldwork. Recent projects have focused on: Disaster Researcher and Practitioner Integration; Warnings, Risk Perception, and Protective Action Decision making; Integration of Socials and Behavioral Sciences in Weather Prediction; Post Hurricane Housing Decisions; Household Insurance and Mitigation Decisions; Stigmatization of African Immigrants during the Ebola.

Associate Professor, Civil Engineering
Ohio University

Dr. Walsh's research interests are in the area of seismic protection systems for enhancing the resiliency of civil infrastructure to earthquake disasters. In particular, Dr. Walsh focuses on the investigation of passive energy dissipation systems for reducing vibrations in seismically-excited buildings and bridges through a combination of mathematical modeling and small-scale laboratory experimentation. Currently, he is developing an improved resetting stiffness damper that incorporates negative stiffness to increase damping capacity without increasing the damper stiffness. He is also working on a new platform for the seismic isolation of sensitive equipment that utilizes a novel negative stiffness device in the isolation bearings. Dr. Walsh also teaches graduate courses in steel design, structural stability, earthquake engineering, and structural dynamics.

Professor, Emergency Management and Disaster Science
Chair, Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science
University of North Texas

Gary Webb is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science at the University of North Texas, which houses the world’s first bachelor’s degree program in emergency management. Previously, he was a faculty member in sociology at Oklahoma State University, and he has held research positions at the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center where he received a Ph.D. in sociology. He is primarily interested in studying organizational and community preparedness for and response to large-scale disasters. His research has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and published in a wide variety of journals. He recently co-authored a new edition of Introduction to Emergency Management. He has taught and presented his research internationally in The Netherlands, Denmark, France, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey, and he has been quoted in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and National Public Radio.