1. Can you tell us about the duties and responsibilities associated with your role as Director of Emergency Planning, Safety & Security Services?
My position is to work with the colleges, the system office and shared services to plan for emergencies of all types. That planning involves developing emergency response procedures that focus on the continuity of operations as well as the safety of our personnel. Additionally, I hold regular discussions with the colleges’ emergency coordination officers.
Lab safety is another important aspect of my job. I also provide training on security and extreme weather preparedness.
Managing VCCS employees’ access badges and the system’s alert notification system also fall into my wheelhouse.
Generally speaking, anything to do with safety or security, CPR and first aid included, has my name attached to it
2. Can you describe for our readers the sort of training and experience you’ve had that prepared you for this position?
I was a high school science teacher in my early 20s. A decade or so later, I was actively serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.
I have a master’s degree in emergency management and another master’s in education. My experience in the Coast Guard, using the National Incident Management System and teaching the Incident Command System, has helped me gain the knowledge and insights necessary to excel in my role here at the VCCS.
3. You are involved in crisis planning and security for all 23 community colleges as well as the SO. Can you give us a feel for what your typical day is like?
My day-to-day is far from typical or routine. When I’m in the office, you can expect to find me talking about safety, working on plans or training. Essentially, I do the same thing when I visit the colleges. But, the environments are different and so are the challenges when it comes to safety and security. I have to familiarize myself with the lay of the land, so to speak. It’s my job to recognize potential threats at the SO as well as the individual colleges and help identify ways of avoiding them.
The parts of my job I find most fulfilling are teaching and travelling.
4. Do you subscribe to the axiom failing to prepare is tantamount to preparing to fail? If so, why?
Absolutely! Having a plan and practicing that plan is essential for success under any potentially harmful circumstances. Reducing the danger to yourself and those around you lowers uncertainty which in turn, can decrease stress. You might be able to help save lives! Besides, one might say, being prepared is your civic duty. And, when you takes steps to ensure your own safety, you allow first responders to help those who truly need a helping hand.
5. Tell us something about yourself (i.e., hobbies, interests, etc.) that our readers would be interested in knowing about you.
I got the travel bug early, when I was 19, I spent 3.5 months backpacking in Kenya. A few years later, I worked as a mountain guide in Bolivia and Peru and I climbed to a summit of 22,205 feet! I was a whitewater river guide for 12 seasons in Colorado, Montana, Washington State, New Mexico and Arizona. I’ve got quite a few excursions down the Grand Canyon under my belt.
Now, I spend one weekend a month as a Coast Guard reservist. When I do get to be home, I golf and hang out with my husband, dogs, cat and friends.
Recently, I was invited to a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion for Womens’ Veterans week. I sat next to the first lady and got to chat with the governor. It was a wonderful experience and an honor to be invited.
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