Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs
New York City Office of Emergency Management
UNC-Chapel Hill Master’s Degree in Public Administration
Please share the factors and/or people that (who) inspired you to pursue your area of graduate study.
The summer before my senior year of college, I interned on Capitol Hill for my local congressman, Howard Coble. I loved everything about it, so when I graduated I moved back to D.C. and worked for Dante Fascell, a congressman from Miami, for two years before coming to UNC. I couldn’t get enough of the energy of politics, the chance to help people, the diversity of issues we worked on and the very high salary (OK, maybe not the last one).
Please describe your favorite memories as a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
I would start with the campus. It was so beautiful and inviting. I rode my bike from Carrboro to class every day. I loved the debates with my professors and classmates, the freedom to explore many issues and give my opinions while learning about others – and while I was at UNC, the basketball team won the 1993 NCAA tournament. Watching that game with my sister, who was a senior, and my brother, who was coming to UNC the following fall, was great. And, of course, so was rushing to Franklin Street when we won.
What aspects of your graduate studies are most useful in your current professional role?
The ability to look at issues from all aspects and the ability to write concisely (we had a one-credit writing course which was, arguably, my favorite course).
Please describe the most significant aspects of your work.
As the Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs at the NYC Office of Emergency Management, my charge is to prepare all New Yorkers for whatever emergency they may face: catastrophic or localized. We strive to do this in many languages in both traditional and newer forms of communications. In addition, when there is an emergency, I run the City’s Emergency Operation Center, which has 140 seats for city, state, federal, non-profit, private sector and regional entities to work together to get the city back up on its feet. Over the past 11 years, the citywide blackout of 2003 and Hurricanes Irene and certainly Sandy have been watershed events for New York City.
Do you have advice for current UNC-Chapel Hill graduate students?
Enjoy every moment at UNC, and take advantage of all you can. You will graduate and be working before you know it! Don’t be afraid to reach out to graduates for information, advice or to serve as a sounding board. I am always happy to receive an email from an MPA student and do whatever I can to help them.