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Emergency Management Directors


There has been a need to plan for natural disasters, civil unrest, and other emergencies ever since the founding of the United States. At the federal level, a variety of disaster-related agencies, including the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration, were created to plan and respond to disasters. In 1979, President Carter signed an executive order to create the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to replace these and other emergency planning agencies. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., spotlighted serious weaknesses in the government’s coordination of emergency and disaster activities. As a result, the U.S. Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In 2003, FEMA was absorbed into DHS and became a part of its Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.

State and local agencies—as well as large businesses and nonprofits—have also created emergency management departments. Increasing concerns about terrorism, large-scale cyberattacks, growing frequency and severity of some types of natural disasters, pandemics, and civil unrest all have created demand for emergency management directors in the private and public sectors.