Session Descriptions (2019)

Opening Plenary
Speaker:  Michael F. O’Hare, Regional Administrator FEMA Region X

Mr. Michael O’Hare was appointed as the Regional Administrator for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10 in December 2017. As the Regional Administrator, Mr. O’Hare is responsible for the direction and leadership of FEMA’s emergency management efforts in support of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and the 271 Federally Recognized Tribes and Alaska Native villages within the region. These efforts include delivering FEMA’s preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation programs in concert with partners from all levels of government, volunteer and faith-based groups, and the private sector. Mr. O’Hare brings to the Regional Administrator position his experience leading emergency management, especially to rural communities with their unique challenges. 

Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. O’Hare served nearly ten years with the State of Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs most recently as the Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. During his tenure as the Director, Mr. O’Hare determined policies and response operations with the Governor, the Adjutant General, Legislature, Congressional delegation and local jurisdictions. Mr. O’Hare also led Alaska in crisis management roles serving as State Coordinating Officer for state and federal disasters and multiple full-scale and functional exercises of national significance. 

Mr. O’Hare previously also served the State of Alaska as Acting Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs. His earlier career with the state includes serving as a Legislative Aide in the Alaska State Legislature and managing Information Technology in the State of Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency. 

Mr. O’Hare holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Long Island University graduating from Southampton College in 1984. He is also a 2012 graduate of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Executive Education Program from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 
Mike and his wife Valerie have two children and live in Chugiak, Alaska.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Speaker:  Rev. Karl Jones

A story of innovation & collaboration that grew from the initial storm and the efforts that continue today.  Discover how the city of Philadelphia came together to welcome the evacuees, provide needed services, and build a framework for serving vulnerable populations into the future.

The Rev. Karl Jones, is a retired United Church of Christ pastor, who currently serves as the Conference Disaster Coordinator for eastern Pennsylvania. He is a certified disaster chaplain and disaster mental health professional.  He formerly was the chair of the Schuylkill County (PA) Disaster Recovery Coalition.  He has held every leadership position with the PAVOAD, currently serving as the secretary and coordinator of PAVOAD.  He also serves as the vice-chair of the NVOAD Community Preparedness Committee.  Following Hurricane Maria he was deployed by the UCC to southeast PA to help coordinate the work of the Southeast PA VOAD and community partners with the evacuees.  Currently he is working with long term recovery efforts to serve the forgotten following the flooding in eastern PA.   

Caring for Our Children in Tough Times When there are Disasters Upon Disasters
Speaker:  Kathy Howell, Children’s Disaster Services

What happens to children in the chaos following a disaster?   This presentation highlights children’s unique needs after a disaster. Children are the smallest victims of disasters, but their needs are big to consider in disaster planning. Participants will learn about Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) and how they provide respite to parents and children through a nationwide network of volunteers bringing PLAY into the recovery process.


Kathy Howell has been a volunteer with Children's Disaster Services for 17 years. Kathy has served as a caregiver, project manager, and trainer for new volunteers. Serving with Children's Disaster Services complimented Kathy's career in IT, computer support and training, by providing opportunities to share her heart for children. Now retired from Oregon State University, Kathy enjoys making music and encouraging others, spending time with other people's kids, and greater flexibility for disaster responses. Kathy lives in Corvallis, Oregon, and would also be happy to talk with you about women's basketball. 

Emergency Preparedness for Seniors and Caregivers
Speaker:  Rich Foster, MS – Access and Functional Needs Program Coordinator with Utah Dept. of Health


Learn how to identify potential hazards and discover different solutions to address these risks.  Reduce the vulnerability and risk for senior citizens within your care. Learn how to help caregivers plan and prepare for their disaster response requirements. Familiarize yourself with the wide range of unique vulnerability factors associated with senior citizens in relation to disaster events, and the dynamics behind how each of these vulnerabilities affects the ability of senior citizens to take more effective risk reduction and hazard preparedness actions.    


Rich Foster MS is the Access and Functional Needs Program Coordinator and Subject Matter Expert for the Utah Department of Health.  He worked for the Division of Emergency Preparedness for Salt Lake City prior to joining the Department of Health in 2010.  He is a senior and a caregiver.

Individuals with Disabilities and Emergencies:  How to Incorporate Disability Inclusion in Your Emergency Plans

Speaker:  Jerry Riener, State Independent Living Council (SILC)

Learn how individuals with disabilities experience disasters and how you can help mitigate those experiences. 
Jerry Riener was born and raised in Idaho. After a brief stint in the Peace Corps, he now works for the Idaho State Independent Living Council. When he isn’t out on the trail or on a river, he is chasing his two dogs.

Operational Stress First Aid
Speakers:  Delores and Joe O’Neill, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

OSFA was originally developed by DoD for the Marines and is used to prevent, identify and treat stress problems caused by operations, critical events, and personal or family crisis situations. The goal of OSFA is to build resiliency and awareness, and to keep personal fully functional. The program also includes tools to assist leaders and personnel to take appropriate actions to restore personnel to full function and readiness when necessary. This session is a very brief look at OSFA and quick reference of what to look for.

Joe O’Neill holds a BA in Biological Sciences and a Masters in Physical Science. Joe has been active in SBDR for 10 years and is the Co-Coordinator for Chaplaincy for Utah & Idaho. 

Dolores O’Neill holds a BA and MEd in Counseling and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is endorsed by the North American Mission Board as a DR Chaplain. Dolores is the Co-Coordinator for Chaplaincy for Utah & Idaho.

WebEOC - Donations Management & Resource Boards
Speaker:  Karl DeHart, Idaho Office of Emergency Management

During one of Idaho’s large fire seasons, the IDAVOAD identified issues with donations management and identifying resources available from one donations center to others. The Idaho Office of Emergency Management uses the online platform WebEOC for disaster situational awareness, and in conjunction with IDAVOAD, built out a simple process for inventory lists from each donation center to be listed along with needs from MARCs, shelters, and County Emergency Management to easily match the needs to resources. This presentation will give an overview of Idaho’s general use of WebEOC and also demonstrate the donations management dashboard that was built as a potential tool to solve the issue identified in the after action of the fires.

Karl has a Master in Science in Raptor Biology. His jobs have included 15 years as an ornithologist for various agencies, Education Director for HawkWatch International, and Senior GIS Analyst for the State Tax Commission. Karl has been with IOEM as the WebEOC Statewide Administrator since June of 2010. 

Integrated Care Condolence Teams (ICCT)
Speaker:  Rev. Bruce Wenigmann

All victims of disaster require various kinds of assistance; food, water, shelter, help in clean-up, and repair, to name a few. But some require an extra level of care, such as the families of fatalities, serious injury, and the missing.  This is where ICCT comes in as a program of the Red Cross.


ICCT is a comprehensive team approach with four different functions: Disaster Health Services, Disaster Mental Health, Disaster Spiritual Care, and Casework/Recovery Planning.  An ICCT team of 2-4 will visit with the victim's family in order to provide these services in a confidential, compassionate, and respectful manner. The services and resources offered will vary depending on whether the victim is a disaster-related fatality, serious injury, or missing person.


Bruce is a retired United Methodist pastor; he has also served as a chaplain with law enforcement and corrections in Oregon and Idaho.  He is the regional lead for disaster spiritual care for Idaho/Montana, and the regional coordinator for ICCT. He is recently returned from a deployment to eastern Alabama, where he served on the ICCT for the 23 fatalities. Married with 3 grown children, Bruce and Vanessa live in Boise, each of them active volunteers. 

Accessible Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
Speaker:  Janeen Olson

The presenter will share the journey of how the City of Redmond, WA established the Accessible CERT class.  They have taught the Accessible CERT class several times to a variety of people who self-identify as disabled. Individuals in their class have been blind, blind-deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, and have had cognitive disabilities.

How to Prepare for Everything
Speaker:  Aaron Titus, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There are an endless number of hazards to worry about. Preparing for every possible disaster leaves you with a long, disorganized list of things to buy or do, which may not match personal needs. Preparation can seem unattainable. We check off the first few items from our list, give up, and hope the zombies eat us first.


It's time to start preparing with one simple change: Prepare for disruptions, not disasters. It doesn't matter whether a power outage was caused by a flood, backhoe, or grandma backing into a pole. Just prepare for the power outage! Preparing for a few disruptions will prepare you for any disaster. You really can prepare for everything.


We prepare better when we prepare together. How to Prepare for Everything gives you a simple, step-by-step approach to prepare yourself and your neighbors for emergencies, accidents, adventures, and life’s ups and downs.
The How to Prepare for Everything Workshop/Facilitation and Train-the-Trainer will give participants: 
•    More hope for the future.
•    A personalized preparation plan, gap analysis, and 72-hour kit plan.
•    A healthy way to talk about preparation, without fear.
•    Stronger relationships and a list of people in your support system.
•    Plans to not just survive, but to help your neighbors.
•    Training to share a community preparation workshop.


Aaron Titus is the author of How to Prepare for Everything. He is a Colorado VOAD representative for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the President of Mountain West VOAD, sits on the Larimer VOAD executive committee, and is the former Co-chair of Boulder County VOAD. As a former member of New Jersey VOAD, he coordinated 30,000+ volunteers during the Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Derecho, responses. He is also Executive Director of Crisis Cleanup (, an open source collaborative work order system that has helped 1,450 relief agencies help 75,000 families in 113 disasters, in 39 states and 6 countries.  He regularly presents to emergency professionals around the country about emergency preparedness and whole-community response.

For Information Contact:

Aaron Titus | (202) 669-2969

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