Champions of Change Blog
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM EST
Michael was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
Many of us enter policing thinking the profession is all about enforcing the law. But by handling thousands of arrests and seeing the jails fill, one's perspective evolves. For me, preventing crime before it happens, building public trust, and reducing unnecessary fear have become the most rewarding successes.
New eCommunications systems have brought dramatic changes to the public. They quickly adopted these new technologies and have invited the government to be a part of the socialmedia program. Although the new systems presented great opportunities for law enforcement and emergency services, many felt it was too difficult, a fad, or that we needed to first develop a thick handbook of rules. Chief executives successful in eCommunications either empower a “knowledge-worker” to lead, or a few lead it themselves. Nationally, examples of excellence and innovations in eCommunications range from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the American Red Cross and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Center for Social Media. In 2009, Sheriff Leroy D. Baca empowered me to lead.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) has worked to become online partners with the County’s 10 million residents, other policing and firefighting agencies, and emergency services. The LASD website was redesigned with LASD Nixle text and email messaging, as well as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest pages which were successfully implemented. Because people, especially generationally, want information differently, over 100 LASD community-specific and topic-specific accounts were activated to complement LASD Headquarters messaging.
By working with the public – news media and emergency services agencies to use these systems for routine messaging and coordinating localized crises – we are also training ourselves for the inevitable bigger crises to come.
To help make multi-agency participation easier, I have been awarded the privilege to make presentations to thousands of first responders at over 50 major conferences. Meanwhile, we have provided 8-16 hours of formal training to over 1000 personnel from 150 agencies, including five foreign countries. We accomplished this by working through the newly formed Electronic Communications Triage Unit of Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau (SHB eComm), California Peace Officers Association, and Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County. Through training and joint handling of actual incidents (eMutual Aid), we are an increasingly cohesive multi-agency crisis management team, with the public as key team members.
These new ways to communicate and coordinate directly with the public were impossible just a few years ago. Yet now they seem to be everywhere. By engaging the community, we are increasing public safety, preventing and solving crimes, and reducing fear. Alongside many excellent leaders, I am proud to be a part of the change and the solution.
Captain Mike Parker is the lead Public Information Officer and Unit Commander of Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 12:46 PM EST
Colleen was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
My name is Colleen Adler and I am honored to be a White House Champion of Change. It is an important recognition that I share with West Pierce Fire & Rescue and all the CERT members that make our program a success.
I am the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for West Pierce Fire & Rescue (WPFR) in Washington State. The West Pierce Fire & Rescue CERT program was established in 2008 after the Fire Chief asked if I would be willing to take on this project. At the time, I was working in the 911 center and was excited at the prospect of engaging with citizens prior to an emergency rather than in the midst of one. The program aimed to develop a cadre of skilled community members who would be an asset to the fire district during emergency situations.
I was fortunate to have a few months to investigate other CERT programs and research best practices for engaging citizens. Since I was building our program from scratch I was able to decide which criteria were most important for a successful program. My primary goal was to collaborate with citizens so everyone would view themselves as a stakeholder in the program. In order to achieve this it was important each person felt they were respected and had a role to play in CERT. The best way to show respect is to know the names of the participants and recognize their individual skill set andsince our program has grown to over 400 trained CERT members, this has been a challenge, but one I continue to strive to achieve.
Our program continues to grow due to the support of the fire district and the trained CERT members. A key reason for success is the fire-based instructors who are engaging and respectful. Honoring the efforts of citizens who have busy lives, our instructors shared information with them in a conversational method rather than provide data in a strictly instructional method. The CERT members who complete training are charged with spreading the word as ambassadors of the program. Standout members who have enthusiasm and time are encouraged to become CERT Team Leaders and Advisors, continuing the policy of citizen ownership. We have also been fortunate to have an AmeriCorps volunteer each year since 2009. These volunteers provide essential outreach to our diverse population and are critical to the success of the program.
With the help of CERT Citizen Advisors, the WPFR CERT team developed a platform to not only recruit and train members, but also to create a program that will engage and empower the whole community by bringing together a diverse population with a similar goal: caring for each other and their community in a time of need. As a result of providing ownership of the program to the members, we have been able to reach a variety of people. Among West Pierce CERT members there are: members of the military and military veterans, people with disabilities, unemployed individuals, people who speak English as a second language, city hall employees, social workers, city council members, church clergy, nurses, college students, teachers, retired first responders, insurance agents, business owners, truck drivers, marine biologists, bakers, and the list goes on. These members create a network comprised of individuals representing partnerships with organizations, businesses, and the public all over Lakewood and University Place.
Colleen Adler is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for West Pierce Fire & Rescue in Washington State.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM EST
Boyce was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
Some may ask how servitude and leadership within the community make it stronger, safer, and more resilient. In order to lead, one must first be willing to serve. He or she must be willing to serve the needs, both spoken and unspoken, of the community and others. It is through this approach that leadership transitions toward improving the foundation of the community: its members. This concept is one that I was exposed to early in my career and it has continued to impact how I interact with my community.
In 2006, I became an emergency medical technician for a rural provider in Central Texas. During my training, Paramedic Joe Alvarez, who later became my mentor, cheered the use of “teachable moments” to encourage patients to live in a healthier and safer manner. According to Joe, these moments arise because there is a lack of knowledge that has resulted in a negative consequence for the patients. It is during these times that we are provided an opportunity to correct the lack of knowledge and encourage positive circumstances in the future. At that point, the light came on. If an effort is made when the opportunity arises, a simple statement could make a major difference for an individual. For several years, I enjoyed capturing opportunities to educate others as those “teachable moments” arose.
In late 2007, I joined the Heart of Texas Council of Governments as an emergency preparedness planner. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the brightest minds to develop plans that address preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation of hazards and threats that our 6-county region faces. I have also had the opportunity to serve as the regional coordinator for Citizen Corps Program initiatives within the region. I have worked to establish and facilitate the development of 21 different Citizen Corps initiatives within the rural 5,611 square mile area. These programs epitomize the mission of Citizen Corps, which is to “harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.”
Most recently, the true impact of servitude and leadership was demonstrated during the response to the West Texas fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013. Immediately following the explosion, Citizen Corps volunteers from 10 of the 21 programs found themselves working to meet the otherwise unmet needs of the citizens of West. Four of the teams provided on-site assistance to responders, volunteers, and victims in the forms of rehabilitation, disaster psychology, and resource accountability. The remaining six teams coordinated fundraising and donation drives to meet the growing demands for victim funds, blood for injured victims, and clothing for impacted families.
Regardless of one’s desire to lead, the importance of servitude must not be underestimated. It is through the desire to serve and the subsequent opportunities to lead through serving others that stronger, safer, and more resilient communities have become a reality within the 6-county Heart of Texas Council of Governments region. By serving the needs of the community, we also encourage members within the community to take a leadership role in serving others. It is through serving, leading, and encouraging that we truly make a difference within the community.
Boyce Wilson is an emergency preparedness planner at the Heart of Texas Council of Governments.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 12:40 PM EST
Becky was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
The North Dakota State University Extension Service provides research-based education to help people improve their lives and communities. Programs focus on agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development and community vitality. Disaster preparedness and recovery work is included in all of those subject matter areas.
In 2011, when smartphones first became popular and North Dakota was dealing with another flood, the NDSU Ag Communication staff brainstormed ways to use smartphones to educate people and support disaster preparedness and recovery.
That same day, an article in the local newspaper featured a startup company that had developed a phone app to inform local people about river levels and flood news. Myriad Devices, at the time, was a small startup in the NDSU Research and Technology Park incubator, formed when undergraduate students believed in the idea that mobile networks were the future. Myriad and NDSU Ag Communication immediately connected and have worked together on two disaster education phone apps so far.
The Winter Survival Kit app will help you find your current location, call 911, notify friends and family, calculate how long you can run your vehicle’s engine to keep warm, and learn how to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning if you are stranded. The Winter Survival Kit will alert you every 30 minutes to remind you to turn off the engine periodically and check your exhaust pipe for snow buildup. These alerts are critical in helping avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. The Winter Survival Kit also provides NDSU Extension Service information on how to put together a physical winter survival kit and prepare your vehicle for winter driving, and how to stay safe when stranded in a winter storm.
The Disaster Recovery Log app helps you record and recover from damage caused by flooding or other disasters by capturing photos to illustrate the flood damage. You can key in descriptions of damaged items or use the smartphone’s voice recorder to record a description of the damage. These details and photos can be exported for possible insurance and/or government reimbursement.
The Disaster Recovery Log also provides NDSU Extension Service information on how to clean or deal with flood-damaged appliances and electronics; carpets and floors; clothing and fabrics; food; furniture; gardens and landscapes; home structures; household items; mold; papers, books and photos; and water.
The two apps have more than 70,000 downloads. They are free – Winter Survival Kit for Android and iOS, and Disaster Recovery Log for Androids – and were funded with USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Smith-Lever Special Needs grants.
Since the 2011 release of these two disaster education apps, they have been promoted through social media, the Extension Disaster Education Network, other disaster agencies and organizations, and in many other ways. In the two years, Myriad Devices has grown exponentially and is recognized as a mobile technology leader, creating smartphone tools for businesses nationwide.
Becky Koch is the Agriculture Communication Director at North Dakota State University.
- Posted byon October 17, 2013 at 12:36 PM EST
Joe was recognized as a White House Champion of Change in Community Resilience and Preparedness.
My name is Joe McKenna, and I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, but now call San Marcos, Texas my home. How we think about individual and community preparedness today needs to be comprehensive in nature, and we should strive to engage the entire community in the discussion. Therefore, true preparedness should reflect a whole community approach. This approach includes promoting youth of all ages and abilities to get involved in appropriate preparedness actions and activities. The earlier we instill such behaviors and concepts in our youth, the better prepared our communities will be over time. Often, youth may even have great ideas that adults might never have considered, and thus could influence others in their community through natural innovation and creativity. Throughout history, young people have been a catalyst for change (i.e., seat belts, healthy eating, etc.) and a similar approach can be utilized in preparedness efforts. With youth comprising approximately one-fourth of our nation’s population, the sheer numbers make this population imperative to preparing communities. As such, we should take a vested interest in engaging youth in preparedness efforts.
The mission of the Texas School Safety Center’s Youth Preparedness Camp is to increase emergency preparedness in Texas communities by providing youth with emergency response, action planning, and leadership skills that enhance their capacity to assist their local communities in creating a culture of preparedness. As the coordinator of the Texas School Safety Center’s Youth Preparedness Camp, I have the unique opportunity to interact and support youth as they apply their amazing minds to help increase preparedness in their local communities. Our ultimate goal is to educate and prepare whole communities through their youth. Specifically, we provide trainings on preparedness, disaster response, and leadership. In turn, the youth will return home with the skills and desire to educate and prepare the rest of their local community. The youth deliver and conduct campaigns and activities that raise awareness about local hazards and preparedness practices, but also encourage members of the public to take action and prepare themselves and their families. This model creates a culture of preparedness within the local community that is both all-inclusive and sustainable.
Whether your community is currently active in youth preparedness or not, I encourage you to look to your young people for innovative and creative ways to increase whole community preparedness and utilize their natural talents and skills. After all, we share the communities we live in with our youth, so they too should be involved in preparing our communities for the future.
Joe McKenna is a Research Specialist and the Youth Preparedness Camp Coordinator for the Texas School Safety Center, which is part of Texas State University.
- Posted byon September 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM EST
Gerald Chertavian is being honored as a Youth Jobs+ Champion of Change for his innovative work to develop the discipline and skills associated with employment for our country’s youth.
When Martin Luther King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech fifty years ago, the event’s full title was “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” That full name, often overlooked in the years since, was selected with purpose. Dr. King and other leaders saw economic opportunity and self-sufficiency as an essential element of human freedom and the American promise. They also understood that businesses, and all Americans, suffered when the collective talents and purchasing power of an entire cohort of Americans – not only African-Americans, but people of all races from disadvantaged backgrounds – went largely unrecognized.
Indeed, employers today may be suffering from the Opportunity Divide more than ever before. In 2011, more than 30% of US employers had vacancies open for more than six months as they struggled to find qualified applicants, even in a time of high unemployment. There are good, family-supporting, middle-skills jobs being created in the 21st century economy, but not enough middle-skilled applicants to fill them.
Meanwhile, 6.7 million young Americans are out of school and out of work. Each of them costs taxpayers an average of $14,000 in social expenses and lost revenues for every year that they remain disconnected from career pathways. Unfortunately, there are some that believe that investing in training for undereducated, underemployed young adults has low returns, but these are smart, talented, and perseverant individuals, with enormous potential to offer employers.
Year Up’s students and alumni are living proof. We partner with more than 250 leading employers – smart, innovative companies like Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and State Street – to provide a steady pipeline of diverse, skilled talent for high-demand positions. Talent like Jay Hammonds, who left college after one year due to financial constraints, and set his sights on securing a part-time job at Safeway before he found our program. Jay completed his Year Up internship at Facebook and is still there today as an Executive Support Technician, working closely with the company’s leadership on a daily basis. In fact, 84% of our alumni are working full-time or are in school within four months of graduation, and those who are working earn an average of $15/hour ($30,000/year for salaried employees), more than twice the federal minimum wage. With access to training and corporate networks, our students are EPIC: Empowered, Professional, In-demand by employers, and Career-ready.
If we shifted our perceptions to see talent like Jay’s in the face of every young adult struggling to pay for college or find a job, we would find the human capital to start filling millions of vacancies in this country and help our businesses to grow. That’s what Dr. King explained so well – that all of our freedom and economic wellbeing is tied to that of each other. That’s what he marched for.
Closing the Opportunity Divide remains one of the major movements of our time, but nowadays it’s happening off the street as much as on it. It’s happening in board rooms and offices around the country, as more and more employers lean into the future and understand the economic need to shift their perceptions and hiring practices. Fifty years on, we are still fighting to extend the freedom of opportunity to all Americans. More than ever, we cannot afford not to do so.
Gerald Chertavian is the Founder and CEO of Year Up. Year Up's mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.
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