WASHINGTON, D.C. Don Kampman, Grundy County IT/GIS Director and Jesse Huisman, Grundy County IT/GIS Assistant Director recently participated in a National Association of Counties (NACo) county leadership forum to share information and explore effective strategies to create more resilient communities which can recover faster and better from disaster.
The forum, "Resilient Counties: Leadership amid Rapid Change," was held Dec. 5-6 in Linn County, Iowa. It was the first in a series of forums as part of NACo President Linda Langston's initiative, Resilient Counties. The forum helped leaders in county government identify and prepare for potential threats, address short-term and long-term recovery needs in post-disaster situations and develop collaborative partnerships to address county resiliency.
The forum's keynote speaker was Ken Burris, chief executive officer of Witt O'Brien's, a global leader in preparedness, crisis management and disaster response and recovery. Burris, the former chief operating officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), highlighted the important roles that counties play in building strong regional and national networks to prepare and respond to changing conditions. He also shared his experiences in managing response efforts including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Columbia shuttle disaster, Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Another featured speaker was David Miller, FEMA's associate administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. He discussed opportunities for county officials to be strong leaders in post-disaster situations and offered lessons from his experiences serving as the administrator of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division.
"The forum was an informative exchange of ideas and real-world lessons learned," Kampman and Huisman said. "It offered a unique opportunity to listen to national experts on how our county and community can become better prepared for disaster."
Langston said many counties are on the front lines of coping with disasters such as hurricanes, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and economic disruptions.
"In order to remain healthy, vibrant, safe and economically competitive, America's counties must be able to anticipate and adapt to all types of change," said Langston, supervisor, Linn County, Iowa. "As we learned in Linn County in the aftermath of the deadly 2008 floods, resilient communities recover faster and better. Fostering resilience at home makes for a stronger community and a thriving county."
Panel discussions included: "Leveraging Technology Tools to Prepare for Threats" and "Local Philanthropic and Economic Development Engagement in Recovery Efforts." The full agenda is available at: www.naco.org.
Support for the forum was provided by Colorado Counties, Inc., Idaho Association of Counties, Iowa State Association of Counties, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Rockwell Collins, Transamerica and Wisconsin Association of Counties.