FEMA Chief of Staff welcomes DRLA Students to National Headquarters

July 6, 2016


On July 6th, Professor George Haddow and the DRLA Summer Institute student group visited the FEMA headquarters in Washington DC, escorted by FEMA Chief of Staff Michael Coen. To begin the day, the students were invited to observe the official daily morning briefing, during which the various branches of FEMA and the White House all reported on significant goings-on for their sector. Updates included the daily national, space, and storm forecasts, current FEMA disaster operations status and other topics.

The group then had a Q & A session with Michael Coen and Josh Batkin, Director of the Office of External Affairs, during which the staff members answered questions about challenges they face, what they love about their jobs, how they manage stress, advice they can offer new graduates, how FEMA is ensuring their materials are accessible to all populations, and others. Following the morning briefing and hearing from various staff members, including from the communications department, the students were escorted throughout the building and were able to see the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC).

Lastly, Mr. Coen and Mr. Batkin gave the students a tour of the employee working area, which they have recently converted into an open work space floor plan, which they say makes team, inter and intra department communication more efficient and each other more accessible.

Jennifer MacNeill, 2016 DRLA Summer Institute Group Coordinator