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FEMA Think Tank: Building, Sustaining & Envisioning Public-Private Partnerships

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This week, U.S. Northern Command hosted the Building Resilience through Public Private Partnerships Conference.  We held our latest FEMA Think Tank call on the second day of the conference and had a great conversation on how the emergency management community can develop and sustain relationships with the private sector and build these partnerships for the future.  There were about 150 participants in the room and over 220 participants on the phone. 

Building and Sustaining Public-Private Relationships through Best Practices

Kicking off the call, we discussed best practices and highlighted the importance of engaging the private sector, including information sharing, engaging trusted partners and building resiliency. Ira Tannenbaum, the Director of Public/Private Initiatives at New York City’s Emergency Management Office, Bryan Strawser, Target’s Senior Group Manager of Global Crisis Management, Jami Haberl, Executive Director of Safeguard Iowa Partnerships, and FEMA’s current Private Sector Representative, Hilary Ward, Global Managed Services of Citi Group all led the panel style discussion.   Each provided a unique perspective, from the insight of a large corporation to that of a nonprofit organization.  The insight each speaker shared truly demonstrated the importance of whole community.

Colorado Springs, Colo., July 24, 2012 -- Dep. Administrator Richard Serino speaks at FEMA's Think Tank held in Colorado Springs on Tues., July 24. Serino was also in Colorado to visit burn areas in the aftermath of the Waldo Fire which was declared a major disaster on June 29, 2012.

Our discussion focused on the coordination of private sector and emergency management resources prior, during and following a disaster. From these discussions, we were able to view real-life examples, which included working with the private sector to create a force multiplier in delivering messages, connecting businesses with regional private sector FEMA liaisons, and leveraging nonprofits to assist in building public/private partnerships. Additionally, we discussed how important it is to build a financial services toolkit to ensure disaster resiliency for businesses and the community at large. These are a only few examples of the critical need to work together before, during and after emergencies.

Envisioning the Future of Public-Private Partnerships

During the second part of the call, we challenged the participants to discuss the future of public-private partnerships.  Joe Donovan, Senior Vice President of Beacon Capital Partners and Preparedness Chair discussed collaborating on a future vision of public private partnerships.  In particular, we talked about developing sustainable private/public partnerships and discovering creative ways to leverage these partnerships, such as educating the community on trusted business sources to utilize after a disaster strikes.  I challenge you all to continue this discussion and discuss the future of public-private partnerships.  Where do we go from here, and how do we get there together?  Post your comments and ideas to the Think Tank Online Forum.

The next Think Tank call will take place on August 17 in Vermont. The theme for that discussion will be the role of faith-based and community organizations in advancing the whole community approach to emergency management. I encourage you to participate in the conversation on the Think Tank Online Forum by sharing and discussing ideas.  A full transcript of the July 24 conference call is available at

Last Updated: 
08/14/2012 - 13:40

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