FEMA Announces New Members to Join the Youth Preparedness Council

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Release date: 
June 20, 2013
Release Number: 
R3-13-11

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced five newly selected members of the FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council (YPC).

FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council was formed last year to bring together youth leaders from across the country that are highly interested and engaged in advocating youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities.  The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities, and provides an avenue to engage youth population, taking into account their perspectives, feedback and opinions.  Council members will attend a Youth Preparedness Council Summit on youth disaster preparedness and will also complete a Council project with FEMA support.

Young people are capable of playing an important role in emergency preparedness, and have the unique potential to help their communities be safe, stronger and more resilient before, during and after a disaster. Youth involved in preparedness programs are able to effectively spread important messages about preparedness to their family, school and community. By participating in youth preparedness programs, young individuals are empowered to become leaders at home, in their schools and communities.

In its second year, interest in the Youth Preparedness Council has increased based on the number of applications received this year for the five seats available.  The five newest members of the Council from across the country have been selected based on their dedication to public service, efforts in making a difference in their community, and their potential to expand their impact as a national advocate for youth preparedness.

The distinguished members selected in 2013 are as follows:

  • FEMA Region II:       Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide (New York)
  • FEMA Region III:      Alex Pasculle (Pennsylvania)
  • FEMA Region IV:      Louyankkah Justilien (Florida)
  • FEMA Region V:       Daniel Wernsman (Wisconsin)
  • FEMA Region VII:    Emily Rosenblum (Missouri)

The returning Council members are as follows:

  • FEMA Region I:         Rachel Little (Massachusetts)
  • FEMA Region II:       Gabriela Rodriguez Boria (Puerto Rico)
  • FEMA Region V:       Jason Reed (Indiana)
  • FEMA Region VI:      Jonathan DeLong (Texas)
  • FEMA Region VII:    Nimansha Jain (Nebraska)
  • FEMA Region VIII:   Ashley Houston (Utah)
  • FEMA Region IX:      Divya Saini (California)
  • FEMA Region IX:      Tiffany Espensen (California)
  • FEMA Region IX:      Christian Chowen (Hawaii)
  • FEMA Region X:       Cayman Kirkhart (Idaho)

Over the past year, the Youth Preparedness Council members have been promoting preparedness in their communities and across the nation.  Several members achieved noteworthy results, including:

  • Rachel Little (Region I) authored a FEMA blog post about the importance of preparing for severe weather.
  • Gabriela Boria (Region II) developed a preparedness group called REACT that holds “Preparedness Days” and started a Teen CERT program at her school.
  • Ashley Houston (Region VII) was requested to speak about youth preparedness on a panel at the 2013 Institute of Medicine Workshop (to be held in June 2013).
  • Divya Saini (Region IX) was awarded the “Disney Friends for Change” grant for her Block Preparedness Coordinator work, and has authored and published three articles about preparedness in the Palo Alto Weekly Newspaper.
  • Tiffany Espensen (Region IX) developed “Tiffy’s Tip Tuesday” in which she relays disaster preparedness tips via her Twitter account, which currently has 16,880 followers.

This year council members will have the opportunity to participate in the Youth Preparedness Council Summit in Washington, D.C. this summer where they will advise and ask questions on youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on this critical priority.  Council members will also determine their Council project and meet with FEMA Community Preparedness staff, who will be their ongoing FEMA support contacts and mentors. Members will also meet virtually with FEMA leadership on a regular basis throughout the year and will provide ongoing input on strategies and initiatives as well as updates on their projects.

To learn more about FEMA’s youth preparedness efforts please visit: Ready.gov/youth-preparedness.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.

Last Updated: 
June 20, 2013 - 14:48
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