Washington, D.C., Sep. 28, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and United Negro College Fund Special Programs (UNCFSP) Interim President and CEO, Michael J. Hester, sign memorandums of agreement between UNCFSP and FEMA.
As a federal agency, there are lots of policies, procedures, and agreements that dictate how you do business. The best of these documents are the ones that are flexible, have practical implications regardless of who the leadership is, and inspire action that makes a positive impact.
Last week, FEMA signed a memorandum of agreement with the UNCF Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSP) that embodies the characteristics of those meaningful documents that result in a positive impact.
The agreement will specifically allow for:
- FEMA to participate in lectures, conferences and other events at minority institutions, providing students invaluable access to subject matter experts in emergency management and preparedness.
- UNCFSP to work with FEMA to distribute potentially life-saving information, such as training and other educational and organizational resources to support community-based disaster preparedness efforts.
After the signing ceremony, I was able to catch up with the leaders of both organizations so they could explain, in their own words, why this agreement will make a difference. Here are the questions and answers:
Question: Why is it important to involve members of the UNCFSP in emergency management initiatives?
Answer from Michael Hester, Interim President & CEO, UNCF Special Programs Corporation:
We are certainly glad to sign this Memorandum of Agreement with FEMA. We think that it is important to involve historically black colleges and universities in emergency management and preparedness – mainly in the sense that historically black colleges and universities are often the anchors of their surrounding communities and can serve as natural partners to FEMA in times of needs. And so we are glad to sign this MOA today and we certainly look forward to greater collaboration with FEMA.
Question: How does this agreement align with your strategic goals for FEMA and how can it make a difference in emergency management as a whole?
Answer from Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator:
It’s a way to partner with historically black colleges and universities across this great country to increase the recruiting pool as we continue to build the FEMA team. One of the things we’ve learned in trying to answer the question of “how do we respond better?” – is we have to plan for what’s real and not always what is easy for us, but what communities really need. That is hard to do without different viewpoints and different experiences. So as we continue to build a team, we also continue to look at how do we grow a team that looks more like the communities we serve, so that we have a better understanding of the citizens we serve as well as viewpoints and ideas that we haven’t had before. So this opportunity to partner and continue to grow FEMA and build a team, is important to both our current success and our mission as well as future generations of emergency managers.
Question: What could this mean for students in historically black colleges and universities?
Answer from Early Reese, Chief Operating Officer of UNCF:
It is our belief that this is a natural alignment to have our colleges and universities and their students be trained to better serve their communities and be a resource for not only the development of the students but for helping and aiding in the event of a natural disaster. To that end, we are very positive about this. We bring our institutions from 38 members to this partnership. We believe that with their 60,000 students, there will be ample opportunities to get them engaged not only from a development standpoint but as future employees of the federal government and the FEMA agency specifically.
To learn more about UNCFSP, visit www.uncfsp.org.
- Last year, FEMA signed a similar agreement with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.