I never imagined I would ever receive a call from the White House to serve as FEMA Administrator. When I did, I was excited and honored; however, no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face. Over the past two years, we led this Nation through the toughest series of disasters ever experienced – our mission spanning half the globe. Through all of that, we also worked to improve and transform the field of emergency management. Changes made – both through the Agency’s strategic plan and the passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) – acknowledge the shared responsibility of disaster response and recovery; aim to reduce the complexity of federal disaster programs; highlight the importance of mitigating critical lifelines before disaster strikes; and seek to build the nation’s capacity for the next catastrophic event.
My whole career has been dedicated to serving the emergency management profession and I could not be prouder to work alongside each of you as well as our state, local, tribal and territorial partners. You are truly humble heroes that rarely receive the credit you deserve. The FEMA mission calls upon you to be a dedicated public servant and to sacrifice so much of your personal life for the sake of helping others. It is not said enough, but please know how grateful I am for the work you do. It is an honor to serve our country and lead this most important agency.
Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world…go home and love your family.” While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my other family – my beautiful wife and two incredible boys. Life is too short not to be with the ones that you love most, and I need to ensure my boys grow up to exhibit the same levels of patriotism that you do. With that, I have respectfully resigned as FEMA Administrator.
This is one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. Thank you for an incredible journey and for the support you have shown me. Whether you agreed with my vision for the Agency or not, thank you for standing with me as we tried new concepts designed to ultimately save lives and better our profession. Together, we have laid the foundation for future successes within the field of emergency management.
My final request of you is this: take care of each other. Our jobs are stressful as we are often responsible for helping someone navigate one of their worst days; so, it is important to support your FEMA family. Additionally, remember it is okay to disagree with one another; but, at the end of the day, despite differences, we are all on the same team and driving towards the same goal – helping others before, during and after disasters. Lastly, please know that I will always be this Agency’s biggest advocate.
I depart knowing the Agency is in excellent hands. Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will serve as Acting FEMA Administrator upon my departure. I have complete confidence in Pete and the entire senior leadership team, who I know will ensure – along with all of you – that FEMA’s vital mission is delivered without interruption.
In closing, I would like to paraphrase a quote from Abraham Lincoln that is inscribed on a wall within the National Cathedral, “May God’s blessings follow me home, yet remain here with you. I bid you an affectionate farewell.”