This week, Marcus Coleman was sworn-in as the new director of the DHS Center for Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships (DHS Partnerships Center) after his appointment by the Biden-Harris Administration.
The mission of the White House Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is to focus on fostering partnerships between government and faith-based organizations. The work Coleman has done throughout his career aligns perfectly with the mission of the DHS Partnerships Center. Through his knowledge of the unique communities represented by houses of worship and faith-based organizations, he has been able to make substantial contributions toward strengthening equity in emergency management.
Former DHS Partnerships Center Director (2009-2017) and advisor to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, David L. Myers said, “President Biden could not have appointed a better prepared and more capable leader than Marcus Coleman to direct the DHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The country and the president will be well served by Marcus’ years of experience at the Center, his expertise in emergency preparedness, and his robust network of trusted relationships with faith-based, civic, and government partners.”
When Coleman began working for FEMA in 2010, he was a program manager for the Individual and Community Preparedness Division. There he worked to create partnerships that represented both the public and private sectors. He continued this work when he began working at the DHS Partnerships Center in 2013.
During his time at the DHS Partnerships Center, Coleman supported more than 15 disaster activations and special mission responses. This included responding to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the 2015 influx of unaccompanied children, and post-incident national outreach and messaging after several active shooter incidents. In 2016, he won a FEMA Administrator’s Award for the work he did to encourage collaboration between faith leaders and first responders.
These efforts resulted in emergency operation plans that safeguarded houses of worship. His role extended beyond FEMA to coordination with federal interagency partners and DHS components, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration.
Coleman’s portfolio of work includes co-developing FEMA’s guidance for Engaging Faith-based and Community Organizations: Planning Considerations for Emergency Managers and contributing to FEMA’s course on Religious and Cultural Literacy and Competency in Disasters.. In his own community, he serves as Advisory Board Member of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, a Board Member for National Institute of Civic Discourse and Fair Chance DC and is a member of the Truman National Security Project.
On February 14, 2021, President Biden reestablished the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and federal agency centers. In addition to their stated mission of outreach to stakeholders of all backgrounds and beliefs, the Center’s were charged to execute the administration’s mission to boost economic recovery, combat systemic racism, increase opportunity and mobility for historically disadvantaged communities, advance international development and global humanitarian work and strengthen pluralism and respect constitutional guarantees.
As the Director of the DHS Partnerships Center, Coleman will lead the linkage of houses of worship, faith-based organizations and non-governmental organizations with DHS components to promote equitable access to resilience, preparedness, safety and security.
His expertise promoting interfaith dialogue and coordination makes him uniquely poised to guide the DHS Partnerships Center through its next chapter.