Norma Su’a Owens remembers constantly preparing for hurricanes as a child. After Hurricane Iwa in 1982, resources were especially limited. Her early experiences living on the islands of Hawaii made it clear how important it is for people to have what they need before, during and after disasters. Today, as a Customer Relationship Manager for FEMA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, Norma supports agency employees with their information technology needs.
Prior to working at FEMA, Norma spent 20 years in the U.S. Army. When she retired from military service, her commitment to public service remained. A friend encouraged Norma to go to a job fair for veterans and that’s where she found FEMA.
Norma finds many similarities between her two careers: being prepared to act at a moment’s notice, taking an oath during the induction process and upholding a promise to put people first.
Her military experience in transportation and aviation has helped expand FEMA’s air operations from a team of four people to 20 employees. Norma also supports air operations for FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center during disasters. In this role, she stands up operations to help establish critical infrastructure and delivery of essential equipment and supplies to support disaster response and recovery.
After Hurricane Maria in 2017, Norma was deployed to Puerto Rico. Her experience growing up in Hawaii gave her firsthand knowledge of the struggles that come with living on an island. She knew that air travel was the only way to get to the island. Coordinating an operation that included a large military aircraft, a helicopter and a state and military police escort, Norma ensured supplies were able to reach the people of Puerto Rico.
“You see people’s compassion when the deliveries happen,” said Norma. “People hadn’t had electricity in two months. They were just so excited to eat an MRE (meal ready-to-eat).”
From her life experiences, Norma understands the importance of supporting people before, during and after disasters. "We're not serving our office,” she said. “We're serving the public.”
The We Are FEMA campaign highlights employees like Norma, who are committed to serving our country before, during and after disasters. It takes a deeper look at the employees who work to make our nation safer, stronger and more prepared. The campaign allows others to learn more about the mission-driven work and the who, what and why behind the FEMA mission. The faces of FEMA are diverse, but they share the same goal: to help people before, during and after disaster.
To join our team, visit FEMA.gov to see the latest job openings.