Leviticus “L.A.” Lewis is a self-professed space geek. Growing up, L.A. was a science fair kid and boy scout who launched model rockets, joined the Civil Air Patrol and dreamed of one day being an astronaut or designing spaceships. “I never thought working at FEMA would give me the chance to work with the FBI and NASA.” he said.
L.A. is FEMA’s representative working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office. He coordinates implementation of select actions within the National Near-Earth Object (NEO) Strategy and Action Plan. This plan organizes and coordinates efforts to increase the nation’s preparedness for asteroids and comets whose orbits come close (within 30 million miles), to Earth. The office works to ensure the nation can more effectively respond in case this type of very low-probability, but very high-consequence disaster should occur.
As a member of the NEO Impact Threat Emergency Procedures – Interagency Working Group (NITEP-IWG) he is working to strengthening NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols. L.A. is also a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, 2021 Planetary Defense Conference Organizing Committee. The Committee is working on conducting the next conference virtually next April and holding another FEMA/NASA led interagency tabletop exercise in late 2021.
Prior to joining FEMA, L.A. served 20 years in various command and staff positions in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. As a young adult, he was one of the first U.S. Navy officers assigned to the Department of Peace Keeping Operations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
On September 11, 2001, L.A. had retired from his commission as a Navy Commander and was working as a civilian at the Pentagon. When the attacks happened, L.A. helped people get to safety. He said the event drove him back to service. He returned to service, first at the Transportation Security Administration and later at FEMA. He joined the agency in 2007 as Director of the National Response Coordination Center, and later served as both the acting Director and Deputy Director of the Response Operations Division. He was also the first FEMA Senior Agency Liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force.
L.A. said he is motivated by President John F. Kennedy’s words “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your county.”
“Being a public servant is who I am,” said L.A. At FEMA, L.A. is able to continue serving while also pursuing his passion for space. “Earth is a really cool place, and I get to do something on a large scale to protect it,” said L.A.
The We Are FEMA campaign highlights employees like L.A. and takes a deeper look at the work they do 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 disasters.
To join our team, visit FEMA.gov to see the latest job openings.