As FEMA’s first Senior Executive Service CTO, Mr. Okada is responsible for leading the technology strategy and direction for a wide variety of mission and enterprise systems, providing guidance, advisory services as well as investment and change management planning. Under his leadership, he has aspired to drive FEMA towards the ethos of an “expeditionary start-up” by leveraging a range of continuous improvement initiatives involving cloud computing, open data, analytics, cyber-security, as well as a whole community approach to interoperable communications in the event of a disaster.
Mr. Okada is the creator of OpenFEMA, a project celebrating its 10th anniversary following the 2012 White House Digital Government Strategy and Executive Order on Machine-Readable Data, that ensures FEMA is providing timely, usable, and open information to the public to promote transparency in emergency management, as well as a collaborative culture within the agency. This resource is used by diverse stakeholders including the press, non-profits, university researchers, and the commercial investment community resulting in several outcomes benefitting citizens and survivors, especially around equity and inclusion in disaster assistance. It has also led to a unified strategy to reduce complexity in FEMA systems built around simplified API-based web services.
Mr. Okada also served thirty previous years in international relief, development, and maternal/child survival. Prior to FEMA he was a decade at Microsoft, as founding director of Microsoft Humanitarian Systems, charged with developing solutions to the world’s most vexing and least served humanitarian problems. Mr. Okada led his team in response to the Kashmir Pakistan earthquake in 2005, supporting humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, and was part of the rapid deployment team assisting the city of Galveston during Hurricane Ike. Mr. Okada also holds a 2015 US patent in the field of edge-based mesh networks in disasters as lead inventor with former colleagues at Microsoft’s Concept Development Labs (US 9,078,288).
Mr. Okada grew up in Honolulu and is a graduate of Northwestern University with a B.A. in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, and in Economics, studying under the late Michael Dacey and Nobel Laureate Dale Mortensen. Mr. Okada volunteered at Burke Fire Station 14 in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a licensed Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator, and is co-executive sponsor of the FEMA Asian-American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group, mentoring a younger generation in emergency management.