Melissa Forbes, PhD

Melissa Forbes
Office of Response and Recovery

Assistant Administrator

Melissa Forbes is the Assistant Administrator of the Recovery Directorate within the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In this role, she is responsible for managing the nation’s recovery from declared disasters and emergencies, which includes the management of billions of dollars in disaster aid annually and an organization of more than 8,500 employees. Melissa is also responsible for overseeing the work of Recovery’s Divisions:  Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, Interagency Coordination, Recovery Technology Programs, and Recovery Analytics.

Prior to serving in this role, Melissa served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Recovery Directorate where she oversaw FEMA’s, largest in history, Public Assistance Program, and Individual Assistance disaster programs that include the Individuals and Households Program, Crisis Counseling Program, Disaster Case Management, Disaster Legal Service, and Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Before joining the Recovery Directorate, Melissa served as the Acting Deputy Chief Information Officer where she provided leadership and oversight to Information Technology (IT) resource planning, strategic and capital planning, enterprise IT procurement, customer success, and IT project management. She also led the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s (OCIO) implementation of FEMA’s Strategic Goal 3: Reduce the Complexity of FEMA by championing new technology and processes to make OCIO a more collaborative and customer-focused organization.

Melissa also served as the Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for FEMA's Office of Policy and Program Analysis (OPPA).  In that role, she provided leadership and oversight of agency policy, strategic and resource planning, enterprise analytics, audit follow-up and resolution, international affairs, and Defense Production Act coordination. During the record-breaking 2017 hurricane season, she deployed to FEMA's National Response Coordination Center as Deputy Chief of Situational Awareness.

Melissa joined DHS in 2010, working in the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD) Office of Risk Management and Analysis, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the DHS Office of Policy.  Melissa joined FEMA’s National Preparedness Assessment Division in 2012, where she led the National Preparedness Report in support of the National Preparedness Goal.  Dr. Forbes has a PhD in Public Policy and Sociology from the University of Michigan.

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