Sherman Gillums Jr., a native of Buffalo, New York, serves as FEMA’s disability coordinator and the director of its Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC), located in the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters. In his role, Sherman advises FEMA Administrator Criswell on meeting the agency’s commitment to equity in emergency management for people with disabilities, including older adults and others with access and functional needs.
Within seven months of joining FEMA in August 2022, Sherman deployed to response operations for hurricanes Ian and Fiona, deadly tornados in Alabama and Mississippi, and served as the Agency’s lead advisor on disability integration after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. In March 2023, Sherman released to the FEMA workforce his Director’s Intent, “A Guide to Meeting the Disability Integration Mission”. The vision focuses on 14 potential points of inequity that can substantially extend the disaster lifecycle for people with disabilities and older adults.
Before joining FEMA, Sherman led strategy, operations, and impact for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. There he focused the organization’s efforts to universalize timely access to mental healthcare and destigmatize mental illness. He is also the former executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and chief strategy and advocacy officer for AMVETS, two of the nation’s largest congressionally chartered veteran service organizations.
Sherman has testified before Congress as an expert witness and appeared on national networks, such as CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN, as one of the most influential voices on military and veteran issues. His expert commentary has regularly appeared in the Hill, Military Times and other national publications.
He was recognized by HillVets as among the 100 most influential voices on Capitol Hill in 2016, the same year his alma mater, University of San Diego, inducted him into its hall of honor. He was also personally recognized by The White House for noteworthy “service to our nation” and the Secretary of Veteran Affairs for “exceptional leadership.”
A United States veteran, Sherman joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 and served for 12 years before medically retiring at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2. He holds a graduate degree from the University of San Diego School of Business and completed his executive education at Harvard Business School. He will complete his doctoral studies at the University of Dayton in 2024.
Sherman and his wife Tammie, herself a U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, have two sons, four daughters―including one who is presently a Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy―and two granddaughters.
Interagency partners and disability stakeholders who would like to connect with Director Gillums, including requests for presentations and coordination with FEMA Speakers' Bureau, can send an email to: FEMA-ODIC-Partnerships@fema.dhs.gov.