My name is Jamie Casterton, and I am a Public Affairs Specialist at FEMA Region 8. I joined the agency in November 2018 and have been with our regional office in Denver, Colorado since May 2020.
My first experiences with disasters were the 2004 hurricanes in Vero Beach, Florida, when my community was heavily impacted by the storms. It was my senior year of high school. My family evacuated for Hurricane Frances, and we hunkered down at our neighbor’s home as Hurricane Jeanne barreled through the area. Being inside that home during the hurricane as the wind howled, not knowing what would happen, was one of the scarier moments of my life.
In the aftermath of the storms, I remember being out of school, our power being out for an extended period of time, and waiting in line to pick up ice from a truck at the mall parking lot. I remember seeing eroded beaches, damaged and destroyed homes and buildings, and so many roofs with blue tarps. Luckily our home sustained minimal damage.
Later on, I would be involved in a host of disaster response and recovery work as I served alongside FEMA as a Corps Member in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in 2010 and as a Team Leader in AmeriCorps NCCC – FEMA Corps in the 2012 inaugural class.
Now, as a Public Affairs Specialist, I support communications products as a part of our mission to serve Region 8’s 6 states and 29 federally recognized tribal nations. Examples of the work that I do include writing and editing, coordinating internal employee communication, supporting our senior leadership team with information they need, and assisting with our digital and social media.
To me, as a bisexual woman at FEMA, Pride Month means celebrating our diverse LGBTQIA+ community, being visible, making sure that employees at FEMA feel welcomed and valued, and honoring what our community contributes to our mission of helping people before, during, and after disasters.
One of the things I love about working for FEMA is our employee resource groups. I’m a member of the FEMA LGBTQIA+ Pride Employee Resource Group. We create community for LGBTQIA+ employees by hosting virtual social hours, supporting each other with issues that arise in the workplace, and celebrating personal successes and milestones. We also host educational events for FEMA employees and allies to learn more about LGBTQIA+ history, issues, and accomplishments.
The group also provides our perspective to FEMA leadership on policies that affect LGBTQIA+ employees and disaster survivors, to advance equity within the agency and promote FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect.
I’m proud to work for FEMA, and I appreciate that who I am as an LGBTQIA+ employee is welcomed and celebrated here.
My name is Jamie Casterton, and I am FEMA.