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The MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management

Meet the Advisory Board for the MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management

Dr. Roberto Belmar (Guest Lecturer and EDM Program Advisor)

Dr. Belmar is a pediatrician and medical school professor who served as health commissioner and director of public health emergency response to pandemic influenza for the city of Santiago, Chile. Following the most recent earthquake in Chile, Dr. Belmar was the Incident Commander responsible for restoring the public health systems in Chile. He started his teaching career in community medicine in Chile during the 1960s. Dr. Belmar helped lead the Chilean National Health Service, but his career was cut short when he was forced to flee Chile when the democratically elected president of Chile, was assassinated in a 1973 military coup. With the assistance of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Belmar and his family settled in New York and joined the Department of Social Medicine as deputy chair of social medicine. He became a key force in the development of the Community Health Participation Program, which trained local residents as community health workers.

Kim Burgo (Board Advisor, Guest Lecturer)

Ms. Kim Burgo is currently Senior Director of the national Disaster Operations Office for Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), one of the nation's largest social service networks. Based in Alexandria, Virginia, CCUSA, with over 170 member agencies, provides vital social services to more than 9 million people in need each year, regardless of religious, social or economic backgrounds. Under Ms. Burgo's leadership, the CCUSA Disaster Operations office, places emphasis on readiness and mitigation practices while supporting network agencies in their response to the local community. The Catholic Charities focus remains in the community for the life of the community; targeting efforts in early response and long term recovery including immediate information/referral services, community resource sites, mental health counseling, post disaster housing, and many other related disaster recovery programs.

In concert with her role at Catholic Charities USA, Ms. Burgo also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) and as a committee member of the Department of Homeland Security's National Faith-Based Initiative Council on Preparedness and Protection, under DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Prior to her position with Catholic Charities USA, Ms. Burgo's work focused on international disaster response. Beginning with the Ethiopia Famine in the early 1980s, her 28 years of disaster experience with organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children Federation, provided the framework for involvement in natural, human-made, and complex disaster situations. Amongst her accomplishments, Ms. Burgo led US-based efforts during the 7 year recovery period of Hurricane Mitch in support of Central American countries. Through the creation of healthcare partnerships, in-kind donation systems, technical assistance, advocacy efforts, and the construction and installation of 50 structural bridges, Kim earned notable recognition throughout the countries of Honduras and Nicaragua for these efforts. Her knowledge in catastrophic disasters, combined with her understanding of US structures, led to a 4 month tour of duty during Hurricanes Katrina/Rita where she assisted local Catholic Charities agencies in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and throughout Louisiana with their immediate response, recovery programming, and long term strategic rebuilding efforts. Since joining Catholic Charities, her work has spanned more than 300 disasters throughout the US.

In addition to her disaster experience, Kim has traveled to over 25 countries throughout the world performing program assessments, addressing post-disaster needs, and participating in long term development efforts. She has led numerous bi-lingual (English/Spanish) strategic planning sessions concentrated on diverse cultures and populations, provided grass-roots organizing methodologies, structures and directions to a recovering post-Balkan war society, conducted workshops throughout the United States and internationally on the theme of "Global Solidarity," and addressed "Temporary Protective Status" advocacy related issues at the United Nations for a post-Hurricane Mitch recovery gathering.

Ken Curtin (Guest Lecturer and EDM Program Advisor)

Ken Curtin has over 40 years of experience in disaster and emergency human services, and has served on assignments in 25 states and 31 foreign countries. He was appointed a Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) on July 30, 2012. He previously served as FEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaison for Region II New York/New Jersey since October 1998.

Before that time, Ken held staff positions with

  • International Rescue Committee as Program Officer for eastern Africa
  • Christian Children's Fund as Director of Emergency Programs
  • Catholic Relief Services as international Disaster and Refugee Program Coordinator and
  • American Red Cross Disaster Services in New York City

He has a wide range of human services experience in domestic and international disaster relief including wars, earthquakes, floods, refugee programs, urban disasters and famines.

Kay C. Goss (Guest Lecturer and EDM Program Advisor, CEM)

Kay is Senior Associate for Emergency Management and Homeland Security at Booz | Allen | Hamilton (BAH). She is an internationally recognized lecturer and author on emergency management and general resiliency. Prior to joining BAH, she served in numerous high-level positions, in the private sector as well as in both state and federal government agencies, including tours of duty as: Senior Principal and Senior Advisor for Emergency Management and Continuity Programs at SRA International; Senior Advisor for Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Business Security at EDS; Associate FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Director in charge of National Preparedness, Training, and Exercises; and Senior Assistant for Intergovernmental Relations to then Arkansas Governor William Jefferson Clinton. Kay was inducted into the International Network of Women in Emergency Management Hall of Fame in 2011.

Brian Gray

Brian left the Canadian Army in 1999 to join the United Nations World Food Programme. Since then he has worked in over 75 countries in the logistics, security, administration and programming fields. His two field postings were Sierra Leone and Iraq. Brian has been central to the development and implementation of business continuity and organizational resilience management in the United Nations. Brian assumed his current position at the end of 2009. He regularly speaks at international conferences on risk management and the application of social media in emergencies. You can link with him on Twitter at @brianinroma.

Peter B. Gudaitis (M.DIV., Board Advisor, Guest Lecturer)

Mr. Gudaitis is the president of the National Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN) – a 501(c)(3) non-profit which provides consulting, speakers, research and training to disaster human services and faith-based initiatives to faith communities, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, colleges/universities, foundations and government agencies who seek to engage and enhance the mitigation, readiness, response, and recovery capacity of faith communities and government partnerships with whole communities.

He also lectures and offers trainings nationally and internationally on religious competency and building sustainable faith-based partnerships as well as disaster readiness, response, and recovery services best practice. From 2003 to 2009 Mr. Gudaitis was the Executive Director & CEO of New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS) - a 501(c)(3) federation of faith-based human service providers and charitable organizations that work in partnership to provide disaster readiness, response, and recovery services for 9/11 and other New York City hazards. NYDIS collaborates with local, state, and national agencies involved in facilitating the delivery of non-sectarian spiritual care, secular disaster human services, resources, and information to religious communities, underserved victims and impacted neighborhoods. Mr. Gudaitis has over 25 years of experience in chaplaincy, emergency management, faith-based philanthropy, program management, and social services administration. He is a former EMS supervisor and EMS Chaplain. Mr. Gudaitis holds a Master of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church and a B.A. from Kenyon College. He participates on many local and national disaster human services and non-profit boards and committees. Most recently, he was named a Research Associate at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture and was appointed by NY State Respond Commission by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Michael Spall (Guest Lecturer and EDM Program Advisor)

Mr. Spall is currently the Emergency Management Preparedness and Liaison Department Manager for Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc. He has held a manager level position in Emergency Management since the department's inception in the year 2000. Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc. is one of the country's largest investor owned utility companies with over 3.2 million electric, 1.06 million natural gas and 1,800 steam customers.

His primary mission is to facilitate the Company's efforts in preparedness for, and response to operational emergencies and unplanned crisis situations using the Incident Command System. That mission also extends to emergency preparedness for major planned activities, and his everyday responsibilities of outreach, liaison, and relationship bridge building with NY City and Westchester County government agency stakeholders. He is the primary liaison with NY City's Office of Emergency Management and the NYPD Operations Division. His department also spearheads Business Continuity efforts throughout the Company. Prior to his current position, he was Assistant Director, Media Relations. He also spent 12 years in a variety of positions at the Indian Point 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, NY. 

He holds a BS in Environmental Science from SUNY College at Purchase and a Master's degree in Protection Management from CUNY John Jay School of Criminal Justice.

Linda Whitaker (Guest lecturer and Program Advisor)

Ms. Whitaker is Assistant Commissioner of the Office for Emergency Preparedness at New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA). She oversees the coordination of emergency services to the community as well as the agency continuity of operations. Ms. Whitaker is the DFTA liaison to NYC Office for Emergency Management. She plans, organizes and manages the participation of community groups in emergency activities, and assists other public and voluntary agencies in emergency planning activities. Ms. Whitaker brings over thirty (30) years of experience in community-based and contract management services. She holds a Baccalaureate degree in Economics from Queens College and a Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College.

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