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Maryland Department of Emergency Management

Maryland Emergency Management Secretary Elected President of the National Emergency Management Association

REISTERSTOWN, MD (October 5, 2023) — Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) Secretary Russ Strickland today was elected President of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). The selection took place at the Association’s annual forum in Memphis, Tenn.

“I am honored and humbled to be leading the Association at such a pivotal time for emergency management,” said Strickland. “In many cases, the loss of lives due to disasters has been decreasing, thanks to improved early warning systems, emergency response, and disaster preparedness. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence indicating an increase in the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters, such as hurricanes, heatwaves, wildfires, and extreme precipitation events. As we have shown the ability to coordinate response and recovery efforts among disciplines, we also are being asked to help solve a wider range of issues. We have important work to do.” As of September 11, 2023, a total of 23 separate billion-dollar disasters have been confirmed this year — the most events on record during a calendar year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NEMA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association dedicated to enhancing public safety by improving the nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from all emergencies, disasters, and threats to our nation’s security. NEMA is the professional association of and for emergency management directors from all 50 states, 8 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, and is an affiliate of the Council of State Governments.

MDEM staff is also supporting Maryland’s engagement with multiple NEMA committees, including Resilience, Response and Recovery, and Legislative Committees. Additionally, MDEM’s Deputy Executive Director, Chas Eby, was selected to continue as chair of the NEMA’s Deputy Director’s Group and Anna Sierra, MDEM’s Chief Development Officer, was appointed Chair of NEMA’s newly created State Legislative Staff Subcommittee.

“These roles are a testament to the vision and dedication of our team at the Maryland Department of Emergency Management,” Eby said. “We are fortunate to collaborate with colleagues from diverse communities and backgrounds. Together, we are committed to advancing emergency management practices to build capabilities and reduce the risk of disasters.”

About Russell J. Strickland

Secretary Strickland has been leading the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (formerly Maryland Emergency Management Agency – MEMA) since July 2015 and was reappointed Secretary of MDEM by Governor Wes Moore in January 2023. Secretary Strickland is an experienced emergency management professional who has more than 40 years of experience in the field of emergency services and first responder activities at the state and local levels of government, academia, and the private sector. This includes expertise in fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, fire inspection and investigation, communications, and emergency management leadership.

Directly prior to his appointment, Secretary Strickland worked as a Senior Law & Policy Analyst at the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS), where he led CHHS’ work with the United States Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program and developed strategy for the Montgomery County (Md.) Fire Department to meet compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Secretary Strickland also has experience leading a cabinet-level emergency services department at the local level as the Director of Emergency Services in Harford County, Md. This position oversees emergency operations and communications, public safety answering points (the 9-1-1 center), training, and special operations, among other responsibilities.

His executive responsibilities have also included previously serving the State of Maryland as Deputy Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Assistant Director of the Field Programs Division at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, University of Maryland, College Park.

Secretary Strickland has a Master of Science degree in Management from Frostburg State College. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) President Russ Strickland with outgoing NEMA President Patrick Sheehan of Tennessee.

From Left to Right: National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) President Russ Strickland with outgoing NEMA President Patrick Sheehan of Tennessee.


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