Recruitment and Retention Panel Discussion

Emergency management draws people from many different industries and professions. It also attracts young adults as their first profession. On August 3, 2023, Domestic Preparedness hosted a panel discussion with five emergency management professionals who entered their careers differently and at different life stages. For example, one got his first look into emergency management as a youth earning a merit badge. In contrast, another found a second career after missing the adventure found as a U.S. Marine for 23 years. Volunteering in the community as a firefighter or in a response organization for earthquakes and other emergencies gave others a glimpse into the emergency management world.

Finding a Niche in Emergency Management

Although many people get into the field through their previous response experiences, emergency management depends on many other areas beyond emergency preparedness fields. Emergency management also requires skillsets from those involved in global information systems, information technology, transportation, project management, communications, and many others involved (e.g., nontraditional tasks, sending teams to incidents in other areas). In high-stress careers, priorities include preventing burnout, minimizing turnover, and managing work-life balance. A positive servant-leadership culture can help manage stress and retain personnel. Good leadership involves creating a collaborative and cooperative environment that motivates individuals and builds teamwork.

Retention in socially impactful careers benefits from a healthy employer-employee relationship. Characteristics of this relationship include: speaking up, sharing knowledge, having empathy for others’ needs and goals, building a solid support system (at home and work), listening to others and valuing their opinions, and motivating both self and others.

There are a variety of events that communities face (natural, human-caused, and technological). When managing these emergencies or disasters and restoring a community, emergency managers often start by empathizing with others and their numerous unmet needs. That same empathy would drive positive change within an organization or agency. The panelists in this webinar urge leaders to prioritize recruitment and retention because the return on investment is more significant than any other investments they can make.

Aaron Alvarez

Aaron Alvarez is TDEM’s Advance Representative, working closely with the Media & Communications team and agency leadership to support public engagements and events across the state.

Aaron is a graduate of the inaugural Texas Emergency Management Academy, where he received his FEMA National Emergency Management Basic Academy Certificate of Completion as well as NREMT Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certification. The Academy provided him with over 1,400 hours of instruction, training, and knowledge in a variety of aspects of emergency management, including the fields of emergency preparedness, disaster response, recovery, and hazard mitigation.

After graduating high school and attending college, Aaron worked as a project manager for a general contracting company in Austin, TX. During his free time, he spent many hours volunteering for the local Fire Department and learning about Fire and Emergency Services.


Nathan DiPillo

Nathan DiPillo currently serves as a California Governor’s Office appointee assigned to the California Office of Emergency Services as a Critical Infrastructure Analyst in the State Threat Assessment Center. Before state service, he functioned as a critical infrastructure specialist with the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). He also spent over 15 years with the Transportation Security Administration, where he assisted in standing up the agency with policy development, training, and recruitment. He has over 25 years in the emergency management and security industry, beginning as a resident firefighter/emergency medical technician. He also served with the California State Military Department, and Army National Guard in the 223rd Training Command ending his career as a Sergeant First Class. During that time, he served in many units, finishing his career attached to the 102nd Military Police Training Division in an Opposition Force Unit. He currently serves on a small-town planning commission and assisted in coordinating an emergency family communications group in his local area. He possesses a Master of Emergency Management/Homeland Security from the National University and other Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and military certifications. He currently serves as an advisor to the Domestic Preparedness Journal.

Anthony S. Mangeri

Anthony S. Mangeri, MPA, CPM, CEM, has more than 30 years of experience in emergency operations and public safety. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he served as operations chief at the New Jersey Emergency Operations Center, coordinating that state’s response to the passenger-aircraft crashes into the World Trade Center. He has served his community as a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT) for more than 25 years, ultimately earning the rank of assistant chief/safety officer and serving as the fire department’s health and safety officer for many years. Currently, he is a consultant focusing on emergency management, planning, training, and exercising. He is also on the faculty of several universities. He serves on several professional committees, including the ASIS Fire and Life Safety Council, and is president of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Region 2. He earned a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University. He is a Certified Public Manager and has received the IAEM’s designation of Certified Emergency Manager.

Elizabeth Saunders

Elizabeth Saunders is Team Rubicon's South Texas Operations Associate, responsible for recruiting, training and coordinating volunteers for mitigation, response and recovery efforts in Central and South Texas. After serving in the US Navy, she completed a master's degree in digital Anthropology and University College London and went on to teach entrepreneurship and corporate innovation around the globe. At Team Rubicon, she brings together her passion for service, community centered approaches, and innovation to help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Michael Valiente

Michael Valiente currently serves as the Senior Training Officer – Preparedness Division at the Texas Division of Emergency Management. He is a retired U.S. Marine with 23 years of active-duty service. His initial emergency management experience came from participating in Operational Unified Assistance, the U.S. military humanitarian relief efforts during the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. After retiring in 2005, he taught at the University of Phoenix and Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, Texas. He has a master’s degree in international relations from Troy University and a Doctor of Emergency Management degree from Capella University.



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