Committee and Staff Biosketches
Ellis Stanley (Co-Chair), director of Western Emergency Services, has more than 32 years of work experience in emergency management, beginning as the director of emergency management for Brunswick County, North Carolina, in 1975. While in Brunswick County, he was selected as the first fire marshal for the jurisdiction and also served as fire and rescue commissioner. There Mr. Stanley was very involved with hurricane planning and response as well as having developed one of the first fixed-nuclear-facility plans in the nation following the accident in 1979 at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. In 1982 Mr. Stanley was appointed director of the Durham-Durham County Emergency Management Agency, where he worked very closely with the world’s largest research park in the North Carolina Triangle area and was heavily involved with hazardous materials planning. In 1987 he was appointed director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency by the governor of Georgia. While in Atlanta, Mr. Stanley had extensive experience in major event planning (the 1988 Democratic National Convention, the visit of Nelson Mandela in 1995, and the 2006 International Olympic Games). Mr. Stanley was appointed in 1997 as assistant city administrative officer for the City of Los Angeles and in 2000 as the general manager of the Emergency Preparedness Department for the City of Los Angeles until his retirement in 2007. Mr. Stanley joined Dewberry, LLC, in November 2007 as the director of Western Emergency Management Services. In March 2008, he was chosen to be the director of DNC Planning for the city and county of Denver, Colorado. Because of the success of the Democratic National
Convention, the date August 29, 2008, was proclaimed “The Ellis Stanley Day in Denver.”
Jeannette N.R. Sutton (Co-Chair) is a senior research scientist at the Trauma Health and Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, National Institute for Space, Science, and Security Centers. Dr. Sutton most recently worked as a research faculty member at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she coordinated a number of research projects on community preparedness, regional collaboration and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, warning systems for extreme events, and, most recently, the uses of social media during disasters and crisis events. Dr. Sutton is currently the principal investigator (PI) on two separate 3-year National Science Foundation-funded projects. The first, Disaster Resilient Rural Communities, focuses on the effects of information access on perceptions of collective efficacy in rural communities affected by seasonal hazards (with co-PI Charles Benight). The second project, Informal Online Communication in Crises and Disaster Events, is a comparative examination of online social networks that emerge in response to hazardous events (with co-PI Carter Butts). Dr. Sutton is also affiliated with the Argonne National Laboratory, where she conducts research on social media policy for emergency management and response. In addition, she serves as an academic adviser to Crisis Commons and the volunteer technical community responding to disasters. Dr. Sutton’s research has been featured in Nature, Reason, and Emergency Management Magazine. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. She served as a victim services coordinator following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
Louise Comfort is a professor of public and international affairs and the director of the Center for Disaster Management at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She teaches in the field of public policy analysis, information policy, organizational theory, and sociotechnical systems. She holds degrees in political science from Macalester College (B.A.); the University of California, Berkeley (M.A.); and Yale University (Ph.D.). She has been the principal investigator of the Interactive, Intelligent, Spatial Information System (IISIS) Project, from 1994 to the present (http://www.cdm.pitt.edu). Her recent publications related to disaster management include the following: Designing Resilience: Preparedness for Extreme Events (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010); “Retrospectives and Prospectives on Hurricane Katrina: Five Years and Counting” (Public Administration Review, 2010); “Transition from Response to Recovery: The January 12, 2010 Haiti Earth-
quake” (Earthquake Spectra, 2010); “The Dynamics of Disaster Recovery: Resilience and Entropy in Hurricane Response Systems 2005–2008” (Public Organization Review, 2009); and “Crisis Management in Hindsight: Cognition, Communication, Coordination and Control” (Public Administration Review, 2007). Dr. Comfort is currently engaged in three large-scale research projects on crisis management. In August 2009 she concluded a 5-year National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research project on Secure CITI: A Critical Information Technology Infrastructure, in which she served as a co-PI with two computer scientists. The project examined the design of networks of information infrastructure for urban regions. Dr. Comfort is currently the PI on a 3-year NSF-funded project on Designing Resilience for Communities at Risk: Improving Decision Making to Support Collective Action Under Stress. This project focuses on the design and development of a computational model for an early tsunami detection system for a test bed off the coast of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia. Further, she is engaged in the development of a test bed for information systems to be implemented with the collaboration of practicing agencies in the Pittsburgh metropolitan region, Pennsylvania. She is also a project lead investigator on a research arm to develop an electronic dashboard for a large research project, Public Health Adaptive Systems, that is examining the adaptive capacity of the public health system. This project, conducted jointly with three other research arms, is directed by Margaret Potter, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In her research, Dr. Comfort has focused on the design, development, and integration of information processes to support decision making in urgent, uncertain environments.
John Harrald is a professor at the Center for Technology, Security, and Policy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He previously served as the director of the George Washington University (GWU) Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management (www.gwu.edu/~icdrm) and is a professor emeritus of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering in the GWU School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was the founding executive editor of the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (www.bepress.org/jhsem) and is a member of the National Research Council’s Disaster Roundtable Advisory Committee. Dr. Harrald has been actively engaged in the fields of emergency and crisis management and maritime safety and port security and as a researcher in his academic career and as a practitioner during his 22-year career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer; he retired from the Coast Guard in the grade of captain. Dr. Harrald received his B.S. in engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
where he was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Richard G. Muth was appointed executive director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) by Governor Martin O’Malley on June 1, 2008. Director Muth has devoted his entire professional career to safeguarding the lives of Maryland citizens by improving public safety and emergency management practices at the federal, state, and local levels. He is a 33-year career and volunteer veteran of the Baltimore County Fire Department. He has previously chaired the Governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Council (GEMAC), served as a two-term president of the Maryland Emergency Management Association, and was a committee member and subsequent chair of the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC). In 1993, Mr. Muth was appointed director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness in Baltimore County. In 1998, he served as the on-scene coordinator of Maryland resources while battling massive wildfires in the state of Florida; he was awarded a governor’s citation for his efforts. That same year, he was honored by the American Red Cross for establishing new protocols between Baltimore County and the Red Cross. In 1999, he was chosen to chair the Baltimore Metro Council Y2K Contingency Planning Group. In 2003, Mr. Muth was appointed by Governor Robert Ehrlich to serve as Baltimore County’s Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; in that capacity he oversaw the county’s Hazardous Materials Program, Advanced Tactical Rescue, Fire Department Communications, and the Chemical Stockpile Program. He has chaired the U.S. Defense Department’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program—Domestic Preparedness Chemical team and has been recognized for his leadership roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel and as Maryland’s Emergency Resource Coordinator following Hurricane Katrina. As MEMA’s executive director, he oversees a staff of 75 people who work closely with state agencies and Maryland’s local jurisdictions, coordinating and planning the state’s response to any disaster. When a disaster occurs, whether it is human-made or natural, Mr. Muth becomes the lead person having the primary responsibility of managing the emergency event and closely advising the governor on preparedness and response strategies.
David Ropeik is an author and a consultant on risk perception and risk communication to government, business, health care organizations, trade and professional organizations, consumer groups, and educational institutions. He is a former instructor of risk communication at the Harvard School of Public Health and was co-director of the school’s professional education course “The Risk Communication Challenge.” He is the author
of How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts (McGraw-Hill, March 2010). He is a coauthor of RISK, A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World Around You (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). He is the creator and director of the program “Improving Media Coverage of Risk,” a training program for journalists. Mr. Ropeik was a television reporter for WCVB-TV in Boston from 1978 to 2000; in that role he specialized in reporting on environment and science issues. He twice won the DuPont-Columbia Award (often cited as the television equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), and seven regional Emmy awards. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1994-1995, and a member of the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists, 1991-2000. He has taught journalism at Boston University, Tufts University, and MIT.
John H. Sorensen is a distinguished research staff member at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He has been involved with research on emergency planning and disaster response for more than 30 years. He has been the principal investigator (PI) on more than 40 major projects for federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Defense, and the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. Dr. Sorensen has participated in research including the Three Mile Island Public Health Fund Emergency Planning Project on Three Mile Island and the Second Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards, for which he served as the subgroup leader for Prediction, Forecast Warning and Emergency Planning. He has worked closely with the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness program and consults for the nuclear power industry. Dr. Sorensen has authored more than 140 professional publications, including Impacts of Hazardous Technology: The Psycho-Social Effects of Restarting TMI-1 (State University of New York Press, 1987). He has published extensively on response to emergency warnings, risk communications, organizational effectiveness in disasters, emergency evacuation, decontamination, and protective actions for chemical emergencies. Dr. Sorensen has led the development of emergency management information systems, simulation models, conventional and interactive training courses, and educational videos. He has served on many advisory committees, including the Natural Hazard Research and Applications Center at the University of Colorado, the Atomic Industrial Forum’s National Environmental Studies Task Force on Emergency Evacuation, and FEMA’s Emergency Management Technology Steering Group. He was a member of the National Research Council’s Subcommittee on Earthquake Research and the Committee for Social Science Research on Disaster. Dr. Sorensen has a Ph.D.
in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii before going to ORNL.
Jon Eisenberg is the director of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council. He has also been the study director for a diverse body of work, including a series of studies exploring Internet and broadband policy and networking and communications technologies. In 1995-1997 he was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science, Engineering, and Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he worked on technology transfer and information and telecommunications policy issues. Dr. Eisenberg received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington in 1996 and a B.S. in physics with honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1988.
Virginia Bacon Talati is an associate program officer for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council. She formerly served as a program associate with the Frontiers of Engineering program at the National Academy of Engineering. Prior to her work at the National Academies, she served as a senior project assistant in education technology at the National School Boards Association. She has a B.S. in science, technology, and culture from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.P.P. from George Mason University, with a focus in science and technology policy.
Shenae Bradley is a senior program assistant at the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council. She currently provides support for the Committee on Sustaining Growth in Computing Performance, the Committee on Wireless Technology Prospects and Policy Options, and the Computational Thinking for Everyone: A Workshop Series Planning Committee, among other projects. She formerly served as an administrative assistant for the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust and managed a number of apartment rental communities for Edgewood Management Corporation in the Maryland/D.C./Delaware metropolitan areas. She is in the process of earning her B.S. in family studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.