REP Cohort 2301 Graduates 21 Participants

Bolstered by two special guests, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Radiological Emergency Preparedness Executive Education Program had 21 participants complete the program highlighted by a graduation ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 24, at Herrmann Hall at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. 

During the ceremony, retiring CHDS Director Glen Woodbury told the REP 2301 participants that it remains true that educational program administrators and faculty “learn as much from you as you do from us,” and thanked longtime REP program leaders Stan McKinney and Ed Buikema for their dedication to the program over the years. 

The cohort’s in-residence session featured Commissioner David Wright, who offered an overview of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and perspectives on the CHDS REP program, and Dr. Jose Reyes Jr. provided an overview on small modular nuclear reactors and their future. 

Wright, a Presidential appointee confirmed by Congress, was sworn in as an NRC commissioner in 2018 and is currently serving a term that expires in 2025. 

Reyes, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at NuScale Power, is co-designer of the NuScale passively-cooled small nuclear reactor and is an internationally recognized expert on passive safety system design, testing, and operations for nuclear power plants. 

Among the cohort’s top participants, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Dawn Brantley, whose agency has a REP program of its own in support of the Seabrook Power Station in New Hampshire, said she was interested in participating in the REP program because of the opportunity to “really dig into REP and learn from and with experts from across the country.” She said that was expected to “help ensure the Commonwealth is better prepared and that I, as a leader, am better able to learn about the big picture of nuclear power, the industry, and the challenges both inside of REP programs and outside.” 

Clockwise from top left: Tamara Bloomer, Richard Mogavero, Dawn Brantley, and Jeffrey Semancik

Brantley praised the CHDS REP program curriculum and instructors, which she said “evaluated and educated about REP from so many angles,” and provided a “broad range of perspectives and guidance ranging from strategic foresight to extreme crisis leadership to how we talk and educated about nuclear power to how to lead change from the middle.” 

She also lauded her fellow cohort participants, noting that they included representatives from a range of agencies including the NRC, NEI, FEMA, state and local emergency management agencies, public health, and the nuclear industry. 

“Everyone was there to learn and engage and this made the course one of the best investments I’ve made in my career,” Brantley said, adding that she emerged from the program with a “much deeper understanding of the big picture of nuclear power and our role as a state emergency management agency.” 

Fellow REP participant Richard Mogavero, Director of Nuclear Security and Incident Preparedness at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, DC, said the program offered the chance to “collaborate and learn alongside experts in radiological emergency preparedness and response” to better understand how experts in the field perform their duties and enhance his own ability to “develop and shape policy from a more informed perspective.” 

Mogavero said highlights of the program included the “professional diversity of the cohort [that] played a significant role in highlighting and amplifying the presentations provided by very experienced instructors,” which covered a “significant number of topics creating a comfortable atmosphere for highly engaging discussions among the cohort and the facilitator.” 

“The collection and diversity of thought within the classroom made it a very well-rounded and enriching learning experience.” 

Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Radiation Director Jeffrey Semancik said he was “excited by the opportunity to explore broader concepts in REP, as well as interact with diverse leaders from different organizations across the country,” noting that his agency tends to focus on planned exercises and compliance while the CHDS REP program “offers and format where we can share ideas to improve our preparedness as well as how to lead change in our organizations.” 

Semancik said he was impressed by the program’s presentation on OpenAI, which helped him to be prepared through awareness that the technology is coming and starting to think about strategies to address it. He said the time away from the office allowed important time for self-assessment and improvement. 

NRC Deputy Director Tamara Bloomer said she wanted to ”increase my situational awareness in radiological emergency preparedness, and develop a broader government network,” and firmly believed the CHDS REP program “would be very helpful to my continued executive leadership development and to our future national preparedness.” 

She said she not only learned a lot about the emergency preparedness process and interacting with other federal agencies and states, but also met several people who she continues to interact with outside the program. “Meeting them in class has allowed us to interact on a more personal level during organizational meetings and really have fruitful discussions,” she said. 

The program has also “made me feel more confident and comfortable in discussing issues not just internal to NRC but external issues and concerns raised by not only the public but our partner agencies. It has also given me new ideas on how to communicate to our public what we do and how we do it.” 

REP cohort 2301 participant list 

  • Landry Austin – INL Oversight Program Manager, State of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality – Idaho Falls, ID 
  • Christopher Bellone – Training Specialist, DHS/FEMA – Washington, DC 
  • Tamara Bloomer – Director for Organizational Analysis, U.S. National Regulatory Commission (NRC) – Mansfield, TX 
  • Michael Borge – Executive Director of Revenue, Kootenai Health – Mesa, AZ
  • Dawn Brantley – Director, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency – Framingham, MA 
  • Todd Carpenter – Emergency Preparedness Manager, Radiation Protection Services – Portland, OR 
  • Kimberly Castle – Assistant Chief, REP, State of New Hampshire, Department of Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management – Concord, NH 
  • Matthew Celia – Emergency Management Specialist (EMS), Federal Emergency Management Agency – Fairfax, VA 
  • Lt. Colonel Christopher DeMaise – Homeland Security Branch Commander, New Jersey State Police – Wenonah, NJ 
  • Courtney Eckstein – Radiation Program Director, State of Indiana – Indianapolis, IN 
  • Sean Graham – EM Senior Evaluator/Industry Response Center Administrator, Institute of Nuclear Power Operations – Roswell, GA 
  • Rebecca Harisis – Radiological Health Program manager, NE Department of Health &Human Services – Lincoln, NE 
  • Hillary Haskins – Operations and Emergency Response Manager, Oregon Health Authority/Radiation Protection Services – Portland, OR 
  • Laura Hawthorne – Emergency Management Specialist, FEMA HQ – Washington, DC 
  • Nikesha Kersey – Emergency Management Specialist, DEMA – Arlington, VA 
  • T. Chris Lee – Deputy Director, Franklin County Emergency Management – Pasco, WA 
  • Richard Mogavero – Director, Nuclear Security and Incident Preparedness, Nuclear Energy Institute – Washington, DC 
  • Keith Nelson – Program Manager for Operations and Exercises, Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Admin, Office of Emergency Response – Alexandria, VA 
  • Ricky Schutter – CBRNE Planning & Operations Coordinator, Georgia Department of Public Health – Atlanta, GA 
  • Jeffrey Semancik – Radiation Director, CT Dept of Energy & Environmental Protection – Hartford, CT 
  • Greg Voss – Emergency Manager/Site Specialist, FEMA Region VII – Kansas City, MO

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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