30 Graduate from CHDS REP Early Career Program

Representing local, state, regional, and national agencies, along with private entities, 30 participants graduated from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Radiological Emergency Preparedness Early Career Executive Education Program in a ceremony held at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Hermann Hall in Monterey, CA, on Thursday, May 16.

Sandwiched around graduation, the participants went through a week of intensive learning that included instruction on everything from The Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S., a session featuring Diablo Canyon Power Plant Engineering Manager Kristin Zaitz, who is also co-founder of Mothers for Nuclear, and National and Radiological Preparedness Doctrine, taught by Capt. Janis McCarroll of the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) and FEMA’s Technological Hazards Division, to Cyber Security and the Nation’s Nuclear Power Plants with Nuclear Energy Institute Security and Incident Preparedness Director Rich Mogavero, and Managing a Nuclear Power Plant Incident: Scenario-Driven Discussion-Based Exercise led by longtime REP instructors Stan McKinney and Ed Buikema. 

From left: REPEC Grads Gina Taylor and Dylan Maybee

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Regional Coordinator Dylan Maybee said the REP program offered an “unparalleled opportunity to connect with fellow professionals who shared my passions, while also gaining invaluable knowledge from seasoned industry experts” and a “chance to learn from their experiences, understand current trends, and explore new ideas was too great to pass up.”

Maybee said the REP curriculum “proved immensely valuable, with discussions sparking organic growth in my knowledge base.”

“Exposure to a multitude of disciplines broadened my strategic perspective on REP and emergency management as a whole,” he said. “The sessions on emerging technologies and artificial intelligence were particularly enlightening, offering actionable insights I can readily apply at my job. The instructors were amazing, offering years of experience in an easily digestible format. This program has equipped me with expert insight into areas which I was familiar with, but not intimately. Through in-depth sessions and collaborative discussions, I gained a nuanced understanding of complex concepts and best practices that I can apply directly to my role. This experience has bolstered my crisis management perspective, providing me with the tools and confidence to navigate high-pressure situations effectively. The topics that were discussed, ranging from risk assessment to communication strategies, will positively influence my daily work. I’m eager to implement these learnings and make a tangible impact on our organization’s resilience and success.”

York County, SC, Office of Emergency Management Deputy Director Malcolm Leirmoe said he applied for the REP program “knowing the prestige associated with it and having seen how impactful the alumni of the program are in the REP realm.”

From left: REPEC Grads Malcolm Leirmoe and Keion Henry

Leirmoe said it was hard to describe how “encompassing and inspiring” the program’s instruction was, praising the instructors’ “highly impressive resumes” and “vast” knowledge base, as well as their ability to create “an environment that was founded in developing the student and encouraging creative thought and growth.”

“While on paper, the topics may come across as random, once delivered, each instructor built on the previous, while still developing strong foundations for those that taught after them,” he added. “This experience has had a multitude of impacts on my growth as a leader and what I will bring back to York County, SC. The ability to make contacts, share ideas, and be challenged are by far the most valuable aspects of this experience.”

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Government Liaison Officer Keion Henry said he applied for the REP program because as the liaison to local, state, federal and tribal partners, it is important for him to participate in dialogue in the REP world and discuss the NRC’s roles and responsibilities, including how the NRC is evaluating emerging technologies. Henry said the program offered an opportunity to “discuss REP programs with people from across the continental U.S. with roles in emergency preparedness and response, alongside a panel of experts.”

Henry said among his favorite aspects of the program was the “high level of engagement from the instructors and the participants of the cohort.”

“Discussions were rarely one-sided and people felt open to disagree with one another, while being constructive in their response,” he said. “This was aided by the incredibly diverse group we had, position-wise and demographically, leading to phenomenal discussions. The individual innovation ideas also brought about great discussions and ideas I can take back to my own organization and personal life.”

From left: EEP Senior Manager Morgan James; Capt. Janis McCarroll, P.E.; REP Instructors Stan McKinney and Ed Buikema; FEMA Technological Hazards Division Director Bruce Foreman; and EEP Events Manager Heena Sikand

Henry specifically called out Prof. Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez’s session on AI (perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information) as particularly noteworthy. “His presentation was a stark reminder of why it is important for those in the emergency response world to stay abreast of and embrace new technologies early,” he said. “There are both good and nefarious uses of technology, so it is best to be aware of emerging technologies early and evaluate use-cases of them.”

“This program gave me a better understanding of REP from the perspective of the local counties and states that handle emergency preparation,” Henry added. “It was also a great reminder of just how much more they dooutside of their radiological programs. I will take back what I have learned from the program to better meet people where they are at. That concept extends beyond discussions and interactions with external stakeholders, assisting me in discussions with people internal to my organization and my personal life as well. Also, a focus towards the end of the course was questioning why we do what we do, not just how we accomplish what we do. I hope to take that back to my agency to review the scope and reasoning for some of our programs.”

Entergy Services, LLC Emergency Preparedness Senior Project Manager Gina Taylor said she joined the REP program because was interested in learning about offsite agency response and strategies “to improve our processes and practices at our nuclear stations. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet individuals outside my field of practice to broaden my perspective on emergency response and preparation.”  

Taylor said her favorite aspects of the program included “learning about the processes and motivations of the different agencies represented in the group. It is exciting to see how we can use tactics, methods, and technology in different ways in order to make our organizations more effective and efficient. The contacts and relationships built during the class are invaluable to continued growth in the nuclear industry and nuclear safety.”

She said it was “eye-opening” from the private energy side of the nuclear power industry to hear how others were responding to “new and upcoming challenges in their field of expertise related to nuclear. It has opened my eyes to new possibilities in response and preparation.”

A highlight of the program was a virtual presentation by Chuck Casto from Japan where he was training in preparation for the restart of Unit 7 at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station disaster in 2011.

REP Early Career Graduates, Cohort 2402

REP Early Career Cohort 2402

  • John Bone – WMD SWAT / WMD Bomb Squad Team Coordinator, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – Columbia, SC
  • Danielle Coetzee – Emergency Management Specialist, FEMA – LaPorte, IN
  • Alexis Crawford – Health Physicist Lead – REP Program, KDHE Radiation Control – Topeka, KS
  • James Fumbanks – REP Program Specialist, DHS/FEMA – Washington, DC
  • Conrad Gilbert – Regional Program Manager, RAP Region 6, Department of Energy – Richland, WA
  • Abria Grimmett – Radiation Physicist, Alabama Department of Public Health – Prattville, AL
  • Brett Grossman – Exercise Planner, NNSA/DOE – Washington, DC
  • Allen Hale – Radiological Coordinator, WA Emergency Management Division – Camp Murray, WA
  • Keion Henry – Government Liaison Officer, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission – Fort Mill, SC
  • Talon Holmes – Nuclear Safety Scientist I, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security – Springfield, IL
  • Tom Hook – Senior Emergency Coordinator, PG&E Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant – Atascadero, CA
  • Rick Jensen – Sr. Health Physicist, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality – Idaho Falls, ID
  • Alexandra King – Radiological Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Indiana Dept of Homeland Security – Lowell, IN
  • Mason Kozac – Radiological Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Indian River County Emergency Services – Vero Beach, FL
  • Malcolm Leirmoe – Deputy Director, York County Office of Emergency Management – Rock Hill, SC
  • Simone Maxwell – Environmental Analyst, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – Hartford, CT
  • Dylan Maybee – Regional Coordinator, NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services – Rochester, NY
  • Thomas Mynes – Health Physicist, Oregon Health Authority – Portland, OR
  • Mayra Nunez – Financial Management Specialist, DHS/FEMA – Washington, DC
  • Rafael Padilla-Rodriguez – Radiation Safety Specialist/ ESF #16/ AHIMT Region #7, Palm Beach County Sheriff\’s Office – West Palm Beach, FL
  • Mick Para – National Security Specialist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Pasco, WA
  • Nicole Pilson-Macias – Emergency Preparedness Specialist, STP Nuclear Operating Company – Wadsworth, TX
  • Star Robertson – Emergency Prep Specialist, Indiana Dept of Homeland Security – Indianapolis, IN
  • Temilade Sorungbe – Public Health Informatics Fellow, CDC – Atlanta, GA
  • Gina Taylor – Sr. Project Manager, Emergency Preparedness, Entergy Services, LLC – Clinton, MS
  • Tara Tindall – Domestic Security Operations, Metropolitan Police Department – Washington, DC
  • Frank Tuck – Radiation Control Physicist, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – Hartford, CT
  • Doug Ware – Public Affairs Specialist, DHS/FEMA – Washington, DC
  • Sam Williams – Training & Exercise Specialist, FEMA Region VI – Denton, TX
  • Ken Yale – Center for Radiological Emergency Management Director, USEPA – Washington, DC

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment | hissvora@nps.edu, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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