Disaster Zone

Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Women have, are and will be providing leadership in the field of emergency management and homeland security.

by Eric Holdeman / December 16, 2011

Women are playing an ever increasing role in emergency management.  Many of the leaders of today are women and when I look at the up-and-coming generation of emergency managers there are many capable women who will take the reins of leadership at all levels of government and the private sector.  The last hurdle I can think of is the appointment of a woman as the FEMA Administrator.  I figure that is only a matter of time.  Ellen Gordon was one person who was considered for that position when the last Administrator selection process was underway.


With the above in mind, see the announcement below on 20 women selected to the International Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management Hall of Fame.


The International Network of Women in Emergency Management (inWEM) hosted its inaugural “International Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management Hall of Fame” Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, in Las Vegas. The reception and ceremony was held in conjunction with the International Association of Emergency Manager’s (IAEM) 59th Annual Conference & EMEX 2011.

The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Hall of Fame is inWEM’s first major initiative, honoring women who are pioneers and contemporary leaders in the fields of homeland security and emergency management in local, state, tribal, and federal governments. Women around the world have been innovators in critical infrastructure facilities; volunteer, faith, and community-based organizations; the private and nonprofit sectors; academia; the military; and private industry. 

The inductees, divided into Pioneers (achievement prior to 1970) and Contemporary Achievers (1970-present,) were chosen because they have made outstanding achievements and significant contributions in the fields of homeland security and emergency management. They are professionals who have devoted careers to women's and girls' causes and community endeavors; and who motivate and inspire young women envisioning careers in homeland security and emergency management.


The list of women honored:


1865 – Catherine Booth and husband founded the Salvation Army

1906 - General Evangeline Booth started disaster relief services for The Salvation Army. Also, in 1934, she became the first female General of the Salvation Army.

1919 – Eglantyne Jebb, founded the Save the Children Fund, Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Director, Domestic Emergencies Unit, SC

1941 – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt appointed Assistant Director; the “first woman in Homeland Security/Emergency Management” (formerly Civil Defense)

1950 - National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (NACWC, Inc (formerly the National Federation of Colored Women and National Federation of Afro-American Women) participated in the first national “Women and Civil Defense” conference was held in Washington, DC. (President Evelyn Rising)

1981 - Dorothy J. Lewis, International Association of Emergency Managers’ lead liaison
for governmental relations and second female President of IAEM

1990 – Margaret Brenda Verbeek, founded the Canadian Emergency Preparedness Association (CEPA), which became IAEM-Canada

1991 - Avagene Moore, emergency management trailblazer and 1987-1988 President of

1994 - Kay Goss, first female Associate Director of FEMA

1994 - Molly Grant, one of the first Native American females in emergency management

1994 - Rosalita Whitehair, one of the first Native American females in emergency management

1995 - Lynn Canton, first African American, female Regional Administrator of FEMA

1996 - Oluremi Olowu, the first Director of Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

2001 – Lisa Orloff, one of first female founders of an international emergency management program

2001 – Elizabeth Davis one of the first female founders’ of an international emergency management program

2001 - Annie Searle, first female leader in private sector/industry of emergency management

2002 - Rosemary Cloud, first female African-American Fire Chief

2005 - Susan Diehl-Brenits, first female project manager in emergency management at Con Edison

2005 – Kelly Discount founded EMPOWER, the first modern day organization for women in emergency management

2010 - Carmen G. Rodriguez, the first female Fire Chief of the Puerto Rico Fire Department - Bomberos de Puerto Rico (BPR).