Today President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Craig Fugate, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In the White House's press release, Obama said, "From his experience as a first responder to his strong leadership as Florida's emergency manager, Craig has what it takes to help us improve our preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and I can think of no one better to lead FEMA. I'm confident that Craig is the right person for the job and will ensure that the failures of the past are never repeated."

Fugate -- Florida's emergency management director since 2001 -- has overseen the response to several hurricanes, including 2005's Dennis and Wilma. In 2008, Fugate was named one of Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers.

In Jim McKay's Top 25 article on Fugate, Trina Sheets, executive director of the National Emergency Management Association, said "Craig Fugate is one of the brightest and most experienced emergency management professionals in the business today. He is a forward-thinking risk-taker who pushes the envelope with each disaster to deliver aid faster and better to the citizens of Florida."

Craig Fugate's Background

In October 2001, Fugate was appointed the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management by Gov. Jeb Bush. After the events of 9/11, the division was tasked with the role of managing the federal homeland security funding and developing Florida's domestic security strategy with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The program has since been recognized as a model for other states.

In September 2003, the Florida Emergency Management Program became the first such program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

Fugate led the response to some of the worst hurricanes in Florida's history in 2004 and 2005, and he has helped the state cut response times to impacted communities during recent hurricanes.

In addition to the response to hurricanes Dennis and Wilma, 2005 saw Florida's largest mutual aid response after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Over 7,000 responders from Florida state and local agencies provided assistance to local communities in Mississippi and the state of Louisiana.

In addition to his leadership at the state level, Fugate spent 15 years in local government as a volunteer firefighter, a paramedic, a lieutenant with Alachua County, Fla., Fire Rescue, as well as serving 10 years as the emergency manager of Alachua County.

Narrowed to Two: Fugate and Ellen Gordon

The FEMA nominees had been narrowed down to Fugate and Ellen Gordon, the former chief of Emergency Management Operations for Iowa.

The press release said Fugate will attend an event in New Orleans tomorrow with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Elaine Rundle  |  Staff Writer