Craig Fugate or Ellen Gordon to Head FEMA

FEMA leader choice narrowed to Florida and Iowa emergency management chiefs.

by / February 12, 2009

The Obama administration has pared its search to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to two candidates, according to several Florida newspapers and an Associated Press report.

Craig Fugate, director of Florida Division of Emergency Management, and Ellen Gordon, the former chief of Emergency Management Operations for Iowa, have emerged as the finalists for FEMA's lead position.

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.

Gordon led Iowa's Emergency Management Agency in 2004 when storms pummeled the Midwest. She also is the past president of the National Emergency Management Association and well regarded in her field. Gordon is currently associate director of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, Calif.

Both Fugate and Gordon bring more than 20 years of emergency management experience. Whomever the Obama administration chooses, the new FEMA director will be expected to work closely with state and local emergency managers. The decision is expected this week.