Mark Sloan grew up with sports and dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. In fall 2008, he was honored at the 50-yard line of the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium — not for what he’d done on the football field, but for his leadership during Hurricane Katrina.

That day, Sloan received the John C. Freeman Weather Museum’s Hurricane Hero Award, one of several honors bestowed upon him for his efforts to mobilize some 60,000 volunteers to get 65,000 evacuees from New Orleans.

During his days as an athlete and coach, Sloan learned the value of teamwork and communication. He puts those skills to work as Harris County’s emergency management coordinator, assembling teams that have automated flood warning systems and traffic management, enhanced Doppler images, and improved GIS mapping and regional interoperability.

He also created a tech team to develop one of the first websites devoted to tracking and assembling citizen volunteers. As director of the Harris County Citizen Corps, an award-winning preparedness initiative, Sloan knew where to go to coordinate evacuation efforts during Katrina. Citizen Corps helps organize people who’d like to better prepare for disasters, he told Emergency Management magazine last year. During Katrina, Sloan received about 1,000 emails an hour from corps members wanting to help.

Citizen Corps helped Sloan accomplish his goal of the three C’s: communication, coordination and cooperation.

Jim McKay  |  Associate editor