Job: Seattle Director of Emergency Management

The good and the bad of this position.

by Eric Holdeman / September 9, 2019

Barb Graff is hanging up her emergency management cleats and heading off into retirement. Thus, her position — Seattle OEM Director — is now being advertised.

Here is the good part — Barb has built a terrific program and hired a really good staff over the years. They have improved their operational readiness under her tenure. Seattle has a state-of-the-art emergency operations center (EOC) that has all the technological bells and whistles (might a bit close to the freeway — but then, the emergency management staff did not get to pick the site).

There are a few things to beware of. Within Seattle politics and the shakers and movers, Barb walks on water. I've always said I'd like to step into a failing program, not one that can only be seen as going downhill. It is hard to follow a female Jesus. The comparisons will happen immediately — to your detriment.

Then there are the politics of Seattle. Normal to any large city, Barb has done a masterful job of serving multiple mayors and police chiefs all the while staying out of trouble with the City Council who has had numerous issues with all of her bosses. That is not an easy task!

This job is not for the faint of heart. If you don't like walking a political tightrope, this position is not for you. Kudos for what Barb has achieved. She is the regional leader (another hard act to follow when you are the big fish in the pond). 

I don't know the size of her shoes — but they have to be big!

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