Brock Long, former FEMA adminisrator and App State alum, visits App State

Josie Barnes

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Brock Long, App State alumnus and former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, returned to campus to address students and community members on the field of emergency management. 

Long was the FEMA administrator from June 2017 to March 2019 and was responsible for federal government resource allocation for 50 states, 573 tribal governments and 16 island territories. 

“The Master of Public Administration part of this exposed me to the world of FEMA, and through the master’s curriculum and the mandatory internships that we had to complete, it’s really where I got my feet wet into the field of emergency management,” Long said.

Long said he attributes App State for beginning his career in emergency management services by providing the connections he needed for success. 

“It was during the weekday, late at night, you come home from the library walking back, and the clouds would open up, and the stars reveal themselves, man, it was the most peaceful time in your life. Don’t take that for granted,” Long said.

He emphasized to students to enjoy everyday because “the world is going to be there when you’re ready for it.”

During his time as FEMA administrator, Long said he worked to change the misconception of FEMA as a first response service, and emphasized that disasters and emergencies begin and end on the local level.

“One of the campaigns I pushed forward is that disaster response and recovery is locally executed, state managed, federally supported, not the other way around,” Long said. 

Now, Long is the executive chairman of Hagerty Consulting, an organization dedicated to helping clients prepare for and recover from disasters, according to their website. 

Walter Flores, director of talent acquisition for Hagerty Consulting said the company values people who are passionate, vibrant, dedicated to service and really want to deliver to the client and give back to their community. 

“Success is defined on our clients’ satisfaction. I think success can be measured in various different ways, but for us, if our client is happy at the end of the day, then we’re happy, as well,” Flores said.  

The panel “Emergency Management: Successes, Challenges and Community Involvement” hosted Brock Long; Matthew Dulge, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council; Darren Rhodes, rural planning manager for the North Carolina Department of Commerce; Tina Krause, executive director of Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina; and Will Holt, emergency services director for Watauga County. The event was sponsored by the Department of Government and Justice Studies and moderated by Patricia Mitchell, an assistant professor of public administration. 

“What we want to do is get App State University interested in emergency management and getting the next generation of emergency managers excited about helping people mitigate future disasters,” Long said.

Mitchell led the panel in discussion about individual links each representative organization has to emergency management in the surrounding area. 

In response, Holt emphasized the critical element of community partnerships in local emergency managers and their organizations, because emergency managers cannot do everything by themselves. 

Krause spoke of creating a community people in need can safely go where neighbors help each other and local partnerships are formed. 

Mitchell then inquired on what success models for recovering from a disaster proved a quick bounce back and what issues possibly accompanied the recovery.   

“The communities that are successful have planned and practiced. They evaluate the threats man made or natural; then you have drills; you test your systems; you make sure they work,” Dulge said.

An emphasis was placed on communication and who organizations partner with in regular or irregular conversation in anticipation of disasters.  

Marvin Hoffman, retired director of the Master of Public Administration program at App State from 1990-2011, said he appreciates each panelist’s commitment to public service. 

Hoffman said the panel showed students what the real world is like and helped them meet and connect with people who can provide opportunities for them. 

“I just think it’s cool how we have a MPA grad from our program that was the FEMA director because I’m an MPA student here,” said public administration graduate student Anna Twigg.