Brandi Hunter knows that when you’re young, an impatience for too much talk and a preference for taking action can get you into more trouble than you expected. It certainly can make the people around you wonder, as you do yourself, where you’ll end up.
But take those traits and add a husband and father who support your dreams and have faith in your abilities, mentors who offer wise counsel about your chosen field, and children who remind you daily what it is all for. Weave in an educational program preparing you to work as an Emergency Manager. Finish with the confidence and persistence that the years have granted. Now those same characteristics, problematic in youth, can contribute to creating a great emergency manager. Anyone who has met Brandi Hunter will agree she has the right stuff to make a significant contribution in the field. The people around her no longer wonder where she’ll end up; they are simply eager to watch how far she’ll go.
Brandi is still impatient. She sees things that need to change and she decides to do something about it. She found herself, as an aspiring emergency manager, struggling to find the information and support that would smooth the path forward. She knows it is hard to reach out and ask for help – it is a skill she had to learn. She knows others are afraid of not getting the support they need. Existing resources didn’t address the problems she saw. Rather than staying stuck, she sprang into action. Brandi started a Linked In group, Aspiring Emergency Managers Online (AEMO). Experienced people in the field joined, as did students and others looking for work in emergency management. With 1200 members and growing, she has created the kind of supportive, informative space she had wished for. Brandi both writes and shares posts frequently, ensuring rich content for group members. She is a cheerleader for all those who are finding their way in the field.
As a young African American woman, Brandi is joining a field where few people will share her race, her experiences or her youth. Her understanding of
Millennials, and recognition that Baby Boomers will all soon be retired from leadership positions, leads her to believe change in the field is inevitable. Her
energetic entrepreneurial spirit will be somewhat alarming to those more comfortable with settled bureaucracies. But Brandi says, “I think we need to
start having uncomfortable conversations”. She is dedicated to making the field she has chosen more effective in serving the whole community. She knows
a wider variety of perspectives will strengthen planning and response. In her position as Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Center of Excellence, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, she successfully worked to increase the diversity of the board. She has critiqued outreach materials using a different lens than is traditionally employed.
In these days of cascading disasters, it is easy to see that future emergency managers will need an even greater level of skill, focus and resources than before. Talking to Brandi Hunter, aspiring emergency manager, reassured me that the next generation in the field will step up to the greater challenges ahead.
Deb Moller is the former Public/Private Partnerships Manager at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. She is a Senior Fellow at COHSEM. She is the author of “Get Ready! How to Prepare for and Stay Safe After a Pacific Northwest Earthquake”.