With over twenty-four years of experience in incident and event management, Heather has extensive response experience at the local, regional, and national levels and vast experience teaching and using the Incident Command System (ICS). Beginning her Coast Guard career in 1993, she has served in a variety of assignments, including Port Security Inspector, Contingency Planning Officer, Homeland Security Coordinator, Incident Command System Instructor, and Exercise Support Team.
From the start of her Coast Guard career, Heather has been a strong advocate for incident management. Since joining the Coast Guard in 1993, she has served in a myriad of ICS roles for planned events and incident responses, as well as teaching system and position specific ICS for the Coast Guard over the last twenty years. Demonstrating exceptional knowledge and experience, she has served on the Coast Guard’s Incident Management Assistance Team since 1998 as a Documentation Unit Leader, a Planning Section Chief, and served for 5 years as the Incident Commander for the Atlantic Area’s Orange Team. As the FEMA National IMAT Coast Guard Liaison Officer she lead the team developing the Whole of Government Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan.
Indicative of her response operations acumen, Heather’s expertise was called upon as she served as the Deputy Incident Commander in Houma, Louisiana, responsible for managing the nighttime operations to contain the spill and its effects. In this capacity, she was responsible for the safety and tasking of over 18,000 responders, a fleet of over 3,000 vessels, and more than 80 aircraft. In her assigned role as the Planning Department Head for USCG Sector San Francisco, her experience and knowledge was a key element in her preparedness successes. As the USCG PREP exercise coordinator for all facilities in Northern California, Heather leveraged planned events to ensure government and industry partners were trained and prepared to use ICS for unexpected incidents, such as tsunamis and earthquakes.
Complementing her response experience, Heather also has extensive experience designing, controlling, evaluating, and participating in regional and national-level preparedness exercises for “all hazards” response under the National Response Framework. Serving on the Atlantic Area’s Exercise Support Team, she was critical to the design, development, and execution of oil spill, hazardous material, terrorism, and disaster training and exercises for government and industry throughout the eastern US and South America. Most recently, she has developed, instructed, and overseen the ICS training program for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area’s staff.
Heather holds a Master of Organizational Leadership from Regent University and a Bachelor of Science in Maritime Business and Logistics Management from the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. She is a FEMA Master Exercise Practitioner; an International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Certified Emergency Manager; and a certified NIMS Type 1 Incident Commander and Type 1 Planning Section Chief. Her Coast Guard certifications include Master Incident Management and Preparedness Officer, Marine Environmental Response Officer, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, and ICS Instructor.