2018 Public Safety Fellowship Testimonials

Following the 2018 program, our Public Safety Fellows offered their following reflections:

Los Angeles Fire Department, City of Los Angeles

What an opportunity!

I feel honored to have had this opportunity to learn from and collaborate with influential leaders in crisis management at the Harvard Kennedy School's (HKS) Leadership in Crises course. From start to finish, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) and the HKS arranged for all the participants’ accommodations, which allowed us to focus on the classroom portion of the experience.

The HKS facilities were an incredible setting for the course. The classrooms themselves were inviting and professional. To facilitate learning, multiple, articulating chalkboards were intertwined with modern classroom technology in theater-style seating. In this beautiful setting, we discussed case studies of multiple, significant events that occurred over the last decade. Crisis leaders were present to provide their first-hand experiences of lessons learned as a result of these notable events. Throughout the discussion, philosophical topics were introduced to the students in order to facilitate a higher-level of thinking. Students were also encouraged to share their own experiences, which was an incredibly valuable learning experience.

Once I returned home, I immediately started applying the concepts I learned and began to challenge the thought processes within my organization. Ultimately, this was great for my own professional development, and it helped me further my work toward making the Los Angeles Region safer and more resilient.

Thank you once again for the opportunity!

Kenneth Cook
Captain II
Los Angeles Fire Department

Los Angeles Police Department, City of Los Angeles

The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) provided me the opportunity to attend the Leadership in Crises course at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The six days of instruction offered invaluable lessons on crisis leadership as we worked through actual, significant incidents.  

The program started by focusing on the importance of partnerships across boundaries, especially the importance of building those relationships before a crisis. It also focused on the concept of building the capacity for intelligent, decentralized operations management, and how this concept becomes more critical as incidents become more disabling and complex.

The instructional staff developed the preventative concept of “Acting in Time.” This idea harps on the ability to impact changes prior to an event by identifying the hazards, making them visible, and mobilizing and persuading people to mitigate them before a crisis occurs. In addition, through this discussion, we continued to analyze the parts of a crisis and defined a true versus novel crisis.

The highlight for me was the presentations from the first responders and incident commanders, who made critical decisions at the World Trade Center and Pentagon following the September 11th attacks. Not only was the training valuable to me personally, but also the lessons learned with other local emergency management personnel will benefit many others in our respective agencies as we provide training and continue to build the relationships that were made during the course. 

Bob Green
Deputy Chief, Chief of Staff
Los Angeles Police Department

Emergency Management Department, City of Los Angeles

My Executive Leadership training at the Harvard Kennedy School was a life-changing experience. The case-study approach was paramount in broadening my understanding of Crisis Leadership. In addition, the relationships I developed through the program will be valuable to me both personally and professionally.

If given the opportunity, I would like to once again be part of the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education program. I will definitely encourage my colleagues to enroll in the program as well.

Faye Cousin
Emergency Management Coordinator I
Emergency Management Department

County of Los Angeles, Sherriff’s Department

2018 Annenberg Public Safety Scholar

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Leadership in Crises course was outstanding. The case-study methodology allowed me to work through complex challenges discussed in class. After the program, I was able to immediately apply what I learned within my division. Being selected to represent the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department is an honor and privilege. I am thankful to have had this professional development opportunity, and I know this experience will enhance my leadership skills while working to make our region safer.

Charles Norris
Lieutenant
Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department

Office of Emergency Management, Los Angeles County

The Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) 2018 course was an amazing learning opportunity. The professors’ analyses of crisis case studies and the high-caliber presentations from a cadre of premiere lecturers with first-hand experience made for an unparalleled professional development experience.

The application of this concept to my work at the County Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) is extremely relevant. It helped reinforce the fact that field response intelligence will naturally emerge, and the CEOC must be positioned to serve its function. The “emergence” perspective also framed command leadership at the CEOC as needing to be ready (and patient enough) to allow for a common operating picture and resource requests to emerge from field response.

Other takeaways included the reinforced importance of establishing and maintaining candid communication among team members at all levels; recognizing how leadership thrives when multiple perspectives are allowed and respected; and considering the best practices for managing political demands and needs during a time of crisis. Finally, the opportunity to meet and network with other students in class from varied backgrounds and sectors was also an enriching experience.

I am deeply appreciative to HSAC for having sponsored me as a Public Safety Fellow.

Helen E. Chavez
Assistant Director
Office of Emergency Management