Katie Dempsey at a distribution center

In order to support disaster recovery efforts and improve communication between the public and private sectors, we work closely with partners like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In 2010, for example, we worked together to develop a new way of incorporating private sector businesses into the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC). This led FEMA to create a new position for a private sector representative to work in the NRCC. Under the program, corporate executives in industries ranging from retail to energy spend three months at the NRCC and serve as a liaison to the business world, particularly during a disaster.

FEMA officials decided to test the position with the retail industry first because of the critical goods it supplies to residents during a disaster. So it was that Katie Dempsey, a senior investigator from Target’s Assets Protection team, became the first private sector representative to hold the new NRCC position.

During Dempsey’s stint at FEMA, she put the private sector’s combined disaster response capabilities during an emergency to good use. In one case, she blasted emails to her contacts at retailers across the country as a major snowstorm prepared to strike the Midwest and Northeast, to learn how many stores were closed in affected regions.

As responses trickled in, that information was compiled into a map under a test program that FEMA officials hope will eventually show the status of major retailers’ stores across the country. This is all in an effort to help communities recover and get back up and running as fast as possible.

Dempsey also shared other data with liaisons from other government agencies who sat next to her in the coordination center. “You get up and literally walk over to their desk,” she said. “My position helps to open that two-way dialogue.”



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