Speakers - Texas Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum

Click on a speaker name to read biography.


Chuck Banks

(June 28, 2010) Chuck Banks is the Principal and Founder of Chuck Banks Associates, a national consulting firm advising clients on unique economic and community development opportunities. Drawing upon his extensive private and public sector professional experience, Mr. Banks is a nationally recognized leader known for developing innovative, cross-sector partnerships to successfully navigate numerous nationally-recognized events, including most recently the widely recognized sustainable recovery of tornado-stricken Greensburg, Kansas.

In February 1995, Mr. Banks accepted a position with then-Congressman Pat Roberts as his Congressional Director in Kansas. Following the 1996 election, U.S. Senator Roberts appointed him as his Assistant State Director, with responsibilities for economic development policy issues. In November of 2001, he was appointed the 13th Kansas Director of USDA Rural Development. Utilizing innovative private sector and community development program delivery models, the Agency significantly increased its level of funding and technical assistance during Mr. Banks' seven year tenure as USDA State Director. Under his leadership, USDA Rural Development was recognized nationally for its successful support of several economic and community development challenges in Kansas, including assisting with the 2005 Base Realignment Commission decision to significantly expand personnel at Fort Riley and numerous disaster recovery efforts, including post-disaster recovery results following the May 2007 Greensburg EF-5 tornado. At the invitation of the Obama Administration, Mr. Banks remained with USDA in the capacity of Confidential Assistant to the Undersecretary of Rural Development during the first half of 2009 to help enhance agency program delivery capabilities.

Mr. Banks has spoken frequently across the United States about important community and economic development issues, covering topics ranging from renewable energy opportunities to comprehensive sustainable disaster recovery strategies. In addition to his extensive professional experience, he is very active in numerous national non-profit organizations including the Safe America Foundation and has received several national awards including the 2009 Greensburg Green Initiative Award.

Mr. Banks graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics specializing in banking and finance.

Chuck Banks, Principal
Chuck Banks Associates
Hon. Don Brown

(June 28, 2010) Don Brown has served on the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, President of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Walton County Airport Authority. He has also served as Republican State Committeeman, Chairman of the Walton County Republican Executive Committee and as a State Representative in the Florida House of Representatives. Don has been an Independent insurance agent for over 35 years.

While serving in the Florida House of Representatives Don became known for his work on Medical Malpractice Reform, Elections Reform, Workers' Compensation Reform and Tort Reform. In 2004 he was recognized by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors for his work on real estate issues. He was also recognized in 2004 by the Florida Pharmacy Association as their Most Outstanding Legislator. In 2005 the Florida Retail Federation named him the "House Legislator of the Year" and in 2006 the Florida Chamber of Commerce named him "Most Valuable Legislator".

Don Brown is best known for his work on insurance issues. In 2002 and 2003 he was recognized by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents and the Florida Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors for his significant contribution to insurance reform.

Honorable Don Brown, Former Florida State Representative
Florida House of Representatives
Leslie Chapman-Henderson

(May 16, 2013) Leslie Chapman-Henderson is President and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)®, the country's leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 100 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disaster-resistant nation including: BASF, FEMA, Florida Division of Emergency Management, International Code Council, Kohler Power Systems, NOAA/National Weather Service, North Carolina State University, Portland Cement Association, RenaissanceRe, Simpson Strong-Tie, State Farm, Texas Tech Wind Science & Engineering, The Home Depot, University of Florida, USAA and WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.

Ms. Chapman-Henderson and FLASH have championed the cause of disaster-resilient construction methods through the creation of groundbreaking consumer awareness programs like StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes® at INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® at the Walt Disney World® Resort; and Blueprint for Safety®, an integrated educational program on disaster-resistant construction techniques for homebuilders, homeowners and design professionals.

Ms. Chapman-Henderson's civic, community and professional recognition include the 2010 designation by Cable News Network as a member of the CNN New Guard of the South - an elite group of leaders from academic, business, entertainment, government, nonprofit, philanthropy and sports fields. She and FLASH have received a myriad of awards including: the 2011 National VOAD Partner of the Year Award, 2011 Governor's Hurricane Conference Governor's Award, 2009 Governor's Hurricane Conference Corporate Award for StormStruck®, 2008 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement in Mitigation Award, 2008 Governor's Hurricane Conference Corporate Award, 2006 Texas Silver Spur Award for Public Education Excellence, 2006 Governor's Hurricane Conference Public Information/Education Award, 2005 National Hurricane Conference Outstanding Achievement in Public Awareness Award, 2005 National Weather Association Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award, 2005 NOAA Environmental Hero Award and many more.

Ms. Chapman-Henderson has served as co-chair of the legislatively-created My Safe Florida Home Advisory Council, as a board trustee for Florida International University - International Hurricane Research Center, an advisory council member for the Florida State University Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, consumer representative and chair for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Advisory Council, guest lecturer at Florida State University and the University of Florida - School of Construction and as a Florida representative to the Federal Communications Commission WARN Committee.

Other past service includes trustee for the Florida Fire and Emergency Services Foundation; consumer representative to the Louisiana Uniform Building Code Task Force; consumer representative and vice chair of the 2005 Florida Legislative Task Force on Long Term Solutions for Florida's Hurricane Insurance Market; and insurance consumer representative to the 2006 Property and Casualty Insurance Reform Committee chaired by former Lt. Governor Toni Jennings.

FLASH program successes include television appearances on CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC and nationally-syndicated programs This New House, Bob Vila and Home Again with Bob Vila; production of a one-hour, nationally televised multi-hazard PBS Special entitled, Blueprint for Safety - Disaster-Resistant Homes; and "A Tale of Two Houses" a multi-media awareness campaign showcasing code and code-plus construction success stories in wildfire and high-wind zones.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President & CEO
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. - FLASH®
Steven Cooper

(June 28, 2010) Steven Cooper is the Deputy Regional Director of the National Weather Service Southern Region - serving Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mr. Cooper has served the National Weather Service for over 31 years and has received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions and leadership. He led the Meteorological Services Division in the successful implementation of National Weather Service modernization and restructuring across the southern United States during the mid 1990s. He and his team were subsequently recognized with NWS Modernization Awards in 1995 and 1996. He received a Commerce Department's Bronze Medal for coordinating weather support for the 1996 Paralympics (Atlanta, Ga.), another in 2003 for his support in providing weather support following the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, and a Bronze Medal for his 2005 support during the extremely active hurricane season. He was awarded the National Weather Service Southern Region Isaac M. Cline Award for Leadership in 2002.

He co-developed an innovative Southern Region leadership development program called BLAST (Building Leaders for A Solid Tomorrow). He was instrumental in launching the highly successful Turn Around, Don't Drown® flood safety program, earning him and his team a NOAA Administrator's Award in 2004 and the National Weather Association's Public Education Award in 2006. He served on numerous national hurricane committees and has served as the team leader for several National Weather Service Disaster Service Assessments. Beginning in 1998, he has also served as the principal liaison between the NOAA/NWS and one of the agency's key partners - the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH).

Mr. Cooper received a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from Florida State University and a Master's degree in Geography (Climatology) from the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association.

Steven Cooper, Deputy Regional Director
National Weather Service Southern Region
Jim Cowen

(June 28, 2010) Jim Cowen is Vice President at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide where he co-manages the Emergency Risk Communication team for Ogilvy's Social Marketing Division. He currently supports the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) "FloodSmart" effort, an integrated marketing and direct response campaign to increase awareness of flood risk and the financial benefits of flood insurance.

Mr. Cowen brings more than 16 years of experience in outreach and marketing, media relations, and strategic communications, coupled with knowledge of the Homeland Security, government exercises, and the U.S. defense landscape. He served 10 years of active duty as an officer in the United States Navy where his assignments included Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the Chief of Naval Operations and Congressional Director for the Secretary of the Navy.

Mr. Cowen is a graduate of Marquette University and holds a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. He also completed Oxford University's International Management Graduate Business Program.

Jim Cowen, Vice President
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide/FloodSmart Program
David Dewhurst

(June 28, 2010) Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst serves as President of the Texas Senate. Over the past seven years, Lt. Governor Dewhurst has worked to pass legislation to cut taxes, expand economic opportunity, improve public schools and universities, build more highways and protect public safety. In 2007, he led the effort to pass one of the toughest Jessica's Laws in the nation to protect children against sexual predators.

A fiscal conservative, Lt. Governor Dewhurst has reduced taxes while working to balance four budgets by holding state spending below the rate of inflation plus population growth. These conservative budgets have helped the state's economy grow faster than the national economy and create more than one million new jobs in Texas the last six years. In 2006, he fought successfully to raise teacher salaries and educational standards, increase accountability and reduce student drop-out rates, while leading the Senate in approving $7 billion per year in local school property tax cuts. To make university study more affordable, he worked to hold down tuition increases and provide more financial aid to deserving students, including passing the "B-on-Time Loan Program," which provides college students with zero-interest, forgivable loans if they graduate on time with at least a "B" average.

As Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, where he served from 1999-2002, Lt. Governor Dewhurst reduced the workforce and budget, and turned back money each of two biennia to Texas' taxpayers. He certified almost $1 billion in below-market interest rate loans to veterans to honor their service and to stimulate the Texas economy, and helped protect the environment and increase tourism by restoring Texas' beaches and bays. In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, he was appointed by Governor Rick Perry as Chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Homeland Security.

Lt. Governor Dewhurst began his business career in the late 1970s after serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, the CIA and the U.S. State Department. In the early 1980s he founded Falcon Seaboard, a Texas-based diversified energy and investments company. An early developer in the 1980s and 1990s electric cogeneration business, he has earned a reputation as an innovative and successful businessman.

Lt. Governor Dewhurst earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, then attended Georgetown University Law School.

David Dewhurst, Lieutenant Governor
The State of Texas
Julie Drenner

(June 28, 2010) As an attorney and political strategist, Julie Drenner promotes sound public policy by shepherding issues ranging from legal reform to public health through the legislative process. Ms. Drenner, who came to Heartland from a legislative consulting position for The Lanier Law Firm and Texas for Family Values PAC, has worked in and around the state legislature since 2003. She has frequently testified before the legislature on topics ranging from public health to family law and has been interviewed and quoted by media outlets including CNN, The Los Angeles Times, News Austin 8, KLBJ, and Dallas Morning News. She played key roles in drafting more than 20 bills currently before the legislature.

Her involvement in her local community led her to be a founding member and serve as chairman of the board for the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, an organization dedicated to serving women and children in need.

Ms. Drenner holds a law degree from California's Oak Brooke College of Law and studied at Southern Methodist University.

Julie Drenner, Director of Texas Office Center on Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
The Heartland Institute
Mike Gifford

(June 28, 2010) Mike Gifford, CBCP, is an IT Senior Manager within IT Risk Management for the Capital Group Companies' Information Technology Group (ITG). His responsibilities include managing Capital's Disaster Recovery Program and IT Risk Support, and being the insurance liaison for IT.

Prior to joining the Capital Group Companies in March 2005, Mr. Gifford was the Director of Audit Assurance and Regulatory Programs for JPMorganChase's Global Technology Infrastructure team. Before the merger of Bank One with JPMC in 2004, he was the Director of Disaster Recovery for Bank One's Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) team within Technology and Operations. He also worked for State Farm Insurance for 21 years in a variety of leadership positions, including manager of the Systems Disaster Recovery Team, and manager of the Systems Catastrophe Services team.

Mr. Gifford served as the founding President of the Alamo Chapter, San Antonio, TX for 4 years and has now joined the National Board of the Association of Contingency Planners as its National Director of Membership. He is also a member of board of directors of the Fund, San Antonio, TX.

Mr. Gifford earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota.

Mike Gifford, IT Senior Manager
Capital Group Company Information Technology Group/Association of Continuity Planners
John Henneberger

(June 28, 2010) John Henneberger is one of the state's leading authorities on low-income housing issues and government housing policy. His work began in 1974, when, as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a full-time volunteer in an inner-city African-American community confronting problems of lack of housing and gentrification. Since then, Mr. Henneberger has worked with low-income communities to establish eight nonprofit community development corporations in Texas that have built and rehabilitated more than 500 individual housing units. He is recognized as an innovator in community development.

Mr. Henneberger has drafted and worked for passage of landmark housing legislation in the areas of consumer rights, public housing resident representation, colonias housing initiatives, open records, and the allocation of public resources. In addition to his legislative advocacy, Mr. Henneberger is a tireless administrative advocate before housing agencies and departments. His advocacy work has won the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service the Texas Outstanding Public Service Award from his public interest colleagues working in the Legislature.

Mr. Henneberger is a past board member of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and a founding member of Iniciativa Frontera. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Texas at Austin.

John Henneberger, Co-Director
Texas Low Income Housing Information Service
Senator Mike Jackson

(June 28, 2010) Elected to the Texas Senate in 1998, Mike Jackson represents Senate District 11, which includes portions of Brazoria, Harris and Galveston Counties. He chairs the Senate Nominations Committee and is a member of the Senate State Affairs Committee, the Business and Commerce Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Sen. Jackson is also a five-term veteran of the Texas House of Representatives where he represented District 129.

Since the session ended in June, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has appointed Sen. Jackson to serve as a member of the new Texas Windstorm Insurance Legislative Oversight Board, created as part of a comprehensive bill, which Sen. Jackson sponsored in the Senate, overhauling the state's windstorm insurance pool. Dewhurst also chose him as a Texas representative to the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference as well as to another term on the Redistricting and Elections Committee and to a new position on the Environment Committee, both of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sen. Jackson was also recently appointed as Co-Chairman of the Texas Conservative Coalition's Task Force on Transportation.

Some of Sen. Jackson's honors include a "Coastal Stewardship Award" from the General Land Office and the American Shore and Coastal Preservation Association; a "Special Recognition Award" from America's Wetland Foundation; the "Texas Affordable Housing Leadership Award;" the Texas Chemical Council's "Legislative Leadership Award;" and the distinction of "Gulf Coast Area Statesman of the Year," from Vocational Guidance Services.

Mike Jackson, Senator/Senate Nominations Committee Chair
Texas Senate
Liam Kernell, Chief Strategist
Tribe Creative Agency
Ernst W. Kiesling, P.E., Ph.D.

(June 28, 2010) Dr. Kiesling directs the storm shelter program for the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech, including the debris impact test facility. He was instrumental in founding the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) in 2000 and has served as Executive Director since 2001.

Dr. Kiesling has spent most of his career administering engineering education and research programs at Texas Tech University. He was Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department for twenty years, during which time the wind science and engineering research program was formed and the concept of the above-ground storm shelter emerged. Some have referred to Dr. Kiesling as the "Father of the Safe Room". He was awarded the FLASH Leadership Award at Disney's Epcot Center in 2009.

Dr. Kiesling is a member of the International Code Council (ICC) committee that developed the ICC-500, the ANSI-approved Safe Room Standard. He was recently awarded a Hazard Mitigation Grant to develop web-based instructional programs on storm shelter quality.

Ernst Kiesling, Executive Director
Texas Tech University/National Storm Shelter Association
Troy Kimmel

(June 28, 2010) Troy Kimmel, a native Texan, was involved in broadcast meteorology even before graduating from university. Starting in television back in 1978 at KBTX-TV in Bryan/College Station, he was responsible as Weather Director for the weeknight weathercasts. In 1984, he moved to KVUE 24 Television (ABC) in Austin where he worked for almost ten years. He has since worked as Chief Meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority, KTBC/Fox 7 Television, KEYE Television and KVET/KASE (Clear Channel) Radio Stations in Austin.

Mr. Kimmel has been involved in teaching in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin since 1988. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007. He also serves as Manager of the Weather and Climate Resource Center in the Department of Geography and the Environment. In addition, he serves as a member on the University of Texas Safety and Security Committee as well as a member of the Public Affairs Advisory Committee in the College of Liberal Arts.

Mr. Kimmel has been elected as a Councilor of the National Weather Association for 2008 through 2010. In addition, he is author of several publications including Inclement/Severe Weather and Extreme Temperature/Precipitation/Wind/Pressure Climatology for Austin and South Central Texas (2006), SkyWarn - A Guide for National Weather Service Spotters in South Central Texas (2004), Central Texas Law Enforcement Weather Spotting/Information/Safety Handbook (2004) as well as the USA Broadcast Meteorologist/Weathercaster Directory (1999).

Mr. Kimmel is a member of Austin Police Department's Civil Defense Battalion and CERT Team (where he has a special assignment to the Austin Police Department Training Academy, the Austin Airport Public Safety Division, the Operations Area at Austin Bergstrom International Airport and the Office of Emergency Management). In addition, he volunteers as the Texas State Coordinator of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, which is a national citizens grassroots weather observer network based at Colorado State University with support of NOAA/National Weather Service and the National Science Foundation.

Mr. Kimmel has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A & M University.

Troy Kimmel, Chief Meteorologist
University of Texas at Austin
Butch Kinerney

(June 28, 2010) Butch Kinerney is Chief of Communications for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration in the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington D.C. In that role he oversees communications efforts aimed at helping communities and the public build safer, stronger and smarter to lessen the impact of natural and manmade disasters.

Mr. Kinerney has served in many capacities since joining FEMA in 2004: spokesperson for the National Flood Insurance Program, spokesperson for FEMA's Mitigation Division and he received a battlefield appointment to Press Secretary during the 2005 hurricane season immediately following the departure of FEMA senior staff in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He's also been a field disaster information officer for a number of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other events.

For five years, Mr. Kinerney was a Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA responsible for communications activities associated with natural hazards including floods, earthquakes and volcanoes along with water quantity and quality issues. He also led the USGS communications response to the West Nile Virus outbreak in the United States from 1999 to 2004. Prior to joining the federal system, he served as Chief Public Information Officer of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and as a Community Affairs Officer at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Mr. Kinerney spent nearly six years in daily newspaper journalism in the early 1990s after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Eugene (Butch) Kinerney, Chief of Communications
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA
Dr. Steve Lyons

(June 28, 2010) Dr. Lyons' expertise is in Tropical and Marine Meteorology. He has participated in more than 50 national and international conferences and provided World Meteorological Organization training courses in marine meteorology, tropical meteorology and ocean wave forecasting. Each spring he is a guest speaker at many hurricane preparedness conferences from Texas to New York.

Prior to joining The Weather Channel in April 1998, Dr. Lyons managed the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch of the Tropical Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center. He has worked directly for private weather companies and traveled around the world forecasting weather in various tropical locales. He has also been a private consultant forecasting ocean waves for numerous surfing beaches. Familiar with on-camera assignments, Dr. Lyons worked on-air for a station in Ventura County, California.

Among his many interesting jobs, he has been a research scientist for the U.S. Navy, for the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) at Princeton University, and for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has also been a professor of meteorology at Texas A&M University, where he is still an adjunct faculty member, and at the University of Hawaii where he remains involved with the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR). Dr. Lyons has worked for the National Weather Service South Region Scientific Services Division, where he trained NWS meteorologists. He routinely reviews scientific papers related to tropical and marine weather submitted for publication in American Meteorological Society and other international journals. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society. He has published more than 20 papers in scientific journals and written more than 40 technical reports and articles for the National Weather Service and for the Navy.

Currently Dr. Lyons is seen during "hurricane season" on Tropical Updates. In his spare time he develops various models and continuously improves them - they provide many of the forecasts of hurricane impacts on land you see on The Weather Channel cable network and weather.com.

Dr. Lyons obtained a B.S., and a M.S., culminating in a Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Hawaii.

Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert
The Weather Channel
Trenise Lyons

(June 28, 2010) Trenise Lyons brings 8 years of communications and social marketing experience to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. - FLASH®. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of several outreach initiatives including the Great Hurricane Blowout.

Prior to joining FLASH, Ms. Lyons was with the Washington, DC office of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Her clients included the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program FloodSmart campaign.

Ms. Lyons earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, and her Master of Arts in Public Communication from The American University in Washington, DC.

Trenise Lyons, Project Manager, Great American Blowout
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)
Diana L. McClure

(June 28, 2010) Diana McClure is Business Resiliency Program Manager at the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). She was responsible for the development of the Open for Business® program at IBHS, a business continuity and property protection planning tool for small to mid-sized businesses. She has worked in a number of other capacities at IBHS, including community resiliency programs and work on land use issues. She has been with the non-profit organization for thirteen years.

From 1989 to 1996, Ms. McClure served as a mitigation specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New England. She traveled throughout the U.S. to help communities recover from natural disasters. Prior to that, she served as a regional representative for the Insurance Information Institute, and as a consultant on civil liability of law enforcement officials and on civil rights conflict management.

Ms. McClure has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and a Masters degree from Boston College.

Diana McClure, Business Resiliency Program Manager
Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
Sam W. Nelson, P.E.

(June 28, 2010) Sam Nelson is Chief Engineer at the Texas Department of Insurance. He is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) building code specifications, used for building construction along the Texas Gulf Coast. He assists in the rule-making process of the agency relating to building specifications and windstorm inspections.

Mr. Nelson has oversight over windstorm inspections performed by licensed engineers in Texas. His other activities include the development of product evaluation reports for building products and participation in delivering educational training classes along the Texas Gulf Coast regarding windstorm resistant construction.

Mr. Nelson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas.

Sam Nelson, Chief Engineer, Engineering Section
Texas Department of Insurance
Bill Proenza

(June 28, 2010) Bill Proenza is the Regional Director of the National Weather Service (NWS) Southern Region, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The Southern Region encompasses approximately one quarter of the contiguous United States including Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands amounting to 20 percent of the NWS' employees. The region is one of the most severe weather active areas in the world.

Mr. Proenza began his career at the National Hurricane Center in Miami and as a flight meteorologist on "hurricane hunter" aircraft (1963-1967). During his lengthy career with the National Weather Service, he provided key leadership in the modernization, restructuring, and staffing of the NWS as well as managing weather forecasting, severe weather warning and climate services. He was first assigned as Regional Director of the NWS Southern Region in 1998 and held that position through 2006.

He served as Director of the National Hurricane Center from January through August of 2007. During that time, he received an award from the scientists at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory for his satellite and hurricane research advocacy for the nation's hurricane warning program. In 2007, he received the NWS Employee's Organization's national Kip Robinson Award for courageous leadership while at the National Hurricane Center. Since September, 2007, he has served in the South's senior NOAA position of Regional Director of the National Weather Service Southern Region.

Mr. Proenza is a long standing member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the National Weather Association, and the International Association of Emergency Managers. In 2001, the AMS recognized him with its prestigious Francis W. Reichelderfer Award for outstanding environmental services to the nation. Two years later, he was named a "Fellow of the AMS" and in 2006, the AMS national membership elected him as a Councilor on the AMS leadership board. In 2009, he received the annual Career Excellence Award from the International Association of Emergency Managers for outstanding and innovative support to the nation's emergency managers and responders. The award also recognized his courageous leadership while at the National Hurricane Center.

Mr. Proenza is an internationally recognized meteorologist officially representing the U.S.A. Since 2005, he has led United States delegations to the United Nations (UNESCO) meetings on tsunamis and the oceans. In 2007, he served as chairman of the World Meteorological Organization's Hurricane Sub-Committee and now serves as a senior member of the U.S. delegation to the UN's World Meteorological Organization's Region IV which encompasses over 30 nations in the Americas.

Bill Proenza, Regional Director
National Weather Service Southern Region
Bill Read

(October 8, 2014) Mr. Read currently serves as an on-air contributor for KPRC in Houston, Texas, as the hurricane expert and analyst during times of significant weather activity.

Mr. Read retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)/National Weather Service (NWS) in June 2008 after serving 40 years, including the honor of Director, National Hurricane Center in Miami from 2008 through June 2012. Previously, Mr. Read was the meteorologist in charge at the Houston-Galveston Area NWS forecast officer from 1992 to 2007. He was the operational and administrative leader of many significant weather operations as well as major technological and organizational changes. In this capacity, he led the office through the installation of the NEXRAD Doppler radar, WSR-88D, and had added responsibilities associated with the restructuring of the field operations of the NWS. Mr. Read has also been a member of the Hurricane Liaison Team, augmenting the staff at the National Hurricane Center to brief high level governmental agencies for land falling hurricanes; specifically, Isabel (2003), Charley (2004), and Katrina (2005).

Bill Read, Former Director
National Hurricane Center
Mary Ann Goudeau Reid

(June 28, 2010) Mary Ann Reid is the President of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. She is a Civil Service Commissioner for the City of Port Arthur. Prior to her current position, she worked for Acadian Ambulance as the Community Relations Supervisor of Southeast Texas Operations.

Mrs. Reid was honored with the 2004 Athena Award from the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. She is a board member of the following organizations: Symphony of Southeast Texas; Southeast Texas Economic Development Foundation, CHRISTUS Health of Southeast Texas, Leadership Southeast Texas, Foundation of Southeast Texas, and Regional Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) a group dedicated to bringing opportunities to Southeast Texas. Mrs. Reid has completed her second year of both the Texas Community Development Institute and third year of Institute for Organization Management. Reid also serves as Secretary for the Gulf Coast Chamber Executives organization.

Mrs. Reid attended Lamar University.

Mary Ann Goudeau Reid, President
Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce
Julie Rochman

(June 2, 2016) Julie Rochman joined IBHS in late 2007, with nearly 30 years of public affairs and advocacy experience representing major corporations, research and safety organizations, and issue-based coalitions. She is often quoted by both traditional and digital media outlets on a wide variety of topics.

Under Julie’s leadership, IBHS has become a world-class research and communications organization; significant accomplishments include creation of the unique, $40 million IBHS Research Center in South Carolina.

Prior to IBHS, Julie held senior positions at a leading Washington, D.C.-based strategic communication and advocacy firm; at the American Insurance Association; and at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. She serves on several advisory councils and the National Fire Protection Association Board of Directors – and previously served on Boards for the International Hurricane Research Center, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

A native of Omaha, Julie has a BA in International Relations from Tulane University, and a MA in American Government from the University of Virginia. She resides in Tampa.

Julie Rochman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
Randall Shackelford

(June 28, 2010) Randall (Randy) Shackelford is a Research Engineer/Codes Specialist with Simpson Strong-Tie Company, where he has been employed since 1994. He provides technical assistance and training on building codes, wind and earthquake resistant construction, and the use of Simpson Strong-Tie connectors to builders, designers, consumers, and building officials throughout the country.

Mr. Shackelford sits on several committees, including the AISI Committee on Framing Standards, the AF&PA Wood Design Standards Committee, the ICC Ad-Hoc Committee on Wall Bracing, and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Technical Advisory Committee, and he is on the Board of Directors of the National Storm Shelter Association. He has participated in damage investigation teams for most major hurricanes to hit the U.S. mainland since 1988, including Hurricanes Hugo, Bob, Andrew, Opal, Fran, Charley, and Katrina. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, he worked for 10 years at the Texas Department of Insurance.

Randall Shackelford, Research Engineer/Codes Specialist
Simpson Strong-Tie Company
Ryan Sherriff

(May 2, 2011) Ryan Sherriff is a research associate at the Center for Housing Policy in Washington, DC. In addition to managing several other Center projects, he researches best practices nationwide in the development and renovation of disaster-resistant homes for lower income households. Prior to working at the Center, Mr. Sherriff worked in affordable housing development with The Integral Group in Atlanta, GA, and for the real estate and economic development planning firm BBPA in Annapolis, MD.

Mr. Sherriff currently serves as Vice Chair of the Housing and Community Development Division of the American Planning Association, and as Secretary of the Family Selection Committee of the Washington, DC chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning.

Ryan Sherriff, Research Associate
Center for Housing Policy
Jeffrey Sjostrom

(June 28, 2010) Jeffrey Sjostrom is the founding President of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership (GEDP). The GEDP is a public/private partnership focused on the expansion of Galveston's employment and tax bases. The GEDP was formed in 1999, since which it has facilitated a myriad of projects including maritime, biotechnology, housing, infill redevelopment, information services and a host of other activities. Over the past few years and in conjunction with the City of Galveston, Mr. Sjostrom has gained a unique insight into the arena of disaster planning and recovery. He participates in local, regional, state-wide and national initiatives focusing on transferring lessons learned and seeking additional improvements to the area of continuity planning and disaster recovery.

Prior to joining the GEDP Mr. Sjostrom coordinated a 13-county economic development program for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. In this capacity he was responsible for public financing tools and resources to support the region's economic growth. Mr. Sjostrom began his economic development career in Texas with the City of Palacios in 1989. Rural development was the primary goal for this small coastal community. In this capacity projects included aquaculture, tech-prep workforce training, manufacturing and real estate development.

During these 20+ years of service in the field of economic development, Mr. Sjostrom participates on a wide variety of commissions and organizations dedicated to community and economic development.

Jeffrey Sjostrom, President
Galveston Economic Development Partnership
Rep. John Smithee (R)

(June 28, 2010) John Smithee was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984. His district, District 86, includes Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, and Deaf Smith counties. His district office is in Amarillo. Rep. Smithee is currently Chairman of the House Committee on Insurance and serves on the Natural Resources Committee. He has served on the Economic Development, Energy Resources, Business & Commerce, Government Organization, Higher Education, Judicial Affairs, Regulated Industries, and Judiciary committees.

Rep. Smithee was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1976 and is a partner at Templeton, Smithee, Hayes, Heinrich & Russell, LLP. John's legislative efforts have centered around judicial reform and insurance reform, and have been the subject of articles in the National Law Journal and Texas Lawyer. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and American Bar Association, and is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is member of the American Legislative Exchange Council and Texas Conservative Coalition.

Rep. Smithee's education includes a B.B.A. degree from West Texas State University, and he is a graduate of Texas Tech University Law School.

John Smithee, Representative
Texas House of Representatives
Thomas Spencer

(June 28, 2010) Thomas Spencer has been with the Texas Forest Service for 30 years. He has worked as a Forester, then District Forester for 20 years. Since 1999, he has served in his current capacity as the Predictive Services Department Head with responsibility for administering the agencies Predictive Services Department, which includes monitoring drought, weather, and fire danger conditions across the state

Mr. Spencer received a BS Degree in Forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Tom Spencer, Predictive Services Department Head
Texas Forest Service
Dr. Daniel Sutter

(June 28, 2010) Dr. Sutter is currently an associate professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of Texas - Pan American. His research interests include the impact of weather hazards, the value of weather forecasts, catastrophe insurance, the economics of the news media and news bias, the market for ideology, and constitutional economics. He is a Senior Affiliated Scholar of the Mercatus Institute and has previously taught at Northern Michigan University, Old Dominion University, and the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Sutter has published over seventy five articles in journals including Economic Inquiry, the Southern Economic Journal, Public Choice, Weather and Forecasting, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Natural Hazards Review, and Risk Analysis, and he has co-edited special issues of the Southern Economic Journal and the Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis on Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Sutter earned a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University Ph.D. and a Bachelor of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Daniel Sutter, Associate Professor of Economics
University of Texas, Pan American
Andy Teas

(June 28, 2010) Andy Teas is Vice President of Public Affairs for the Houston Apartment Association, a non-profit trade association representing the owners and managers of over 500,000 apartment units in the Houston area.

Before joining HAA, Mr. Teas worked as a legislative aide and committee clerk in the Texas Senate and House, and for the Congressional Liaison office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. He has also served as an instructor at Houston Community College since 1994, teaching political science.

Mr. Teas graduated from the University of Texas, and earned an M.P.A. from the L.B.J. School of Public Affairs.

Andy Teas, Vice President, Public Affairs
Houston Apartment Association
Paul Tertell, P.E.

(June 28, 2010) Mr. Tertell is a civil engineer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He has over 25 years experience in design, construction, facility management and post-disaster investigation. He joined FEMA in 1992, responding to Hurricane Andrew. In 1993, he moved to the newly formed Mitigation Directorate that provides increased attention to preventing disaster damages. Mr. Tertell has participated in numerous post-disaster investigations that have resulted in recommendations on how to reduce disaster damages from natural hazards. He is responsible for over 16 publications on disaster-resistance topics.

Mr. Tertell received the Director's Award from FEMA for his work on high-wind shelters. He was project officer for the FEMA engineering report on the World Trade Center. Upon returning to Mitigation in August 2009, he led the Mitigation Assessment Team (forensic engineering effort) for Hurricane Ike.

Paul Tertell, Civil Engineer/Mitigation Directorate
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Frederick Tombar, III

(June 28, 2010) Fred Tombar is a Senior Advisor to U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Secretary Shaun Donovan. In this capacity, he leads the strategic direction and policy development, and assists in the coordination of operations of the Department's disaster and recovery programs. This is his second time serving at HUD.

Before rejoining HUD, Mr. Tombar was the President of Tombar Consulting Group, a management consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations transform their business processes and improve their performance. Prior to forming Tombar Consulting Group, Mr. Tombar worked for the HUD's Federal Housing Administration for seven years where he worked to increase homeownership and rental housing opportunities for underserved communities. While serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing at HUD, he managed operations for the development and asset management of more than 30,000 privately-owned multifamily housing projects, administered housing grant and subsidy programs of nearly $8 billion in annual appropriations, and provided oversight to nearly 2,000 staff in fifty-one offices nationwide. Mr. Tombar also served as a Principal Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers for five years where he led projects to improve the operations of public programs at the Federal, State and Local levels of government.

Mr. Tombar is the recipient of numerous awards including twice being named a Distinguished Regulatory Partner by the National Affordable Housing Managers Association and the Outstanding HUD Official by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. He is a Harry S. Truman Scholar and a Notre Dame Scholar. He is the recipient of both the Notre Dame Distinguished Leader award and a Distinguished Black Exemplar award. In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Mr. Tombar directed a key project, the Road Home Program in Louisiana. This project served as the largest single housing recovery program in the history of the United States.

Fred Tombar, Senior Advisor to the Secretary
US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

"We are grateful to our eminent speakers who volunteered their time to help Forum participants learn more about disaster safety and help advance the disaster safety movement's mission of making coastal communities safer."

Stephen Weinstein, Chairman of the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation

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