State Coordinator


Jeff Stern, PhD

Dr. Jeffrey Stern was appointed in May 2014 to lead the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. He comes to VDEM from leadership positions in emergency management, public safety, and homeland security, having served in local and federal government, the private sector, and academia. A former firefighter/paramedic and battalion chief, his career spans operational, policy-making, and advisory roles from the local firehouse to the White House. In his first responder career, he developed and led hazardous materials, technical and urban search and rescue, tactical/SWAT medic, and swiftwater rescue teams with fire departments in Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado. He also served in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management and as the first director of the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System. Dr. Stern helped lead incident management teams to Hurricanes Charley in Florida (2004) and Katrina in New Orleans (2005) and supported medical relief efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after the 2010 earthquake that claimed nearly 300,000 lives. 

After Hurricane Katrina, he was selected as a White House Fellow, a non-partisan leadership development program, serving for a year as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in the Office of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Management, and was part of a handpicked team assigned to write the president’s National Strategy for Homeland Security at the White House Homeland Security Council. He was then appointed by the president as Executive Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he also coordinated all interaction with the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (the Graham-Talent Commission). He received an outstanding service award from the Secretary of Homeland Security for his work. Later, he led the policy analysis division for DHS’s federally-funded research development center, the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute, and taught graduate courses at Georgetown University on disaster management, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Stern has a Ph.D. in Public Administration/Public Affairs from Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy, an MPA from the American University School of Public Affairs, and a B.A. in government from the College of William & Mary. He is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers and an Executive Fire Officer through the National Fire Academy. Jeff has written and lectured extensively on disaster management, first response, and homeland security; contributed to several after action reports in the aftermath of critical incidents; and authored chapters for the International City/County Management Association’s Managing Fire and Emergency Services and the Academy for Critical Incident Analysis’ Handbook of Critical Incident Analysis. He serves in advisory roles as a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at Louisiana State University, as a member of The InterAgency Board Strategic Planning Group, and as adviser to the Board of Directors of the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care. He is the chair of the Virginia E-911 Services Board and the State Administrative Agent for all federal homeland security and emergency management grant programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Download full version of Dr. Stern's Bio [400 kb pdf] 

Download short version of Dr. Stern’s bio here [282 kb pdf]