Dr. Jeff Stern was appointed in 2014 by Governor Terry McAuliffe to lead the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Commonwealth’s all-hazards disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery agency, where he has led a comprehensive agency-wide reorganization to build a ready and resilient Virginia in the face of today’s risk environment, based upon strategic and sustainable programs, professional development opportunities, enhanced regional capabilities, and a quick and integrated response to disasters. In this role, he also chairs the Virginia 9-1-1 Board and is the State Administrative Agent for all federal homeland security and emergency management grant programs in Virginia. He has led VDEM through its busiest disaster period since 1990, including two presidentially-declared major disasters and over a dozen gubernatorial states of emergency, including the fourth largest snowstorm in the last century, the largest tornado outbreak in Virginia since 1959, and Hurricane Matthew.
Dr. Stern previously served in local and federal government, the private sector, and academia. A former firefighter/paramedic, battalion chief, and special operations team leader for technical/urban search and rescue, hazmat, swiftwater rescue, tactical medic teams, and a local emergency manager, his career has spanned operational, policymaking, and advisory roles from the local firehouse to the White House. In the aftermath of 9/11, he helped establish the Arlington County (VA) Office of Emergency Management. Dr. Stern helped lead incident management teams to Hurricanes Charley in Florida (2004), Katrina in New Orleans (2005), and supported medical relief efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after the 2010 earthquake that claimed 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 Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in the Secretary’s Office of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Management, responsible for 20 percent of U.S. lands and global territory, and was later part of a handpicked team assigned to write the president’s 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security at the White House Homeland Security Council. He was then appointed by President George W. Bush as Executive Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the Department of Homeland Security, where he also coordinated all interaction with the 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 at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute, where he conducted wide-ranging analytic projects in support of the FEMA, the DHS Office of Science and Technology, the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, the DHS Office of Policy, the National Guard Bureau, and the Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism.
Dr. Stern has a Ph.D. in Public Administration/Public Affairs from Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy, an M.P.A. 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. Dr. Stern has written and lectured extensively on disaster management, first response, and homeland security; contributed to several after action reports, including the 1997 B’nai B’rith anthrax incident and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing; 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 is currently a member of the FEMA National Advisory Council, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee, the National Homeland Security Consortium, the National Capital Region Homeland Security Executive Committee, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology First Responders Resource Group, and is co-chair of the Virginia Fusion Center Superintendent’s Advisory Board. He serves on the National Emergency Management Association’s Board of Directors, where he chairs the legislative committee. Dr. Stern teaches graduate courses in emergency and disaster management at Georgetown University on the subjects of WMD/terrorism, ethics and crisis decision-making.