Richmond – Today, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is pleased to officially announce the opening of the new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) located in Chesterfield, Virginia at VDEM Headquarters. The official opening of this office establishes Virginia as the first state in the nation to create an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within a state emergency management office. The ODEI will provide subject matter expertise, strategic leadership, and technical assistance to VDEM staff, partners, and key stakeholders on best practices for ensuring emergency management plans are equitable and prioritize vulnerable and at-risk populations before, during, and after disasters.
Embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into emergency management and the agency’s overall daily operations have been critical, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 response. COVID-19 continues to highlight the inherent disparities that exist within our society and key vulnerabilities that are often worsened during emergencies and disasters. In the past decade, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of disasters across the nation and Virginia. This office will be key to ensuring vulnerable communities who are historically disproportionately impacted by disasters receive much proportional resources and support.
“VDEM is proud to be a national leader when it comes to integrating DEI principles into emergency management,” said State Coordinator Curtis Brown. “Recent updates to the Code of Virginia tasks VDEM with the responsibility of providing guidance to local governments and establishing the Emergency Management Equity Work Group. The opening of this office will be critical to the success of these important responsibilities and I look forward to the great work and innovation that will come from our ODEI.”
After a national search, VDEM has selected Sable K Dyer to serve as the inaugural Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Prior to joining the VDEM team, Dyer served as the Acting Director of the Office of Health Equity, Division Director for Multicultural Health & Community Engagement, Chair of the Health Equity Working Group, and member of the Health Equity Leadership Task Force.
“I am excited to join the VDEM team as the inaugural Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Dyer said. “Integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into emergency management is more critical now than ever, especially as disasters have become more frequent and severe. I look forward to leading this office and working with key agency partners to accomplish our goals and ensure vulnerable communities are at the forefront of emergency management”.
Dyer received a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Howard University in addition to a Doctor of Law from North Carolina Central University. VDEM is pleased to welcome Sable K Dyer to the VDEM team and the official launching of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.