2011 Colorado EM Conference Opening Ceremonies

After the presentation of colors by Loveland Fire-Rescues Honor Guard and an impressive rendition of the national anthem by Rebekka MacCaleb, Mayor Guiterrez of the City of Loveland welcomed participants to the conference and Loveland. Stressing his experience in the Colorado National Guard, Mayor Guiterrez spoke about his recollections of moving to Colorado and enduring the Big Thompson flood of 1976 and the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1982. He spoke about not only the disasters, but also on the political ramifications of disaster and stressed the importance of emergency management. Noting that this preparation spills across disasters and the lessons learned can be applied to events to help on training and managing events. He invited participants to visit downtown Loveland and the many restaurants and businesses.

Hans Kallam, Director of the Division of Emergency Management then took the podium to welcome participants to the Conference. Thanking participants for taking the time to attend the conference, away from the desk and inbox. Recognizing the Executive Conference Committee, Hans highlighted the amount of collaborative work that went into building the conference agenda, speakers and documents and vendors. Specifically, he called upon the group to recognize Cindy VonFeldt. Hans also called upon participants to engage with the vendors to share stories, needs, and ideas. It is this sharing of ideas that make the tools we rely on efficient and effective. Hans then challenged participants to seize this chance to build friendships and partnerships we will leverage down the road. Make no mistake, it will happen. Colorado has a great team in this regard.

Hans briefly covered the transition time that faces us in terms of opportunities with a new administration and chance to consider and retool, if necessary, our collective efforts. Stressing the need for this process to find an elegant solution that makes us efficient, Hans noted this conference is an opportunity to share ideas on how this process moves forward. Citing that emails are being sent to stakeholders in this process today, that the opportunity is before us to make sure your voices are a part on this discussion to ensure the best possible service to the taxpayers in Colorado.

Following administrative remarks, Mike Gavin the Master of Ceremonies and City of Fort Collins Emergency Manager welcomed Robin Finegan, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VIII Administrator. Administrator Finegan noted that Colorado isn't the most active of disaster regions in Region VIII, and that is a good thing. Citing the above and beyond the call of duty nature of the emergency management community, she talked about the new FEMA administrations effort to involve the entire community as a part of disasters. The idea that everyone, not just those in emergency management, has a part in becoming more resilient. Every individual, nonprofit, business, government and individual has a role to play. The whole of community idea isn't new to Colorado, of course. Stressing that should this is ongoing, we must start to think of disaster survivors as solution-drivers. Inherent in culture at the community level must be resiliency. We saw it recently on Boulder. The community is driving the response on how best to bounce back from the front range fires of 2010.

Administrator Finegan challenged participants to identify what are the concrete steps we can take to galvanize the whole of community? Then, she charged participants to consider how we can draw on public, private and nonprofit efforts at the local level and how to operationalize the concept of the whole of community. The ideas, she urged, can be emailed to her or to Hans to consider. She added that emergency management is administrative and fiscal, but that isn't really what it is all about. In fact, emergency management exists as a human story. The job is about those special moments that change who you are or your relationship with the community. Administrator Finegan finished by thanking participants for their service.