Speaker Bios

Craig Fugate

Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (2009-2017)

W. Craig Fugate served as President Barack Obama’s FEMA Administrator from May 2009 to January 2017. Previously, he served as Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Emergency Management Director from 2001-2009. Fugate led FEMA through multiple record-breaking disaster years and oversaw the Federal Government’s response to major events such as the Joplin and Moore Tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Matthew, and the 2016 Louisiana flooding. Fugate set a clear and compelling vision, mission, and priorities for FEMA and relentlessly drove the Agency to achieve better outcomes for survivors. FEMA’s effectiveness in dealing with more than 500 Presidentially Declared major disasters and emergencies under Fugate’s leadership restored the faith of the American people in the Federal Government’s ability to respond to disasters. Prior to his tenure at FEMA, Fugate was widely praised for his management, under Governor Jeb Bush, of the devastating effects of the 2004 and 2005 Florida hurricane seasons (Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, and Wilma).  Mr. Fugate currently serves as a senior advisor to several consulting firms that focus on building a resilient future for communities and businesses around the globe.


Brandon Hamber, PhD

John Hume & Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University

Dr. Brandon Hamber is John Hume & Thomas P. O'Neill Chair in Peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University. He is a Visiting Professor at the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He is also a member of the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University. In South Africa he trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of the Witwatersrand and holds a Ph.D. from the Ulster University. Prior to moving to Northern Ireland, he coordinated the Transition and Reconciliation Unit at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg.  He coordinated the Centre's work focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He was a visiting Tip O'Neill Fellow in Peace Studies at INCORE in 1997/1998.  He was also the recipient of the Rockefeller Resident Fellowship (1996) and was a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Violence in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  In 2010-2013 he was a Mellon Distinguished Visiting Scholar at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He has been awarded The Paul Harris medal for contributions to peace by Rotary (2013), and was listed as one of the Top 100: The most influential people in armed violence reduction by the Action on Armed Violence Network (2013/2014).
He has consulted to a range of community groups, policy initiatives and government bodies in Northern Ireland and South Africa.  He has undertaken consulting and research work, and participated in various peace and reconciliation initiatives in Liberia, Mozambique, Bosnia, the Basque Country and Sierra Leone, among others. 
He has lectured and taught widely, including, on the International Trauma Studies Programme at Colombia University, New York and the Post-War and Reconstruction Unit, University of York; and at the University of Ulster.


James Halpern, PhD

Founding Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz

James Halpern, Ph.D.is Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Counseling and Founding Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at The State University of New York at New Paltz. He is the co-author of: Disaster Mental Health Case Studies: Lessons Learned from Counseling in Chaos (2019), Disaster Mental Health Interventions: Core Principles and Practices (2017) and Disaster Mental Health: Theory and Practice (2007), and he has given numerous scholarly and training presentations on trauma and disaster mental health throughout the US and abroad. He has received highly competitive federal and NYS grants to develop curriculum and to provide training and education in Disaster Mental Health. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, Hudson Valley Chapter. He has consulted for the United Nations on Assisting Victims of Terror and has developed training modules for the United Nations Emergency Preparedness and Support Teams as well as a specialized training module for how UN mission leaders can operate most effectively in complex emergencies. He is frequently called on to offer his expertise to media including NY Times, CNN, CGTN, CCTV, CRI and National Public Radio (e.g., Marketplace Money). He has also provided direct service to disaster survivors and served in a leadership role at both large-scale national and local disasters (e.g.,9/11, Flight 587, Florida Hurricanes, Hurricane Katrina, Newtown School shooting, Harlem building explosion).


Mary Tramontin, PsyD

Clinical Psychologist, Department of Defense

Mary Tramontin, PsyD, U.S. Department of Defense, is a forensically trained, licensed clinical psychologist. Her longest professional affiliation is serving as an American Red Cross volunteer as part of both disaster mental health as well as service to the armed forces. Dr. Tramontin has worked for the United States federal government for over 22 years, chiefly in consultative roles focusing on personnel risk assessment and mitigation and enhancing workforce wellness. All of her professional endeavors are informed by expertise in the evaluation, treatment, and management of traumatic stress. Building on these experiences, Dr. Tramontin has written several peer-reviewed-publications and is the co-author of Disaster Mental Health: Theory and Practice (2007).


Diane Ryan, LCSW

Department of Justice, Office for Victim Assistance. Retired Director, Mental Health and Service Programs, Disaster Planning and Response, American Red Cross in Greater New York

 Diane Ryan, LCSW, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Victim Services Division is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in trauma, critical incident response, and disaster mental health. She is currently employed with the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Prior to that, she was Director of Disaster Mental Health for the American Red Cross in Greater New York. Diane has served at local and national disasters including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, mass casualty transportation incidents, and the World Trade Center attacks. She led the development of the mental health/spiritual care response protocol for the 2009 New York City Family Assistance Center plan and provided posttraumatic stress protocols to 9/11 responders for several years after the World Trade Center disaster. Diane has presented on disaster, trauma, and critical incident response nationally and internationally, and has published on the topics of disaster mental health response, roles in respite centers for emergency service workers, disaster staff support and collaboration with spiritual care providers.


Kenneth J. Doka, PhD

Senior Vice-President of Grief, The Hospice Foundation of America

Dr. Kenneth J. Doka is a Professor of Gerontology at the Graduate School of The College of New Rochelle and Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America.  A prolific author, Dr. Doka’s 40 books include Grieving beyond Gender: Understanding the Ways Men and Woman Mourn, Grief Is a Journey, Living with Grief: Coping with Public Tragedy and Disenfranchised Grief:  New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice.  In addition to these books, he has published over 100 articles and book chapters.  Dr. Doka is editor of both Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying and Journeys: A Newsletter to Help in Bereavement.

Dr. Doka was elected President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling in 1993.  In 1995, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Work Group on Dying, Death and Bereavement and served as chair from 1997-1999.  The Association for Death Education and Counseling presented him with an Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Death Education in 1998.  In 2000 Scott and White presented him an award for Outstanding Contributions to Thanatology and Hospice.  His Alma Mater Concordia College presented him with their first Distinguished Alumnus Award.  In 2006, Dr. Doka was grandfathered in as a Mental Health Counselor under NY State’s first licensure of counselors.

Dr. Doka has keynoted conferences throughout North America as well as Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  He participates in the annual Hospice Foundation of America Teleconference and has appeared on CNN and Nightline.  In addition, he has served as a consultant to medical, nursing, funeral service and hospice organizations as well as businesses and educational and social service agencies.  Dr. Doka is an ordained Lutheran minister.


Aziza Belcher Platt, PhD

Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice

Dr. Aziza A. B. Platt is a licensed psychologist providing culturally-responsive individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy, and psychological assessment. She treats various concerns and specializes in racial-cultural issues, trauma, and grief. She was inspired to get into mental health to contribute to efforts to make therapy more acceptable, accessible, and affordable particularly for marginalized communities. Social justice and liberation are an indelible part of her work.


Kelly McKinney, PE, CBCP, BS, MPA

Assistant Vice President, Emergency Management + Enterprise Resilience

As the former Deputy Commissioner at the New York City Office of Emergency Management and Chief Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross in Greater New York, Kelly McKinney has had a leadership role in every major emergency in New York City from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to the present day.

Nationally known for his writing on the principles and practice of emergency management, his 5-minute video, The Essential Emergency Manager, has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube. Currently, he is Assistant Vice President of Emergency Management and Enterprise Resilience at NYU Langone Health in New York.


Marla del Pilar Perez Lugo, PhD

Environmental Sociologist, Co-Founder of the RISE Network

Marla del Pilar Perez Lugo is an environmental sociologist, with expertise in disaster vulnerability and energy governance. She holds a PhD from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and is a professor of sociology at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Puerto Rico. Her work has been published in prestigious academic journals such as The Professional Geographer, Sociological Inquiry and Organizations and the Environment. Together with Dr. Cecilio Ortiz Garcia and Dr. Lionel Orama Exclusa, she is the co-founder of the National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability of the UPR System and member of its steering committee. Dr. Perez Lugo is also a member of the EPA’s National Advisory Committee and a member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council (NAEHSC). Since the impact of hurricane Maria in PR her work has expanded to include issues of community resilience and collaborative partnerships. She is currently on leave from the UPR System and affiliated to the National Council for Science and the Environment as a Senior Fellow. Her position involves the creation of the RISE Network, an interuniversity platform to transform the role of universities in disasters.


Cecilio Ortiz Garcia, PhD

Professor of Political Science, Co-Founder of the RISE Network 

Cecilio Ortiz Garcia holds a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from the School of Public Affairs of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. He serves as Professor of Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. His areas of expertise include Energy Policy and Governance in Puerto Rico, Sustainable Transitions Management in Developing Nations and Public Participation in Energy and Environmental Decision Making.  His current research concentrates on the governance of critical infrastructure transformations, particularly sustainable energy transitions and its relationship with community resilience. He also explores the role of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in local and national Extreme Operating Environments (EOE). Dr. Ortiz is the Co-Founder of the RISE Network, an Inter University Collaborative Convergence Platform that creates a new architecture of relationships towards just knowledge co-production for community resilience. He is also the Co-Founder of the University of Puerto Rico’s National Institute of Energy and Island Sustainability.  Dr. Ortiz is currently a Hubert Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor at Macalester College Department of Environmental Studies. He is also Senior Fellow on Resilience at the National Council for Science and the Environment in Washington DC, as well as Distinguished Research Fellow at the Global Resiliency Institute at Northeastern University in Boston. 


Karla Vermeulen, PhD

Deputy Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health and an Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz

Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health and an Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in disaster mental health, grief counseling, and developmental psychology. In addition to teaching and research, she has coordinated the development and production of training curricula for the New York State Department of Health and Office of Mental Health, the American Red Cross, the United Nations, and other organizations. She is co-author of Disaster Mental Health Interventions: Core Principles and Practices (2017) and co-editor of Disaster Mental Health Case Studies: Lessons Learned from Counseling in Chaos (2019), both published by Routledge. Her next book, Generation Disaster: Coming of Age Post-9/11, will be published in August 2021 in the Oxford University Press Emerging Adulthood series. Learn more about the book at generationdisaster.com.


Lara Weitzman, MA 

Founder & CEO Re\Vision Labs

Lara Weitzman is CEO of Re\Vision Labs, a coaching and organization development firm specializing in unleashing the power of values based leadership and creative problem solving to achieve excellence.

For the past 25 years, Lara has worked with individuals and organizations to build healthy cultures by creating values based strategies, transforming leadership behavior and team dynamics, and building workplace cultures of equity and belonging. She has a track record of designing and implementing coaching programs in organizations, and sparking the coaching culture needed to ensure success.

An essential aspect of Lara’s approach is guiding individual leaders and larger systems to transform their feelings, beliefs, behaviors and processes around race, gender and other dimensions of difference. In working with white people, she centers truth telling, healing, and moving into new ways of being that disrupt oppressive systems in real ways. An intersectional lens that centers racial justice and fostering belonging is applied to all her work.

Lara is known for leading processes of re\visioning assumptions and dreams, breaking through perceived roadblocks and stretching the limits of what’s possible. Her clients describe her as a trusted thought partner, supporting executives to examine beliefs and lead with courage and humility. She thrives on unlocking the brilliance and self confidence of those who have not yet found their voice, or who struggle to be heard. Her work as a team coach moves organizational systems toward greater purpose, stronger relationships and performance excellence. Her group coaching work creates a lab for building a new kind of trust and support among people working toward individual growth and the emergence of community.

Lara also has a personal coaching practice specializing in women’s entrepreneurship through individual and group coaching. She works with life transitions, and intentions to learn from one’s heritage and heal. She has worked extensively in labor, non profits and corporations, as well as LGBTQIA+ and Jewish organizations.

Lara incorporates neuroscience, growth mindset, innovation thinking, positive psychology, somatic coaching and Parts Work into her approach, adjusting based on client need. Lara has served on the coaching faculty of the Center for Progressive Leadership and the Rockwood Institute. She is a former modern dance choreographer, has a Master’s in Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University and coaching certification from NYU. She is a member of NTL, the National Training Labs; OD Network and The International Coach Federation.


Jayson Kratoville, MPA

Interim Director of the National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP) at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC)

Jayson Kratoville is the Interim Director of the National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP) at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity (CEHC). He leads the NCSP’s efforts to help people, organizations, and communities adapt to evolving risk. He has over 10 years of experience building teams, running programs, and managing systemic change. He is focused on connecting the Center’s successful approach to emerging challenges in new areas, including severe weather, mental health, and pandemic response.

Jayson has been with the NCSP since 2011. He led a team of 250+ to deliver 100+ training deliveries per year and develop new courses designed to help emergency managers and responders make better decisions and pivot to emerging technology and best practices. Jayson also established processes, systems, and structures to manage the Center's early growth. During that time, the Center built a statewide residential and mobile training program at the NY State Preparedness Training Center. The NCSP team drove a 385% increase in enrollment and developed 20+ new emergency preparedness courses focused on innovation and transformation. Jayson is also proud to have contributed to CEHC's creation and ongoing advancement as a hub for homeland security education and innovation. Since it was founded in 2016, CEHC has become one of the fastest-growing programs in the SUNY system. Jayson is currently an adjunct faculty member helping students connect project management and technology solutions to real-world challenges. Jayson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Public Administration in Homeland Security and Information Strategy & Management from the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.


Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, EdD, MPH

Professor & Chair, Clinical PsyD Department, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, a graduate of Harvard University is currently Chair of the Clinical Psychology PsyD program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington DC campus and adjunct faculty in the department of psychiatry at Georgetown University. She studies the effects of trauma, violence, abuse and other stressful events and is particularly interested in whether individuals from historically oppressed or stigmatized groups experience unique stressors or exhibit culturally specific coping processes. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Dr. Dass-Brailsford coordinated a Community Crisis Response team for the Victims of Violence program at Cambridge Health Alliance (MA) that responded to affected communities in the aftermath of trauma. Besides numerous other publications, she is the published author of three books: Trauma, Violence & Abuse (2020), Disaster and Crisis Response: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina, (2009), and A Practical Approach to Trauma: Empowering Interventions (2007). Dr. Dass-Brailsford has presented both nationally and internationally. She is Chair of the Fellows Committee for APA’s Division of Trauma an APA Fellow and herself a Fellow of Divisions 17, 35, 45 and 56.