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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Deanne B. Criswell as Commissioner of New York City Emergency Management

June 4, 2019

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that Deanne B. Criswell will serve as Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department. Criswell brings over 25 years of experience in federal, military and local government response to complex incidents and disasters, including six years at FEMA, to the department. She is also a retired member of the Colorado Air National Guard, where she served 21 years as both a firefighter and Deputy Fire Chief. She will become the first woman to lead NYC Emergency Management in the City’s history.

“NYC Emergency Management is at the forefront of our city’s response to threats and disasters, and they must be prepared for anything that might come our way,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Deanne is a trailblazer with the experience, passion, and skill necessary to prepare us for the unexpected. I thank Joe for his steadfast leadership over the last 5 years.”

“Deanne Criswell is a nationally recognized leader in the emergency management field, and as the first woman to lead NYC Emergency Management, she has already made history. Her vast experience has prepared her to meet and overcome any challenge our city may face. I look forward to our partnership and to her advancing NYCEM,” said Deputy Mayor of Operations Laura Anglin.

“I’m ready to get to work as Commissioner for NYC Emergency Management in the greatest city in the world,” said incoming NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne B. Criswell. “Thanks to Mayor de Blasio for the opportunity to bring my 25 years of experience to plan for, respond to, and protect 8.6 million New Yorkers when the city faces a crisis.”

Prior to joining NYC Emergency Management, Criswell served as the leader of one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Incident Management Assistance Teams (N-IMAT) and as a federal coordinating officer. In this role, Deanne was the primary Federal representative responsible for leading the agency’s response to and recovery from emergencies and major disasters, from severe flooding in North Dakota to hurricanes in South Carolina to fires in Colorado.  She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the City of Aurora, Colorado, where she led strategic change in the city’s emergency and disaster planning. During her tenure there, Deanne coordinated transitional housing and family reunification efforts in response to receiving 2000 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

As a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, Criswell served 21 years as a firefighter and Deputy Fire Chief. In 2001, she deployed to Kuwait to serve as a fire officer in crash fire rescue efforts, and in 2010, she deployed Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq to advise senior leadership on fire protection requirements for new and existing military bases.

“Deanne served as a FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer and lead one of FEMA’s National Incident Management Teams. She has briefed Presidents, Governors, and Mayors. As a former first responder, she has worked at all levels of disasters with a focus on survivors, first responders, and the communities impacted.  I am very confident in her abilities to lead and coordinate NYC's emergency management team,” said Craig Fugate, former Administrator of FEMA.

“Deanne brings a wealth of emergency management experience to NYC, she has been on the frontlines of multiple disasters and is a proven leader. Deanne has the ability to work with multiple diverse populations and is a professional who treats people with respect and listens to many varied options with the ability to take decisive action when needed. In her work at FEMA, the State & local level she has been able to bridge networks and come to consensus when many people did not think it was possible,” said Richard Serino, former Deputy Administrator of FEMA and Chief of Boston EMS.

“Deanne Criswell has the experience and respect that only a practitioner can truly earn across the military, public service, and academic communities.  She seamlessly navigates between the public and private sector and is simply an excellent choice as the Commissioner of Emergency Management for the City of New York,” said Dr. Kathleen L. Kiernan, former Assistant Director for Strategic Intelligence and Information at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

“I could always count on me as a go to person during times of crisis and admired the way she handled tough situations, always a pure professional.  She continuously sought out new challenges to improve her knowledge and skills and established herself as a role model for others,” said Major General (retired) Mike Edwards, former Adjutant General for the Colorado National Guard.

About Deanne B. Criswell

Criswell is a highly respected national expert in the emergency management and public safety field. Most recently, Deanne led the emergency management practice for the Cadmus Group LLC.  She served in an executive role for clients at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as the private sector, providing exceptional technical expertise and the experience necessary to help her clients achieve their critical missions.

Criswell is a graduate of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology Education and Training (2003) and holds a Master of Public Administration (2006) from the University of Colorado, Denver and a Master of Arts in Security Studies (2011) from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

She has two sons, RJ and Eddie, and three grandchildren. Her first day as Commissioner is July 1st.

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