Leadership is key to any successful government function and especially in emergency management. A strong leader clearly articulates the vision and mission of the organization, manages and trains the staff, provides the staff with the tools needed to be successful and represents the organization and its programs and activities to the public, the political leadership and the media. FEMA’s success in the 1990s can be attributed to the leadership of its Director, James Lee Witt.
FEMA’s success must also be attributed to the support and leadership provided by President Bill Clinton. President Clinton valued the role of emergency management in government and in helping citizens deal with disasters. Support and leadership from the highest level of government at every level, Federal, State or local, is critical to the success of an emergency management organization. President Bush has continued to support emergency operations through his ongoing and outspoken support of the activities of DHS, which today houses FEMA.
Outside of government, the leadership of members of the business community and the community at large both play a critical role in making communities safer and better equipped to respond to major disaster events. This type of leadership has become even more important as we move forward with the new terrorist threat.