Women's History Month: Women in Leadership

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Jean A. Etzel, Chief Information Officer - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Jeanne is the Chief Information Officer, within the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA). Jeanne is an accomplished executive with exceptional skills in leadership. She spent several years supporting key Disaster Response priorities within FEMA's Logistics organization and supporting the critical National Disaster Medical Systems (NDMS) mission.

Prior to coming to FEMA, Jeanne served in several executive-level positions in private industry including Chief Information Officer and Vice President within Cap Gemini America and senior manager at Price Waterhouse. Earlier in her career Jeanne served as a Project Manager managing the implementation of major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Jeanne has a wide and interesting background which includes serving as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, and ultimately receiving the "Fireman of the Year" Award from the Richfield, Ohio Fire Department. Jeanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management from Myers University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Alex Furr, Director - National Fire Programs Division

Working for the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is the latest assignment in the more than 30 year Federal career of Alexandra (Alex) Furr. Ms. Furr is the Director of National Fire Programs (NFP), one of three Divisions of the USFA. The other two divisions are the National Fire Academy (NFA) and the NETC Management, Operations and Support Services (MOSS).

With a love for international travel and an interest in public service, a career with the Federal government was a logical choice for Ms. Furr. After summer jobs with the Army’s Computer Systems Command to pay for college expenses, Federal service became a career path starting in Germany with the management of adult education programs for the U.S. Army in Europe. The transition from working in a military environment to the emergency services wasn’t as difficult as might be expected as the two professions share a respect for command and control and they both are committed to service to the American public.

Ms. Furr started at the National Fire Academy (NFA) as the Chief of Curriculum Development during a dynamic period in the early 90s when increased emphasis was placed on applying formal educational principles to enhance the quality of training. By the mid-90s, she was overseeing data collection and analysis programs in the National Fire Programs (NFP) Division. Over time her scope of responsibilities expanded to include USFA’s applied research and technology initiatives and information services. With the USFA realignment of 2008, she assumed the position of Director for NFP with additional programs responsibilities in fire prevention, public education, and emergency response support.

When the USFA was created in 1974, its primary purposes were grouped into four categories: Training, Public Education, Applied Research and Technology, and Data Collection and Analysis. The National Fire Academy is responsible for training and is recognized as a leader in the field. The National Fire Programs Division is responsible for USFA’s achievements in the three remaining priorities.

Coming to USFA without a fire service background had its advantages. "I learned early on to tap the wealth of experience and knowledge that exists among the staff of the USFA. There is a tremendous breadth and depth of expertise in this small band of just over 100 professionals. Teamwork has proven to be the key to success." Ms. Furr is proud to call herself "a Fed" and enjoys the continuous learning that comes with working on issues of public safety.