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Taylor Gerber, M.P.H. Candidate, Completes Highly Competitive Emergency Management Fellowship

Ms. Gerber Worked with the NYC Department of Education to Analyze and Implement Public Safety Plans for City Schools

May 23, 2022
Taylor Gerber

How would you describe your time at the NYC DOE Department of Emergency Management?

This was my first experience working in city government which is quite different from the scope of practice I use in public health policy and healthcare. However, I quickly learned that the same public health lens can be used and integrated into emergency management when it comes to preparing and building resilient communities. Through my experience, I had the opportunity to regularly participate on calls with multiple agencies, stakeholders and city leaders for meetings that ranged from winter weather advisories and summer cooling centers to preparing for hurricane season.

What specific tasks did you accomplish at the DOE?

I was able to assist the emergency manager with planning for the DOE. One of the main projects I worked on entailed revising essential functions for Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) and I participated in the Citywide COOP Conference regarding cybersecurity preparedness and response. This conference helped our COOP team to identify gaps in our IT plan and revise protocols to ensure preparedness pre-, during and post-downtime.

Another major responsibility of the department focuses on making sure school sites and emergency shelters are compliant with the Americans Disability Act (ADA). On multiple occasions I was able to accompany the Disability Access and Functional Needs team as they traveled to different schools ensuring that the buildings met all ADA requirements. Following these visits, we drafted extensive reports when construction was deemed necessary and worked with contractors to execute those plans.

What did you take away from your experience?

The main takeaways were the valuable skills I learned that I am confident will be excellent for my future positions. One of the main transferable skills I refined there was project management. For several tasks I relied on key project management skills to pull together and organize various ongoing DOE projects for school buildings and emergency shelters. Collaboration and coordination were also skills I was able to practice daily. This is something was already familiar from serving as vice president of Student Health Care Executives (StuHE) and the same concept applied to this experience, but on a much larger scale. Instead of working with campus stakeholders, this government experience allowed me to coordinate with various internal and external stakeholders varying from our own IT department to the New York City office of Emergency Management (NYCEM). This fellowship program has a rapidly growing network of 80+ alumni in the emergency management field. The prestigious name of this fellowship itself gives us an advantage to secure interviews at NYCEM and other city agencies. Through my time at the DOE, I have come to grow a new appreciation for just how much planning goes into keeping NYC safe and prepared. This experience has helped me grow professionally and has influenced my path moving forward in public service. I am passionate about integrating public health into emergency management and look forward to applying my skills and knowledge in my future endeavors as a public servant and public health professional.