To register for this event, please visit the Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management Training page
For questions and concerns, please email [email protected]
8:30am – 9:00am: Registration
9:00am – 9:30am: Conference Begins – Opening Remarks
Iowa Spring of Hell 2022 After Action Review (AAR) Panel
Diogenes “Dio” Ayala is currently serving in the role of Emergency Management & Homeland Security Director for Madison County, where he is responsible for planning, protection, mitigation, response & coordination for all hazards that can affect the community. His goal is to build a culture of preparedness for residents and visitors of Madison County. Mr. Ayala has completed numerous operations, exercises, and threat assessments in his role as director.
In his prior position as Director of Criminal Justice at Southwestern Community College, Mr. Ayala was responsible for delivering education, training and mentorship for undergraduate students seeking careers in public safety. In March of 2022, Mr. Ayala led recovery operations after a EF4 tornado caused fatalities and damaged properties in Madison County. This operation involved over one thousand volunteers in thirty days.
Mr. Ayala, a veteran of the United States Navy, holds an undergraduate and graduate degrees in Criminal Justice from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. He is also a graduate of Texas A&M Infrastructure Protection Program. Mr. Ayala has completed Executive Leadership Education from the University of Notre Dame and Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness/ Operations & Technician training from the Department of Homeland Security Center of Domestic Preparedness. Mr. Ayala is also a graduate of The Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program (BMAP) which is a counterterrorism bombing prevention program, sponsored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)’s Office for Bombing Prevention.
Rick Wulfekuhle is currently the coordinator at Buchanan Co. Emergency Management and has worked there since 1997. Under the office of emergency management, he serves as a member of the E-911 Commission as the executive secretary, and has experience with several local and state-wide disasters within 17 presidential declarations. Rick is the past president of the IDHRC and the past assistant chief of the Independence Volunteer Fire Department, which he did for 30 years and has since retired from that. He is also a business owner of a boarding, grooming, and training facility for pets since 1994. He is married to his wife of 41 years, Julie, with three sons and three grandchildren.
Mindy Benson, is the Coordinator for Black Hawk County Emergency Management Agency and is the IDHRC current Vice Chair, as well as the Chair Elect. Mindy has been in public safety for over 20 years. In 2013 Mindy made the switch to Emergency Management when she was hired as the Tama County Emergency Management Coordinator, and she has been involved in numerous state and local disasters, most notable being the August 2020 Derecho. Most recently In 2021 Mindy accepted the position at Black Hawk County Emergency Management Coordinator. Mindy has the privileges of serving on numerous boards and committees, as well as enjoying teaching and speaking engagements in Black Hawk County as well as for the State of Iowa. Mindy also stays busy with her 4 yr. old daughter, their dog Cooper, as well as her extended family.
Michael Rojas grew up in New York City and attended Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan, NY. He received a BFA in Psychology and Studio Art, specializing in Developmental Psychology with an emphasis on Children with Disabilities and Special Education. Michael worked with several non-profits like the New York Road Runners and Kings County Tennis League, and was also a full-time educator in Westchester County, NY, before moving to Iowa following the 2018 Marshalltown tornado to work as an AmeriCorps member with the Habitat for Humanity Mobile Response Team. Michael continued working with Habitat for Humanity of Iowa to support food banks fighting food insecurity during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, respond to the August 2020 derecho in Marshalltown, and was the Incident Commander for a FEMA Mission Assignment in Cedar Rapids. Michael joined Volunteer Iowa in December 2020 as a Disaster Programs Officer.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys training for and running marathons, drawing, and painting.
Renee Schulte has over 20 years of leadership experience in mental health at the national, state, and provider levels. Her work in the public and private sectors has given her a unique understanding of the complexities in this area. Renee is recognized for her expertise in behavioral health policy, system design, policy and financial analysis, and strategic consulting. As a coach, Renee teaches others to make healthier policies at home, work and in the community.
10:30am – 10:45am: Break/Networking
10:45am – 11:45am:
Emergency Volunteers: Ideas to keep them involved between Disasters
Hannah Dickel is the Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison for FEMA Region 7. She joined FEMA in April 2022. Prior to FEMA, she worked in a Congressional office. Hannah graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor Degree from Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Statewide Resources for Behavioral Health Connections and Spiritual Support
Karen Hyatt is the Emergency Mental Health Specialist for the Division of the
Behavioral Health and Disability Services within the Iowa Department of Health
and Human Services and serves as the Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator
for the state. Prior to working for the state of Iowa, Karen worked for the American Red Cross for 8 years as the Director of Community Counseling and spent a year after Hurricane Katrina working for the United Way of America deployed to New Orleans. Karen administers the state’s Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team and provides training in disaster behavioral health for FEMA’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, Psychological First Aid, Compassion Fatigue and Disaster Behavioral Health. Currently Karen serves on the Iowa Council of Homelessness, The Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council and has work emphasis in crisis stabilization services, peer support services, training and workforce development and the Office of Recovery Services.
Debbie Spidle holds a Masters Degree from Bethel Seminary and is the Nebraska-Iowa Regional Spiritual Care Lead for the American Red Cross. Debbie is also a full-time Hospice Chaplain, and speaks frequently on the effects of Compassion Fatigue on those who “pour out themselves to others.” Debbie is married and has three sons.
11:45am – 12:45pm Awards Ceremony & Lunch
12:45pm – 1:45pm:
Utilization of CERT Teams in Support of Emergency Responders
Steve has been the Emergency Management Coordinator for Cerro Gordo County for 22 years, and the Coordinator for Worth County for 5 years prior to that. He has been married to his wonderful wife Susan for 35 years and they live in Manly with their daughter Hannah, their cat Minnie and schnauzer Belle.
Gina Hardin has served as the Des Moines County Emergency Management Coordinator for 27 years. She created and has managed two very active voluntary organizations within Des Moines County, the Des Moines County SKYWARN team and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for over 17 years. She is married and has two adult children and two grandchildren, with one more grandchild on the way and is very active volunteering in her home community and church.
Collaboration in Derecho Recovery: PATCH (Provide Assistance to Community Homeowners) & Funders Group
Karey Chase is the Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI). Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, UWECI serves five counties: Iowa, Benton, Linn, Jones and Cedar. In her role, Karey sets the strategic investment direction for the community through volunteering, investing and advocating. As a convener and collaborator, Karey ensures that the community voice is heard and that interconnected needs have collective solutions.
Examples of community partnerships include Reading into Success, Opportunity Center, PATCH (providing assistance to community homeowners), Continuum of Care (a homeless prevention initiative), Alliance for Equitable Housing and the Rent/Utility collaboration. Karey is the treasurer for LAP-AID (Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster) and sits on multiple boards and community collaboratives and committees. Karey has twenty-three years of experience in the non-profit sector and has been with UWECI for three and half years.
Carrie Walker is the Nonprofit Network Manager at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation serving Linn County, Iowa. Carrie has managed the activities of the Nonprofit Network, which provides resources for local nonprofit organizations including peer groups, professional development opportunities, and information, since 2014. In addition, Carrie began her disaster resilience and response work in 2018 with the Disaster Preparation Project and has continued that work through the pandemic and derecho response and grantmaking. She began her term as chair of Linn Area Partners Active In Disaster (LAP-AID), the Linn County COAD, in June 2022. Carrie grew up in La Porte City, and has called Cedar Rapids home for the past 26 years.
1:45pm – 2:00pm: Break/Networking
2:00pm – 2:30pm:
Introduction to the IDHRC CERT Support Committee
Starting as a volunteer firefighter in Winneshiek County, Cliffy has been in emergency services since 1985. His medical training continued until he reached EMT-Intermediate and earned endorsements in rescue, evaluator, and as an instructor. He currently volunteers with Buchanan County Emergency Management as a Special Projects Officer. He also volunteered at the New Jersey Victim’s Assistance Center with others affiliated with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office Victim Assistance program in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001. Cliffy developed the concept that created the IDHRC CERT Support Committee and has served as co-chair since that time. Cliffy is married with two children. His day job is a Senior Principal Systems Engineer with a large avionics company. Hobbies include gentleman farmer, photography, amateur radio and fantasizing about winning the lottery.
Jim Walker started as an orderly in the emergency room at the Mahaska County
Hospital in Oskaloosa, in 1974. After being made captain to lead the CERT program started in Mahaska County in 2010, Jim was promoted to Deputy Chief of the CERT team in 2015 and in 2022 he was promoted to Chief. Jim currently is the Chief of the CERT Team, President of the Board and a member of the National CERT Association. He is an Instructor for American Heart CPR, AED & First Aid. Jim joined the State CERT Committee in 2021. Jim is married and has three adult children. Jim’s hobbies include motorcycle riding,1840 mountain man re-enacting, and just enjoying life. He a member of the Christian Motorcyclist Association as well as an Officer in the Masonic Lodge# 644 in Oskaloosa.
Developing an Equitable Framework for Disaster Management in Iowa
JaLeesa Tate is an experienced professional in the areas of hazard mitigation,
floodplain management, and urban planning. She currently serves as a Senior
Community Resilience Professional in Tetra Tech’s EMI Division. JaLeesa is a nationally recognized thought leader and has contributed to flood resilience initiatives with the Pew Charitable Trust and Urban Land Institute. She also previously provided national and statewide resilience guidance through her service as the mitigation committee co-chair for the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers and chair of the State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) subcommittee for the National Emergency Management Association. She contributes to FEMA’s policy and program development, aimed at prioritizing equity and climate, by being a selected alumni member of FEMA’s External Stakeholders Working Group. Previously serving as the State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) and Hazard Mitigation Branch Manager for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), she spearheaded the development of the State’s Hazard Mitigation Program and successfully secured and managed over $100M for the State of Maryland to invest in resilience actives. JaLeesa
holds a Bachelor of Science in geography and geosciences from Salisbury University
and is a Certified Floodplain Manager by the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
An innovative thinker, Dr. Pattijean Hooper has 25 years’ experience in emergency management emphasizing whole community inclusion in all aspects of the field. She has worked as a volunteer, with community-based & faith-based organizations, as a local emergency manager, with federal emergency management, in higher education, and in the private sector.
Pattijean worked in recovery operations at the World Trade Center incident on 9-11-01; was the area coordinator for the Cerro Grande Fire Assistance Act; wrote and taught the federal Community Relations Field Officer credentialing program for FEMA; and worked response and recovery operations for flooding in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Her passion is working to further expand the role of people with disabilities into response and recovery operations during incidents. Her Ph.D. is in Communication from the University of Washington where she wrote her dissertation titled Vulnerable Populations and Crisis Communication: A Model for Accessible Disaster Preparedness Campaigns.