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Youth Preparedness Council

Announcing the 2014 Youth Preparedness Council

FEMA is pleased to announce the members of the 2014-2015 FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council.

The FEMA Youth Preparedness Council was formed in 2012 to bring together youth leaders from across the country that are interested in advocating on behalf of youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities. Each Council member completes a self-selected legacy project during his or her term on the Council. Council members also participate in a Youth Preparedness Council Summit, where they share their ideas, opinions and questions about youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on this critical priority. Throughout their term, members meet with FEMA to provide input on strategies, initiatives and projects.

The distinguished members for 2014-2015 are as follows:

  • Council Chairperson: Emily Rosenblum (Missouri) (returning)
  • FEMA Region I: Bridget Smith (Connecticut)
  • FEMA Region II: James Collins (New Jersey)
  • FEMA Region II:  Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide (New York) (returning)
  • FEMA Region III: Sahara Duncan (Pennsylvania)
  • FEMA Region IV: Jonathan Salazar (Florida)
  • FEMA Region V: Isaiah Garcia (Michigan)
  • FEMA Region V:  Daniel Wernsman (Wisconsin) (returning)
  • FEMA Region VI: Obie Jones (Texas)
  • FEMA Region VII: Austin Witt (Iowa)
  • FEMA Region VIII: Weston Lee (Utah)
  • FEMA Region VIII: Matthew Mayfield (Colorado)
  • FEMA Region IX: Brittany Amano (Hawaii)
  • FEMA Region IX: Navjot Hansra (California)
  • FEMA Region X: Raylene Ensminger (Washington)

Check back throughout the year for updates on the Council’s progress!

About the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council

The FEMA Youth Preparedness Council was formed in 2012 to bring together youth leaders from across the country that are highly interested and engaged in advocating youth preparedness and making a difference in their communities.  The Council supports FEMA’s commitment to involving youth in preparedness-related activities, and provides an avenue to engage youth, taking into account their perspectives, feedback, and opinions.  Council members attend a Youth Preparedness Council Summit where they share their ideas and questions about youth disaster preparedness with the leadership of national organizations working on this critical priority. Members also complete a self-selected legacy project during their term on the Council, with FEMA support, and meet with FEMA personnel on an ongoing basis to provide input on strategies, initiatives, and projects.

Council members are selected from across the country based on their dedication to public service, efforts in making a difference in their community, and potential to expand their impact as a national advocate for youth preparedness.

2013 Youth Preparedness Council Member Biographies

Jason Reed

Picture of Jason Reed

Council Chair (Region V, Indiana)

Jason is the cadet commander for his Civil Air Patrol squadron and is actively involved in his squadron’s emergency services programs, and has served for several years as a search-and-rescue ground team member. He was a first responder for the devastating tornadoes that struck Henryville, IN, in March 2012, working alongside the local EMA departments, FEMA, and other state and federal agencies. During his recovery work in Henryville, he conducted health and wellness checks in the community, created perimeters around damaged areas, and distributed supplies to those affected by the storm. He received state-level recognition for his efforts following this disaster.

Jason’s Projects

  • Working to develop relationships to partner with other youth-serving organizations like the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, and others, to raise awareness about FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council
  • Creating committees within the Youth Preparedness Council to achieve Council goals and initiatives

Jason’s Publicity

To reach Jason, please contact Regina Moran at

Rachel Little

Region I (Massachusetts)

Rachel is a sophomore honor student who is involved in the Massachusetts Governor’s Council as a youth advisor. As part of this group, she participated in “Project 351” for the September 11 Day of Service, traveling to Boston to meet with other youth and to participate in several community service projects. Through the Governor’s Council, she participated in “Cradles to Crayons,” a group in the Boston area that collects clothing and items for children in need. Rachel works with the Street Angels, helping and caring for tornado survivors. In addition, she has participated in “Care Kits for Troops” and “Step-Up Day,” a mentoring program on youth experience.

Rachel’s Projects

  • Received the Excellence in Community Preparedness Award at the 2012 Lt. Governor’s “Be Prepared” Awards Ceremony
  • Leading the effort to create Teen CERT and STEP programs in her high school
  • Recently joined the Medical Reserve Corps

Rachel’s Publicity

To reach Rachel, please contact Donald Vincent at

Gabriela Rodriguez Boria

Gabriela Rodriguez Boria

Region II (Puerto Rico)

Gabriela is a volunteer for her local American Red Cross where she helps organize fire and tsunami drills and collects food and donations for Haitian refugees. She is a member of the juvenile pastoral group at her church, and collects canned foods for a local homeless dining center. She is also an active volunteer with the American Heart Association and participates in physical activities that prevent heart illness.

Gabriela’s Projects

  • Developed a preparedness group called REACT, which currently has 17 members; the group holds Preparedness Days: React Tours and hosts events to raise money to update the games and materials needed for their program
  • Started a Teen CERT program in her school that now has 15-20 members
  • Collected blankets to send to Hurricane Sandy survivors, following the storm, she collected 10 full boxes of blankets
  • Held a preparedness day at a church
  • Currently in discussions with her local American Red Cross about incorporating preparedness training into their next event
  • Plans to create an animated character that has clips of it getting into trouble during a disaster and then getting out of the disaster. The focus is to entertain and teach kids about preparedness. She is working with fellow Council members Sophie and Cayman on this project

Gabriela’s Publicity

To reach Gabriela, please contact Claire Thomas at

Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide

 Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide

Region II (New York)

At the age of 12, Sophie Friedfeld-Gebaide traveled with her family to Cedar Rapids, IA to help with Mississippi flooding relief efforts. At such a young age, Sophie was already being recognized by All Hands, a volunteer organization, for her responsibility and volunteering abilities. After Hurricane Sandy, Sophie and a few of her peers organized several fundraisers that raised more than $38,000 for All Hands disaster relief funds. She also donated a percentage of her Bat Mitzvah gifts to All Hands. Sophie has been involved in organizing food and clothing drives for local shelters, and she has created a Facebook group to organize All Hands volunteers.

Sophie’s Project

  • Plans to start a YouTube competition in an effort to give youth hands-on activities focused on preparedness

Sophie’s Publicity

To reach Sophie, please contact Claire Thomas at

Nimansha Jain

Nimansha Jain

Region III (Pennsylvania)

Nimansha is a member of the Ralston Fire Explorers Unit, which provides training for fire and medical emergency preparedness, and is certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). She has been elected to the University of Nebraska Medical Center Student Advisory Group, which works with high school students to promote public health and preparedness messages, through monthly community sessions, to almost 100 teens. Because some teens could not attend every session, Nimansha started to use social media to help share information from the sessions and get the word out on various volunteer opportunities for youth. Nimansha now represents Region III, as she attends the University of Pennsylvania.

Nimansha’s Projects

  • Developing a preparedness website that includes tips, blog posts, and information about Council activities.
  • Working with SERVE Nebraska and the Salvation Army to compile preparedness activities for students
  • Participating in the October 8, 2013 Iowa Homeland Security Conference
  • Starting a Campus CERT program at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Providing input to youth pages on the Ready Kids website as a subject matter expert

Nimansha’s Publicity

To reach Nimansha, please contact Steve Edwards at

Alex Pasculle

Alex Pasculle

Region III (Pennsylvania)

Alex Pasculle, named “Volunteer of the Year” by IN Community magazine, has been actively involved in emergency preparedness since 2010. Alex volunteers as a firefighter, Basic Life Support (BLS) Instructor, and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He uses his cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and first aid skills as an American Red Cross volunteer. Alex is also involved in disaster relief; he helped organize a fundraiser with Kids Helping Kids to raise money for the 2012 Tsunami victims in Japan.

Alex’s Project

  • Working to execute an Emergency and Community Preparedness Fair in April 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA

To reach Alex, please contact Steve Edwards at

Louyankkah Justilien

Louyankkah Justilien

Region IV (Florida)

Louyankkah Justilien is an active participant in national conferences, workshops, and community projects. Louyankkah was a voting delegate at a recent NAACP National Convention in Texas, and takes on various leadership roles in school activities. As a trained CERT member, she attends local disaster exercises, participates in CERT community outreach, and continues to learn about preparedness through online FEMA and Citizen Corps trainings.

Louyankkah’s Projects

  • Working to incorporate a preparedness booth at the Butterfly Festival
  • Working on an Animal Preparedness event
  • Starting a CERT workshop
  • Hopes to partner with local chapters of NAACP, ARC, and the Humane Society to continue preparedness events

To reach Louyankkah, please contact Candace Burrell at

Daniel Wernsman

Daniel Wernsman

Region V (Wisconsin)

Daniel Wernsman’s connection to youth preparedness stems from his involvement, since 2009, in the “Responding to Emergencies and Disasters with Youth” (R.E.A.D.Y.) club. Daniel has taken responsibility for several R.E.A.D.Y. initiatives, including a project that teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to individuals and local schools. Daniel participated in the Department of Homeland Security’s faith-based conference “Creating a Culture of Preparedness Amongst Youth,” and gave a presentation on first-aid and triage to middle school students. He also led an effort to collect personal items for a local homeless shelter.

Daniel’s Project

  • Working to expand the R.E.A.D.Y. program in Wisconsin, including within CERT programs, and starting this initiative at his high school

Daniel’s Publicity

To reach Daniel, please contact Mary Rhedin at

Jonathan DeLong

Jonathan DeLong

Region VI (Texas)

At age 8, Jonathan began volunteering weekly with a local animal rescue group. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, he helped gather supplies for rescued animals and donated his own toys for kids who needed to stay in the shelters. Following these experiences, Jonathan attended the City of Austin CERT training, obtained his ham radio license, and assisted in the communications room at Austin’s Emergency Operations Center during Hurricane Gustav. Jonathan was one of 28 youth in Texas nominated to attend a leadership training camp for Teen CERT.

Jonathan’s Projects

  • Included a summary of the Youth Preparedness Council’s efforts in his high school’s yearbook
  • Currently implementing a Teen CERT program in his high school
  • Would like to work on animal preparedness efforts

Jonathan’s Publicity

To reach Jonathan, please contact Bill Bischof at

Emily Rosenblum

Emily Rosenblum

Region VII (Missouri)

Emily Rosenblum’s passion and dedication to emergency preparedness is demonstrated through her involvement with CERT and other community groups. As a Teen CERT instructor’s assistant, Emily participates in numerous countrywide disaster exercises, is an active Teen CERT spokesperson, and continues to advocate disaster preparedness at her high school. Emily always considers those with learning disabilities and access and functional needs when making decisions during disaster response exercises. She has also volunteered hundreds of hours to helping the Boy Scouts of America with merit badges and award requirements, in addition to the Sam “Ready I Am” program that educates youth about natural disaster hazards.

Emily’s Project

  • Travelling to 16 schools in her school district to raise awareness about emergency and youth preparedness, starting by staging an “earthquake” during an assembly at her high school

Emily’s Publicity

To reach Emily, please contact Rodney Odom at

Ashley Houston

Ashley Houston

Region VIII (Utah)

Ashley is an outstanding student and, as a member of the Health Occupations Students of America program, has completed the Teen CERT at her high school. She worked with her family to put together “82-hour packs” for all of the members of her household and created an escape plan in case of fire, flood, or other disaster. Currently, she is working with a neighborhood response team, the goal of which is to assign members to identify problems and check on neighbors in the event of a disaster.

Ashley’s Projects

  • Organized a preparedness event at her school in October 2012 for her local CERT to conduct demonstrations, which she hopes to make an annual event
  • Is a participant in her school’s Teen CERT program and is working on expanding it to other schools in her area
  • Spoke at Institute of Medicine conference in June 2013 in Washington, DC

Ashley’s Publicity

To reach Ashley, please contact Daniel Nyquist at

Christian Chowen

Chrisian Chowen

Region IX (Hawaii)

Christian has participated in two community evacuations in Hawaii because of tsunami warnings. After discovering that the family’s go-packs were insufficient, he updated the family’s packs and kits. Christian is a trainer for Hawaii’s “Feeling Safe, Being Safe” (FSBS) program, working with individuals with disabilities to prepare for emergencies. As a trainer, he helps people to build an emergency backpack and explains why each item is important. He is considering combining his FSBS work with the needs of his local high school, which has a significant population of students with disabilities. Christian is also a Life Scout who has completed the Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge.

Christian’s Projects

  • Starting at the local level, Christian is working to create an online forum for teens to talk about emergency preparedness and to share ideas, tips, and experiences
  • Working with fellow Council member Divya to create a Region IX Facebook page that will highlight community preparedness initiatives
  • Presented to his school’s special education classes and helped the students get started on building emergency kits
  • Attended a statewide drill to present the FSBS program
  • Attended the International Pacific Rim conference and hosted a mini round table
  • Led “Project Building” sessions during the Youth Preparedness Council Summit in Washington, DC, in July 2013

Christian’s Publicity

To reach Christian, please contact Angela Nak at

Tiffany Espensen

Tiffany Espensen

Region IX (California)

Tiffany is a 13-year-old Teen CERT graduate from one of the first classes held by the Julian/Cuyamaca CERT Organization. She has been active in the Teen CERT program, participating in numerous drills and classes, helping teach skills to other youth, and promoting CERT in interviews. She currently stars on Nickelodeon’s “Bucket and Skinner” show. She has nearly 17,000 Twitter followers and more than 1,700 Facebook likes on her fan page, helping her spread the word through social media.

Tiffany’s Projects

  • Produces “TiffyTipTuesday,” a Twitter event where she posts preparedness tips, and is working with her school, CERT members, and others to post her tweets on their websites
  • Helping to promote Teen CERT in her state and beyond through social media and by speaking at schools and for children’s organizations
  • Working on creating a preparedness day for Fall 2013 by attending emergency drills, meeting with NBC/Universal, meeting with USC CERTs, and attending events throughout Southern California to gather ideas and other CERT members to get them involved in the fair
  • Working to put on a Safety Fair in her community
  • Putting together Teen CERT trainings throughout LA County via Girl Scouts, schools, and junior police cadets
  • Spoke for Train-the-Trainer at her local CERT conference
  • Guest speaker for the first South Los Angeles CERT graduating class
  • Working with San Miguel Fire Department to start a Teen CERT program with the local church. Also working with other churches in Southern California to help get Teen CERT going in their churches and neighborhoods
  • Currently being trained as a Red Cross Speaker and will be working closely with the head of the LA Red Cross on the Pillow Case Project. She will be speaking to kids and helping them to become prepared
  • Partnering with the National Girls Scouts of America to help Girl Scouts earn some of their badges through the Teen CERT program and the Red Cross, including working toward building the program together with the Girl Scouts of America so it can go nationwide
  • Interning for State Senator Joel Anderson’s office, who is on the CA Senate Committee for Disaster Preparedness - she will be working in his office and also attending local disaster preparedness events

Tiffany’s Publicity

To reach Tiffany, please contact Angela Nak at

Divya Saini

Divya Saini

Region IX (California)

Divya participates in the “Block Preparedness Coordinator Program” and volunteers at local neighborhood emergency preparedness events to encourage preparedness and teach individuals what they should do before, during, and after an event. She has developed a Facebook page for emergency preparedness and she is the founder of “Movers and Shakers,” a teen club designed to keep Palo Alto, CA resilient and to form a stronger bond between adults and teens through earthquake preparedness. Divya was recently recognized with a grant from the Palo Alto School Board to further her efforts in helping teens and others get prepared.

Divya’s Projects

  • Asked to speak at several events about the importance of preparedness including Rotary Clubs, Girl Scout troops, schools, the local school board, and city council meetings, in addition to privately meeting with local city council members, school board members, and school district superintendents
  • Invited by the executive staff of the Girl Scouts of Northern California to speak at the Annual NorCal Girl Scout Conference in Fairfax, California on April 27th, 2013 about the importance of preparedness, and how to begin your preparedness education
  • Has been awarded grants from Do Something, Disney Friends for Change, Best Buy, and Palo Alto School Board
  • Most grant money went towards expanding her Block Preparedness Coordinator Program, which she intends to have incorporated by other cities
  • Started a “Movers and Shakers” club that now has more than 30 members.
  • Recruited 30 teen volunteers to participate in Palo Alto’s annual “Quakeville” fair to promote preparedness
  • Organized a preparedness training session for children aged 7-12 in January 2013
  • Promoted fundraising ideas to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
  • Asked to speak at the Most Influential Women in Business event, and attended with the CEO of the Girl Scouts
  • Designed and led the course “Preparedness 101 Class for Kids,” and due to very high demand, she will be teaching this class regularly from now on as she has worked in collaboration with her city’s course catalog to get the class implemented (Fellow YPC member Tiffany Espensen is working on implementing this curriculum at her school)
  • Currently working with her school system to integrate preparedness content into the curriculum
  • Creating a certification program in Palo Alto for teens that is comprised of a checklist of activities and a one-hour course on emergency preparedness
  • Working with fellow Council member Christian Chowen to create a Region IX Facebook page to highlight community preparedness initiatives

Divya’s Publicity

To reach Divya, please contact Angela Nak at

Cayman Kirkhart

Cayman Kirkhart

Region X (Idaho)

For his Eagle Scout leadership project, Cayman designed, planned, organized, and publicized “Be Prepared Day,” a community-wide disaster preparedness event that featured a series of classes and demonstrations to educate families about disaster preparedness. This four-hour event required nearly eight months of planning and coordination with personnel from 13 organizations, including local fire, rescue, and police units; the American Red Cross; the National Guard; the Coast Guard Auxiliary; the Health Department; and the Office of Emergency Management. “Be Prepared Day” was featured in the March 2012 issue of Boy’s Life magazine.

Cayman’s Projects

  • Creating a YouTube channel for preparedness topics
  • Working on setting up an American Red Cross youth program in his community
  • Presented to a Boy Scout troop on earthquake awareness

Cayman's Publicity

To reach Cayman, please contact Fred Bretsch at


Last updated: 07/03/2014 - 03:47 PM