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Communications and External Relations
Protecting the homeland
OAK RIDGE, Tenn.,
Feb. 28, 2013
Michael Gresalfi's long list of awards and recognitions is noteworthy, but what he cares about the most is protecting against nuclear, chemical or biological weapons attacks on U.S. soil.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Gresalfi, who recently completed a four-year assignment with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a few months into a new position as the National Nuclear Security Administration liaison officer with the FBI. In this post, his job is to strengthen emergency response partnerships and help to identify and assemble the best people and technologies to thwart radiological and nuclear threats, and to build on successes at FEMA.
"My initial mission at FEMA was to help to develop a national strategy and a coordinated capacity to more effectively respond to a weapons-of-mass-destruction attack on the homeland," Gresalfi said. "While we started with radiological and nuclear threats, we proceeded to define improved national response and short-term recovery strategies against chemical and biological threats.
"Clearly, we still have a long way to go, but we've set a good course and I remain very much in support of FEMA's direction and its capacity to coordinate national catastrophic response and recovery missions."
While at FEMA, Gresalfi helped to establish the Whole Community Initiative, an emergency management response and recovery effort that relies on participation of local, state and federal response and recovery personnel as well as private industry and faith-based and non-profit groups.
"The Whole Community Initiative is focused on engaging all facets of the nation's emergency response sectors as vital partners in more effectively responding to and recovering from catastrophic and cascading events - both natural and man-made - and in achieving a more resilient nation," Gresalfi said.
To ensure the success of the initiative, Gresalfi established FEMA's Whole Community Strategic Council, which consists of senior executives with a wide range of experience and provides direction for the Whole Initiative.
Gresalfi continues to be a member of FEMA's Innovation Team, which was deployed soon after Hurricane Sandy hit land. Its mission is to provide creative solutions that help fill gaps in the capabilities needed to for effective response and recovery.
While Gresalfi initiated and influenced many policies, partnerships and collaborations designed to improve disaster response, he stresses that the overall mission is focused on five areas: prevention, protection, response, recovery and mitigation. When the federal government was setting up safetydata.gov, Gresalfi worked with Todd Park, chief technology officer for the White House, and his staff to demonstrate that it should include emergency preparedness. He earned one of the top 10 winners honors from the White House for this effort. More information about this concept and the Data Safety Jam is available at http://www.data.gov/safety/page/white-house-safety-datapalooza.
He also participated in the 2012 Safety Datapalooza, which highlighted innovators from the private, non-profit and academic sectors who have used freely available government data to build products, services and applications that "advance public safety in creative and powerful ways," Gresalfi said. The Washington, D.C., event was sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement, Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Transportation.
In December 2012, Gresalfi was formally recognized by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for helping to lead the development of the "DHS Strategy for Improving the Nation's Response and Recovery to a Catastrophic Chemical Attack."
Brent Park, director of ORNL's Global Security Directorate, also acknowledged Gresalfi's contributions.
"Michael is an incredibly talented individual with a wealth of experience in policy, strategy and operations for emergency management," Park said. "In particular, he offers unique advice and technical support in the specialized field of responding to weapons of mass destruction scenarios."
From the Global Security Directorate's perspective, Park noted that Gresalfi provides important and unique capabilities to national security clients.
"In this role, he offers a window to ORNL's vast research and technical assets that can help solve challenging problems faced by our nation," Park said.
In the 28 years since he was a captain assigned to the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, Gresalfi has taught environmental project management at Johns Hopkins University, served on dozens of panels and assembled teams and technologies that make the nation stronger. His job is never done.
"I honestly feel like I am always working on several very important efforts - important to the safety and security of our nation and our citizens," Gresalfi said. "I believe in what I am doing to support my clients and our country."