Garret Olson, a second-generation Firefighter and Fire Chief, began his fire service career in 1988 as a paid-call firefighter with the Fire Department in Orange County, California. In 1990, Olson was hired as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Fire Department in Long Beach, California. He joined the Fire Department in Mesa, Arizona, later that same year and held the positions of Firefighter, Fire Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief, and Deputy Fire Chief. He was a certified Paramedic and Technical Rescue Technician. In 2001, Olson was deployed to New York City to assist with recovery from the September 11 terrorist attacks, serving as the government liaison between the City and the American Red Cross.
In 2004, Olson was recruited to join the City of Scottsdale, Arizona, in building its new municipal fire department. Putting his Master of Arts in Organizational Management to work, Olson served as the Incident Commander for this multi-department, multi-jurisdictional organizational transition that brought the newly formed 240-member Scottsdale Fire Department to existence. Olson served as Deputy Chief of Training & Special Operations and Deputy Chief of Field Operations before being promoted to Fire Chief in 2011. During his tenure as Fire Chief, Olson was proud to lead efforts to initiate changes in Department staffing and deployment, strategic planning, organizational culture, and the Department’s community-focused mission.
In 2012, Olson returned to his home state of California to become the first ever Deputy Chief in the long-established San Luis Obispo City Fire Department. For the previous 138 years, San Luis Obispo City Fire did not have a second-in-command to the Fire Chief. Bringing this new position to life in a Department steeped with tradition was an exciting opportunity. In 2013, Olson was then selected to lead the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department as its Fire Chief where he implemented the Department’s first strategic plan, brought online significant technology and apparatus enhancements, enhanced internal communications, and connected the Fire Department with the community with great care. A trained mediator, planner, and professional life coach, Olson has presented his thoughts on leadership and service at regional and international conferences and symposiums.
Olson retired from the fire service in October 2018 to pursue opportunities to serve engaged communities seeking smart, creative, sustainable plans for their future. As a consultant, Olson has helped communities and private organizations develop actionable strategic and operational plans.
Robert Lewin began his career with the fire service at the age of seventeen as a Cal Poly student firefighter. Through his career he has persevered and prevailed through experiences and challenges that he could have never imagined. The most important aspect of his tenure is the consistent importance of service to community and to the people he has commanded and led. As the CAL FIRE/San Luis Obispo County Fire Chief, and then as the Director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Lewin served and interacted with executive bodies, including boards of supervisors, city councils, local community service districts, county advisory councils, planning commissions, and other organizations. Lewin has authored and presented ordinances and resolutions, staff reports on fire code interpretations, and challenging budget documents and adjustments.
An accomplished public speaker with a background in government and media relations, Lewin has spoken at press conferences and community meetings, briefed dignitaries, such as the Governor and State Senators, presented at a variety of conferences, and published several articles. As a Type 1 Incident Commander he has successfully commanded emergency incidents with over 3,000 firefighters and other responders. Command and leadership roles have required Lewin to lead and manage many high profile complex emergencies and disasters.
With extensive relevant experience, advanced training, and strengths encompassing budget administration, innovation, communication, emergency management, collaboration, and leadership, Lewin is a well-rounded leader-manager who effectively allocates resources, coordinates operations, and motivates dedicated individuals to succeed.
Leaving government service in spring of 2019, Lewin is now committed to consolidating his experience and applying his effort to protecting people in a world that is challenged by increasing threats.
Kevin Cooper began his career in 1980 at the University of Montana studying grizzly bear ecology and working summers as a backcountry ranger and wildlife researcher with the US Park Service at Mount Rainier and Crater Lake National Parks. After completing graduate school at the University of Alaska and Oregon State University studying Rocky Mountain elk he moved to San Luis Obispo in 1987 to work as a biologist on the Los Padres National Forest, where he worked as a district, zone, and finally the Forest Biologist before retiring in 2018.
Kevin supervised the Los Padres Wildlife, Fisheries, Botany, Range, and Watershed Programs and worked with interdisciplinary teams to mitigate project impacts to wildlife, conduct wildlife surveys, write NEPA and Endangered Species Act (ESA) reports, monitor project effects on wildlife, and respond to litigation regarding forest programs such as developed recreation, wilderness management, road and trail management, fuels treatment planning, timber management, oil and gas development, range management, wildfire suppression, and watershed management. Kevin participated in Forest land management planning and worked with other federal and local agencies to manage species across political boundaries on efforts such as the California Condor Recovery Team.
Kevin also worked throughout his wildlife career as a firefighter on hand crews, and eventually became the Lead Resource Advisor and Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) leader, coordinator, and liason for large wildfires such as the 2018 Thomas Fire where he was able to bring together all of his skills as a leader to help organize the interagency flood assessment before, during, and after the Montecito debris flows.
Don Patterson is a 31-year veteran of law enforcement. Don retired from the Santa Barbara County (CA) Sheriff's office in 2014 as a Chief Deputy having served as the Acting Undersheriff during his last year at the Sheriff's Office. He is currently a Technical Specialist for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. He is an adjunct Instructor for FEMA's Emergency Management Institute for the National Emergency Advanced Academy (NEMAA), FEMA's Basic Emergency Management Academy, and the Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC). He Is a certified FEMA Incident Command System (ICS) Instructor. He is also a California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee certified trainer in Active Shooter response.
Don has a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University at Long Beach in Criminal Justice, with a minor in Sociology. He also holds a Master of Arts degree from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, California in Organization Development and a Ph.D. from the Fielding Institute in Human and Organizational Systems. Don's dissertation topic focused on and examined Power (leadership and supervision) in Law Enforcement. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He was an adjunct instructor for Chapman University for 15 years, where he taught graduate and undergraduate classes in Conflict Resolution for the Organizational Leadership, and Human Resources programs.
Don taught hands-on basic and advanced law enforcement courses for over 25 years at two police academies. His duties have included training law enforcement officers in crisis response and conflict resolution. He emphasizes that during times of crisis or conflict, personnel need and want specific behavioral boundaries and structures in which to operate. The key is pre-planning and training. He has traveled to China to deliver emergency response training to several city police agencies. In 2012, he went to Egypt to train the Cairo police department in community policing.
Don has designed numerous training exercises and programs. Don has an extensive background in field operations, critical incident management, and organizational change and leadership. He was a full-time member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Special Enforcement Team (SWAT) for seven years, including supporting the United States Secret Service in protecting, then President Reagan. He has been involved in all aspects of responding to crises and emergencies, from a front-line first responder at the Southwest Flight 182 airplane crash in San Diego in 1978 and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant protests in 1981, to being the incident commander of several law enforcement events. He was the Commander in charge of the SWAT team for the 2006 Goleta Post Office massacre. He was Law Branch Director for three major fires in 2008-2009 that resulted in receiving the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Meritorious Service award for leadership. He was also part of the executive team that managed the Isla Vista Mass Murder (Active Shooter) event, on May 23, 2014 and its aftermath. Most recently, he was the Local On-Scene Commander (LOSC) as the County representative in the Unified Command for the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill.
Don has a combination of twelve articles, book contributions and training manuals published in subjects ranging from hands-on law enforcement and security techniques, to management concerns in training and education, and leadership.
Suzanne Grimmesey is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She earned her BA in Psychology from the University of San Diego, her MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. Suzanne has been working in the Behavioral Health field since 1991, including providing first responder debriefings, functioning as a Public Information Officer (PIO), and leading regional Disaster Behavioral Health coordination. Suzanne has worked closely with school districts providing training and leading school-based Behavioral Health disaster and trauma response including postvention response for suicides, student deaths, psychological first aid, and aiding in establishing ongoing support structures.
Suzanne was instrumental in the Santa Barbara County Community Wellness Team, formed in response to the 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent 2018 1/9 Debris Flow. This Team functioned as the collaboration of 13 local agencies working together to support the wellness of the Santa Barbara community. Services provided through this model allowed for a full continuum of care, which range from immediate crisis counseling through intensive outpatient programs at regional medical care facilities. Suzanne operates from a framework that collective response and community collaboration of resources are critical to meet the individualized behavioral health needs which occur during a disaster.
Suzanne received recognition as a 2018 Woman of the Year by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Monique Limón for the role she played in the Behavioral Health response for the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow. Suzanne has completed the CalOES Advanced Public Information Officer training and currently serves on the roster as a trainer for this course. She is presently serving on a Disaster Behavioral Health project workgroup sponsored by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to guide the development of Disaster Behavioral Health toolkits for use statewide. Suzanne led the FEMA funded HOPE 805 team of crisis counselors (formed after the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow) in Santa Barbara County and has provided consultation to other counties and college campuses on Disaster Behavioral Health amidst occurring disasters. Suzanne has been involved with the Behavioral Health response for many local disasters. Some of these include the Isla Vista Mass Murder, Borderline Shooting, Family Mass Murders, Santa Maria Town Center Hotel Fire, wildfires, multiple school responses for student deaths by suicide as well as other traumatic events impacting school campuses, and other local disasters having broad community impact.
Suzanne carries a firm belief in the resiliency gained through helping individuals and communities cope with disaster and traumatic events.
Joe's professional experience began with wildland firefighting, which led him to a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry and Natural Resources. He discovered Geographic Information Systems (GIS) during his undergraduate studies and decided to make it his specialization. Along the way, he became a student of fire - exploring and enjoying wildland fire behavior modeling.
With an appreciation for all types of applications of GIS, Joe has been exposed to various offerings from Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), and currently enjoys learning these toolkits - especially as they apply to mapping, disaster/emergency response and analysis. Joe’s projects have included Wildland Pre-Attack Maps, School Active Shooter Pre-Plans, Grant Project Maps and products for Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
Past highlights of Joe's professional experience include visits to Nairobi, Kenya & Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for on-site customer training and conferences, an assignment in Florida to assist with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, successful completion of S-495 Geospatial Fire Analysis - Interpretation and Application at the National Advanced Fire and Resource Institute, and about a decade of various assignments on wildland fire incidents around the United States.
Joe's goals are to continue to become more proficient with web, databases, programming - especially as they relate to research, development, integrations and customer support. Other specialties include (past and current): Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), GIS, Infrared Interpretation (Wildfires), Fire Incident Mapping Tools (FIMT - Wildfires), cartography, geographic analysis, data science, and fire modeling.
Dr. Edwin Feliciano is a psychiatrist and the Behavioral Health Director at UCSB Student Health. He previously worked as the Medical Director of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department for Santa Barbara County. His primary interest is in issues of access to health care for individuals with psychiatric and substance use disorders, and the integration of mental health, substance use, and medical services in primary care settings. He completed a two-year training at the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) Leadership Program that offers clinically trained health care professionals the experiences, competencies and skills necessary for effective vision and leadership of our California health care system. He is certified by the National Behavioral Team Association in Advanced Violence Risk Assessment. Dr. Feliciano’s training includes a psychiatry residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, where he was chief resident. His current goal is to provide state-of-the-art services in order to promote prevention and recovery from mental health and substance use conditions.
Our final associate is actually an important contributor to our team. It is impossible to be unhappy at work when Walter is in the office. He reminds us to take breaks when things get intense, to walk outside when it's beautiful, and to celebrate the arrival of our Postal carrier. When on conference calls, the snoring you will likely hear in the background is Walter, who oftentimes snores while starring at us with his eyes open. It's not that he's bored - he does that when he's deep in thought!
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