President-elect Joe Biden has selected Deanne Criswell to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Criswell is the first woman nominated to lead the agency, which is primarily responsible for responding to natural disasters that have increased in both number and intensity amid climate change.
She currently serves as the Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, leading the coordination of the city’s response to pandemic and other emergencies.
Criswell previously worked at FEMA under much of the Obama administration, where she was both the Federal Coordinating Officer and a lead on the national incident management team.
“In these roles, she served as the primary federal representative responsible for leading the agency’s response to and recover from emergencies and major disasters,” the transition team said in a release.
Criswell also previously served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. She was also a member of the Colorado National Guard, serving 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief.
In 2001, she deployed to Kuwait to serve as a fire officer, and in 2010, she deployed to Qatar, Afghanistan, and Iraq to advise on fire protection for military bases.
Between leaving the Obama administration and heading to New York, Criswell worked as a consultant in the homeland security sector of the Cadmus Group LLC.