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5 Questions with Emergency Management Coordinator Stephen Conard 

Stephen Conard calls the start of a full-scale emergency preparedness exercise in Cumberland, Rhode Island October 2018.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 20, 2019) — Stephen Conard, UAlbany’s new emergency management coordinator in the Office of Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance, is responsible for leading the University’s disaster and crisis response strategies.

Before taking the newly created position this summer, Conard worked as the state exercise officer for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA). He started as an intern under the regional planning program in 2009, where he supported municipalities through planning initiatives and developing the Rhode Island School Safety Program. Three years ago, he began an initiative at RIEMA to assist the 39 Rhode Island municipalities in becoming recognized “StormReady” communities, and achieved this goal last February.

Conard received a bachelor’s degree in emergency management from SUNY Canton in 2010, and both a master’s certificate in human resources (2012) and a Master of Public Administration (2013) from the University of Rhode Island.

What made you decide to pursue a career in emergency management?

Living in North Miami during the 2005 hurricane season was a revelation to me. While there, I had to evacuate from Florida International University’s Biscayne campus, and began to truly understand the higher need for emergency preparedness. Now, as a Northerner, hurricanes are not as severe, but our extreme weather can be just as devastating to communities and infrastructure.

Why did you decide to join the UAlbany community?

This work at UAlbany will allow me to bring positive change in the lives of my fellow staffers, faculty and students, while also enhancing and elevating preparedness efforts at the University. As a current instructor for multiple emergency management courses, I enjoy bringing participants to their own “ah-ha” moments. I’m also looking forward to providing students at UAlbany with experiential learning opportunities and, as a professional, learning new and emerging trends.

What is something the campus would be surprised to know about you?

I’m an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America and a Vigil Honor member in the Order of the Arrow, an honor society within scouting. I came from a family of Eagle Scouts and was raised with preparedness. Every year, I provide instructions for 100 scouts who are earning the Eagle-required emergency preparedness badge for the Narragansett Council of BSA.

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Conard is pleased with the fruits of his quahogging adventure. 

What is the most rewarding and challenging part of your work?

Both answers are the same – working with people!

I genuinely value providing training to individuals and helping them reach their understanding of threats, risks and hazards. The ‘Ostrich effect’ is genuinely rampant in and towards this profession though. By that, I mean an individual’s decision to dig their head into the ground and act as if nothing will happen here. That position is very degradative to the progress and the support that is core to emergency management.

What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?

I truly love the ocean and all that it gives us. I also like to travel and investigate new areas locally, regionally and beyond. Lastly, I love going on “quahogging” excursions. A quahog is an edible clam with a hard shell found along the Atlantic Coast of North America. Digging for quahogs is an excellent opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and produces a very fruitful bounty.

 

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