Blakely Webster

Associate

Location: Americas

Blakely Webster has over 15 years of business operations experience. She has spent the past 10 years in operations management overseeing analytics, HR coordination, bookkeeping and accounting. She has always taken great pride in looking after the wellbeing of her team and has taken numerous courses in family assistance training over the past 13 years.

Throughout her roles in business, she has excelled in the creative aspects of presentation and training design, template creation, social media management, web design, and music creation and video editing. She participates in a weekly podcast promoting women’s golf, with accompanying social media to support it. Blakely obtained a degree in Business Administration (General Management) from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta in 2015 and a Business Administration diploma with a focus in Entrepreneurship from SAIT Polytechnic in 2013. She is a community volunteer, having been a mentor for Big Brothers and Big Sisters for three years, and assisted in the response to major flooding in Calgary in 2013. She was also instrumental in assisting Spirit Airlines during their evacuation response to the 2017/2018 hurricane season

 

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Pamela Pullen

Senior Associate

Location: Americas

Pamela Pullen recently retired from UPS Airlines after a 37+ year career with the company. In her most recent role, she served as the Global Aviation Emergency Response Manager based in Louisville, KY. Her responsibilities included coordination of the UPS Family Assistance Support Team (FAST), in addition to training, recruiting, and educating team members across the country. She also developed the airline’s plan for emergency response and was responsible for implementation should an event occur. 

Pamela was also UPS’ COVID-19 “Healthy at Work” officer for more than 23,000 employees located in Louisville, KY.  She worked with operations, Public Health, and OSHA to mitigate workplace issues and respond to complaints. Prior to her emergency response role, Pamela held the position of Air Region Occupational Health & Safety Manager.  Within this structure, Pamela provided guidance and senior support to the safety staff in flight operations, aircraft maintenance, hub & air ramp operations, as well as finance, engineering, call centers and information technology, to name a few.

In addition to Health and Safety, Pamela has worked as a Senior Manager of Human Resources for over half her career.  She managed HR Generalist teams and departments to include Benefits, Workforce Planning, Recruiting/Hiring, and Training & Development.  In her early career, Pamela worked in many facets of Flight Operations to include network tracking such as rerouting and diverting flights, working on air ramps, marshaling, and much more.

Pamela was most recently Chair of the Aviation Emergency Response Organization (AERO) and was a member of the A4A Emergency Response Committee.  In January 2023, Pamela received the first Civilian Service Award given by the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport for her coordination efforts in support of the 2022 Triennial Drill.  While in Health & Safety, Pamela held board and Executive Board Member positions for the Kentucky Safety & Health Network (KSHN). 

Pamela is a graduate of the University of Louisville with a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Training and Development.  

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Paul Sledzik

Senior Associate

Location: Americas

Paul Sledzik’s expertise combines both mass fatality response and disaster family assistance. He retired in 2021 from the US federal government after 35 years of service. In his last 17 years, he held positions of increasing responsibility at the US National Transportation Safety Board, culminating in three years as the principal deputy managing director. Prior, he directed the NTSB Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications which coordinated the media communications, government affairs, advocacy, and family assistance activities of hundreds of transportation accidents across aviation, marine, rail, highway and pipeline sectors.

From 2010 to 2016, Paul led the NTSB Transportation Disaster Assistance Division which coordinates family assistance for the agency in conjunction with local, state, federal and non-governmental agencies, and transportation operators. From 2012 to 2016, he represented the US in a multiyear effort by the International Civil Aviation Organization to develop policies ensuring the well-being of aviation accident victims and families are fully addressed by ICAO signatory states.

Before working at the NTSB, Paul served for six years as a regional team leader for the US Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, where he managed a team of 100 forensic scientists and mortuary specialists in mass fatality response. Paul also worked as a forensic scientist for the US military.

Trained as a forensic anthropologist, Paul has advised federal, international and non-governmental agencies on issues of mass fatality response and disaster family assistance. His scientific work, professional publications and advocacy efforts were foundational to current methods in mass fatality response.

Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in biological anthropology. In 2021, he was awarded the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award for federal senior executives in the US civil service. He currently resides in Rhode Island.

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Sharon W. Bryson

Senior Associate & Advisory Board

Sharon Bryson currently serves as the Senior Administrator for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency providing guidance and support to all aspects of the agency’s communication and community outreach initiatives. She retired from federal service in December 2022 where she served as the Managing Director for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). She joined the NTSB in November 1997 as a victim assistance specialist, later becoming the Chief of the Transportation Disaster Assistance (TDA) program. Sharon was promoted to TDA Director in January 2000 – the same day as the crash of Alaska Air flight 261 off the California coast.

As TDA Director, she responded to or managed the response to more than 140 major transportation accidents. Sharon’s hard work and dedication to assisting victims and their family members helped to transform this program into a highly regarded program within the agency, the transportation community, other federal agencies and beyond. The program’s model has been adopted by local, state and federal disaster response agencies, several nations and the United Nations body of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In 2010, Sharon was promoted to the Deputy Director of the Office of Communications and then in 2014 became the Director of the Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications. In 2019, she was selected to serve as the first female Managing Director where she oversaw hundreds of accident investigations. In addition, she is credited with managing decisions that kept the agency personnel safe and working during the early phases of the pandemic.

Prior to joining the Safety Board, Sharon served more than 12 years as a civilian with the United States Air Force. She joined the Air Force as a family support specialist and was selected as the Center Director in 1990. In her role as the Director at Dover Air Force Base she was responsible for providing critical support to the Dover Port Mortuary.

While Sharon has had many accomplishments and received numerous awards including the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award, she will be the first to tell you that “the single greatest honor of her career has been building the family assistance program at the NTSB and watching it grow to serve thousands of victims and families impacted by transportation disasters.”

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Rear Admiral (ret’d) Roger Girouard, OMM, CD, MA

Senior Associate & Advisory Board

Originally a Montréal native, Roger Girouard began his naval service at HMCS CARLTON in Ottawa as a Naval Reserve Ordinary Seaman Bos’n in 1973, before shifting to the permanent force and taking a commission as a Maritime Surface officer.
Becoming a qualified Destroyer Navigator, he navigated HMCS OTTAWA and participated on her Standing Naval Force Atlantic deployment and then the training destroyer HMCS QU’APPELLE before being assigned to VENTURE, the Naval Officer Training Centre. He completed the Combat Control Officer Course in 1984, then served as Weapons Officer aboard HMCS ALGONQUIN. In July of 1985 he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS CHALEUR.  Promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in January 1986, he undertook command of HMCS MIRAMICHI. Next, he served as Officer Commanding the Maritime Command Detachment in Argentia, Newfoundland, from July 1987 to August 1989, serving with the US Navy doing ocean surveillance.
He was appointed as Executive Officer in HMCS ATHABASKAN in January 1990, participating in OP FRICTION as part of the Gulf War in 1991. He was promoted to Commander and given the opportunity to participate in the international Naval Command College. Upon graduation in 1992, he was assigned to the Personnel Branch of Maritime Command Headquarters, where he served as Senior Staff Officer for Personnel, Plans and Policies.
In July 1994, he was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS IROQUOIS, completing her class modernization project trials and transferring the ship to full operational status in First Maritime Operations Group as flagship. Promoted to Captain in June 1996, he was assigned as the Deputy Commander Naval Reserve at the Naval Reserve Headquarters at Pointe-à-Carcy in Québec City.
In August 1998, he was appointed the Assistant Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Maritime Forces Atlantic, Halifax. He was the head of operations during the domestic emergency coined as OP PERSISTENCE – the CF element of the SWISSAIR 111 salvage and recovery operation off Peggy’s Cove in 1998, when he was responsible for planning the Canadian Forces element’s efforts, chaired the daily multi-agency coordination meeting and served as liaison to the families of the victims.
He then transferred to the Pacific, as Commander Operations Group Four, and deployed to command Canada’s joint force contribution to OP TOUCAN in East Timor, joining the Australian-led coalition tasked with managing the turmoil in the aftermath to the Timorese vote for independence. Upon return, he was allowed to complete his Master’s at Royal Roads University before being promoted to Commodore and assigned to National Headquarters as Director General Maritime Personnel and Readiness in Ottawa. A year later, he was tasked to take ROTO 4 of Canada’s post-9/11 maritime mission and led the multi-national naval Task Force 151 during OP APOLLO in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in 2003.
His last appointment in the navy was as Commander Joint Task Force Pacific and Maritime Forces Pacific in Victoria, where he was responsible for naval readiness in the Pacific, served as the Search and Rescue Commander for the Region and held responsibilities for security and domestic emergency issues in BC, supporting planning for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the contingency work for potential flooding of the BC lower mainland in the Spring of 2007.
He retired from the Canadian Forces in September of 2007. He went on to serve as an associate professor at Royal Roads University supporting their Human Security and Peacebuilding Master’s Program. He was sought out to complete the Canadian Coast Guard Inquiry into the tragic sinking of the l’Acadien II, a sealing vessel home ported in the Magdalene Islands. As well, he had several volunteer lives, including the Canadian Defence Association Institute, the Salvation Army, the Coalition to End Homelessness, St. John Ambulance, Victoria Tall Ships and the TELUS Victoria Community Board.
In May of 2013, he assumed responsibilities as the Canadian Coast Guard’s Assistant Commissioner for Western Region, taking on the mandate of effectively delivering marine safety to the country’s dynamic west coast and supporting the roughly one thousand Coast Guard professionals who focus on protecting marine activities in Canada’s waters every day. Experienced in offshore operations, joint and interagency missions, disaster management as well as the realm of HR management, he brought many talents to an organization in transition. Within months, he was serving as the Incident Commander for the USAT ZALINSKI oil recovery effort in Grenville Channel. Over his tenure, he was instrumental in bringing enhanced operational capabilities to the Region, embedding the Incident Command System in its operational model and initiating a reset in the Coast Guard’s many relationships with the Indigenous communities of the coast.
Making a second attempt at retirement in early 2022, he and his wife of forty-five years, Rebecca, live in Sooke, B.C.

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Patti Carr

Senior Associate

Location: Americas

Patti Carr brings 32 years of aviation experience to GoCrisis. While she held a variety of positions, more than half her tenure was spent in Family Assistance and Emergency Response roles for Northwest and Delta Air Lines. There, Patti developed, designed, and delivered Family Assistance training domestically and internationally to aviation and corporate customers. Additionally, she has extensive experience in planning and executing tabletop exercises and airport drills.

During her time at Northwest, Patti responded to several minor aviation incidents and employee on-the-job deaths, coordinating logistics and working directly with passengers, employees, and their families. Following retirement from Delta, Patti spent eight years leading a team of facilitators for a federal student loan servicing company.

Since 2006, Patti has volunteered at the Armed Forces Service Center at the Minneapolis airport. The center provides support for traveling military, retirees, and dependents. In addition to staffing shifts in the center, and being a board member, Patti is a team lead for the Honors Team. In that role, Patti continues to use her expertise in communication and family assistance to coordinate dignified transfers of military remains with family, the military, and the respective airlines.

Patti holds a B.A. in Communications from Augsburg University, Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a life-long resident of Minnesota.

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Vincent Bertucci

Associate

Location: Americas

Vince has over 15 years of aviation experience working in a variety of both operational, safety and emergency management roles, most recently leading the Emergency Response and Humanitarian Assistance Team at United Airlines.

Vince began his aviation career as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps where he was trained as an Aviation Safety Officer. He led an aviation mishap investigation and mishap board following a major accident. He is also a trained Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. 

Following his military service, Vince joined United Airlines where he led United’s Emergency Response Team. During his time at United he responded to several minor aviation incidents and major man-made and natural disasters. Vince deployed United’s Special Assistance Team to Houston, Texas following Hurricane Harvey providing humanitarian assistance to several hundred employees experiencing total loss of property. Immediately upon return he directed United’s EOC in supporting victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As part of the star Alliance Emergency Steering Committee he co-developed a common disaster site plan used by all member airlines. 

Vince graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy where he studied Aeronautical Engineering. He currently resides in the Chicagoland area. 

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Bob Palestrant

Regional Vice President, Operations

Location: Americas

Bob Palestrant has over 40 years of experience serving as a registered nurse, firefighter/paramedic, emergency manager, and in the discipline of homeland security. He is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), a credentialed Chief Fire Officer (CFO) through the Center of Public Safety Excellence and earned his master’s degree in Homeland Security from American Military University.

He was the Director of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Miami-Dade County, Florida, coordinating multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional responses to disasters and large-scale emergencies, and as a member of a coalition of Emergency Managers from the 11 largest U.S. cities, worked with the Council of Excellence in Government to standardize and improve methods of increasing the preparedness and the ability of cities to respond to disasters on a national basis.

Bob has been instrumental in multiple activations including several major hurricanes, Superbowls XLI and XLIV, multiple mass casualty incidents, aviation disasters and mass shootings. As a member of the Florida Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team, he was on several deployments including the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.

As the Southeast Florida Fusion Center Terrorism Liaison Officer Program Coordinator, he served on multiple regional, state, and national homeland security-related committees and work groups. He is certified as an Incident Command System (ICS), instructor, and Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) Bomb Making Materials Awareness Program (BMAP) Administrator/Trainer. He has received multiple service awards and honors, and in 2021, was selected as the Government Technology & Services Coalition-Homeland Security Today’s State Homeland Security Person of the Year.

Bob was a technical consultant for the show “Without Warning,” broadcast on both The Discovery and The Learning Channels and has been a panel member or given presentations on emergency management, aircraft rescue and firefighting, and homeland security issues at multiple conferences and symposiums across the country and internationally.

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Michele Derry

Senior Associate

Location: Americas

Michele Derry is a Senior Canadian Airline Executive with over 30 years of experience in the aviation industry. Her leadership expertise includes areas such as Emergency Response, Family Assistance, Operations Control, Commercial Operations, Inflight, Dispatch, Load Planning, Crew Pay, Crew Planning, Crew Scheduling, and Operational Manuals. Her speciality is in working with airline start-ups that use low-cost or ultra-low-cost business models. During her lengthy career, she’s assisted airlines such as Canadian Regional, WestJet, Enerjet, Encore, Swoop, Air North, Virgin Blue, and Lynx Air.
Michele’s focus with each organization she’s assisted has centered around people, operations, preparedness, and response. Her technical skills have also been recognized by Transport Canada for excellence in the development of manuals for regulatory requirements, including Emergency Response, Safety, Company Operations, Company Procedures, Dispatch and Dangerous Goods.
As Vice President at WestJet, in addition to her oversite of daily operations, she held the role of Incident Director for any major emergency and provided oversight of the Emergency Response and Family Assistance programs there. Together with the Manager of Emergency Response, she developed an industry-leading and internationally recognized Family Assistance Team and has continued to enhance her expertise by actively participating in advanced courses, exercises, and training sessions held in Canada, the United States, and the UK.
GoCrisis is thrilled to have Michele Derry as a Senior Associate. Her expertise in all facets of airline operations, coupled with her advanced technical skills, and her leadership in Emergency Response and Family Assistance, bring invaluable support to our clients around the world.

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Simon Hardern

Advisory Board

Simon joined the Royal Navy in September 1984 directly from school. His first years were spent at sea in Her Majesty’s Ships CATTISTOCK, NOTTINGHAM, LINDISFARNE and ALACRITY. Whilst on the latter, the Ship, when on deployment to the West Indies, provided humanitarian support to Hurricane-Hugo devastated island of Montserrat.

Having completed a ten-month tour as the Executive Officer of the Northern Ireland patrol vessel HMS CUXTON, he joined the staff of Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland as the Flag Lieutenant in May 1991. Returning to sea for a short tour as the Navigating Officer of the Type 23 frigate HMS LANCASTER, he qualified as a Warfare Officer in December 1995. He assumed Command of the Sandown class mine-hunter HMS WALNEY. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in November 1996, his final year with the Ship was spent deployed with NATO’s Standing Naval Force Channel.

Following a short period as the Operations Officer of the Type 22 frigate HMS BEAVER, he attended the Joint Services Command and Staff College in September 1998. Graduating from the Advanced Command and Staff Course with an MA in Defence Studies, he joined the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic based in Norfolk, Virginia as the Military Assistant to the US 4* Commander. He received the US Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his services before, and after, the tragic events of 9/11.

He returned to the UK in October 2001 and led, for a short period, the Royal Naval Presentation Team. Assuming command of the frigate HMS KENT in April 2002, his time included a nine-month deployment to the north Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf as part of the UK’s effort with the Global War on Terrorism. Joining the Ministry of Defence in early 2004, he first had responsibilities for the planning and programming of all major logistics-related equipment procurement programmes and then, in 2007, as the Military Assistant to Chief of the Defence Staff for Personnel.

Promoted to Captain in September 2008, he became Secretary to the three Single-Service Chiefs of Staff and Ministerial Team. His final 8 years were spent working at NATO as: the Chief Staff Officer to Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Secretary to the Military Committee and Chief of Staff for the International Military Staff; and, finally, as a Rear Admiral, Deputy Chief of Staff Plans, Exercises and Partnerships.

In June 2018, Simon joined a large Crisis and Disaster Management company as CEO. With dedicated full-time resources spread across the world, he ensured the provision of personnel and equipment as well as the incident response, particularly those involving major loss of life. This included directly supporting two aviation disasters in the USA and the southern Pacific Ocean.

Simon joined the UK Hydrographic Office in April 2020 as the Head of Partnering and Engagement; based in Washington DC, he has a roving brief covering all the Americas.

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