Log in

Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Lacy E. Suiter

In recognition of the men and women who have dedicated their careers and lives to make citizens and communities safer from both natural disasters and terrorist events, the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) presents the Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service in Emergency Management Award.

The award is named in honor of Lacy E. Suiter, one of the nation's most experienced and respected emergency management and homeland security leaders.

The prestigious honor is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions throughout his or her career to any or all facets of emergency management. This includes the areas of preparedness, mitigation, response, or recovery at a local, state, regional, or national level. The career accomplishments should be of unusual merit.

Lacy E. Suiter's widow, Norma Jean,
accepts the first Suiter Award.

The field of emergency management has grown and changed significantly since its early days of "civil defense" in the 1940s.  At that time, emergency managers dealt primarily with threats of nuclear attack.  By the 1960s, the focus grew to include natural disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. This was followed by a renewed interest in domestic defense in the 1980s.  The next decade saw a re-focus on natural disasters.  After the events of September 11, 2001, the attention shifted to terrorist attacks.  Now professional emergency managers are hopeful that the tide will turn to what they have been calling on for several years: an all-hazards approach to disasters.

Skill sets for the professional emergency manager have also evolved. Today's emergency manager must be knowledgeable in planning, training, finance, and administration while also having the ability to work with changing political leadership in his or her state, region, or specific jurisdiction.

All emergency management agencies, departments, and organizations are invited to submit nominations for the Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service in Emergency Management Award.

The nomination period for the 2017 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award has closed. Nominations for the 2018 Lacy E. Suiter Award will open in July of 2018.  

  • 2016 - W. Craig Fugate
  • 2015 - David Maxwell
  • 2014 - Nancy Dragani
  • 2013 - Albert Ashwood
  • 2012 - MG Timothy Lowenberg
  • 2011 - Jack Colley
  • 2010 - Joseph Myers
  • 2009 - Dick Andrews
  • 2008 - Leon Shaifer
  • 2007 - Dale Shipley
  • 2006 - Lacy Suiter
The National Emergency Management Association has presented the 2016 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award to W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency. The honor was given to Fugate on October 4, 2016 during the association’s Annual Emergency Management Policy and Leadership Forum held in Chicago, IL. The award is presented annually by NEMA to an individual that has made cumulative outstanding contributions to the field of emergency management.

 2016 Annual Forum 014 400x267
W. Craig Fugate with 2015 honoree David Maxwell and
NEMA President Wendy Smith-Reeve. Photo by NEMA. 
Mr. Fugate has dedicated his career to serving those in need and advancing the field of emergency management. His service as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, county emergency manager, and state emergency management director uniquely qualified him to create lasting, positive change as the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the last 7+ years. His work on the front lines and in the leadership of emergency services has touched thousands of lives and lessened suffering in times of great need.

Throughout his career, Mr. Fugate has played an integral role in shaping the profession. He has championed the whole community approach to emergency management, emphasizing and improving collaboration with all levels of government (federal, tribal, state, territorial and local) and external partners, including voluntary agencies, faith based organizations, disability community, the private sector, and individual citizens. He has also raised the profile of emergency management nationally and earned the trust and confidence of President Barack Obama, Congressional, tribal, state, territorial, and local officials.

In addition to county fire and emergency management roles in Florida, Mr. Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). He built capabilities and implemented no-notice “Thunderbolt” exercises to ensure division personnel were prepared to respond. As the State Coordinating Officer for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters, he managed more than $4 billion in Federal disaster assistance. In 2004, Fugate managed the largest Federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the gulf coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states. Under Fugate’s stewardship, the FDEM program became the first statewide emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

NEMA congratulates W. Craig Fugate on receiving the 2016 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award.

David Maxwell with wife Lauren and Arkansas staff Sheila Annable and Tina Owens

The National Emergency Management Association has presented the 2015 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award to David Maxwell, Director and Homeland Security Advisor for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.  The honor was given to Maxwell on September 30, 2015 during the association’s Annual Emergency Management Policy and Leadership Forum held in Miami, Fl.  The award is presented annually by NEMA to an individual that has made cumulative outstanding contributions to the field of emergency management.  

Maxwell began his career in 1978 as a temporary employee at the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and eventually rose to the level of director. Today he’s the longest tenured director in the history of ADEM and has served under three governors.  Over his 37 year career in emergency management, Maxwell has witnessed and contributed to the evolution of the profession having dealt with issues resulting from the nation’s largest disasters including Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.   He’s been a leading voice in the national dialogue and has testified before Congress on a number of emergency management related issues. 

David Maxwell is a past president of NEMA and currently chairs the Emergency Management Assistance Compact Committee and the Past President’s Committee. He also sits on the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisory Council under the National Governors’ Association and chairs their Catastrophic Disaster Preparedness Committee.  
Nancy Dragani (middle) with past year recipient Albert Ashwood and 2014 NEMA President Charlie English
The National Emergency Management Association has presented the 2014 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award to Nancy Dragani, Executive Director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The honor was given to Dragani on October 11, 2014 during the association’s Annual Emergency Management Policy and Leadership Forum held in Atlanta, Ga. “Nancy is one of the most knowledgeable and respected emergency management professionals in the nation and is most deserving of this award,” said Charley English, NEMA Past President. Dragani has served over twenty years in positions of ever increasing responsibility and leadership in the emergency management profession. She was named agency director in 2005 by Gov. Bob Taft. She has continued in that position under Govs. Strickland and Kasich. Ohio achieved accreditation through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) under her leadership and she’s led the state through numerous disasters. She serves as Tri-Chair of the National Homeland Security Consortium. Dragani has served in various leadership positions within NEMA including president, chair of the Response and Recovery Committee and chair of the Homeland Security Committee. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has appointed her multiple times to the National Advisory Council as chair of the Recovery Sub-committee and then Insurance and Mitigation Sub-committee. She also served on the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism Advisory Board. Dragani earned an advanced degree in homeland security through the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense Security Studies.
Mr. Albert Ashood was appointed director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management in August 1997 and is currently the longest-tenured state emergency management director in the nation. He held the position of state coordinating officer for seven presidential disaster declarations, including the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Buidling on April 19, 1995. After teh September 11 terrorist acts and at the request of New York Governor George Pataki, Mr. Ashwood spent two weeks at Ground Zero helping establish and implement debris removal operations. He is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security and was a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Advisory Council (NAC), which advises the FEMA administrator on preparedness and emergency management issues. He has receive numerous awards and accolades, including a Commendation from President Bill Clinton for his work in the Oklahoma City bombing. He was also the first recipient of the Governor's Humanitarian Award for efforts following the May 1999 tornadoes and has received numerous citations for developing the "Oklahomans Can Survive" Safe Room Rebate Program. Mr. Ashwood is a former presdent of NEMA, serving 2006-2007.
 Major General Timothy Lowenberg (middle) recipient of the 2012 Lacy Suiter Award, with Leon Shaifer and 2012 NEMA President, Jim Mullen

MG Lowenberg served as Chair of Homeland Defense and Homeland Security of the Adjutants General Association of the United States; immediate past national chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the Governors Homeland Security Council, chairman of the National Guard Bureau Security Cooperation Activities General Officer Advisory Council, chairman of the National Guard Bureau Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear General Officer Advisory Council, senior member of the NGB Counter Drug Enterprise General Officer Advisory Council; and Chair of the Governor's Domestic Security Sub-Cabinet. He has also served as Chair of the Governor's 2010 Winter Olympics Task Force Security Committee and founding Tri-Chair of the National Homeland Security Consortium - a coalition of more than two-dozen public and private sector national associations.

General Lowenberg is a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was commissioned in 1968 concurrent with receipt of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Iowa, College of Law in 1971 and has served as Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Puget Sound School of Law and Seattle University School of Law since 1973 and as a guest lecturer in other Seattle University programs.

In his previous assignment as Air National Guard Assistant to The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, General Lowenberg oversaw the formulation, development, and coordination of legal policies, plans and programs affecting more than 114,000 Air Guard members in more than 1,100 units throughout all 54 States and Territories. In addition, he coordinated the accession, training, and deployment of all Air Guard judge advocates and paralegals and was responsible for developing and executing the worldwide civil affairs mission of the United States Air Force. 

Nim Kidd accepting the Lacy E. Suiter Award
on behalf of the Colley family

During his 12-plus years with the DPS, Colley was involved in the response and recovery to many of Texas’ largest incidents, disasters and emergencies, including the Space Shuttle Columbia crash (2003) and Hurricane Rita (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008). Colley coordinated the effort to shelter thousands of Katrina evacuees in 2005 and then led the monumental evacuation of more than 3 million Texas residents as Hurricane Rita threatened the southeast Texas coast only weeks later.

In 2008, the Texas Division of Emergency Management responded to six hurricanes and tropical storms within a 90-day period. These storms included Hurricane Dolly, which devastated the Lower Rio Grande Valley July 23 and Hurricane Ike, which washed over Galveston and the southeast Texas coast on Sept. 13.

Under Colley’s guidance, Texas led the nation in a number of initiatives to make disaster response “quicker, faster, smarter,” which included work on systems to improve tracking of special needs evacuees and improved processes for safe re-entry of evacuees after the storm.

Colley also served as the Assistant Director of the Texas Office of Homeland Security and was the State Administrative Agent for all Federal Homeland Security Programs within Texas. Colley was a member of the Governor's Homeland Security Council, the First Responder Advisory Council and the Critical Infrastructure and Key Resource Protection Council. He was chair of the Texas Drought Preparedness Council.

Colley served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1997, retiring as a Colonel before joining DPS. He served in several positions of significant responsibility, including Chief Operations Officer for the Second Brigade and Headquarters, lst Cavalry Division and Division Chief for Strategic Planning for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense. Colley was a graduate of the U. S. Army War College and the Command and General Staff College. Colley earned a bachelor’s degree from East Texas State University in Commerce and a master’s in business from Abilene Christian University.

Dave Maxwell, 2010 NEMA president,
with Joseph Myers, recipient of
2010 Lacy E. Suiter Award

Joseph F. Myers, a mentor and inspiration for hundreds of state and local emergency managers, received the 2010 Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award at NEMA’s 2010 Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, in October. 

Myers’s career in emergency management spans 30 years at the state and local levels. He began his career in North Carolina, where he advanced to the position of state emergency management director. In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, then-governor Lawton Chiles recruited Myers to serve as Florida’s emergency management director.  In that role, Myers revamped the state’s emergency management system, which became a model for the nation.

During his three decades of service, Myers has presided over more than 29 presidentially declared disasters and thousands of state-declared disasters and emergencies.

Myers is the only individual to be named state emergency management director in two states and to serve twice as NEMA president, representing two different states.

NEMA congratulates Joe Myers on this prestigious national award.

Richard Andrews receives the Lacy
Suiter Award at the 2009 Annual

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) named Richard Andrews as the 2009 recipient of the Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award.  This is the top honor presented annually by NEMA to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to emergency management and whose accomplishments over a career are of unusual merit.

Richard Andrews has a long and illustrious career in the emergency management field.  His service over state, national, and international boundaries.  He continues to be a leader and guide to his peers in NEMA, often providing a pragmatic and honest perspective based on his experiences managing major disasters.

From 1991 to 1998 Andrews was director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) for the State of California.  During that time, Andrews managed the response and recovery operations for the 1991 Oakland-East Bay Hills firestorm; the 1992 Los Angeles riots; the 1992 Landers-Big Bear earthquakes; the 1993 Southern California firestorms; the 1994 Northridge earthquake; and winter storms and floods in 1992, 1995, 1997, and 1998.  As the State Coordinating Officer for these events, he was responsible for negotiations between the state of California and the federal government for all disaster recovery programs.

Andrews served as a member of the president’s Homeland Security Advisory Council under President Bush, as director of the California Office of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and as a member of the FEMA National Advisory Council.

Prior to his appointment as Director of Emergency Services, Andrews served as executive director of the California Seismic Safety Commission, advising the governor and legislature on earthquake mitigation policy and legislation.  He received Ph.D. and Master's degrees from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and a B.A. degree from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana.

Andrews continues to be active in emergency management and homeland security.  He has served as Senior Director, Homeland Security, for NC4, a California-based technology company focused on advancing public-private sector collaboration.  As a member of The World Bank’s Disaster Management Operations Group, he served as a member of the assessment team and project development group responding to the impacts of the August 1999 earthquake in Turkey and the December 1999 earthquake in Algeria. He has received numerous appointments and awards from Turkey’s president and office of prime minister for his role as advisor and task leader, assisting with the implementation of a new national emergency management system there.

Andrews served as president of the National Emergency Management Association from 1995 to 1996. He continues to be active as a past president and until only recently was the chair of the Private Sector committee.

Leon Shaifer receives the Lacy Suiter
Award from the 2007 recipient, Dale Shipley

Leon K. Shaifer was named as the 2008 recipient of the Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award.  This is the top honor presented annually by NEMA to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to emergency management and whose accomplishments over a career are of unusual merit.  

Shaifer began his public service career in 1974 when he was appointed director of the Coahoma County Emergency Management Agency.  In 1986, he was appointed director of the Plans and Operations Division of the State Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in Jackson, Mississippi. During his tenure with MEMA, he directed the response and recovery operations for countless governor-declared state emergencies, 36 disasters declared by the Small Business Administration, and 22 major disasters declared by the president of the United States. He was appointed State Coordinating Officer and Alternate Governor’s Authorized Representative by the governor for 12 major declarations. In 1996, he was appointed deputy director and given responsibility for executive oversight of the day-to-day operations and functions of the agency. Shaifer retired as deputy director on June 30, 2004, after having served five governors.  

Shaifer’s long list of accomplishments include representing FEMA Region IV on the National Task Force to develop the first report to the U.S. Congress on legal issues in emergency management.  He served on the FEMA/NEMA jointly sponsored project to develop the Model and Standards for State and Local Emergency Management Programs and the first Capability Assessment for Readiness evaluation document.

Shaifer is a past president and lifetime member of the Mississippi Civil Defense/Emergency Management Association, past chair of the NEMA/FEMA National Hurricane Strategy subcommittee, and past state representative on the FEMA Region IV Regional Interagency Steering Committee, and he was named Assistant National Exercise Director for RESPONSE '95, the first federal/multi-regional/multi-state-level hurricane exercise ever conducted in the United States.  In addition, he is a past chair of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) Program Managers; past chair of the EMAC Operations Subcommittee and Executive Task Force, and past EMAC Lead State Representative for the FEMA Region IV states. Shaifer has also been an assessor for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP).  

In 2003, NEMA awarded Shaifer special recognition for his contribution to the development, growth, and success of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).  During its 2004 session, the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives recognized Shaifer for his 30 years of public service as an emergency manager.  He is a recipient of the Mississippi Distinguished Civilian Service Medal: the highest recognition awarded a civilian by the governor and the adjutant general of the Mississippi Military Department.  Governors of both Kentucky and Alabama have commissioned him Honorary Colonel.
Since his retirement, Leon has been affiliated with NEMA as the EMAC senior advisor, a position in which he provides expert advice and guidance on EMAC and mutual aid-related issues. 


Dale Shipley, 2007 recipient
of the Suiter Award, poses
with Norma Jean Suiter.

Dale W. Shipley was named the 2007 recipient of the Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service Award.  Shipley has served his country with considerable honor for over 45 years. He began as a career infantry officer after graduating from the United States Military Academy.  Highlights of his service include two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he was decorated for heroism; Commander of the Army's Jungle Warfare Training Center, and service on both the Department of the Army and United States Military Academy staffs. Shipley retired from the military with 26 years of service.

As an emergency management professional, he served Ohio governors Celeste, Voinovich, and Taft as emergency management director for 11 years and was appointed by President Clinton to serve as director of the FEMA Region V Office located in Chicago.  During these appointments, in addition to traditional disaster response and recovery activities, he developed significant new mitigation capabilities, increased communication and warning infrastructure, constructed a state-of-the-art emergency operations center for Ohio, developed the first capabilities and needs assessment, critical infrastructure list, and Homeland Security strategy for Ohio Homeland Security.

While serving as the Ohio emergency management director, Shipley held positions within NEMA, including president and Legislative Committee chair.  His service in these two positions set the standards for all who followed. His lengthy Legislative Committee chairmanship was instrumental to the success of NEMA and all of emergency management. He singlehandedly brought the entire profession from obscurity and anonymity to prominence and influence in the halls of Congress, the White House, and state Houses across the nation. His tireless efforts to retain and expand attention, funding, and essential policies for critical emergency management services were exceeded only by his ability to bring partners and stakeholders to the challenge.


Shipley is a consummate leader who, throughout his career, mentored, befriended, and led professionals, both young and seasoned.  Throughout his professional career, Shipley always adhered to the old military dictum of "mission, men, me." He consistently and has passionately served his country, his state, his professions, and his colleagues without thought of any personal gain or ambition.

Lacy E. Suiter

NEMA awarded the first Lacy E. Suiter Distinguished Service in Emergency Management Award posthumously to Lacy E. Suiter, one of the nation's most experienced and respected emergency management and homeland security leaders. Suiter died in 2006; his widow, Norma Jean, accepted the award on his behalf.

Suiter was a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a retired Air National Guard officer with more than 24 years of service. His career in emergency management spanned four decades, during which time he led several federal and state emergency management and homeland security organizations. Suiter served 30 years with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and was director of the agency from 1982 to 1994, working under two governors of two political parties. As state emergency director, he led the response to numerous disasters in Tennessee, including the Waverly train explosion in 1978. While in this position, he also directed and coordinated international disaster mitigation and emergency operations in Brazil, Italy, Japan, the former Soviet Union (including Chernobyl), Armenia, Costa Rica, Switzerland, and New Zealand. Suiter served on the board of directors of dozens of organizations in the emergency management field, including the National Academy of Science's Board on Natural Disasters, the Advisory Board of the University of Colorado's Natural Hazards Center, the Peer Review Committee of the Yucca Mountain High Level Radioactive Disposal Project, and the Latin American Partnership. Mr. Suiter also chaired the Central United States Earthquake Consortium from 1983 to 1994. Suiter served as NEMA president from 1984 to 1985 and was a NEMA Legislative Committee member from 1985 to 1994.

Suiter was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to serve as the Executive Associate Director for Response and Recovery at FEMA. He was retained by President George W. Bush and served FEMA until his retirement from the federal government in late 2001. During his FEMA service, Mr. Suiter was responsible for planning and executing the federal government’s response and recovery operations to hundreds of natural disasters and acts of terrorism. He served as the chair of the federal government’s Catastrophic Disaster Response Group, the senior interagency organization overseeing major disaster assistance to state and local governments. Suiter directed FEMA’s terrorism preparedness and planning activities and led several terrorism preparedness exercises throughout the United States, playing the role of the president of the United States on several occasions. He played a key role in the classified national Continuity of Government program and was responsible for the government's multibillion-dollar Individual and Public Assistance disaster grant programs. Prior to his appointment as Executive Associate Director, Mr. Suiter was the Director of FEMA’s Office of Policy, Assessment and Regional Operations from 1994 to 1996.

Suiter was a pioneer in the evolution of emergency management and played a significant role in developing it into a professional discipline. At the time of his death, Suiter was serving as director of executive education programs for the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California. There he directed graduate-level seminars for the nation's governors, mayors, and other senior officials.  He was also a consultant to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and several Washington, D.C., think tanks.

Looking for Something? 

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account