The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Caleb Smith and Jessica London
September is National Preparedness Month, and, throughout the month, we will be highlighting Hagerty employees working to support our clients’ disaster preparedness needs. During the first week of National Preparedness Month, we feature Caleb Smith, a Managing Associate who supports disaster workforce readiness initiatives across the country and Jessica London, an Associate who supports the equitable development of emergency management plans and the inclusion of the disability and access & functional needs populations throughout all areas of emergency management.
Tell us about yourself – how did your career path lead you to Hagerty Consulting?
Caleb: I first took interest in a career with homeland security following the Boston Marathon bombing. A few years later while in graduate school, I was evaluating various Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs as part of my coursework, and my home state of Louisiana was hit by back to back flood events that devastated much of my community. During the second flood, I was helping remove damaged carpet from a family friend’s home and had recently been communicating with local DHS officials for a project related to the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG). I think at that moment, all of these things coincided and I knew I wanted to work on improving emergency management programs and policies at a national level.
Six months later I was starting a career with FEMA and had no idea that I was about to get a crash course in hurricane season. First came Harvey, then Irma, then Maria…all within my first nine months. My work with FEMA took me all over the Southeast in a short amount of time and eventually led me to pursue consulting in Washington, DC.
I was familiar with Hagerty’s work at the state and local level and it seemed like the place to be if you really want to make an impact in the field and work on meaningful projects. Now some of my earliest projects with FEMA have come full circle and I get to apply that experience every day at Hagerty.
Jessica: When I found Emergency Management, I realized this was the field I had been searching for and discovered a passionate group of professionals fiercely committed to helping others. Similar to many people who find their way to the Emergency Management field, my path was far from linear. At a young age, I started volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon. My passion for supporting individuals with disabilities and access and functional needs pushed me towards the public health sphere.
Following a year working in the tech industry, I enrolled in Georgetown University’s Master’s of Emergency and Disaster Management to further my exploration into the field. Soon after I began my studies, I became a Preparedness Division Intern and Homeland Security Fellow at the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA) and National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC). These experiences allowed me to engage in both the academic and practitioner sides of Emergency Management.
Once I received my Master’s, I set my sights on Hagerty Consulting. I had previously worked with Hagerty employees on various projects and was continually impressed by their caliber, creativity, and devotion to helping others. I was specifically attracted to Hagerty because I wanted to experience working on and with a wide range of projects and clients. After only a year at Hagerty, I had supported local, state, and federal governments, private industry, and non-governmental organizations on everything from running exercises to developing doctrine.
Through my work at Hagerty, I have been able to achieve my dream of helping people.
What do you find most meaningful about the work you do here at Hagerty?
Caleb: Much of my work revolves around assessment, training, and development for the federal disaster workforce. With the increasing number of threats Americans face today, I think a highly trained and qualified disaster workforce is more important than ever. At the end of the day emergency management is about the survivor. A capable workforce is only going to improve assistance to individuals and communities whether that’s through preparation or recovery.
Jessica: One of the most meaningful aspects of my work is to tangibly see the impact that we have on our clients, communities, and nation. Every day our actions help build a more prepared and resilient world. Hagerty has continued to encourage me to bring my knowledge of and passion for disability and access and functional needs (AFN) inclusion into my work in order to continue to help spread awareness among our clients. As individuals with disabilities and AFN are disproportionately affected by disaster impacts, it is critical that emergency managers effectively address the needs of these populations throughout all operations. I feel honored to work at a firm that is actively working to meet this need.
When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you spend it?
Caleb: I like to find a good trail with my dog and put some headphones in.
Jessica: Some of my favorite downtime activities are playing board games, particularly Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and 7 Wonders. During COVID-19, I have also had the chance to rediscover my love of puzzles!
Caleb Smith is a managing associate who has public and government affairs, and emergency management experience in both the private and public sectors. Mr. Smith’s experience has primarily focused on National Preparedness with an emphasis on external affairs, stakeholder engagement, communications, and training development for FEMA.
Jessica London is an associate who has diverse, client-facing experience across government and non-governmental entities. She has experience facilitating collaboration with stakeholders to establish and achieve common goals related to developing exercises, identifying areas of risk, and building resilience. As part of her work, Ms. London focuses on the equitable development of emergency management plans and the inclusion of the disability and AFN populations throughout all areas of emergency management.