Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Employee Appreciation 2023

A message from our founder, Steve Hagerty:

At Hagerty, we truly believe our advantage is our people. By leveraging diverse expertise and unique perspectives, our firm can deliver innovative thinking and creative solutions to meet clients’ missions and propel organizations forward. Over the past 20 years, Hagerty’s team of emergency management and homeland security professionals have become an indispensable source of support for communities nationwide. As we celebrate Employee Appreciation Week, we would like to recognize the tireless efforts of our hardworking personnel across the nation.

Our professionals sacrifice their time and uproot from their homes and families to serve disaster-impacted areas and promote life-saving preparedness and resilience. In the face of emergencies, our team works diligently to help communities on what is often their worst day as they navigate the complex process of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Our professionals’ commitment to excellence, and commitment to our clients, is unmatched. The following stories highlight just a fraction of the contributions made by the Hagerty team to their clients and their communities.

As I meet with members of team Hagerty, I am often struck by the fact that Hagerty has grown beyond my name. That is because our team members exemplify our values – innovation, integrity, teamwork, and excellence – in all their work. I am grateful for every member of the Hagerty team that chooses to share their talents with our clients and our firm each day.

Preparedness | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Preparedness, Kyle McPhee

Hagerty deeply appreciates the consultants in our Preparedness Division who not only support some of Hagerty’s first clients but also lead our work with new clients looking to prepare for future disasters. Katie Toskey and Kathryn Lhota are Senior Managing Associates and two of the division’s most respected mentors.

Katie Toskey supports many of Hagerty’s energy and infrastructure clients in pursuing and implementing federal funding programs to accelerate their disaster preparedness initiatives. With a background in government relations and federal policy, Katie helps clients make the most of their stakeholder engagement strategies and deepen their understanding of their communities and constituents. Empowered with this information, Katie helps clients develop strategic plans they can implement immediately to proactively prepare and mitigate the risks they face.

Kathryn Lhota is a profoundly experienced emergency manager who brings broad experience in disaster response to Hagerty’s Preparedness Division. Leveraging this knowledge and expertise, Kathryn helps clients navigate an after-action review process to learn from past incidents. Applying the lessons learned from a recent water contamination incident, hurricane, and ongoing humanitarian incident, Kathryn helps our clients assess their strengths, identify functions that can be improved, and develop customized recommendations to prepare for future disasters.

The past several years have demonstrated that disasters and emergencies of all types are increasing in frequency and magnitude. I am immensely proud of the work our Preparedness professionals are doing nationwide to prepare our clients for the risks they may face.

Response | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Response, Lee Mayfield

On Wednesday, September 28, 2023, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, bringing extreme winds and catastrophic storm surge to an area of Florida uniquely vulnerable to these impacts. In the days that followed, dedicated public safety professionals stepped up and responded to what will be remembered as one of the worst natural disasters our nation has ever faced. Emergency managers across all levels of government and from around the country quickly mobilized to support residents and responders in Southwest Florida, working together to prioritize resources and begin a massive recovery effort.

Hagerty has a history of supporting hurricane preparedness and recovery efforts with our Florida-based clients, and Hurricane Ian provided us with the opportunity to help in the immediate response phase. Based on requests from our clients in the impact area, over 40 Hagerty response professionals were deployed across Florida to augment local and state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) capabilities. Our team members provided needed expertise in planning, logistics, operations, and field support, with roles constantly evolving based on the changing needs of a complex hurricane response. Hagerty professionals were often asked to deploy within 24 hours with limited information, sometimes sleeping on cots in recreation centers while hotel lodging was identified. Their patience, flexibility, and focus on serving our clients was apparent as our team members embedded in EOCs and tackled difficult issues with a focus on finding solutions.

In early February 2023, the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA) recognized Hagerty by awarding us their Corporate Award, highlighting an organization from the private sector that has contributed to emergency management. Hagerty’s Hurricane Ian response was truly a “One Hagerty” effort between our response, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness teams. All who supported this event should be proud of how we assisted our clients in their time of need.

Mitigation | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Mitigation, Amelia Muccio

Given the county’s unprecedented drought and the growing toll of climate change, Hagerty’s mitigation team diligently assists states and local communities in developing climate adaptive projects that help communities become more resilient. Hagerty’s mitigation professionals are dedicated to addressing mitigation and resiliency in project planning, design, and operations with a focus on nature-based solutions (NBS) and other methods of green construction. In 2022, Hagerty managed $4.24 billion in total mitigation funding across 233 subapplications for five clients. For the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program, we provided assistance on two subapplications for $12 million. For the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mitigation programs, the team supported 162 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) subapplications totaling $1.5 billion, 59 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program subapplications totaling $2.5 billion, and 10 Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program subapplications totaling $275 million. Additionally, we hosted 83 webinars throughout the year, including 30 technical assistance training webinars and 53 capacity-building webinars for our clients.

Recovery | Remarks by two of Hagerty’s Recovery Project Team Leaders

The Recovery Division is an ever-growing team of highly experienced emergency managers striving to help communities on their worst days. As a division, our expertise extends to knowledge of several funding streams, including FEMA Public Assistance (PA), Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and others. We are also versed in overseeing program conformance, disaster closeout, audit preparation services, conducting unmet needs assessments, and solving problems at the policy level. Hagerty’s Recovery Division works nationwide. In 2022, our divisional team operated in 26 states with 74 total projects. In one year alone, these projects supported $35.5 billion in FEMA PA funds, $14.4 billion in SLFRF funds, and $2.1 billion in CRF funds.

Incorporated based on what we do, the Recovery team leads with the core values of teamwork, integrity, innovation, and excellence. These values, instilled in every Hagerty Employee, give our clients a meaningful experience. Our Bay County, Florida, Housing team led with innovation, fostering streamlined and effective housing recovery strategies, engaging with State and Local partners, developing the Bay County Local Housing Assistance Plan (LHAP), and helping administer the County’s First-Time Homebuyer Program. These efforts helped the Bay County, Florida, community rebuild and improve its resilience in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. On August 31, 2022, Bay County was recognized at the Florida Housing Coalition (FHC) Statewide Affordable Housing Conference with the “Model for Outstanding Disaster Recovery Assistance” award.

The Howard County, Maryland, team’s accomplishments embody the value of excellence. The team has supported the County’s implementation and management of its $63.2 million ARPA SLFRF allocation. In February 2022, President Biden recognized Howard County for its use of ARPA funds, and in May 2022, the County received a National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award in fiscal management for “Process/Engagement/Transparency Processes for ARPA Funding.”

These examples depict just some of what our division has accomplished recently, as there are many other significant achievements of the Recovery team. We recognize the importance and value of our team, as our people are what makes Hagerty so great. Thank you to our growing team for supporting our clients with integrity, innovation, excellence, and teamwork and for striving to help communities on their worst days.

Healthcare and University Programs | Remarks by Hagerty’s Vice President of Healthcare and University Programs, Jeff Bokser

The Hagerty Health and University team has helped bring more than $1 billion in FEMA Public Assistance (PA) and more than $3 billion in other federal and state funding to over 100 hospitals nationwide. This funding is vital to keeping the doors of hospitals open, creating surge capacity as needed, purchasing medical and surgical equipment for patient care, personal protective equipment to keep employees safe, and making temporary facility modifications for the care and treatment of patients throughout the public health emergency. Thanks to the hard work and tenacity of our team, who spent countless hours working to identify costs often spread out across multiple healthcare facilities, cost centers, and financial systems, hospitals and universities that engaged Hagerty were able to recover financially from COVID-19. We often receive referral phone calls from hospitals and universities seeking our assistance who tell us that a current or former client highly recommended our team. These are the best phone calls to receive and speak to the respect, work ethic, and quality our team members continue to deliver to hospitals and universities across the nation.

When Chris Justis, Managing Associate, first began recovery work with our New England-based hospital client, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) stated that if Hagerty Consulting could help identify $1 million in FEMA PA projects, the engagement would be deemed a success. To date, Chris has identified over $17 million and counting in FEMA PA projects far exceeding the client’s expectations.

When Hagerty’s Midwest-based Children’s Hospital client faced an overwhelming patient surge from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Flu, and COVID-19, Kara Koirtyohann, Deputy Director, helped develop language and strategy to provide information to the Governor’s office. This work prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to write a letter to the President of the United States (US) to push for an RSV and Flu disaster declaration.

Madeline Tormey, Senior Manager, helped her Northeast-based hospital client identify eligible COVID-19-related expenses to keep American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural Hospital Funding, which they thought would have to be given back, for community-based COVID-19 preparedness, response, and vaccination efforts. Madeline made this possible.

Hannah Randolph’s, Managing Associate, contributions to the COVID-19 cost recovery operation at a Texas University-based client have been invaluable. She has prepared several FEMA projects for submission, each with detailed and supportive narratives addressing any questions FEMA reviewers might pose. She effectively leverages her knowledge of the PA process and recent client experiences to identify potential eligibility and documentation concerns proactively. Her attention to developing robust and thorough narratives has led to reduced Requests for Information (RFIs) and more efficient review and obligation of submitted projects. Her knowledge, hard work, and willingness to contribute wherever needed have undoubtedly been key to the success of the University’s cost recovery operations.

The well-orchestrated team of Senior Managing Associate Jeanne Lenz, Managing Associates Katelyn Papura and Marisa McKenna, and Associate Mackenzie Forgacas, were brought on to support a Midwest hospital client previously working with FEMA on their own. As a result of their tedious and tireless work, projects eligible for FEMA reimbursement have grown from $3 million to over $30 million, with additional project opportunities underway.

Human Resources (HR) and Talent Acquisition (TA) | Remarks by Hagerty’s Directors of HR and TA, Sheila Tria and Walter Flores

The success of Hagerty is shaped by the critical role played by its Human Resources (HR) and Talent Acquisition (TA) divisions. These professionals have a range of responsibilities, including recruiting and hiring top talent, developing, and implementing employee development programs, administering benefits packages, and ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations. With their extensive knowledge and expertise, HR and TA division members have made incredible contributions toward supporting the organization’s mission and driving it forward. Their tireless efforts focus on keeping employees motivated and engaged in achieving company goals. The HR and TA division members have also been instrumental in creating a positive work environment that promotes diversity and inclusion while facilitating employee personal and professional growth. These contributions have played a significant role in attracting and retaining top talent, which is a crucial component of Hagerty’s long-term success. Overall, the hard work and dedication of the HR and TA division members have been instrumental in building a strong and thriving organization that is well-positioned for future growth and success.

Information Technology (IT) | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of IT, Keith Novak

Hagerty’s IT team members,  Sean Scanlon, Ryan Kelly, and Byung You,  are busy building out and ensuring the functionality of all the operational, infrastructural, administrative, and security systems and platforms that Hagerty relies on to support its departments, staff, and consultants. These resources equip the team to be more effective in serving clients and meeting their needs. Recently, the IT team successfully led a company-wide migration from a Google to a Microsoft workspace. This was an incredibly large lift that the team worked tirelessly to accomplish.

Operations | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Operations, Katie Freeman

Over the years, Hagerty has brought on key investments into our internal teams to build our capacity as we continue to grow. Hagerty’s Operations Team – which started with one other professional a decade ago – has grown to fulfill multiple internal organizational functions, expanding beyond our core business development and brand management initiatives. The Operations Team lives Hagerty’s values and brings humor, grace, and style to work with them daily. We would not be as strong as we are today without our people and the excellent work that they do every single day behind the scenes. Tori Abbott, Rachael Chambers, Quinn Musselwhite, and Alex Williams collaborate across the company as we develop proposals for our clients that address their needs across emergency management programs and are currently maintaining one of the highest submission rates in company history. Jordan Azizian, Katie Moy, and Liz Siegel support the whole company with design and graphics and were instrumental in our recent branding refresh. Zach Elkin flexes across the Operations Team, supporting our daily tasks along with integration with IT, Finance, and other corporate functions as we continue to build our internal infrastructure; he is currently focusing on how we advance into the Microsoft SharePoint environment. And our recent additions, Kate Lewis-Lakin and Michelle Masoncup are pushing us further as we advance to implement new financial systems and strengthen compliance (respectively). We truly have the right people in the right place at the right time.

Finance and Accounting | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Finance and Accounting, Keith King

The Finance and Accounting team deserves recognition for the daily excellence provided to our clients, internal employees, and subcontractors. I have witnessed the dedication, long hours, patience, difficult conversations, and decisions made over the last three years. This team continues to operate at a level that Hagerty companywide should be proud of and thankful for. Even without the shiny tools that most finance and accounting departments have, they have never wavered and are committed to excellence. Our firm’s success is a direct result of their dedication and upholding the principles of the organization.

I am proud to manage this group of individuals and would like all Hagerty professionals to celebrate their recognition for being the hidden jewels and outstanding employees they are. Please take a bow: Maura Byrdsong, Kim Cortes, Ibon Hernandez, Brittany King, Kiya Lewis, and Sabrina Taylor!

Communications | Remarks by Hagerty’s Director of Communications, Jessi Widhalm (Nalepa)

The small but mighty, Marketing, Communications, and External Affairs team at Hagerty works tirelessly to further the company’s brand and impact both internally and externally. From public relations and event management to internal communications, the team collaborates firmwide to ensure the success of our clients, our people, and our firm. Thank you, Sarah Herchenbach, Ashley Dalton, and Sydney Williams, for your creativity, diligence, and superior customer service – we could not do what we do without you!

Thank you to all our professionals for your continued hard work and unwavering dedication to our ever-important mission: helping our clients prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.