Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Scott Baldwin

Scott serves as a Senior Mitigation Manager in Hagerty Consulting, Inc.’s (Hagerty’s) Recovery Division.

How did you first become involved in the fields of Disaster Recovery and Emergency Management?

I was very fortunate to have many mentors along my career path.  My most seminal career mentor hired me as an Administrative Assistant with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.  Alongside my parents, this mentor demonstrated the importance of hard work and public service.  With my mentor’s guidance and seeing every challenge posed from the perspective of the opportunity it presented, I have been able to carve out a career in this field.  I found an inherent passion for Mitigation in particular as I quickly became convinced it was a critical component in our ability as a nation to address the hazards we face.

What do you find most rewarding about working in fields of Emergency Management and Disaster Recovery?

Working closely with people and communities. I have watched as homes have burned and assisted communities after major flood events.  It is heartbreaking.  Mitigation allows me to take personal action to prevent or lessen the impacts of a disaster event and work with communities to be more resilient against disaster impacts in the future.  There are few things more rewarding than looking at a completed project and feeling confident that should the project ever be tested by an event, it will work as designed.  In some instances, I have had the opportunity to revisit a project site after an event and in all instances, they withstood the rigors of hazard impacts.  There are few, if any, moments we get to celebrate positive outcomes in this field, these instances are always deserving of a few moments of reflection and provide us with the opportunity to demonstrate that mitigation works.

From your experience working as a state mitigation officer, have you seen the focus on or approach to mitigation change over time?

Very much so, one of the most exciting changes has been the recent passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA).  I believe the near unanimous congressional support for this bill, particularly in these partisan times, reflects the growing awareness of the benefits of mitigation and the larger growing appetite for mitigation resources across the country.  FEMA has heard communities discuss challenges associated with mitigation and is actively responding to those needs through greater program flexibility, pre-calculated benefits, and increasing the list of eligible projects (particularly related to wildfire and the post-wildfire environment).  I anticipate this trend to continue to gain momentum.

What lessons did you learn about the working relationships between local, state, and federal partners?

The importance of every partner and their respective role in the mitigation landscape cannot be overstated.  It is cliché to say that Emergency Management is all about relationships but there is a certain truth to this statement.  The ability to work closely with people and to quickly understand their needs and perspectives plays a critical role in facilitating a successful mitigation initiative.

Local communities are often overwhelmed and lacking capacity after a disaster. This is further exacerbated by the constant demands of their time made by the suite of programs and services they need to pursue to meet their recovery needs.  The ability to concisely articulate their needs and come to an agreement on a desired outcome is one aspect of this job I have always enjoyed.

It is often the State’s responsibility to understand community needs, translate and tailor those needs and fit them within FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) program eligibility requirements and considerations and advocate on their behalf for justifiable needs.  Providing extensive, proactive, and ongoing technical assistance to local partners is critical to success in these programs and is an important role the State plays.

Last, working closely with Federal partners ensures there is a common understanding of proposed projects, community and State needs, and, most commonly in the post-disaster environment, develop innovative solutions specific to a community’s impacts.

Where do you see the Emergency Management field going in the future as it relates to your field of expertise?

I anticipate the Mitigation space to rapidly expand in the coming years.  The need of communities is great, and the benefits mitigation realizes can no longer be ignored.  As a country we have historically not placed the emphasis on mitigation that is so critical to avoiding the major impacts associated with devastating disasters.  I anticipate this posture to fundamentally change at all levels of government as we see increased impacts from climate change firsthand.

Scott Baldwin is Senior Mitigation Manager for Hagerty Consulting.  Scott is an Emergency Management Professional with nearly a decade of experience in the Mitigation space providing technical assistance and customer support in the pre and post disaster environments.  Scott has a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University and lives in Denver, CO with his wife and two sons.