Donell Harvin

Donell Harvin, DrPH, MPH, MPA, MAcert.

Donell Harvin

Dr. Donell Harvin is the Chief of Homeland Security and Preparedness for the District of Columbia, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA), where he also is the Assistant Director of the agency, overseeing intelligence. At HSEMA he primary focus is to integrate emergency preparedness, and intelligence information collection, analysis, and dissemination throughout the National Capital Region (NCR). As Chief of Homeland Security & Preparedness, he oversees the following functions/bureaus:

National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC): The District’s Fusion Center, providing tactical and strategic intelligence (collection, analysis and dissemination), to support District law enforcement agencies, other first responders, homeland security, emergency management, public health and the private sector.

Disability Integration Coordination: Ensure that the District’s emergency management program effectively incorporates people with Disabilities and others with Access and Functional Needs.

Preparedness Evaluation Bureau: Administer the annual Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) and Stakeholder Preparedness Review.

Planning, Training, and Exercise Bureau: Provide state-of-the-art training opportunities to the District, and develop and execute an exercise and corrective action program. Develop planning products that meet the needs of HSEMA and key stakeholders—anticipating dynamic evolutions in technology and information consumption.

Long-Term Risk Reduction Bureau: Build and maintain a state-of-the-art long-term recovery program and administer, manage, and oversee the District’s Hazard Mitigation Program.

He was formerly the Administrator for Emergency Management and Health and Safety for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in the District of Columbia. In addition to overseeing routine occupational health and safety and forensic field operations for the office, he functions as the agency’s lead on disaster and emergency management-related planning and response. In this capacity he is the District of Columbia’s lead on mass fatality management planning and response. He is a subject-matter expert in response to large-scale disasters, continuity of operations and performing special and complex forensic death investigations. 

As the former Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council on Government’s (MWCOG) Fatality Management Workgroup, he lead the regional effort for preparing for mass fatality incidents in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

Prior to coming to DC, Dr. Harvin served for four years as the Deputy Director for the New York City (NYC) Medical Examiner’s Special Operations and Special Investigations Division, where he was tasked with overseeing disaster response, and special forensic operations. This includes overseeing multiple mass fatality incident responses, as well a several large-scale World Trade Center 9/11-related sifting operations for human remains.

Previous to this post, he was the chief industrial hygienist for the NYC Department of Health (NYC DOH) Bureau of Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response (BEPR), where he served as the lead scientist for the Radiation Response Unit and Environmental Response Group. He has a broad Hazardous Materials (HazMat) response, industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety and health physics background. He is also a leader in the fields of public health preparedness and EMS response, having served as a NYC paramedic for over 20 years, an Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for multiple NYC hospitals, and as a director for the NYC Pediatric Disaster Coalition. 

Over a span of 24 years, Dr. Harvin has responded to numerous emergencies and disasters including the 1993 WTC Bombing, September 11th, the 2001 Flight 587 Crash, the 2009 Hudson River Mid-Air Collison, the 2010 Bronx Casino Bus Crash, Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, and he led the death investigation at the Metro-North Commuter Train Derailment of 2013.

His academic and research career includes numerous publications and serving as the Program Director and full-time Assistant Professor for the Fire and Emergency Services degree program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where for over 15 years he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in emergency management and response. He also served as chair of the board of directors for the Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies (RaCERS), and has conducted extensive research for John Jay’s Center for Terrorism, including drafting the after-action report (AAR) for the Boston Bombing. He has served as faculty for the NYPD at the NYC Police Academy teaching emergency response to terrorism to both new cadets and executives. 

He completed his doctorate in public health (DrPH) from State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical School, completing his dissertation as a doctoral research fellow at Cornell Medical College-Institute for Computational Biomedicine. He holds graduate degrees in public health (environmental science), public administration (emergency management) and a masters of arts advanced certificate in terrorism studies.