San Marcos, TX--Urban Search and Rescue team, Texas Task Force 2 and members of the Texas State Guard search the banks of the Blanco River to look for missing residents. Photo Credit: Jocelyn Augustino via fema.gov
It takes a special kind of person to hear the words, “I’ve got the perfect thing for you—disaster management,” and take it as a compliment. But Nickea Bradley is that kind of person. A friend of hers made that observation two years ago when he heard about Georgetown’s program in Emergency & Disaster Management (EDM); he immediately thought about Nickea and her keen intelligence, strong organizational skills, and unfaltering ability to remain calm under pressure.
Turns out, he was right. Bradley, a financial analyst and grants manager for the city of Houston, Texas, graduated from the EDM program in 2014. For her capstone project, she developed a Finance Disaster Recovery Manual for Houston’s government and its 31 departments. When monumental floods struck the city on Memorial Day 2015, the manual she conceived, developed, and implemented with her colleagues helped city employees handle the numerous financial issues that arose during the emergency. “It was an opportunity to actually put the plan into use and see how they do,” Bradley said, referring to the various city departments.
Wimberley, TX--A major bridge in downtown Wimberly that sustained damage during the flooding in June 2015. Photo credit: Jocelyn Augustino via fema.gov
Now her work could help other cities as well. On June 2, her supervisor presented the manual at the 109th Government Financial Officials Association (GFOA) conference in Philadelphia. The 72-page booklet covers key issues such as emergency cash and procurement, payroll, damage documentation, insurance requirements, and public assistance during a disaster. “Before, we had a basic emergency plan, but it didn’t really focus on finance,” Bradley said. “We could find it in different parts of the plan, but we wanted to have it in one centralized location.”
A Winning Combination: Knowledge and Commitment
Steve Johnson, a faculty member who supervised Bradley’s capstone project, said she has a deep understanding of the field.
“As an educator, there are very few things more exciting than a student with a passion to push forward the boundaries of knowledge, and the wisdom to see where to push,” Johnson said. “Nickea was one such student, and her clarity of thought on the need for better understanding and training within the financial function of EDM made her a pleasure to supervise. Supporting functions such as finance can often be overlooked in EDM, seen as less interesting areas of work, but I am in no doubt that the work Nickea did will continue to bear fruit, and help make people’s lives better.”
“Nickea has worked very hard to get where she is today,” said Nancy Suski, EDM executive director. “She has the ability to look ahead to what the next issue will be—and the disaster manual is a case in point. These skills are critically important in emergency management and a key focus of our program. It is rewarding to see our students turn their knowledge and expertise into action. ”