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White House honors Joe McKenna as 'Champion of Change'

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
September 24, 2013

Joe McKenna

Joe McKenna

Joe McKenna, a research specialist at Texas State University, will be honored Sept. 24 at the White House in Washington, D.C., as a “Champion of Change for Community Preparedness and Resilience.”

The event will celebrate Americans who are preparing communities for disasters and helping them respond and recover, bringing members of the whole community together – private businesses, local government, community and faith-based organizations, and individual citizens – to make a difference.

McKenna is being honored for his work as Youth Preparedness Camp Coordinator for the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) at Texas State. He is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the state-wide initiative that aims to prepare communities through their youth. The TxSSC Youth Preparedness Camp provides the opportunity for teams of youth from across Texas to come together and receive training in emergency preparedness, emergency response, action planning, leadership and community resilience.

McKenna has encouraged the integration of CERT programs into K-12 schools through his facilitation, instruction and support, with the ultimate goal of creating sustainable preparedness programs for educational institutions. Additionally, McKenna supports various youth groups as they deliver the message of disaster preparedness and the role youth can have in disaster situations.

As the President Barack Obama said in his 2013 Proclamation for National Preparedness Month, “Time and again, America faces crises that test our readiness and challenge our resolve--from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods to shootings, cyber incidents and even acts of terrorism. While my administration is working tirelessly to avert national tragedies, it is every American’s responsibility to be prepared. By planning for emergencies, individuals can protect themselves and their families while also contributing to their communities’ resilience… ordinary Americans have stepped up in moments of trial and tragedy to perform real acts of heroism.”

In 2012, the cost of weather disasters alone exceeded $110 billion in the United States. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of events like storms, floods, heat waves and wildfires. In June the president released his Climate Action Plan which steps up efforts to prepare the nation for these impacts to better protect homes, businesses and ways of life from severe weather. Also recognizing the need to increase the participation of individual citizens, businesses and organizations, President Obama directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to launch a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness among Americans of all backgrounds and ages, moving them from awareness to action. Those honored as Champions of Change have been leaders in this initiative.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:30 p.m. ET Sept. 24. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.