Voices of the First Responder: Reflections on 9/11 to Today

September 7, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. PST

First Responder Event

(Image by Donald Jorgensen | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

September 7, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. PST

September 11 was an event that stopped America in its tracks. The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary and an opportunity to commemorate the impact 9/11 had on the first responders who heroically responded to the attacks and continue to operate on the front lines of homeland security. In the two decades after the tragedy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has produced impactful research and policy work that is making the United States and the world safer from large-scale terrorist events and natural disasters.

Please join Ann Lesperance, director of PNNL’s own Northwest Regional Technology Center, who will be moderating the discussion of several first responder leaders from the state of Washington, the Pacific Northwest region, and across the nation as they reflect on how first responders rose to the occasion on that day and how first responder concerns are being addressed every day. The panel will also look to the future of how the nation is positioned to respond to widespread concerns, such as terrorist events and natural and man-made disasters. Ann will be moderating a live virtual panel discussion with first responders from Seattle and New York City.

Kicking off the session will be a compelling look back at how the events of 9/11 affected first responders, as well as a look toward the future.

  • Panel Host: Deb Gracio, Associate Lab Director, National Security, PNNL
  • Panel Moderator: Ann Lesperance, Director, Northwest Regional Technology Center, PNNL
  • John Esposito, Assistant Chief, NYFD. John is an assistant fire chief of special operations with over 30 years of experience with the New York City Fire Department. He oversees some 900 firefighters including lieutenants, captains, and battalion chiefs. Emergency services and rescue operations, including EMS, hazmat, marine, and technical rescue units, are critical areas of responsibility. John joined the fire service right out of college at the young age of 21 and was promoted to lieutenant some 10 years later. John has a demonstrated history of managing large-scale fires and emergency incidents and is skilled in firefighting, technical rescue, intelligence analysis, crisis management, and fire and emergency scene command and control.
  • Heather Kelly, Director of Emergency Management, Kirkland, WA. Heather Kelly has 30 years of public service in first response and emergency management. Her expertise includes incident and emergency operations center management, disaster response and recovery, continuity planning, training and exercise, public information and education, and regional coordination for both public and private sector organizations. Heather has worked for King and Snohomish County Emergency Management and Boeing Emergency Management, and currently leads the City of Kirkland Office of Emergency Management. She has participated in local, national, and international disaster response and recovery efforts, served in leadership positions in response and recovery to landslides, flooding, extreme weather, and civil unrest, and is currently the COVID-19 incident manager for Kirkland Washington, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Heather earned a BA in speech communications from the University of Washington and an MA in organizational leadership from Northern Arizona University, numerous FEMA professional certificates, and is endorsed as a Certified Emergency Manager from the International Association of Emergency Management.
  • Perry Tarrant, Assistant Chief, Seattle Police Department (Retired). Since retiring from Seattle’s Police Department in 2018, Perry has remained active in public safety by consulting in the areas of law enforcement technology, leadership, and collaborative police reform. Perry built his credentials through his 34 years with the Tucson, AZ, police department, working in patrol, the K-9 unit, SWAT team, bomb squad, aviation, and internal affairs. In 2014, he left for Yakima, where he coordinated the city’s gang-free initiative and emergency preparedness. He joined the Seattle Police Department in 2015 as the assistant chief of the Special Operations Bureau. Perry holds a subject matter expert designation from the International Association of Chiefs of Police Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center and is a past president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
  • Jay Hagen, Fire Chief, Bellevue, WA. Jay has over 35 years of experience in the fire service, working rapidly through the ranks in the Seattle Fire Department before being appointed chief of the Bellevue, WA, fire department in 2018. He has outstanding leadership credentials and breadth of experience in all areas of the fire service combined with his passion for the community, fire safety, innovation, diversity, and long-standing commitment to mentoring the next generation. Among his many leadership roles, Jay provided senior oversight for the Medic 1 Program in Seattle and served as a Center for Homeland Defense and Security Office distinguished fellow in FEMA’s Office of Grants and Training, in which he provided state and local first responder perspectives to federal authorities and advocated for national preparedness programs across the country. In addition, Jay served as chair of the InterAgency Board for Equipment Standardization and Interoperability, a sanctioned agency of the U.S. Attorney General.