Eric L. Tolbert Distinguished Service Award
Presented by the
Emergency Management Accreditation Program
This honor is awarded to the individual who, in the opinion of the EMAP Commission, has significantly contributed to the EMAP mission, “as an independent non-profit organization, fosters excellence and accountability in emergency management and homeland security programs by establishing credible standards applied in a peer review accreditation process” and has provided exemplary service and dedication to the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
The EMAP Commission will review all nominations and make the award selection. The Commission is interested in activities and accomplishments of the nominee that directly relate to EMAP and emergency management. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Nominations should include at least a one-page summary of those accomplishments or activities that merit consideration for an award. To nominate someone, please see nomination form.
Eric Tolbert began his 30-year career as a local first responder in his home state of North Carolina. He became Director of Emergency Medical Services in Caldwell County, North Carolina, and later County Emergency Management Director. He served the state of North Carolina first as an Area Coordinator, and then as Assistant Director of North Carolina Emergency Management.
Mr. Tolbert served as Preparedness and Response Bureau Chief for the Florida Division of Emergency Management and is recognized for developing the first state wide all-hazards Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Returning to North Carolina as the Director of Emergency Management, Mr. Tolbert implemented the nation’s second largest hazard mitigation grant program.
Subsequently he served the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security first as the Deputy Director of National Preparedness, and then as the Director of the Response Division. He joined PBS&J in February 2005.
Eric Tolbert earned the respect of his peers, his subordinates, and our national leaders for his action-oriented approach to disaster preparedness,time-phased logistical support, operational integration, and tracking of results to ensure operational effectiveness. Despite his military style approach, he is noted for never losing sight of the needs and the humanity of disaster victims. He is also recognized for having been a champion of modernizing emergency operations and an advocate of incident command. He promoted the use of the Incident Command System structure in Florida, and later organized the North Carolina Emergency Management Division under this system.
A founding member of the White House directed Federal Incident Response Support (FIRST) Team, he guided its development from concept to implementation. The FIRST Team has been an essential tool in getting FEMA resources to where they are most needed as rapidly as possible. Its legacy has proven essential in meeting community needs in catastrophic disasters.
Mr. Tolbert died of natural causes in his Lenoir, North Carolina, home. He was 49 years old.
According to Mr. Tolbert’s long-time friend and coworker, Steve Glenn, “Eric Tolbert was a well-respected, well-loved legend in the emergency managementfield. His vision led to many innovations and improvements in emergency response throughout the US. He will be missed as a leader and friend by all of us.”
Scott Lawson, PBS&J Vice President and Director of the firm’s Applied Technologies Group states, “Everyone knew of Eric’s dedication to the emergency management profession. But anyone who had the pleasure of really getting to know him, found this paled in comparison to his love and dedication to his wife, his family, and his community.”
2012 - Mrs. Nancy Freeman
The Eric L. Tolbert Distinguished Service Award acknowledges the commitment and diligence mirrored by one of EMAP’s founding architects, the late Eric L. Tolbert, who demonstrated exemplary service and dedication to both EMAP and the field of emergency management. Throughout Nancy Freeman’s emergency management career as well as in her current volunteerism through the EMAP; she is a true representation of the leadership and integrity of this prestigious service award.
“Mrs. Freeman is a true advocate for accreditation and the mission of EMAP; and has proven, through her remarkable commitment to emergency management, what a true leader she is in our field,” LTC Jerome Hatfield, Deputy Superintendent of Homeland Security for New Jersey State Police and Chair, the EMAP Commission.
Nancy Freeman remains a constant presence within the governing committees of the Emergency Management Accreditation Program as well as an active participant within the EMAP Assessor Cadre. Freeman actively participates on the EMAP Technical Committee, EMAP Standards Subcommittee, and the EMAP Training Focus Group as well as serving as an active training facilitator, training future EMAP Assessors. She also maintains her own assessor certification by participating on EMAP assessments as a seasoned Assessor Team Leader. Her continued diligence of support for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program has moved her beyond national borders as an EMAP representative to the U.S. African Command Disaster Planning and Preparedness Program, traveling to multiple African nations to assist them with developing and enhancing their own disaster management programs.
Nancy Freeman is a tremendous asset and leader for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. She advocates for EMAP, speaking on behalf of the program to increase the knowledge and recognition of EMAP, the Emergency Management Standard, and the process of accreditation. Mrs. Freeman consistently counsels representatives of emergency management programs to ensure that their programs are of impeccable quality for the citizens they serve. This lead of direction from Mrs. Freeman assists in expanding the range of emergency management accreditation to any size jurisdiction and/or emergency management program.
In Picture: Robie Robinson, EMAP Commissioner and Nancy Freeman, recipient of 2012 Eric L. Tolbert Distinguished Service Award.
Previous Eric L. Tolbert Distinguished Service Awards Recipients
2011 - Mr. Robert P. Fletcher, Jr.
Mr. Fletcher has spent his entire professional career – 41 years – dedicated to the field of emergency management. He has been responsible for such important innovations in our business such as the Federal Response Plan (FRP), and the first Capability Assessment for Readiness Program at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He has dedicated his career to two things: improving readiness at all levels of government and helping to develop standards of practice for our profession. Mr. Fletcher has been a significant contributor to the EMAP mission since its inception. While Director of the FEMA State and Local Preparedness Division, Mr. Fletcher supported the Council of State Governments and NEMA in the development of EMAP. He led the development the EMAP Accreditation Guide, the Assessor Guide, and the Candidate’s Guide. In 2007, he facilitated the EMAP Task Force that led to recommendations for updating the EMAP Strategic Plan, creating a business plan and adopting cross walks with the Target Capability List, National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and the National Plans Review. In addition, Mr. Fletcher has trained more than 300 EMAP Assessors over the years—ensuring that upcoming emergency managers understand and embrace the standard. He has fostered excellence and accountability in emergency management by working with the District of Columbia to become the very first city accredited under EMAP. He also worked with the National Capital Region on their EMAP review, providing expert advice and counsel on how to evaluate and assess emergency programs at the regional level.
Mr. Fletcher truly is a champion for EMAP and for having credible standards applied through a peer review process. He helped formulate the basic philosophy for EMAP and its peer review process. He served as a member of the NFPA 1600 Technical Committee for Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. He currently serves on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Standards Practitioner’s Working Group and is also working with FEMA to develop a NIMS Standard for Resource Management. Mr. Fletcher has also coordinated extensively with other accreditation bodies such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Health Care Organizations and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in an effort to understand the industry best practices which he brought back to EMAP.
In addition to the countless hours he has dedicated to EMAP, Mr. Fletcher’s career and all his accomplishments embody the spirit of EMAP. Mr. Fletcher’s emergency operations experience dates to the Hurricane Camille field response operations in 1969 and continues today as a consultant to all levels of government and the private sector. He managed national scope preparedness and response programs at the Senior Executive Service level for eight years and had extensive hands-on experience in all facets of civil and military contingency planning. He was instrumental in developing the national standards that were the precursor to EMAP.
As the Director of the FEMA Federal Response Division, Mr. Fletcher started the Organizational Readiness Capability Assessment (ORCA) program, a standards and evaluation process. In addition, Mr. Fletcher represented FEMA on the National Response Team (NRT) and was the Executive Secretary of the Catastrophic Disaster Response Group (CDRG). He led the development and first execution of the FRP and managed the FRP Interagency Task Force following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, charged with updating the FRP. He also provided oversight and direction to the Emergency Support Function Leaders Group (ESFLG).
As Director of the FEMA State and Local Preparedness Division, Mr. Fletcher was responsible for providing guidance to state and local government emergency management organizations for planning for all hazards. He developed the SLG 101 Planning Guidance to State and Local Government for Emergency Operations Planning and maintained Civil Preparedness Guides. As Director, he led the development of the Capability Assessment for Readiness (CAR) which he later introduced to NFPA as a member of the NFPA 1600 Technical Committee for Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs.
As Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Emergency Management Program, he provided policy and program guidance on all hazards emergency management for the Command, covering 11 Divisions and 36 District programs with more that 35 direct reports and 235 field program reps. He represented USACE on the CDRG and in all Continuity of Government/Continuity of Operations Planning. He routinely represented the USACE MACOM in Command briefings at the Army Staff level in the Army Operations Center and at the National Military Command Center. He represented USACE on the ESFLG and on the CDRG in many disaster operations.
Like Eric Tolbert, Mr. Fletcher is tireless in his dedication to our profession. He has trained and mentored countless emergency managers, instilling in them dedication to both the art and the science of emergency management. He is an innovator, a guide and a champion of the good standards and practices embodied in the EMAP standards.
2010 - Mr. Ellis M.Stanley, Sr.
Ellis M. Stanley, Sr. served as the General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Department from 1997 until 2008. Prior to that he spent 10 years as the Director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.
He served as the director of an emergency management program for almost 30 years, beginning in 1975 in Brunswick County, North Carolina and Durham-Durham County, North Carolina in 1982. He has spent his career active in the emergency management profession and organizations having been President of IAEM, the American Society of Professional Emergency Planners, the National Defense Transportation Association, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Vice-Chair of the Association of Contingency Planners. He was the inaugural chair of the Certified Emergency Managers Certification Commission.
Since the start of the EMAP steering committee that researched and developed EMAP policy and procedures, Ellis has been engaged in the program and showed an unsurpassed level of energy in maintaining the timeline for development. Ellis took the reins as the chair of the EMAP Commission and did not step down until his retirement from the City of Los Angeles in 2008. Ellis led the Commission and the program through the NEMBCAP program which provided the states and territories with a voluntary baseline assessment using EMAP standards to gauge their preparedness. EMAP saw 52 of the 56 states participate in that process. Under his stellar leadership, EMAP underwent a task force review in 2006 and Ellis led the effort to modify the program based on years of experience and stakeholder input. Ellis continued to be an advocate for EMAP, speaking in numerous arenas on behalf of the program. He led the first EMAP international session, which was in Cairo, Egypt, to teach African nations about emergency management standards and the assessment process.
Ellis has an international emergency management reputation having led delegations of Emergency Management professionals to China and Japan for a month long professional exchange program as well as having conducted seminars on emergency management in Trinidad and Tobago, Cairo, and his work with the United Kingdom led to a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S.
Ellis has been a force within the emergency management community and a tremendous leader for EMAP over the years. Through Ellis’s leadership, the EMAP program has grown to what we know today as the National standard for emergency management programs and the only accreditation program for the field to date. Mr. Stanley is well deserving of the Eric L. Tolbert Service Award because his extensive contributions to the EM community and the betterment of the community through the establishment of standards and assessments.
2009 - Mrs. Elizabeth Zimmerman
Since attending the pilot EMAP assessor training program, Beth immersed herself in the organization, providing guidance and leadership on policy development, committee activity, and field assessments.
In addition, Beth walked the EMAP talk by successfully leading the State of Arizona’s accreditation effort to receive the accreditation designation in 2004.
The litany of Beth’s involvement in EMAP is staggering and multifaceted. From the assessment team perspective, she served as one of the first EMAP assessors, and has been active in the assessor cadre since 2002. She has served as an assessment team leader for a number of jurisdictions and served as a mentor to a number of inexperienced team leaders, and served both as an assessor and team leader on the first EMAP Regional Assessment in 2006.
In addition, she has been extremely active in EMAP committee and Commission work for over six years. She served as a founding member and subsequent chair of the Assessment Committee, and co-chair of the Technical Committee. Beth has been an EMAP Commissioner since 2004 and was elected Commission Secretary-Treasurer in November 2007. It is important to note that none of these positions were intitle only. She committed herself to active membership and leadership in each of these roles, continually questioning, refining and reframing the structure to ensure the highest level of quality possible. She interacted with EMAP staff on a regular basis providing an outside viewpoint on a myriad of issues.
Beth has also been a stellar trainer for EMAP ensuring a strong representation of the program both nationally and internationally. Beth has been an active facilitator teaching EMAP trainings and workshops including Assessor Training, Team Leader training and Accreditation Manager Orientation. She worked on the curriculum development of all the above trainings. Beth facilitated the first Assessor Training to be held outside the US in Toronto in July 2007 and also participated in an EMAP delegation to Cairo, Egypt to teach African nations about standards and EMAP.
Beth completely exemplifies the persona in mind when the Eric L. Tolbert Service Award was conceived. She has been tireless in her efforts in ensuring that EMAP become the respected standard that it is. Outside of paid staff, no other person has contributed as much time, energy or passion to the development of this critically important program which serves to enhance our nation’s emergency management programs at all levels. She has set the bar at an extremely high level and should be recognized for this commitment.
2008 - Mr. Edward G. Buikema
Mr. Buikema has made significant contributions to the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) and its mission of fostering excellence and accountability in emergency management and homeland security programs through the establishment of credible standards applied in a peer review accreditation process. Mr. Buikema was instrumental in the development of EMAP and continues to be involved with its evolution.
As the Michigan emergency management director, Mr. Buikema was chair of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Preparedness, Training and Education Committee when EMAP was first introduced to the NEMA membership in 2001. Thanks to his commitment and enthusiasm for the concept of standards for emergency management and homeland security, the NEMA membership overwhelmingly approved the program.
Mr. Buikema was active in the development of EMAP policy, by-laws and procedures which are still in use today. He was chair of the EMAP Steering Committee and served as the first chair of the EMAP Commission in 2002 when the Commission was formally seated. Because of Mr. Buikema’s involvement in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the first EMAP standards were developed in close coordination with NFPA 1600. Mr. Buikema served as the FEMA representative to the EMAP Commission from 2002 to 2004. Fifty-two states completed their first baseline assessment, to date, three states have completed their second baseline assessment, and twenty jurisdictions are fully accredited, with an additional two conditionally accredited.
Mr. Buikema was commander of the Emergency Management Division of the Michigan State Police, also chairing the Michigan Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know program, the Michigan Hazard Mitigation Coordinating Council and Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force. He was an officer with the Michigan State Police for more than 26 years, serving in the Emergency Management Division for 19 of those years.
He is currently the regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Region V (Chicago), having been appointed to the position in November 2001. In that position he coordinates a broad range of activities involving prevention, protection, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation before, during and after federally-declared disasters in the six states in Region V.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Buikema over the past eight years. His passion for the continued improvement of emergency management and EMAP is unwavering. His is always one of the first calls to Ohio and the other states in the region when a disaster occurs and his staff has efficiently managed every federally-declared disaster we’ve experienced in Ohio. To this day, Mr. Buikema is an avid supporter of NEMA and EMAP.