Desi Matel-Anderson is the Chief Wrangler of the Field Innovation Team (FIT) and CEO of the Global Disaster Innovation Group, LLC. Desi is the first and former Chief Innovation Advisor at FEMA and Think Tank Strategic Vision Coordinator. During her tenure at FEMA, she led the first innovation team down to Hurricane Sandy to provide real-time problem solving in disaster response and recovery and ran think tanks nation-wide to cultivate innovation in communities. Her emergency management experience began when she volunteered in Northern Illinois University’s Office of Emergency Planning. She then worked with the Southeast Wisconsin Urban Area Security Initiative, and the City of Milwaukee Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office. In addition to her regional emergency management duties, she worked as an assessor of the Emergency Management Accreditation Program Assessor nation-wide.
She has since worked on numerous emergency management projects with agencies, communities, organizations and companies. She also lectures on innovation at Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley and several other universities across the country and serves as consultant on innovative practices and infrastructure for agencies and governments, nationally and internationally. Desi attended the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Public Health in 2011, served on the Advisory Board of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Institute in 2013, and holds a faculty position at the Harvard Kennedy School. She obtained a Juris Doctorate from Northern Illinois University in 2009.
In her present role as FIT’s Chief Wrangler, she works with a team of individuals and organizations. FIT’s team of subject-matter experts range from additive manufacturers to educators to artists to engineers to community justice workers to filmmakers to roboticists and beyond. They come to work with FIT by way of a mutual desire to craft collaborative and unique solutions that assist survivors. FIT has deployed teams to several disasters including the Boston Marathon Bombings, assisting at the scene with social media analysis; the Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes, leading the mobile registration effort and coding solutions; the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan, through the building of cellular connectivity heat maps; and the Oso, Washington mudslides, with unmanned aerial system flights , which resulted in a 3D print of the topography for incident command. The team also deploys to humanitarian crises, including a recent request to perform exponential thinking and community building programmatic work for undocumented migrant children on the US/Mexico border. Desi is thrilled to accept this Disruptive Innovator Award on behalf of the FIT team whose work in the disaster and emergency management field is disruptive innovation at its best.
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