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The MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management

Meet the Faculty for the MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management

Ali Gheith (MS in Social Science, Long Island University)

Ali Gheith is the director of the Emergency and Disaster Management master's degree program at Metropolitan College of New York in New York City. He joined Project Liberty, a New York-based support organization, immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. While there, Gheith provided outreach to union workers at ground zero, addressed the special needs of vulnerable populations and trained counselors on methods of providing culturally appropriate disaster mental health services to the diverse New York City communities.

Gheith conducted the first known research on the mental health needs of New York Muslims and the role of the imams in the day-to-day lives of American-Muslim communities while working as a senior research assistant at Columbia University. In early 2003, Gheith joined the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as a coordinator of Population Based Resilience. He responded to every major crisis in New York since 9/11. In 2010, he was assigned as regional coordinator for a citywide H1N1 vaccine campaign effort to inoculate New Yorkers.

Gheith has a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credential from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). He also has a certificate in advanced studies and research in international organizations from long Island University.

Gheith is the recipient of the NYC Distinguished Service Award for his work with community and faith leaders across New York City. He's also a visiting professor of emergency and disaster management at the Universidad Autonoma De Chile in Santiago, Chile, South America.


Chuck Frank (MPA, Emergency and Disaster Management, Metropolitan College of New York)

Chuck Frank is currently Assistant Director of the Metropolitan College of New York MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management program. He is also an Adjunct Professor teaching Continuity of Operations Planning ,Private Sector Emergency Management, and Systematic Approach to Management.

Mr. Frank received his MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management from MCNY. He holds the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute and certifications in Emergency Action Plan Direction, Continuity of Operations Planning, HAZUS, Enhanced Threat and Risk Assessment, and Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Planning.

Mr. Frank is also the Publisher of an Emergency Management web publication called www.theklaxon.com.

Mr. Frank is the Education Director for the New York Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners (ACP), and has a broad background in business and has taught at Indiana University, Birmingham Southern College, and the University of California at Irvine.


Christine Amy (MS in International Project Management, Humber College; MA in Higher Education Administration, Ohio State University)

Christine Amy is a US/Canadian citizen with over 20 years of non-profit experience, complemented by an additional 5 years of work in the the field of international disaster response. Currently she works as Manager of the International Programs Department at the IRC (International Rescue Committee), one of the largest Non-governmental organizations in the United States. Prior to 2011, she served as Executive Director of NYC Medics, a New York City-based humanitarian agency providing medical relief services during international emergencies. Her focus included developing funding and programmatic partnerships with corporations and NGOs, as well as developing disaster assessment and training programs for volunteers. Previously Ms. Amy gained extensive disaster experience while working with Habitat for Humanity International, where she established inter-agency mechanisms and systems to support disaster response programming. She also liaised with INGO's, UN agencies, and local partners, and led/supported the capacity building of staff and implementing partners at both country and field levels. Specific experiences included disaster assessments in Bangladesh, Lebanon, India, and Romania, with additional training experiences in Thailand, Costa Rica, and Hungary. Her latest field experience was as a Medical Team Coordinator for NYC Medics in Haiti in January, 2010. All of these duties were accomplished within a strong framework of building local capacity building and with a human rights-base approach.

This experience was preceded by work with Relief International, where Ms. Amy coordinated medical disaster response following the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and through management of peace-building initiatives in post-tsunami Sri Lanka. Management of various aspects of the project cycle were included, as well as hands-on work in procurement, liaising with local CBO's and INGO's, grant writing/management, and evaluation.

Prior to her work in international development, Ms. Amy worked in various educational settings, including pediatric medical education, adult/higher education, and teaching and organizational training. She holds a post-graduate degree in International Project Management from Humber College in Canada, and an MA in Higher Education Administration from the Ohio State University.


Tom Carey (MS in Criminal Justice and Security Administration, Long Island University)

Professor Thomas J. Carey is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who obtained the rank of Sergeant Major in his 27 years of service. During his tour he served as both a committee member and advisor on operational and security issues for the Iraq Ministry of Defense complex in Baghdad, for Multi-National Force Iraq. He is also a twenty-three year (23) veteran of the New York City Police Department , serving in the capacity as the Course Manager for the Chief of Organized Crime's Training Unit prior to his retirement. He is a certified Incident Command Systems Management Instructor through the Center of Domestic Preparedness and FEMA Emergency Management Institute. Professor Carey has obtained both professional and academic training through many organizations to include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy , The United States Army Military Police School's Special Reaction Team Course ,NYPD Bomb Squad and Counter Terrorism Bureau. Tom is also a graduate of Long Island University at C.W. Post where he received a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Security Administration . Professional Certifications held include the Certified Protection Professional(CPP) and the Certified Emergency Manager(CEM).

Professor Carey presented his Constructive Action(CA), Lessons Learned of a Constructive Action for Future Application: An All-Hazards Response Plan for Higher Education Institutions and Neighboring Communities at last year's 15th Annual Emergency Management Higher Education Conference at FEMA's Emergency Management Institute Department of Homeland Security in Emmitsburg, MD.

George W. Contreras (MS in Hospital Administration, Iona College; MPH in Community Health Education, Hunter College; PhD (candidate), Columbia University)

George Contreras is a healthcare professional with twenty years of combined experience in the fields of emergency medical services, public health, academia, hospital administration, emergency management and international humanitarian response. He currently serves as Director of Allied Health Sciences and Associate Professor at Kingsborough Community College (KCC) at The City University of New York. Since 2004, he is also Adjunct Professor at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) in the MPA Program in Emergency and Disaster Management.

Prof. Contreras holds faculty appointments at Universidad Tecnica de Manabi (in Ecuador) and Universidad Autonoma de Chile as a Visiting Professor of Emergency Management.

Over the past twenty years, Professor Contreras' strong interest in education and international humanitarian response has taken him to places such as Kenya, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Haiti, Chile and Ecuador. Professor Contreras is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences. He has authored and co-authored several articles, book chapters and manuals on topics such as emergency medical services, public health, and emergency management. He has a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credential from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

Professor Contreras earned a Bachelor of Arts from New York University, a Master of Public Health in Community Health Education from Hunter College, and a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from Iona College. He is a certified FEMA instructor in Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP), weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and other emergency management courses. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Public Health degree from The Graduate Center at The City University of New York. He stills works as a Paramedic in NYC.


Donald Decker (MSW, Fordham University)

Adjunct Professor Decker is a licensed clinical social worker and credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor with 27 years of experience as a clinician and administrator. For the past 8 years he has focused on mental health disaster preparedness and response. In 2001 he joined the federally funded Project Liberty program in NYC as a Senior Program Consultant Supervisor, where he provided technical assistance to numerous programs in the design and implementation of their outreach, crisis counseling and educational programs. In that capacity, he coordinated with a team of experts that planned and administered the city's mental health response to all 9/11 and flight 587 anniversaries and memorials. He served as the Hospital Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's were he coordinated training for all NYC hospital employees on mental health risk communication and reviewed all of New York City's hospital disaster plans .He currently serves as the Emergency Response Coordinator for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's; Office of Mental Health Disaster Preparedness and Response where he is responsible for developing systems and protocols for responding to the psychological sequelae of disasters and public health emergencies.


Jack Finkelstein (BA, New York University; MPA, Emergency and Disaster Management, Metropolitan College of New York)

Adjunct Professor Finkelstein began his career in emergency management as the paramedic in 1981. He received the first and second highest awards, the Medal of Honor and the Life Saving medal. At present, he is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator (EPC) for Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (WHMC) in New York. He has travelled to several countries including Montserrat, Tobago, Mexico, Guyana, and recently Chile where he is a visiting professor at the University Autonoma de Chile teaching medical courses and disaster preparedness. He has been featured in various periodicals and television reports, including his role during the 9-11 disaster.

Today he continues to work at WHMC in his various positions, is a Professor for MCNY and Kingsboro Community College, teaches EMT and Paramedic courses for the NYSDOH, and is a consultant in the fields of EMS and Emergency Preparedness.


Ralph Gonzalez (MPA)

Ralph Gonzalez is veterans of the New York City Police Department were he is assigned to the Counter Terrorism Bureau as an instructor in the training section.

As a Police Officer in one of the globes busiest metropolis, he has been on the front lines of a wide range of emergencies and disasters ranging from the catastrophic terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, to natural disaster that ripped through New York neighborhoods.

Ralph Gonzalez area of policing range from the securing of one of the largest transportation systems in the world, which helps make New York such a unique city, to the daunting task of preparing fellow law enforcement officers for a wide range of possible terrorist attacks through education and continuous preparation through specialized trainings.


Matthew Khaled (MPA, CEM)

Matthew Khaled is a Project Manager at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College. He is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Adult Care Emergency Preparedness Program, which is funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Prior to that, he worked for the American Red Cross in Greater New York in several capacities. He was the first Senior Coordinator of Disaster Drills and Exercises, where he managed the day-to-day operations of an exercise program that included the planning, development and evaluation of nearly 30 disaster drills and exercises in a six-month period. In addition, Matthew Khaled worked out of the Brooklyn Area Office of the American Red Cross first as an AmeriCorps*VISTA and later as the first Preparedness Training Coordinator, where he coordinated nearly 300 Community Outreach and Preparedness Training events for the Red Cross that had attracted over 25,000 attendees in two years. Matthew still volunteers with the Red Cross; specifically as a member of the Brooklyn Disaster Action Team (DAT) and as an Exercise Activity Lead and Exercise Planner.


Gerard McCarty (BA in Criminal Justice, John Jay College; MPA in Operations, John Jay College)

Gerard McCarty is Director, Office of Emergency Management for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, where he is charged with the development and implementation of the Port Authority's Emergency Preparedness, Response, Recovery, Mitigation and Incident Management programs across the agency. Before joining the Port Authority in 2004, Jerry had already achieved a distinguished list of accomplishments in law enforcement, public safety and emergency management in the New York City region and elsewhere.

In October 1973, Mr. McCarty joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and served in a variety of uniformed and undercover roles to include an assignment in the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit. In 1995, he joined the New York City Mayor's Office of Operations as the First Deputy Mayor's representative to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), then a unit within the NYPD, and supervised the transfer of OEM to an independent organization within the Mayor's Office to include the recruitment of a new director and the selection of hiring of staff.

After joining the newly revitalized OEM as Chief of Staff, Jerry was promoted to Deputy Director of Field Operations, and later to Deputy Director for Special Operations. In these positions, he served as either Incident Commander or On-Scene Coordinator for the most involved emergencies in New York City during that period.

In recognition of his incident management expertise, Jerry was often tapped by the city to deploy to other disaster locales. The response and relief efforts to Italy following the earthquakes in 1996; Kosovo at the conclusion of NATO actions; Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane George; and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch.

Also in 1999, Jerry joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II's Branch Chief, Operations and Planning in the Response and Recovery Division where he coordinated preparedness and or disaster relief efforts during such events as Y2K, Hurricane Lenny, Operation Sail 2000, United Nations Millennium Assembly, and the World Economic Forum. In 2000, he was requested by the United States Department of State to provide technical assistance Dominican Republic's Civil Defense during Hurricane Debby. He also assisted the countries of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti and Dominican Republic in the development of emergency response plans.

During the World Trade Center disaster, Jerry served as the FEMA representative to the New York City Office of Emergency Management and subsequently served as FEMA's Deputy Operations Section Chief where spearheaded the federal support to the recovery efforts of those private and public entities impacted by the disaster. Following his work at the World Trade Center site Jerry was assigned as Division Director, National Preparedness Division.

Jerry joined the Port Authority of NY & NJ in 2004 as General Manager, Emergency Management and since then has led a broad range of readiness initiatives. Some of these initiatives included: agency-wide emergency operations plan development; organization and implementation of a corporate business continuity programs; expansion and enhancement of the authority's emergency operations center and field response assets; and has coordinated responses to several significant emergency events to include Port Authority assistance to the City of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

In November 2011, Jerry was placed on a mobility assigned to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) as Chief of Staff. Jerry performed the duties normally assigned to a Chief of Staff as well as managed the daily operations of DHSES.

On October 12, 2012, Jerry assumed the position of Acting Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Office of Emergency Management while continuing as Chief of Staff at DHSES. As Director, Acting of the Port Authority's Office of emergency Management he directed the preparedness and the response of the Port Authority to “Superstorm” Sandy and is directing the FEMA recovery and mitigation.

Jerry has a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a Master's in Public Administration from John Jay College of the City University of New York. He is an adjunct professor at the Metropolitan College in New York City and teaches emergency management and preparedness.

Jerry was awarded:

  • The United States Department of Agriculture Award of Excellence
  • The New York Federal Executive Board Award for Outstanding Achievement
  • The Dominican Republic Chamber of Deputies Medallion of Merit
  • The Port Authority of NY & NJ Award of Achievement

Raymond M. McPartland (MA, MPA)

Adjunct Prof. McPartland is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tier One Associates LLC. Tier One consults and develops training on matters of life safety, emergency preparedness, and homeland security for both the private and public sector and specializes in creating unique, client specific, realistic training and preparedness programs. Mr. McPartland is also a subject matter expert with the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) at Louisiana State University, The National Center for Security and Preparedness (NCSP) at the University of Albany, and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Information Analysis Center (CBRNIAC). His current full-time position is as an active trainer and Detective with the New York City Police Department's Counterterrorism Division.

Currently assigned to the NYPD's Counterterrorism Division's Training Section as a lead instructor and curriculum development specialist, Detective McPartland is a lead instructor with their regional training team responsible for instructing patrol, specialty personnel, and regional partners in various aspects of terrorism and counter-terrorism. He is currently the Division's subject matter expert on active shooter events and one of the primary authors of the New York City Police Department's published research work - Active Shooter: Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation. Other topics of instruction include active shooter preparedness and response, critical infrastructure protection, maritime terrorism, WMD and radiological awareness, hostile surveillance detection, and behavioral analysis and observation.

Ray McPartland has attended numerous schools and training through the Department of Homeland Security's National Preparedness Consortium and FEMA's Emergency Management Institute.


Lorraine Motola (MS in Protection Management, John Jay College of Criminal)

Professor Motola has over 27 years of NYC local government experience and is currently the Director of Logistics & Emergency Preparedness for the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. She also held the position of Corporate Security Manager at Polo Ralph Lauren headquarters. Previously, she worked at NYC Department of Transportation, for nineteen (19) years and for the last five (5) was the Director of Facility Security. Professor Motola joined the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation in 1979 as an original Urban Park Ranger, and was later promoted to the position of Manhattan Borough Supervisor, based in Central Park. In May, 2007, she earned a Master of Science degree in Protection Management, with a concentration in Emergency Management, from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


Said Slimani (Ph.D in Engineering, The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Adjunct Professor Slimani is an expert technologist and Information Technology professional with over 20 years of computing experience. He is involved in developing web based application since the early nineties. He lead teams responsible for software and web development technologies and operations. In addition to data management and software development, his expertise extend to cyber security. His knowledge span multiple fields and disciplines. Currently, he is a Computer Systems Manager with New York City Transit where he manages software development as well as information technology projects.


Ronald Spadafora (MPS in Criminal Justice, Long Island University; BS in Fire Science, John Jay College; BA in Health Education, Queens College)

Assistant (3-star) Chief Ronald Spadafora is a 35-year veteran in the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and is the Chief of Logistics in the Bureau of Operations. On 9/11, he was recalled to the WTC and supervised both rescue and fire suppression efforts at the North Tower and WTC 7. He was named the WTC Chief of Safety in October 2001 for the entire Recovery Operation ending in June of 2002. On August 14-15, 2003, he headed the Logistics Section for the FDNY during the New York City Blackout. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was designated Deputy Incident Commander of the FDNY Incident Management Team and sent to Louisiana to assist the New Orleans Fire Department. In October 2012, Chief Spadafora coordinated both mitigation and logistical FDNY operations during Hurricane Sandy. Chief Spadafora has taught fire science at the college level for 25 years and joined the MCNY emergency management faculty in 2011. He has written dozens of articles in publications such as: WNYF (With New York Firefighters), Fire Engineering, Size-Up, and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. He holds a MPS degree in Criminal Justice from Long Island University (C.W. Post Center), a BS degree in Fire Science from John Jay College and a BA degree in Health Education from Queens College (CUNY). His latest book, Sustainable Green Design and Firefighting: A Fire Chief's Perspective, was published by Delmar-Cengage Learning in 2013.


Johnny W. Velez ( B.S. Legal Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, MPA in Master of Public Administration in Emergency and Disaster Management, Metropolitan College of New York)

Adjunct Professor Velez is a paralegal supervisor in the New York City Law Department, and a veteran Air Force non-commissioned officer who supported aeromedical evacuation operations. He is a recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal, the New York City Law Department Legal Assistant Achievement Award, and two time recipient of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, USA Freedom Corps, & Corporation for National & Community Service award. He is an active OEM Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer, American Red Cross Disaster Response Team member (ARC DAT), as well as the Deputy of Operations for the 88th Brigade of the New York Guard where he coordinates training events for the brigade's emergency response activities. Professor Velez experiences in the legal and continuity of operations (COOP) aspects of emergency management began in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

The experience has led him to research business processes, and legal issues concerning legislation, occupational safety, civil rights, and the role of government during emergencies as well as the subsequent recovery. During Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene (August 26-29 2011), Professor Velez managed a Hurricane Shelter/ Evacuation center for three days. He also played a role coordinating logistic requests during Super Storm Sandy at the NYC OEM Logistics Center as a member of the NYC Coastal Storm Response. He is a certified trainer for Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness, NY State instructor for CERT, FEMA Master Exercise Practitioner, Master Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMs).


Joan Thomas (BS, Mercy College; MPA, Metropolitan College of New York)

Joan Thomas is the KCER Director of Emergency Management,currently developing and implementing national emergency management and business continuity initiatives for the Kidney Community Emergency Response Program, that includes 18 ESRD Networks covering the United States and its territories. As a Senior Program Manager for Primary Care Development Corp, she worked with emergency management programs with NYC Adult Care Facilities and Primary Care Health Centers. Professor Thomas was part of the team to develop the logistics program at NYC Office of Emergency Management. She earned an MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management and studied advanced security and anti-terrorism with the Israel Military Industries Academy. She holds a FEMA certification as a Master Exercise Practitioner and a Professional Continuity Practitioner. She is also a certified Business Continuity Planner and a Certified Emergency Manager.


Gail Wolsk (LMSW)

Prof. Wolsk is the Director, of the Office Housing Services at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In this role, she is responsible for the oversight of the Supportive service provision within NYC contracted supportive housing.

Prior to taking on this position, she was the Director of the Office of Mental Health Disaster Preparedness and Response. This office is responsible for planning and coordinating the public mental health response to address the psychological impact of disasters and emergencies. In this position Ms.Wolsk helped to create a local model for the sustained and proactive translation of public health theory into disaster mental health practice by striving to address both the acute and longer term mental health issues associated with disasters and terrorism in the City of New York. She provided oversight and coordination to the mental health response to all citywide and public health emergencies since 2004. In her prior position as the Associate Director of Programs, at Project Liberty she coordinated the provision of outreach and counseling to all New Yorkers affected by 9-11. Building upon her 15 years of experience providing direct and administrative services to the chronically mentally ill homeless persons, she collaborated in developing the largest crisis counseling program in this country's history. Professor Wolsk has written and presented extensively on disaster mental health issues nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of the DOHMH Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to serving the needs of New Yorkers during times of greatest stress.


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