Say congratulations to Tiffany Chapman who just became the first female manager at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s Office of Emergency Management! “It does feel good to shatter that glass ceiling, but the truth is that I’m really honored just to be part of such a talented team. I work with some of the very best people in the business and it’s my privilege to learn from them every day. And then, to pass on what I have learned to my students.”
A former award-winning banking executive, Ms. Chapman found a new purpose—and her passion—at MCNY. Someone who says she “thrives in crisis situations,” Tiffany is now Manager of Mitigation at PANYNJ OEM, international speaker and an adjunct professor at MCNY.
Why MCNY? I was always looking for something different to do with my life… something that I cared about, that I was passionate about. I had always lived in California and was a successful banker. I was in New York City on vacation and saw an MCNY ad on the subway for the MPA program and thought, “That’s what I need to do with my life.” I moved to New York the following year and started at MCNY.
Moving across the country to pursue a new field. What was that like? I was brand new to NYC, brand new to grad school, and brand new to emergency management. The support I received from MCNY helped me tremendously. They gave me a scholarship, which definitely helped financially. But the emotional support was the best part for me. The professors at MCNY took me in and made me one of their own. Any time I got discouraged, they were there to lift my spirits and point me in the right direction.
Explain the value of MCNY’s Purpose-Centered Education approach. The job of an Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is not really to be the first responder; that’s what the police, fire and EMS people do. We at OEM help to coordinate all of the various resources, facilitate communication between the various factions, set up the incident command structure, which makes the response much more efficient, and, for larger disasters, track and ultimately recover the costs incurred. MCNY gives you the skills you need to take on that role because you actually develop real-world emergency management plans as a consulting assignment while you’re earning your degree.
Tell us about your Constructive Action plan. In the MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management program, you work on your Constructive Action (CA) in a group and develop actual comprehensive emergency management plans for a real nonprofit. One of my cohort’s CA focused on assisting the Long Beach NY Fire Department, which had been devastated during Superstorm Sandy. We analyzed their situation and created new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) for disaster management and recovery to help them protect their community in the future.
How has your MCNY degree impacted your career? It essentially gave me my career. The professors in my program opened doors for me. With their well-established connections, I was able to get into an internship, which led to a full-time job in my new field. I’m now a disaster recovery specialist with the Port Authority. While my job specifically is largely related to finance and FEMA funding, I also respond to events when needed.