President Trump will nominate former Marine and current FEMA Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery Jeff Byard to be the new administrator at the agency after the departure of Brock Long.
Prior to joining ORR, Byard served in several capacities with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), most recently as the Executive Operations Officer. Byard began his career in emergency management in 2002, as the AEMA Mitigation Division Planner. He later served as the Public Assistance Officer and the Recovery Branch Chief. From 2006 to 2007, Byard served as the Director of Alabama’s Transitional Recovery Office, where he led and coordinated the timely delivery of FEMA’s disaster recovery assistance and support to state and local governments.
Byard returned to AEMA in 2007 to serve as the Executive Operations Officer, with responsibility for response, recovery, and field operations. In that role, he oversaw the creation and implementation of the Alabama Field Response Structure, resulting in several improvements to the response and recovery model for the state. On multiple occasions, Byard led emergency management operations for the State of Alabama, serving as either the Alabama State Coordinating Officer or Deputy. These operations included the country’s first large-scale state evacuation during Hurricane Gustav, response and recovery operations for the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, and other significant disasters such as the 2011 Super Outbreak: the largest, costliest, and also one of the deadliest, tornado outbreaks ever recorded.
Byard was a charter member of the FEMA Region IV Regional Advisory Council, which still serves to advise the FEMA Regional Administrator on emergency management issues specific to the region and states; including unique geographic, demographic, and other considerations. He is a Marine Corps veteran.
Former Administrator Long, who was confirmed to the position in June 2017, announced his resignation Wednesday, stating that while “this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family – my beautiful wife and two incredible boys.”
Deputy Administrator Peter Gaynor, the former director of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency confirmed to his FEMA role in October, was named to serve as acting FEMA administrator.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was “pleased” about the pick.
“Mr. Byard has served at FEMA with distinction since 2017, during the past two hurricane seasons. His skillset and expertise will continue to help lead the dedicated men and women of FEMA through current recovery efforts and prepare for future emergencies,” Nielsen said. “I thank Mr. Byard for his willingness to serve in this vital role, and I encourage the Senate to swiftly confirm his nomination.”