New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced two appointments to lead New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM), the agency tasked with coordinating citywide emergency planning and response. Zachary Iscol will serve as commissioner of NYCEM. Christina Farrell will serve as first deputy commissioner, the first woman ever to serve in that role. She previously served as acting commissioner. Staffed by 200 professionals, NYCEM works with agencies across city government to develop disaster readiness plans and respond to emergencies when they arise. Commissioner Iscol and First Deputy Commissioner Farrell will both be responsible for delivering on Mayor Adams’ vision of a safer city by implementing upstream strategies to ensure the city is prepared for and able to mitigate emergencies before they become crises.
“Emergencies are inevitable in a city as large and dynamic as ours and, sadly, we have already faced a number of them during my first six weeks in office,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “One of the core functions of government is to keep people safe. Ensuring we have strong leadership to prepare for emergencies and respond appropriately when they occur is critical to this mission. I am proud to have Zach Iscol and Christina Farrell join our team. They are proven leaders, who will help us keep New Yorkers safe and ‘Get Stuff Done.’”
“The Adams administration is laser-focused on keeping New Yorkers safe — and these appointments underscore that commitment,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks. “From preparing for the next pandemic to hardening our defenses against natural disasters, the job of NYCEM has never been more urgent. I look forward to working with Commissioner Iscol and First Deputy Commissioner Farrell to deliver on Mayor Adams’ vision for a safer, more equitable city.”
“Throughout my career, whether in combat, addressing a suicide epidemic, or on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve seen that government works best when it works together,” said NYCEM Commissioner Zachary Iscol. “Mayor Adams and his administration understand the importance of moving our city upstream and getting city agencies to work together and with their federal, state, and private sector partners to solve the many pressing issues facing New Yorkers. That’s how we create a safer, more equitable and more resilient city. I am incredibly honored to be joining this administration and the remarkable team at NYCEM to make that vision of effective government a reality in addressing 21st century challenges and crises.”
“I am honored to be officially named the first female First Deputy Commissioner of New York City Emergency Management, an agency like no other,” said NYCEM First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell. “Over the past 19 years, I have been proud every day to help the residents of New York City during many emergencies, including the 2003 citywide blackout, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Ebola, building explosions, blizzards, and, of course, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The women and men of our agency are beyond dedicated, and consistently give of themselves selflessly to make our city safer and more prepared. I thank Mayor Adams for this opportunity.”
Iscol previously pulled together over 40 federal, state, and city agencies as the deputy director of Joint New York Medical Station, one of the largest and only successful COVID-19 field hospitals in the country. He recently ran for New York City comptroller.
As a Marine, Iscol served two tours in Iraq and on other assignments throughout Africa and the Middle East. During his second tour of duty, he led a combined unit of US Marines and Iraqi soldiers in some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq War during the Second Battle of Fallujah, where he was awarded a Bronze Star for valor. He later helped build many of the components of the Marine Corps’ First Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and was deployed on one of the first MARSOC teams to deploy overseas.
Over the past decade, Iscol has built and led businesses and a non-profit health care provider, the Headstrong Project. The Headstrong Project now cares for over 1,000 veterans a week, in more than 30 cities, and provides world-class, cost- and bureaucracy-free mental health care to veterans and service members so that they can recover from hidden wounds and get back to the best versions of themselves.
Farrell has been acting first deputy since October 2021 and acting commissioner since January 2022. Since the beginning of 2022, Farrell managed the citywide response to multiple snowstorms, the tragic Bronx fire, and multiple building explosions. During her time at the agency, Farrell has served as the director of grants, as well as assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner of external affairs. Under her leadership, foundational programs at New York City Emergency Management have been created and grown to national prominence, including the New York City Community Emergency Response Team Program, Ready New York, and Notify NYC. A city employee for more than 27 years, Farrell started at New York City Emergency Management in 2003.