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Board of Directors

Meet our Board

The Board of Directors comprises volunteers dedicated to the betterment of CHDS Alumni. Click their bio icon to learn more about them.

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Elaine Jennings
MA 1001/1002

Elaine Jennings is a highly accomplished professional with years of progressively increasing leadership responsibilities in homeland security and counterterrorism. She is the Founder and CEO of The Jennings Consulting Group, a firm specializing in helping private sector organizations and governments to develop countermeasures to terrorist threats and creating solutions to improve crisis response. This includes working with high-end entertainment clients, event venues and stadiums to develop strategies to protect large events including Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area, Major Leagues Baseball, Paramount Pictures, and AEG Corporate, the world’s largest entertainment company.

Ms. Jennings has spent nearly 20 years managing complex policy initiatives and organizing government responses to crisis events. During her government tenure, Ms. Jennings served in several executive positions including in the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, the California Department of Corrections, and in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Administration as a member of the Advance team in which she traveled with the Governor to execute state and national media events. Her accomplishments include working on high-level initiatives including helping to develop a program to educate elected officials on emergency management, with the White House to develop communication messaging in the event of a nuclear incident and was the architect for the Large Stadium Initiative for State of California to help protect event venues.  She later served as a counterterrorism specialist for Lawrence Livermore National Lab working on nonproliferation issues and leading several initiatives to improve state and local capability to prevent and respond to a WMD attack.  

Ms. Jennings holds an M.A. in Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Post Graduate School and is a certified intelligence analyst. She currently teaches Crisis and Risk Communication at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Safe Communities Institute and is a regular instructor for the California Specialized Technical Institute (CSTI) under CalOES.

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John Flynn
Vice Preside
ELP 1301, MA 1501/1502

John Flynn is the Chief of the Ocean Reef Community Association Fire-EMS Department, located in North Key Largo, Florida. Formerly, John served for thirty-two years with the Yonkers, NY Fire Department, retiring in 2020 as an Assistant Chief.  John has served in a wide variety of operational, executive, and administrative positions with the YFD, as well as adjunct instructor with the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. He has authored several articles for international fire and emergency management journals and has worked as a consultant/subject matter expert for both private sector and government organizations in public safety and HS policy and curriculum development. John has been credentialed with the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Certified Emergency Manager designation from the International Association of Emergency Managers. He is a Principal Member of the National Fire Protection Association 1026 Committee: Standard for incident management professional qualifications. John is a graduate of both the CHDS Executive Leaders Program and Master’s Degree Program.

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Natalie Gutierrez

ELP 1901

Natalie serves as the Managing Director of Public Safety Administration for the City of Chicago Office of Public Safety Administration.  This public safety department oversees various functions on behalf of the entire public safety enterprise in Chicago. Natalie oversees all administrative functions for public safety which includes the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Natalie manages 100 employees that are accountable for: $3 Billion in public safety budgets; payroll for over 20,000 public safety employees; managing over 100 contracts on behalf of public safety; and managing over 170 individual grant agreements totaling over $300M in grant funding across all of public safety.  

Natalie has served on various citywide projects over the years currently leading public safety finance and contracting efforts for the 2024 Democratic National Convention and previously served roles such as the interim Finance Section Chief for the city COVID-19 response and lead on NATO grant funding.

At the local, state, and federal level, Natalie champions funding negotiations and collaborative efforts towards standardization and accountability. Natalie works alongside senior executives nationwide, State representatives, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to establish strategic goals on safety and security throughout the urban area.   Natalie is the administrator for the Urban Area Working Group (UAWG) and maintains oversight of the annual Department of Homeland Security risk assessment process/risk profile.

A native of Chicagoland area, Natalie holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration, with a specialization in Public Safety and Security, from Northwestern University.  In Q1 2020 Natalie completed the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Executive Leaders Program.

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Dr. Rosemary McDonnell

Emergence 2102, REP 2302

Dr. Rosemary McDonnell serves as the Senior Disability, Access, and Functional Needs (DAFN) Program Manager at DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, integrating DAFN populations into the emergency planning efforts for the District. She was formerly the Senior Emergency Management Specialist at Northwell Health System's North Shore University Hospital, and currently serves in a per diem consultancy role in the health system. Before joining Northwell Health, she served as the Assistant Director of Safety & Emergency Planning in the Department of Emergency Management at Hospital for Special Surgery, as well as the Assistant Director of Emergency Training and Operations for Pace University.

Dr. McDonnell earned her Doctorate of Professional Studies in Homeland Security from St. John's University in the inaugural cohort of their program. Her research interests focus on traditionally underserved and overburdened populations in the scope of inclusive emergency management practices and ensuring their access to sufficient disaster planning and resources. She is a graduate of the Center for Homeland Defense & Security's (CHDS) Emergence Program, as well as the Early Career Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program.

She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for articles that fall under her subject matter expertise. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor and Mentor Collective Homeland Security Student Mentor at St. John's University, as well as an Adjunct Professor at Idaho State University, teaching various emergency management and homeland security courses. She serves as a Panelist on the Disaster Recovery Institute International Foundation's annual scholarship selection committee, as well as a Board Member and the Secretary of the Center for Homeland Defense & Security Association (CHDSA).

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Jess Bress
Board Member

MA 1601/1602

Jessica Bress serves as the Strategic Projects Advisor in the Executive Office of the Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC. Prior to her current role, Jessica served as the Deputy Director of the Maurice T. Turner Jr. Metropolitan Police Academy where she maintained responsibility for the full spectrum of operations and personnel management across the academy’s four branches of Recruit Training, Continuing Studies, Specialized Training, and the Cadet Corps. Previous positions include serving as a Policy Advisor and as a Special Assistant at the Department of Behavioral Health as well as a Program Analyst at DC Health.  Jessica holds a Master’s in Public Health from The George Washington University, a Masters in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Bachelors from College of the Holy Cross. Jessica’s dedication to systems-level improvement is further motivated by her two children.

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Joel Justice
Board Member

MA 1105/1106

Joel Justice is a consultant for Mutualink.  Mutualink provides a service of interoperability, connecting first responders that cannot normally talk and it gives those first responders situational awareness, all through a single application on their phone.  He retired from law enforcement career after 37 years of service.  He worked with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for 29 years and retired there as a Captain.  While with the LAPD, he oversaw the West Valley Division, the Crime Center, Communications Division and Topanga Area.  During his time, he worked Internal Affairs, Use of Force Review, Metropolitan Division, Gangs, and Vice.  While assigned to the Crime Center, he started Predictive Analytics for LAPD.  He also started a program with the Department of Corrections that provided 40 ankle bracelet GPS devices that were placed on violent gang members that were to be paroled into the Los Angeles area.  He then took a job as the Chief of Police for the Ventura County Community College District where he retired after 8 years.  He was in Master’s program, Cohort 1105/1106, and wrote his thesis on Active Shooters.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree from University of Phoenix in Business Management.  He has taught over 2,500 faculty, staff, and students on how to respond to an active shooter incident.  He assisted LMU with their curriculum development for the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training which was modeled after his Master’s Thesis.  He was the recipient of the California State Bud Hawkins award in 2022 and is the immediate Past President of the California College and University Police Chiefs Association. He has been married to his best friend, Margie for 31 years and has an amazing 24-year-old Son, Matthew.  He enjoys playing racquetball, working out and scuba diving.

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Samantha Korta
Board Member

MA 1605/1606

Sam is a Senior Manager at Deloitte with over 17 years of experience leading transformative change in homeland security, public safety, and cybersecurity, in both government and private sectors. An award-winning researcher, practitioner, and policy advisor, Sam combines her unique skills to develop strategies that significantly enhance critical programs and inform effective decision-making. Her approach extends beyond process optimization and technology implementation; it is rooted in a deep understanding of real-world, human-centered needs, while carefully navigating risks and unintended consequences. Sam is frequently brought in to tackle complex, systemic challenges, that require a collaborative, empathy-driven approach, and trust-building with diverse stakeholder groups. In her previous role as the Deputy Director of the Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center, she transformed intelligence operations and information-sharing efforts, particularly by adopting new approaches to engage stakeholders, embrace emerging technologies, and manage crises in an all-threats, all-hazards environment. As a committed leader, she is dedicated to fostering dynamic, inclusive workplaces, and empowering employees and partners to contribute meaningfully to mission-critical outcomes. Sam holds a master's degree in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School (cohort 1605/1606) and a dual bachelor's degree in legal studies and psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a foundation that has been pivotal in her multidisciplinary approach to security and policy.

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Meghan McPherson
Board Member

ELP 2102

Meghan McPherson is the System Director of Emergency Management Education, Training, and Exercises for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. In this role, Meghan leads the development, planning, and execution of a robust training and exercise program across the health system. Most recently, she served as the Director of Emergency Management for Mount Sinai Queens hospital on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to joining the Mount Sinai, Meghan was Assistant Director of the Center for Health Innovation (CHI) at Adelphi University, served as the program coordinator for emergency management graduate programs, and concentrated her work on community-based social resilience initiatives. Prior to her work at Adelphi, Meghan spent four years as both the Grants Manager and the Energy Assurance Program Manager in the Governor's Office of Energy and Planning in New Hampshire. While in this position, she supported the State Emergency Operations Center during disasters by ensuring continuity of the state's energy supply. She also worked for James Lee Witt Associates in Washington, D.C. and deployed multiple times to Louisiana to support recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

Meghan is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), Certified National Healthcare Disaster Professional (NHDP-BC), Certified Healthcare Provider Continuity Professional (CHPCP), is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Pracademic Affairs journal, and serves as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Southern California. She is graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leaders Program and was the 2023 recipient of the David McIntyre Homeland Security Educator Award. Meghan earned her BA in political science at the University of New Hampshire and her Master of Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in national security policy from The George Washington University.

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Dr. Richard Rosell
Board Member

MA 0601/0602

Dr. Rich Rosell is the retired Police Chief and Director of Public Safety for the Town of Indian River Shores, FL. He is a former Director of Public Safety for the Town of Dover, NJ. He also served as Director of Public Safety for the Township of Springfield, Union County, NJ. He is a 27-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police, retiring at the rank of Captain. He has a very diverse skill set with vast operational, training, policy making, homeland security, management, and administrative experience. Rosell held various positions while serving with the New Jersey State Police, which include Advisor to the Superintendent of State Police, Strategic Initiatives Officer, Regional Field Operations Commander, Special Operations Bureau Chief, Emergency Management Bureau Chief, Hurricane Katrina Task Force Commander, Station Commander, and S.W.A.T. Supervisor. Rosell has extensive experience teaching graduate level students at Seton Hall University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also has extensive police and military training experience, including international training experience. He has a bachelor's from Thomas Edison State College in Human Services, a master's from Seton Hall University in Human Resources Training and Development, and a master's from the Naval Postgraduate School in Homeland Defense and Security Studies, and a doctorate Drew University. He is retired from the military after serving 32 years as a U.S. Marine, a NJ Army National Guard soldier, and US Army Reserve soldier.  He currently owns his own expert witness and consulting company, specializing in discrimination, retaliation, and use of force.

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Michael Sharp
Board Member

Emergence 1702, REP 2101

Michael Sharp is a Nuclear Nonproliferation Specialist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory managing the Department of State portfolio focusing on International Safeguards, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security. He has worked for the United Nations - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), developing a strategic site-wide masterplan for the IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratory and completed the Nuclear Graduate Fellowship Program sponsored by the Department of Energy - National Nuclear Security Administration. Michael worked as civil servant at the USDA – Animal Plant Health Inspection Services, supporting the regulatory security of biologics, pathogens and vectors, tracking epidemiological outbreaks, and conducting microbiological laboratory inspections. Furthermore, he spent several years working as a U.S. Department of Defense contractor in Doha, Qatar and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Michael completed his Masters in Homeland Security at the Pennsylvania State University and his Bachelors in Political Science at Temple University.

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Jay Tabb
Board Member

ELP 1602

Jay Tabb is the Executive Vice President for Federal Market growth at Striveworks, an artificial intelligence and machine learning company focused on operational integration of AI/ML for government and commercial clients. Prior to joining Striveworks, Mr. Tabb was a Senior Vice President at the Crisis Response Company, where he provided security risk advisory services and solutions for government and commercial clients.
Mr. Tabb began his government service in 1989, serving for over seven years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, including command during combat operations in the Middle East.  Subsequently, Mr. Tabb served 23 years in the FBI, culminating as the Executive Assistant Director leading the entire national security portfolio.  His FBI service included five years as an operator on the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), leadership of the JTTF in Washington DC, Commander of the HRT, Deputy Assistant Director in charge of counterterrorism operations for the FBI, and Special Agent in Charge (SAC) for the FBI in Washington State.  Mr. Tabb's personal awards include the U.S. Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service, the Exceptional Service Medal from the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI Medal of Valor, and two FBI Star Medals for injuries sustained in direct adversarial engagements.

Mr. Tabb holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Texas A&M University and is a graduate of both the Homeland Security Executive Leaders Program from the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Program on Terrorism and Security from the George C. Marshall Center.

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John Tani Jr.
Board Member
MA 1603/1604

John Tani Jr. is a federal law enforcement special agent with over 24 years of experience with the U.S. Secret Service. In 2024, Mr. Tani assumed responsibilities as the Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service's Technical Security Division where he is responsible for all aspects of technical security measures in support of the president, vice president, and all government leaders under Secret Service protection. He oversees the implementation and operations of intrusion detection systems; audio and video surveillance and countermeasures; unmanned aerial systems and ground robotic systems; environment monitoring, assessment, and mitigation of chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive hazards; and covert investigative technical equipment.

In his prior role as the Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy, he was the chief investigative and protective mission advisor to the Chief Strategy Officer. He also managed the Senior Leadership Scholars and the Special Advisors Program. Mr. Tani also served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Technical Development and Mission Support, where he coordinated technology investments with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. There, he worked with scientists and subject matter experts across the enterprise to discover, examine, and analyze emerging threats to the nation.

Mr. Tani is certified by the Office of Personnel Management's Qualification Review Board for Senior Executive Service. His education consists of graduate studies, Master of Arts Security Studies at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Naval Postgraduate School (2017) and undergraduate studies, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Mary Washington University, Fredericksburg, VA (1998). He is the recipient of Secret Service awards to include Life Saving Award, Director's Citation, and the Valor Award.


Please feel free to contact the CHDSA Board with questions.


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