In celebration of Women’s History Month, Mark Misczak, Tidal Basin’s COO and former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deputy director, is honoring Nancy Ward and Kathy Fields for their significant contributions to emergency management and their impact on his career. “Nancy and Kathy exemplify the resilience and leadership essential in emergency management,” said Mark. “Their unwavering commitment to public service and remarkable achievements have shaped the landscape of emergency management and inspired countless individuals, including myself, to strive for consistent excellence in our work.” 

Nancy Ward, currently serving as the Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), made history by becoming the first woman to hold this position. With a wealth of experience spanning decades, she has exemplified exceptional leadership in emergency management. Before her appointment at Cal OES, she served as the Chief Deputy Director and Department of Homeland Security Advisor from 2014 to 2017. Director Ward’s illustrious career includes roles at FEMA as the Acting Administrator, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX from 2006 to 2014, and FEMA Response and Recovery Division Director from 2000 to 2006.  

Mark specifically referenced her sincere interest in making progress and setting the agency up for future success as she managed the agency through multiple leadership transitions. “She was not looking to maintain the status quo; she intended to use every opportunity to improve the agency and its capabilities to serve disaster survivors.” 

Kathy Fields is another distinguished figure in emergency management who recently retired from FEMA after serving 35 years, with her most recent role being the Acting Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VII. Fields served in numerous crucial roles during her tenure at FEMA, including the Deputy Administrator for FEMA Regions II and VII, Director of the Office of the National Advisory Council, and Officer of the Office of the Chief Human Capital. Her dedication and expertise was instrumental in ensuring effective disaster response and recovery efforts across the nation.  

Mark remembers the coaching and leadership she provided to an entire generation of emergency managers and future leaders. “Kathy was a formidable driving force behind the most transformative events in FEMA’s operational history,” said Mark. “Kathy genuinely believed in creating meaningful interactions and demanded excellent service for disaster survivors.” 

Mark recalled how quickly Kathy could evaluate a process, add valuable perspective and direction, and make decisions that empowered staff to deliver impressive results to disaster survivors even when that decision required new policies, regulations, and tools. She was a leader who set clear direction, allowed her teams to innovate and achieve, and supported those teams with everything they needed to succeed. 

Through their shared experiences at FEMA, Mark saw firsthand how Nancy and Kathy’s contributions left an indelible mark on emergency management and paved the way for future generations of women. “This Women’s History Month, I honor them for inspiring women and men alike, and more importantly, for demonstrating the power of perseverance and dedication in making a difference,” said Mark. 

Mark’s tribute to Nancy and Kathy for Women’s History Month highlights their significant roles in emergency management and inspires others. Their legacy of hard work and dedication shows the difference one can make, encouraging future generations to follow their lead.