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In 2015, MIT executives made the decision to dissolve the well-established Security and Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and create the Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity (OEMBC). The primary purpose of the change was to ensure the emergency management program at MIT was better positioned to serve the MIT community.

The new office also underwent a change in leadership upon its establishment, as Suzanne Blake was hired to manage the emergency management function for MIT.  After such a drastic change, Blake’s primary responsibility was to stabilize and strategically enhance the department by applying her 15 years of comprehensive emergency management experience in the higher education setting to MIT. She immediately began moving forward in that direction, with the help of her talented team and under the strong leadership of John DiFava, MIT’s Chief of Police, to whom Blake reports.

Once that stabilization began, Blake soon realized her office now faced a different challenge: “The community didn’t know we existed, so there were very few people who knew about the many programs that we provide to the Institute. And because SEMO did such a good job branding themselves, we had a difficult task to reach their notoriety and continue their great contributions to the MIT community.”

After this realization, the office started on a journey to make itself more visible and its services known.  After a proposal process, OEMBC partnered with an external vendor to develop a more appropriate name for the department, create a new logo, and build a more effective, user-friendly website. The project that followed took nearly a year to complete, and faced some challenges, but Blake is ultimately happy with the results.  “We now have an great logo and a modern website that will help us to show our community all of the ways in which we help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies,”  Blake says. “We hope that the website is a one-stop shop for preparedness and resilience for MIT faculty, staff, students, and visitors.”

The website is designed to highlight the core services of MIT Emergency Management: administration of MIT Alert; preparedness programs; response actions; and training programs. Although the department has made great strides since its relatively recent inception, long-time MIT employee David Barber is excited to be part of what the future brings: “With the creation of the Emergency Management department, the addition of Suzanne as our leader, along with Steve Taddonio and Jeremy Bersin as colleagues, we are now positioned support the Institute community on multiple levels and with greater depth. The future of emergency management at MIT is full of activities and possibilities geared to create a more prepared culture here, and I am excited to be part of such an energetic and talented team.”

For more information about MIT Emergency Management or its services, please email us at em-staff@mit.edu or visit our homepage: prepared.mit.edu.