Spotlight – Presidents Choice Award 2013

In recognition of National Volunteer Week we are highlighting some stories about individuals who made a difference in the lives of those impacted by disaster. Today we spotlight the winner of the President’s Choice Award – Catherine Graham.

President’s Choice – Honor Award. This volunteer recognition medal is awarded to the volunteer selected by the President for leadership and team work. This volunteer excels in self-directed performance during disaster and throughout the year. The High Paw can be awarded in any of the disaster response clusters and represents outstanding performance in one or more disasters.

Cat responded to almost half of all emerging events in 2012 and deployed in person to Rockaway where she led the development and coordination of communications within a spontaneous community command center. She has provided outstanding leadership to the volunteers of Humanity Road as well as direct support for people impacted by disaster.

In a single week at the end of October, Cat organized the Humanity Road online response activities for Hurricane Sandy along the Caribbean and Atlantic Eastern seaboard, collaborated with Maryland State emergency management officials for some crowd sourcing in Maryland, facilitated the rescue of of dozens of people stranded in rapidly rising flood waters in the Dominican Republic and then deployed a physical response team to Rockaway New York where she remained to support the local operation for several weeks.

She is shown in the photo above with local volunteers Simon MacLean and Janice Dean meeting with Maryanne Schretzman from the New York City Mayor’s office. The local response was featured in this independent film.

A note from a couple in New Jersey; “Cat has been working so hard for me and my husband as well as giving us guidance. I cannot express our appreciation enough for her. She has been like the only flower blooming within a dry desert. If all your workers are like Cat it must be an amazing place. Thank you for giving her to us and God bless all of you.”

That would be quite enough to earn recognition, but above and beyond that – In 2012, Cat spentmore than 2 full months on the road in support of Humanity Road programs. She participated in exercises from a tent in the woods of Massachusetts, a tent in the desert of California, and another tent on an island in Honolulu bay. She represented our organization in conducting presentations, training and exercises in Cambodia, Singapore, Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

Among the exercises she participated in, she led the world’s largest crisis mapping exercise during the first ever humanitarian exercise for RIMPAC and participated in a 22 nation table top communications exercise for the Pacific Endeavor Workshop Multinational Communications Interoperability Program in Singapore and then presented an Ignite Talk about this important exercise at the International Crisis Mappers convention in September in Washington DC.

She worked on process improvement initiatives with Rutgers University, Arizona State, Harvard, the Wilson Center, University of Colorado, University of Hawaii, the National Defense University and United States government agencies both civilian and military including the Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Office of Naval Research, FEMA and Health and Human Services.

I am honored to present Cat Graham with the 2013 President’s Choice award. Thank you Cat for all you do. – Chris Thompson, President