Executive Board Biographies
Director, Emergency Management
Pinal County Office of Emergency Management
Lou serves as the Director for the Office of Emergency Management in Pinal County. In terms of population, Pinal County is the Third Largest County in the state of Arizona and has a land mass larger than the size of Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut. The Office of Emergency Management is responsible for coordinating all facets of emergency management to include mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery programs. In addition, Lou supervises the operations and management of the Environmental Investigations (EI) section, responsible for enforcing specific environmental regulations throughout Pinal County. Lou also serves as the coordinator for the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and is the Chairman of the Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology (CAVIT) Public Safety Board. In 2011, Lou was honored by CAVIT as the “Business Person of the Year” and he continues to enhance his relationships with other community partners.
Lou was selected as Director for the Office of Emergency Management in October 2009. Since that time, he has managed several operations dealing with flooding, hazardous materials, dust storms, electrical outages, wildfires, snow storms, and other emergency incidents all throughout Pinal County. He also co-served as the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Manager during the Wallow Fire-the largest wildfire in Arizona state history.
In In addition to his duties as Director of Emergency Management, Lou serves as an Adjunct Instructor for the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. His certifications and experience include: Incident Command Systems Instructor (ICS 100-400), Hospital Emergency Response to Terrorism Training Instructor, Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools Instructor, Terrorism Awareness Instructor, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Management and Operations Instructor, Bomb Materials Awareness Instructor, First Responder Operations and Awareness Instructor, and Hazardous Materials Instructor; specializing in Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Terrorism Awareness. Lou previously instructed Chemistry at Arizona Western College, as well as instructing College Chemistry and Conceptual Physics for the Marine Corps' Enlisted Education Program. A former firefighter with the Rural/Metro Fire Department, Lou holds certifications as a Firefighter, Paramedic, and Hazardous Materials Instructor through the International Association of Firefighters. Lou has completed the Advanced Professional Series (APS) from FEMA and is a Certified Continuity Practitioner.
Lou holds an Associate’s Degree in Para-medicine (with highest honors), a Bachelor’s Degree, and a Masters Degree in Business. Lou has held membership in the American Chemical Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He is a current member of the American Society of Industrial Security and the National Emergency Management Association. He also is a graduate of the Marine Corps’ School of War fighting, Amphibious Warfare School, and Command and Staff College. Lou also has certifications as Department of the Navy Anti-Terrorism Officer and Training Officer, and has attended the state of Arizona course as a Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO). Lou received formal education and has experience serving in a variety of military capacities to include Anti-Terrorism. Force Protection and Security Operations. Lou continues to expand his educational knowledge by advancing his academic credentials and is active in several civic organizations within his community.
Assistant Director, Recovery
Arizona Division of Emergency Management
Wendy is the Assistant Director for the Recovery Section with the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM). The Recovery Section is responsible for coordinating state and federal actions with local jurisdictions to assist those impacted communities in recovering from disasters. Through Public Assistance (infrastructure) and Individual Assistance (human services) programs and activities the Recovery Section works to reduce human suffering during disasters and enhance recovery following natural and human-caused disaster events.
Wendy joined the Division in September 1996; since being with the Division she has assisted with the management of recovery efforts for the State of Arizona for ten State/Presidential disaster declarations and almost 80 State disaster declarations. During her tenure with ADEM, she has been instrumental with Arizona’s successful participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) State Managed Disasters initiative. This initiative allows a capable State to manage the Public Assistance Program operation on behalf of FEMA. Only one other state meets the qualifications to be a State Managing State. As a qualifying state, Arizona provides effective coordination with other state, federal and local agencies/jurisdictions before, during and after disasters.
In addition to her duties as an Assistant Director, Wendy is an instructor for ADEM and FEMA on Public Assistance, Grant Administration and Local Government Recovery courses. She has participated with the FEMA Public Assistance Program Re-Design Initiative on FEMA’s development of their Information Technology Services Directorate Grants Business Management System (eGrant) and has also served as the State’s representative with the development and facilitation of the annual FEMA/State Public Assistance Workshop. Wendy also works with the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) during Arizona’s initial accreditation and 5-year re-accreditation process as well as being a certified Assessor for the EMAP program.
Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management
Julie Syrmopoulos took her current role as Operations Manager for the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management in 2009. The Department is responsible for disaster mitigation, response, and recovery for Maricopa County.
With more than 24 years of government experience in operations, public information and relations, her background ranges over various departments and disciplines including planning & development, public works, environmental services and emergency management.
Julie Syrmopoulos holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and an MBA in International Business from the Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management.
Santa-Cruz County Health Emergency Preparedness
I’m currently the Program Manager for the Santa Cruz County Health Services Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program for the last eight years. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Program promotes and develops comprehensive public health response plans, and is responsible for training and exercise of those plans. Work closely with all local and regional partners during declared emergencies and incidents where Emergency Management is called for assistance.
Santa Cruz County Public Health Services received recognition in February 2012 from the National Association of County & City Health Officials as being Project Public Health Ready. Project Public Health Ready is a criteria-based public health preparedness program that assesses local health department capacity and capability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies.
A member of the Santa Cruz County LEPC, and participates on the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization 5310 Transportation Panel. I was the Vice President for the Arizona Local Public Health Emergency Response Association in 2006.
I was the EOC Manager during the Murphy Complex Fire in 2011. I received my Professional Development Series Certificate in January, 2012, and the Advanced Professional Series in May, 2012.
I have over 25 years experience in the Public Health field.
Director of Communications, EMS Field Scheduling and Technical Services
SW Ambulance / Rural Metro
Joe Gibson, a native Arizonan, has committed over three decades of his professional life to public safety and emergency medical services. He began his career with Associated Ambulance in 1979. Joe has worked with both ground and air ambulance companies his entire professional career, including, Rural Metro, Arizona Medical Transport / Survival Flight, Samaritan AirEvac, and Southwest Ambulance. In 1999, Gibson became the Communication Manager for Rural Metro and SW Ambulance. Additionally, Gibson was General Manager for Support Services, Inter-facility Services and Scottsdale Emergency Medical Services. Gibson was also the General Manager for the East Valley’s 9-1-1 including Northeast Valley, Southeast Valley and Pinal County. He currently oversees operations in the Dispatch Center for Southwest Ambulance & Rural/Metro Fire Department, the technical services group, and the Southwest Ambulance field-scheduling department, managing 77 employees in multiple locations and effectively monitors the dispatch center, which dispatches more than 200,000 calls per year.
Gibson is actively involved in several State and Local Boards and Commissions, including;
State of Arizona, Emergency Medical Services Council (Gov Appointed),
Chair, Disaster Preparedness Committee Az Emergency Response Commission Advisory Committee (Gov appointed)
Arizona Ambulance Association (Elected), Treasurer,
Secretary / Treasurer, Central Region Director, Air Region Director
ADHS Central Region Committee on Public Health Preparedness (Appointed)
Arizona Emergency Medical Services, (AEMS) – Elected-Vice Chair of the Board, Board Member
Chair, Planning and Outreach Functional Group
Chair , AEMS Odyssey Conference
Maricopa County Healthcare Disaster Preparedness Council (Appointed), Member, Executive Council
Arizona Fire District Association (Member)
Arizona Fire Chief’s Association (Member)
Arizona Public Safety Communications Committee (Attendee)
Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (Attendee)
Salt River Project
Business Continuity & Emergency Management
Ken Lewis works for the Salt River Project in the Business Continuity & Emergency Management department. He assists this major utility in emergency plan development, EOC utilization, plan exercises, drills and activations. He serves as a liaison with cities in the East Valley area in power and water issues.
Ken holds the Certified Emergency Manager and Certified Business Continuity Professional certifications. He has a Masters of Public Administration degree and teaches part-time at Grand Canyon University in their Emergency Management degree program.
Ken’s previous career was in the fire service. He started as a firefighter/paramedic for the Denton, Texas Fire Department. He worked up the ranks over the years to become the Fire Chief of the Pinewood Fire District here in Arizona. Like many in emergency management, a background in fire and/or medical fields was a good background to transition to the emergency management field.
Ken was elected the Membership Chair in 2010 and strives to provide great service to all AESA members.
Public Relations Chair
Sergeant Richard Guinn
Emergency Management Coordinator
Apache County Sheriff’s Office
Sgt. Richard Guinn currently serves as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Apache County, Arizona.
His responsibilities include drafting, development and implementation of response, mitigation and
preparedness plans; coordinating response efforts and resources to incidents within the county and with
neighboring jurisdictions; and “other duties as assigned” by the Sheriff or Chief Deputy.
Richard started with the Sheriff’s Office in April of 2001, as a resident Deputy in Chinle, AZ on the Navajo
Nation. In January 2005, he was reassigned to St Johns, AZ where he assumed the Emergency Management
duties of the agency. In 2010, the Board of Supervisors incorporated the Division of Emergency Management
into the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office now coordinates all county emergency management functions.
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
City of Phoenix Aviation Department
Chris has been with the City of Phoenix since 2007 where he is currently the Emergency Preparedness and Communications Center Coordinator at Sky Harbor Airport. In this capacity he is responsible for the airport Communications Center, Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and all facets of airport emergency planning and training. Prior to this, Chris was with America West/ US Airways where he held various positions including Emergency Planning and Response Manager. In 2006 Chris was the recipient of a US Airways Chairman’s Award for the successful merger of America West Airlines and US Airways Emergency Planning and Response programs. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Family Assistance Foundation, an independent non-profit corporation founded for the purpose of improving support given to aviation accident survivors and family members. He retired from the US Airways in September 2007.
Chris has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Communications with a Minor in Journalism from the University of Northern Iowa. He earned an Aviation Program Management certificate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in July 2008. He has also attended numerous NTSB emergency response classes and seminars.
Chris is a member of Arizona Emergency Services Association (AESA), the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), and the Arizona Airports Association (AzAA). He is active in various church and community organizations including Knights of Columbus and Boy Scouts of America.
Chris and his wife Karen live in Ahwatukee, and have two sons, Harrison and Keaton.
Mohave County Emergency Management
Byron Steward graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and spent 16 years as a drilling engineer and production supervisor in the oil industry. He served 9 years as a volunteer firefighter and fire officer and 4 years as a County Emergency Management Coordinator in Kansas. He has been Mohave County Emergency Management Coordinator since October, 2003.