Thursday, August 2, 2018
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today announced she is appointing Michelann Ooten to serve as director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM). Ooten, the agency’s deputy director, will replace Albert Ashwood, the nation’s longest-tenured state director, who is retiring Aug. 31.
Ooten has 17 years of experience with OEM, including serving the last seven years as deputy director.
Ooten helps manage OEM, which works to minimize the effects of disasters and emergencies that occur in the state through preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation programs.
“Michelann has a thorough understanding of federal laws and policies relating to disaster response and recovery,” said Fallin. “She has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge, and will be able to continue to provide steady leadership for our state during times of emergency.”
Ooten coordinates with other state agencies, local emergency managers, volunteer organizations and federal entities to assist Oklahomans immediately after a disaster and beyond. After a presidential disaster declaration, she serves as state coordinating officer to lead state recovery efforts, and works to ensure Oklahoma communities receive federal disaster funds.
“Over the years, I have seen OEM and the entire emergency management field evolve and grow exponentially, while still maintaining our core mission,” Ooten said. “As director, I will build on this strong foundation and continue to support the more than 400 state, local and tribal emergency managers statewide.”
Ooten, of Edmond, earned a bachelor of arts in public relations/journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and recently completed the Homeland Security Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
Ashwood was appointed OEM director in August 1997.
“Albert has served the state well during his long and stellar career with OEM,” Fallin said. “He has overseen the distribution and administration of more than $1 billion in federal and state aid following dozens of presidentially declared disasters, such as the tragic 1999 and 2013 Moore tornadoes, numerous devastating grass fires and ice storms, and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. We are going to miss his steady, reliable, calm and reassuring leadership.”