Iowa State University (ISU), a place where adventurous minds are encouraged to accomplish amazing things, is classified as a Carnegie Foundation Doctoral/Research University-Extensive, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the nation. As a land-grant institution and the largest university in the state, ISU is a global and culturally diverse institution committed to providing an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment for both learning and employment—diversity in experience and perspective is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and building an inclusive academic community. At Iowa State University, these values are translated into action by seeking individuals who have experience working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituents. The University expects that all employees will demonstrate a contribution to diversity and inclusion as embodied in ISU’s Principles of Community. Big 12 Conference sports and a tradition of cultural and popular performances make campus life an adventure to remember. Iowa State University is located in Ames, a community of 67,000 situated 30 minutes north of the state capital of Des Moines and was recently voted as the number one “Best College Town in America” by and among the “Top 10 Best Places to Live in America.”

The Position


Reporting to the assistant vice president of environmental health and safety, the emergency management director is a professional, administrative, and supervisory leader responsible for directing and managing all aspects of the emergency management program. This includes all phases of emergency management (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery) as well as Fire and Life Safety.

This influential position helps to ensure that mission critical functions within the university community are prepared to operate during, and efficiently recover after, a crisis, disaster, or incident. The director will perform administrative and operational tasks, implementing and administering the requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA section 304) and the management of professional staff and student employees.

The scope of work requires a broad professional and comprehensive knowledge of emergency management, business continuity, emergency operations planning, local hazard mitigation planning, emergency operations center readiness, disaster recovery, fire and life safety operations and an ability to effectively work across all levels of the University.

Additional Duties and Responsibilities

  • Participate in developing and maintaining strategic emergency management plan and supporting plans and procedures.
  • Prepare and present concise, logical, oral and written reports and explain policy, procedures or recommendations.
  • Develop, update, and maintain all necessary program documents, such as the Hazard Mitigation Plan, Emergency Operations Plan, strategic emergency management plan, and all supporting policies and procedures.
  • Analyze and monitor trends in higher learning emergency management; recommend and/or implement improvements in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery to ensure the university is well prepared for all hazards.
  • Advise university departments on their business, academic, and research emergency plans, and coordinate interdepartmental activities associated with preparedness, and continuity of operations.
  • Develop tabletop, functional, and full-scale exercises to evaluate and improve the university’s ability to respond to disasters and emergencies.
  • Organize and maintain the university’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). During emergencies, provide support and assistance to the Incident Commander(s) and oversee the functioning of the EOC.
  • Monitor potential emergencies and disasters and notify appropriate personnel; maintain the EOC and ensure equipment is in working order.
  • During emergency and disaster situations, take direction from and support the work of the Incident Commander; oversee and support the functioning of the EOC; coordinate and participate in the recall of employees and other support resources; ensure that EOC positions are staffed and that personnel are trained to perform assigned duties.
  • Maintain and develop valued partnerships with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State of Iowa Homeland Security, Story County Emergency Management, City of Ames, and other local municipalities.
  • Research, apply for, and allocate grant funding to enhance the university’s ability to respond to disasters and emergencies; manage grant programs and projects; maintain eligibility requirements for county, state, and federal financial reimbursement programs.
  • Represent the university with local and state regulatory agencies, utility and other services, planning committees, and media representatives; provide briefings, and develop written literature and presentations to inform the public.
  • Perform a variety of administrative, operational, research, and analytical duties in support of the program; develop reports, recommend policies and procedures.
  • Manage the emergency preparedness budget; recommend and monitor expenditures.
  • Develop and implement campus emergency preparedness programs through interactions with ISU students, faculty, and staff as well as local and state partners.
  • Develop and administer engaging emergency training and exercise programs, develop after-action reports, and implement corrective action plans.
  • Work with campus clients to analyze continuity and emergency planning needs, evaluate campus risk exposures and recommend plans and procedures to improve preparedness, continuity, and resilience.
  • Provide support for university emergencies that occur during the workday, evenings, weekends, and/or holidays.
  • Develop campus preparedness initiatives through special events, communications, signage, posters, and outreach campaigns.
  • Ensure campus maintains “StormReady” Campus designation awarded by the National Weather Service.
  • Work within EH&S to ensure preparedness for various workplace hazards, including fire and chemical, radiological, biological spills/releases, compressed/liquefied gas releases.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned by the Assistant Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety.


A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university and seven years of progressively responsible managerial or supervisory experience in emergency management, preparedness, business continuity or related experience. Experience in civil defense, police, fire and/or equivalent combination of training and experience will also be considered.

The successful candidate will have knowledge of the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS); experience in appraising emergency situations, supporting disaster responses, and/or developing training activities or emergency planning for organization preparedness; and knowledge of and ability to interpret federal, state, and local laws, codes, and regulations. Further, an ability to analyze problems, identify alternative solutions, project consequences of proposed actions and implement recommendations in support of goals; work cooperatively with the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds of university personnel and students, and to create a respectful and inclusive workplace; establish and maintain positive and harmonious working relationships; and gain cooperation through discussion, motivation, and persuasion are all important for this director. Knowledge and support of the university mission; an ability to maintain a customer service and educational mindset when engaging the public and campus community; and the ability to manage and lead in a complex, rapidly changing environment are all key characteristics of the next director. In addition, the successful candidate will be familiar with principles and practices of budget preparation and administration, have effective written and oral communication skills, and possess the ability to motivate, supervise, and develop staff.

Preferred qualifications include an advanced degree in public administration, business administration, risk management, emergency management, community regional planning or relevant field. Further, formal training and/or certification in disaster response, emergency operations, emergency management planning, business continuity, risk management, Adult CPR, First Aid, and AED. Training or certifications such as Certified Environmental Manager (CEM), Associate of Risk Management (ARM), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), and Incident command training (FEMA, ICS courses, etc.).

In addition to the stated qualifications and characteristics, Iowa State stakeholders identified the following characteristics as important for the emergency management director position (in no particular order):

  • Adept at conceptualizing a full emergency management program for higher education.
  • An authentic communicator capable of truly understanding an audience and how to effectively listen and connect with their needs.
  • Possess an extensive background in the creation and implementation of emergency management programs, plans, and training within complex organizations.
  • A solid understanding of fire safety and risk assessment to both support and advocate for the staff and their needs.
  • Capacity to command a room through demonstrated confidence, knowledge, experience, and strength of presence.
  • Demonstrated hands-on experience with real, large-scale emergency and/or crisis situations.
  • A strong community builder and collaborator, capable of building bridges between departments, faculty, staff, students, local, regional, and state agencies.
  • Ability to successfully navigate difficult situations with poise, calm, and tact.
  • Possess a genuinely inclusive leadership style that is confident, approachable, motivational, and transparent, with the ability to be firm, clear, direct, and consistent with staff and others.
  • A transformative, collaborative leader to help make emergency management a fixture of the Iowa State culture.
  • A forward-thinking professional, aware of trends and best practices and how to effectively incorporate these into the campus community.
  • Demonstrated cultural competence with a strong belief in the value of diversity in enriching the learning experience and the quality of life on campus.
  • A highly energetic, positive individual with a strong sense of self.
  • Possess solid coaching and mentoring skills to assist in the further development of the office staff.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead a group of highly skilled leaders and professionals.
  • Capacity to continually evaluate policies and procedures using knowledge obtained through drills or actual events to inform change.
  • Ability to coordinate emergency preparedness training and drills for all levels of stakeholders across the institution.
  • A willingness to be visible on campus, to be present, to participate in the life of the campus, and to provide service wherever requested.
  • Maintain a solid network of seasoned professionals at the forefront of the field of emergency management from which to draw upon for guidance and support.
  • A strategic thinker with an ability to see both short- and long-term issues and develop appropriate solutions.
  • Innovative technology experience to further enhance emergency management efforts increasing efficiency and streamlining processes.
  • Ability to exercise exceptional judgment and intuition.


The previous emergency management director retired after serving 12 years in this capacity with 27 total years of service to Environmental Health & Safety. He leaves behind a strong team of emergency management and fire safety professionals eager to move forward and build upon their impressive record of exemplary service and expertise.

An interim has been named while the institution conducts a national search for its new director.


The new director will encounter the following opportunities and challenges:

  • The new director has a solid foundation upon which to build and grow.
  • The staff is very talented and passionate about their work.
  • Senior administration is supportive of emergency management and fire safety.
  • The director will be expected to creatively inspire change and lead the effort to educate the entire campus community regarding fire safety, emergency plans, and preparedness.
  • Work to effectively train, coach, and empower the emergency management and fire safety staff and instill a culture of constant evaluation and improvement.
  • Completely understand the unique challenges, needs, and culture of Iowa State.
  • Provide training and emergency specific practices to allow all constituents a level of comfort and confidence in their specific roles.
  • Help ensure business continuity plans are all up-to-date and accurate.
  • The Department of Public Safety has an emergency management director who is responsible more for the response side of an emergency. These two directors will need to forge a strong partnership to seamlessly work together for the safety of the campus.
  • Lead efforts to conduct all pertinent training for the campus community including tabletops.
  • Serve as a resource for the campus on all things emergency management; maintaining accurate information, current research, and online tools for the campus community to easily access.
  • Completely understanding the unique challenges and needs of a complex, de-centralized organization.
  • Ensure the office does not operate within a silo and only engages others when an emergency arises. This director needs to make sure the office is included in meetings and decisions that may impact fire safety and/or emergency management.
  • Review all policies and procedures ensuring that they are accurate, clear, and easily accessible to the campus community.
  • Iowa State is an incredible institution constantly evolving and improving.
  • The new director has the ability to create a structure from which the office and the campus can excel.
  • The leadership is open to positive change and to trying new ideas and initiatives.
  • Environmental Health and Safety has experienced some recent changes with leadership transitions and retirements, including the department reporting through the Office of General Counsel. Overall, these changes have proven to be positive, but the department is still learning and the director should be aware of this new reporting structure.
  • Currently, the institution’s Emergency Operations Plans are being revised and updated. The new director may come in on the tail end of this process yet will need to embrace the plan and begin to educate and train to the plan.


At an appropriate interval after joining Iowa State, the following will define initial success for the executive director.

  • The director has built productive and collaborative relationships across the institution and with the local, regional, and state agencies.
  • The director has earned the confidence, respect, and trust of senior administration, becoming a thought partner at the senior level.
  • The director will have learned the institutional culture, its complexities, and key stakeholders.
  • The appropriate infrastructure is in place; all policies, procedures, and documents are established and are easily understandable and accessible to the campus.
  • The staff are well-trained and feel valued and supported by the new director.
  • EH&S staff are better prepared to assist and support in the response phase of an emergency.
  • The director is a well-known and trusted member of both the campus and local communities and the office is considered a positive asset.
  • The director has been instrumental in advancing the safety of the institution through a deliberate and comprehensive effort to enhance emergency preparedness and fire safety.
  • Each campus department understands its role and what is expected of them in an emergency situation.

Institution & Location


EH&S aids the campus community in preventing illness and injury, protecting the environment, and connecting the university to the message of safety and preparedness. EH&S delivers effective education, fosters beneficial partnerships, maintains technical expertise, and provides exemplary service.

Environmental Health and Safety Program Areas
• Administrative Services
• Asbestos and Lead
• Biological Safety
• Emergency Management and Outreach
• Environmental Programs
• Fire Safety
• Laboratory Safety
• Occupational Health and Safety
• Radiation Safety
• Training and Communication

Programs and Services
• Emergency Management
• Fire Safety
• Hazardous Waste
• Health
• Incineration
• IT and Web Publications
• Laboratory Safety
• Outreach
• Permitting
• Plan Review
• Radiation
• Safety Services
• Training

Environmental Health and Safety Mission, Vision, and Values

Environmental Health and Safety Organizational Chart


The primary mission of emergency management is to ensure that faculty, staff, and students are adequately prepared for emergency situations. To attain the highest state of preparedness, emergency plans and procedures are needed for a campuswide response as well as for specific buildings, departments, and units. The emergency management group is responsible for coordinating emergency exercises, drills, and training with local response agencies and the university.


Iowa State University is a public, land-grant university where students get a great academic start in learning communities and stay active in 800-plus student organizations, undergrad research, internships, and study abroad. They learn from world-class scholars who are tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges—feeding the hungry, finding alternative fuels, and advancing manufacturing.

Iowa State University Mission and Vision

Strategic Plan Development


Total Enrollment: 29,969
Undergraduate: 25,241
Graduate: 4,094
Professional Students: 634
Retention Rate: 87%

Male: 54.8%
Female: 45.2%

White: 76%
African American: 3%
Asian: 4%
Hispanic: 6%
Two or More Races: 3%
Race Unknown: 3%
Non-Resident: 4%


Commitment to fostering a welcoming environment for all people in all the ways they differ.

Commitment to fostering a climate where all individuals have access and opportunity to fully participate in the educational and working environment.

Commitment to fostering a climate where all individuals have a sense of belonging through support and respect to fully participate in the educational and working environment.


Wendy Wintersteen – President

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on Nov. 20, 2017, after a nationwide search, followed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The first woman to hold the University’s highest office, Dr. Wintersteen has served Iowa State for more than 40 years in several capacities.

Dr. Wintersteen is advancing Iowa State University for the 21st century with priorities and aspirations expressed in ISU’s new strategic plan: to be the most student-centric leading research university where students, faculty, and staff flourish in a welcoming and inclusive environment; to be the university that fosters lifelong learning, creates opportunities and forges new frontiers; and to be a trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.

Before becoming president, Dr. Wintersteen served eleven years as the inaugural endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. During her tenure, Iowa State’s agricultural programs ranked in the top 10 worldwide, CALS enrollment rapidly increased to become the third largest college of agriculture in the nation, research grants increased markedly, awards for teaching excellence grew, and the college achieved a 98 percent placement rate for its graduates.

President’s cabinet

Benefits Overview

Click here to learn about Iowa State University’s full benefits.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to Heather J. Larabee at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Visit the Iowa State University website at

 Iowa State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, marital status, disability, or protected veteran status, and will not be discriminated against. This position serves at the pleasure of the University administration and is exempt from certain P&S policies.