Chief R. David Paulison is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in emergency and disaster preparedness, response and recovery, having just completed seven years of federal service culminating in his appointment as Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This appointment followed a 30-year career in emergency management and emergency service. Chief Paulison is a proven organizational leader who won widespread praise for his restoration of FEMA as a competent, credible agency.
As Administrator, Paulison was responsible to the President of the United States, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the American people for stewardship of FEMA’s $9.6 billion annual budget, a 16,000 plus member workforce and a mission to prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from domestic disasters and emergencies – whether natural, man-made or acts of terrorism. Paulison designed and implemented a new strategic vision for FEMA, developed the FEMA staff and leadership team at the National and regional levels, and restored the agency’s morale and identity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Paulison successfully advocated for the doubling of FEMA’s budget and staff, and established effective budget and performance accountability measures. He led disaster response and preparedness efforts across federal departments and agencies and coordinated with state and major city elected officials as well as volunteer organizations and the private sector. Chief Paulison is a highly recognized national speaker and media commentator with significant contacts in the international emergency management community.
Chief Paulison has also served in other capacities at the federal level, including as Administrator of the United States Fire Administration, Director of Preparedness at FEMA and on the transition team during the design and formation of DHS.
Chief Paulison retired as Fire Chief of Miami-Dade County in 2001 after 30 years in firefighting and nine years as Chief. During his tenure, Chief Paulison was responsible for managing the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the internationally experienced Urban Search and Rescue Team.
Chief Paulison holds a Bachelor of Arts and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives at Harvard University.