How Safe Are We? Disaster Preparedness Summit Targets Cyber & Workplace Security

CHICAGO, IL – Technology touches every aspect of our lives from social interaction to managing personal finances. The cyber world makes life easier to manage, but it also exposes us to threats that can cross the wire. At the same time, we’re also seeing the workplace as a new target of attacks increasing at an alarming rate.

So how safe are we?29108317925_378f4bbd43_o

That’s what participants at this year’s annual American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Summit investigated Aug. 18 through engaging workshops and discussions.

The event, held at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, provided a forum for shared learning and experiences among local leaders representing more than 100 business, government and community organizations. This year’s summit focused on cyber and workplace security to improve the resiliency of the Greater Chicago region in responding to disasters, in whatever forms they take.

29031066061_ab1514a56d_oWeeks before we are about to mark the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Patrick G. Ryan, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the Ryan Specialty Group, spoke about his personal and corporate experiences leading the Aon Corporation during the disaster.

Moderating the day-long discussions were Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer and of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, and board member and chair of this year’s summit, Brenda Battle, Vice President, Care Delivery Innovation, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“We have great collaboration among our corporate and government partners, in addition to all the agencies that have a hand in helping to make our community safer and more resilient to any type of hazard,” said Battle.

28489667643_6f66812842_oDiscussions covered cyber and workplace security issues affecting both public and private sectors. Speakers emphasized organizational self-awareness of the human, physical, and network components of a cyber system. In particular, the ability to identify the data susceptible to attack, potential adversaries, and individual and organizational points of vulnerability is key in the maintenance of cyber security.

Experts also discussed effective response tactics in the event of a workplace security breach and the importance of preparing a carefully prescribed plan. Speakers addressed the significance of issues beyond IT: human resources, legal, privacy, public relations, and most importantly, communication. These were among the critical considerations mentioned in successfully responding to cyber security breaches.

29031147181_8832a58d86_oSpeakers and other topics included:

  • The Hacker/IT Professional (Sharyn Menne, Brandon Fason, James McJunkin)
  • Cyber Security: Protecting the Public/Private Sector, Defending Against an Attack and Closing Trap Doors (Ricardo Lafosse, Kirk Lonbom, Bryan Salvatore, Robyn Ziegler)
  • Cyber Risk: Who Owns It? (Marcus Christian, Jim Hartley, Paul Hinds)
  • Cyber Extortion (Kirk Havens, Thomas F. Minton, Richard Spatafore, Judy Quinton)
  • The Intersection Between Privacy & Security (Gino Betts, James K. Joseph)
  • The Intersection Between Privacy & Security (Paul Steinberg, Alicia Tate-Nadeau)
  • The Fallacy of Workplace Security (Brian Baker, Thomas Henkey, Paul Huerta, John Kiser)
  • The Financial and Legal Impact of Workplace Violence (Keith D. Blakemore, Ann Bresingham, Thomas Byrne)
  • The New Face(s) of Workplace Violence (Thomas R. Mockaitis, Ph.D., Jenna Rowe, John Walsh).

“While nature can wreak havoc on a community, the same is true with cyber breaches and workplace violence. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, much of our work at the Red Cross on local level is to help build more resilient communities in Northern Illinois, such as through the dialogue and partnerships we form at this conference,” said Roldán.

Next year’s summit will cover topics of public health and bio-terrorism.

The event was possible thanks to the generous support of Presenting Sponsors: Aon, CSX, Motorola Solutions, and Zurich of North America; Readiness Sponsor: Grainger; and Community Sponsors: Illinois Medical District, JLL, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; with additional support from Discover and the United Way.

Go here to view more photos of the 2016 American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Summit.

29108254835_c77f7128d7_oStory by: Jessica Hayashi, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

 Photos by: Christopher Doing, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Summit Tackles Topics of Recovery in Disaster Planning

Summit(1)If you consider the three phases of a disaster—prepare, respond, recover—the latter is probably the most challenging. That’s because after the storm has passed, the fires have been put out, and the roads are clear, there’s still so much work to do.

Recovery is a long-term process.  It can take months, even years.

The American Red Cross held it’s 5th Annual Disaster Preparedness Summit Aug. 21 in downtown Chicago where more than 200 leaders representing 85 business, government and community organizations gathered at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago , Gleacher Center so they can be prepared to partner and mobilize when disaster strikes.

The Summit focused on the recovery part in the disaster cycle, bringing together specialists who led recovery tactics in areas of infrastructure, economic development, transit, housing and human services.

Mike Foley, Chief Executive Officer North America Commercial and Regional Chairman of North America at Zurich, opened the Summit and emphasized resiliency in disaster preparedness, and the importance of multi-stakeholder coordination in disaster planning and recovery.

“Grounded in flood resiliency research, Zurich is collaborating with the insurance industry, business, academia, NGO’s and government organizations to develop strategies to drive resilience at the community level,” Foley said. “We believe Zurich and the insurance industry can add value to this discussion and work with the Red Cross to help communities understand and protect themselves from disaster risks, and in recovery.”

Here’s what other industry experts had to say.

Craig Hindman

Retired Executive Vice President, ITW

2014 Summit Co-Chair, American Red Cross, Greater Chicago Region Board of Directors

summit2Craig Hindman said this disaster preparedness summit helped foster the important networking of emergency professionals across a wide cross section of public and private industries.  Presentations of the old tried-and-true emergency response processes that are taken for granted were challenged with an open mind for a fresh approach.  The wide variety of speakers provided rare glimpses of their recovery efforts during actual disasters with hard lessons learned for all of us to take heed.  In the end, when disaster strikes, nobody is going to save us, we need to learn how to save ourselves.


Lane J. Roberts

Retired Chief of Police, City of Joplin, MO

summit3Police Chief Lane Roberts stressed the key to effective disaster preparedness boils down to three main concepts:  1) Stay in your own lane – this means emergency responders should only do what they are trained to do, and not overstep their bounds.  2) Reduce redundancy – this will help avoid wasting precious resources.  3) Get the government out of the way – government agencies are good at developing processes, but they should then get out of the way and let private businesses take over to get things done quickly.  Chief Roberts said non-profit organizations such as The American Red Cross are innovators and will do whatever it takes to immediately help those in need after disaster hits.


Tavares Williams

Community Emergency Response Manager, Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management


Tavares Williams wants residents to know that as members of the community, they have to be an integral part of the disaster planning process.  Residents have an inherent interest in disaster preparedness because they are: 1) direct customers of the services provided by emergency response agencies, 2) constituents of governmental and non-profit agencies, and 3) direct stakeholders in the success of the plan. Williams said residents should also ask: what about me?  Am I, my neighbors, and my family all included in the disaster planning process?  If not, then they all should get involved.


Jimmy Thompson

IEMA Region IV, Regional Disaster Coordinator

JimmyThompsonJimmy Thompson stressed we must collaborate and promote public and private sector partnerships in order to help in the long term recovery process no matter what the size of the disaster – big or small.  We need to emphasize to our partners that the recovery is not over when the disaster is over, because the infrastructure rebuilding will need attention for several years to come.


Earl Zuelke

FEMA Region V, Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator

15043986101_bbe4ffbc71_o (1)Earl Zuelke said when it comes to disaster preparedness, ask yourself – what can you do to lessen the impact of a disaster to your business, your community, and your own family.  First – think life safety.  Then – help the community recover economically, since Humpty Dumpty has to be put back together again.  The information on preparing for a disaster is available – you just have to act on it with a plan.  Unfortunately, the Midwest has one of the lowest percentage rates of the population who have taken the necessary steps to prepare for a disaster – this is primarily because this area of the country doesn’t have many major emergencies.  But we must get over the mindset that it won’t happen to us here, because disaster could strike when we are least prepared.


Harley Jones

Regional Chief Operations Officer, American Red Cross, Greater Chicago Region

summit 1Harley Jones (second from left) said disaster preparedness involves bringing the right people together including from government agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations, and then making sure they are always thinking what they need to do in order to properly care for their employees, customers, and businesses. So if a disaster happens in their communities, these emergency responders will be better able to respond to victims in desperate need of assistance. It’s all about being ready to respond before a disaster happens, especially when you least expect it.


Story and Photos by Bob McCaffrey, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

More photos of the 2014 Disaster Preparedness Summit: