Susie Schmitz is an Associate at Constant Associates with over 10 years of experience in disaster planning, research, and education. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver and specializes in emergency management evaluation, nonprofit and faith-based continuity planning, disaster behavioral health course development, and interagency community partnership building.
Prior to joining CONSTANT Susie worked in a variety of sectors within the disaster field. Starting in academic research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Center for Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness where she led disaster behavioral health trainings with first responders and public health staff. Then, after a short international move to Japan, Susie came back to the United States and transitioned into the nonprofit realm as Director of Programs at San Francisco Community Agencies Responding to Disaster. There she co-developed “Psychological First Aid for Volunteer Responders” for SF Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams, provided disaster planning technical assistance to nonprofit and faith-based organizations, supported the creation of SF VOAD, and liaised between nonprofits and local government for disaster planning.
Most recently, Susie worked for the US federal government as a Senior Project Director at the Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In this position she played a leadership role in multiple research projects examining the impacts of disasters on the VA healthcare system and Veterans. In particular, she explored VA’s collaboration with external partners for disaster preparedness and response, supported the development of disaster planning tools for nonprofit organizations serving Veterans experiencing homelessness, and created resilience trainings for healthcare personnel. Over the years, Susie has also volunteered with the American Red Cross to support survivors and responders during wildfires, urban conflagration, and hurricanes. She has clinical experience providing emotional support and public health education to refugees and at-risk youth in Iowa, Colorado, and Serbia.
Favorite Disaster Book: The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley
Favorite acronym: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
Strangest Personal Emergency Kit Item: Yoga mat
First EM experience: Supporting Hurricane Katrina evacuees at a Red Cross relocation center in Denver, CO
Hobbies: Yoga, Watching Movies, Reading, Hiking, Traveling