Florida A&M University (FAMU) has hired an emergency management director to help the University navigate through the next disaster.
Ashley H. Davis joined FAMU in October as the University was preparing for its biggest homecoming celebration in recent years during the final weeks of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season. In his 15-year emergency management career, Davis has responded to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, oil spills, wildfires, and pandemics. Before joining FAMU, he was bureau chief of response for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM).
“He brings a wealth of emergency management experience that will assist Florida A&M University with engaging community stakeholders during any crisis that may occur. His experience at the local, state and national levels will help improve our response and consolidate services for the campus community,” said William E. Hudson, Jr, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs. “I am delighted to have him working in the Division of Student Affairs in collaboration with Police Chief (Terence) Calloway as we continue to improve service excellence to the campus and surrounding communities.”
Davis’ approach is shaped by his personal as well as professional experience. In 2004, he was operating a yacht club in Pensacola, Florida, when Hurricane Ivan, a category 3 storm, destroyed his home and livelihood.
In the ensuing months, Davis relocated to Tallahassee, where he pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Emergency Management and Homeland Security at Florida State University. He worked two stints with FDEM, which bookend three years with the Florida Department of Transportation’s Emergency Management Team. During his career, Davis has responded to or deployed to more than 62 events, including 35 major federally declared disasters that have directly impacted Florida or the nation.
As the FAMU emergency management director, Davis is responsible for ensuring FAMU is fully prepared for the next hurricane or other man-made or natural disaster.
“My role is to promote resiliency and ensure we are prepared for disasters that may impact our University. Vitally important to that mission is building a comprehensive response team of internal and external partners, fostering relations with FAMU departments, fellow universities, county, state, and federal emergency management partners,” said Davis, who believes it is vital to build a “collaborative culture of disaster preparedness” at FAMU and among other partners.
“I want to ensure that we work together to prepare for disasters that may impact our university,” Davis said. “We also want to foster relations with fellow universities, county, state, and federal emergency management partners.”
Davis said the biggest challenges are raising community awareness and increasing preparedness.
“We must remember it takes our whole community to prepare and recover from disasters. Everyone plays a role in disaster preparedness and the end result is more effective in disaster response,” Davis said. “The whole community must be involved in a systematic effort to keep our University resilient when struck by hazards like natural disasters, man-made disasters, and pandemics.”