Matel-Anderson (’09) Named a COVID-19 Hero

Congratulations to Desiree Matel-Anderson (’09) who was named a COVID-19 Hero for extensive experience in emergency management and many years of providing cutting disaster solutions.  Check out the podcast interview by Emergency Manager Lorraine Schneider. In September 2019, Desiree was honored with the NIU Law Young Alumna of the Year Award.

Desiree deploys into disasters as the “Chief Wrangler” for the Field Innovation Team (FIT), an organization that focuses on bringing smart technology and design into resilience initiatives and disaster response. As the first and former Chief Innovation Advisor at FEMA, she led the first innovation team down to Hurricane Sandy to provide real-time problem-solving in disaster response and recovery. During her tenure she ran think tanks nation-wide to cultivate innovation in communities. The event trended globally on social media during the broadcasts. She has deployed teams into several disasters including the Boston Marathon Bombings; Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes; Oso, Washington Mudslides; the Nepal earthquakes; the Middle East to support the Syrian Refugee Crisis; the McMurray Wildfires in Canada; the Miami-Dade Public School System to educate on the outbreak of the Zika virus; and Rockport, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

Recently, the team responded to the wildfires in Paradise, California and in 2019, the team focused on solving challenges for the multi-state flooding in Nebraska. Desi lectures on innovation at Harvard, Yale, Berkeley and various other universities. She serves as a consultant on innovation for agencies and governments, nationally and internationally, including her advisor role to the European emergency management consortium in UNESCO’s I-REACT team.

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