Local figures offer leadership panel for Boston Marathon

Leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region presented a leadership program Tuesday  to help individuals in security and emergency-related fields improve their leadership abilities.

An estimated 250 people attended the forum at Hynes Convention Center , titled “Whole Community Resistance: It’s Not an Accident,” which brought together professionals from all areas of expertise to improve their actions and management in times of crisis. The full-day program included plenary sessions, leadership insight breakout sessions and a networking lunch.

“You have to anticipate ownership of a crisis and then bring everyone together,” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem, one of the plenary session speakers.

Other speakers included, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston Police Department Commissioner William Evans, and former BPD Commissioner Ed Davis. Dr. Leonard Marcus served as the moderator for the panel.

Focusing the discussion on the lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombing, the panelists used the term “swarm intelligence” to refer to the ways agencies in the public and private sector can improve communication and build relationships to better work together in times of trouble.

Kayyem said security and emergency professionals must keep the public calm during times of trauma, which is something government agencies accomplished during the 2013 Boston Marathon by focusing on the reunion of families.

“The focus on family reunification got us 90 percent there in terms of calmness,” she said. “If people can go home and be with their families, it’s trauma, but it’s a different trauma.”

Evans, who was involved in the search for marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the days following the Marathon, said it is important that the law enforcement approaches all affected individuals with kindness.

“We were just nice to people,” he said. “We didn’t come in like storm troopers … we continually stressed to treat people with kindness.”

Following the panel, the attendees split into four leadership insight breakout sessions for their individual areas of specialty. After lunch, another round of leadership insight sessions congregated, which were intended to give the attendees insight outside of their fields. The symposium concluded with a final panel called “Looking Forward: Leadership Lessons Applied on July 4, 2013,” presented by Walsh.

Several professionals who attended the event said the event fostered an environment for people from various fields of expertise to come together and plan for the future.

April Edrington, managing director of institutional partnerships at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the NLIP has a record of organizing valuable events that bring a large number of people together in a professional setting.

“It’s been really remarkable how they’ve been kind of a hub of bringing folks together to build this relationship,” she said.

Atyia Martin, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness for the Boston Public Health Commission, said she has worked with many of the panelists in the past, and she found the variety of perspectives interesting and educational.

“Everyone up there has had a wonderful experience,” she said. “I’ve worked with all of them before, they’re incredibly knowledgeable and we’re very fortunate to have them … it’s been very, very helpful to hear their stories and how they experienced it [the marathon bombing].”

Joseph Zukas, a captain at the Lynn Fire Department, said the forum was valuable because it allowed emergency and security professionals to plan for the worst-case scenarios before anything happens

“It’s a good cross section of public safety government and the private sector,” he said. “The first time people meet shouldn’t be at the emergency. It should be at planning sessions, months, maybe years in advance, and that helps manage the event when it happens.”

 

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