RIT Professor Appointed to State Emergency Preparedness Commission

Jennifer Schneider tapped for expertise in strengthening emergency response capabilities

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Jennifer Schneider

Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Jennifer Schneider has been appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve on a newly established commission that will draft recommendations for New York state’s emergency preparedness.

Schneider has been tapped to serve on the NYS Respond Commission, one of three panels formed by the governor.

“The appointments consist of experienced men and women who have the skills and backgrounds necessary to review and make recommendations for New York state to improve its preparedness and response capabilities, as well as to strengthen the state’s infrastructure for the future,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I look forward to working with each and every one of these members to make our state a safer place for all New Yorkers.”

Schneider brings to the commission extensive experience in environmental health and safety management system design, risk management and critical infrastructure, and has led two Department of Homeland Security projects, one on emergency preparedness and response capabilities for mid-size cities using Rochester as a model. Data from both will be incorporated into the commission’s work.

“We must understand where our risks lie,” says Schneider, the Russell C. McCarthy Endowed Chair in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology and a professor in the college’s civil engineering technology, environmental management and safety department. “Our ability to address emergencies in a timely manner depends on giving our emergency managers and responders quality information about the state of our communities. With that information, we can make effective response possible.”

Commission members include prominent corporate, civic and academic experts in the field of energy, transportation and emergency preparedness as well as representation from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation as well as the state’s Department of Homeland Security.

The governor’s commissions are charged with reviewing strategies to protect existing transportation, energy, environmental and other infrastructure systems. The NYS Respond Commission is specifically charged with:

  • Making recommendations about training for personnel being activated for emergency response and recovery efforts;
  • Ensuring the health and safety of hospital patients and other vulnerable persons are protected during an emergency;
  • Proving timely and reliable information for the public; ensuring that each locality is prepared for emergency situations, including post-emergency needs are identified, and
  • Coordinating emergency responses across all levels of government.

The commission is expected to issue its recommendations to Cuomo in early January.

“Dr. Schneider’s appointment to the commission not only speaks to her expertise in her field and excellence as a teacher, but is testimony to her deep commitment to solve state-wide issues,” says H. Fred Walker, dean of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology. “We at RIT are honored and proud to contribute to this important effort by Governor Cuomo to better prepare our state for future natural disasters.”

Prior to working at RIT, Schneider was the director of environmental health and safety for ITT Goulds Pumps, safety manager at Mobil Chemical Corp. and an engineer at Eastman Kodak Co. She is also a senior peer reviewer for National Institutes of Health, and has been called upon to provide guidance in risk analysis and hazardous materials/process safety.