Desi Matel-Anderson is the founder of the Field Innovation Team (FIT) . Desi is the first and former Chief Innovation Advisor at FEMA. During her tenure at FEMA, she led the first innovation team down to Hurricane Sandy to provide real-time problem solving in emergencies and ran programs nation-wide to cultivate solutions with communities, municipalities, and state agencies.
She began her career at Northern Illinois University’s Office of Emergency Planning and transitioned to the five-county Southeast Wisconsin Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) to focus on fiscal compliance, policy, and regulatory solutions. A notable accomplishment while Desi served on the UASI team was the 2010 Presidential Declaration for disaster relief funding which ultimately led to an opportunity for Desi to work as FEMA’s Chief Innovation Advisor in Washington D.C. In addition, Desi has performed audits for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, including assessing the City of Boston’s Emergency Management Services prior to the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.
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 and was appointed to United States National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
Desi facilitates preparedness programming for large- and small-scale events, guest lectures at Harvard, Yale, Naval Postgraduate and various universities, and runs technology and emergency management projects with city, State, Federal and Provincial governments. Her most recent projects include creating and building a virtual reality evacuation program for the City of Chicago to prepare over 50,000 employees at O’Hare and Midway International Airports, a tri-state earthquake prediction initiative in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, and curriculum development and training for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.)
Desi attended the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and School of Public Health in 2011, advised on Harvard’s Executive Education on National Preparedness Leadership Institute Advisory Board in 2013, and obtained a Juris Doctorate from Northern Illinois University in 2009.