Preparing Next Generation Emergency Managers Ahead of the Curve


With Target's support, leaders from across the country convene to prepare for emergencies and disasters.

Jill Raycroft is learning to deal with threats of all kinds—from earthquakes to cybercrime—every day. It’s all in a day’s work as the leader of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management’s training and exercise program. “Our city is relatively small and densely populated with many diverse communities,” she says, “so we focus our preparedness efforts around the needs of our various neighborhoods and groups.” Across the country, other emergency management professionals like Raycroft face similar challenges unique to their own cities and neighborhoods.

Luckily, they don’t have to navigate those challenges alone. Raycroft is one of 15 leaders from cities across the United States who recently came together at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters to take part in an Emerging Leaders training program. It’s an opportunity for the next generation of emergency management professionals in early- to middlemanagement roles within their organizations to learn leadership and business management skills while building their network of peers and partners. The program was developed in partnership with Big City Emergency Managers, Inc., and Target has hosted training sessions since 2010. 

“This program is just another way to do what we’ve always done—and that’s giving back and helping prepare the communities where we do business,” says Ralph Boelter, vice president, Corporate Security at Target. “It’s a win-win for Target as we gain access to these influential emergency management leaders and in turn are able to share leadership best practices and resources.”

Big City Emergency Managers, Inc., Director Ron Prater says the information sharing that happens with the program is essential for these new leaders.

“The first step in growing our leaders is helping them understand and share what it takes to be a leader in the emergency management environment,” says Prater. “This Emerging Leaders program brings together the ‘up-andcomers’ with the more experienced emergency managers to exchange lessons they’ve learned and ideas on how to improve the discipline across the country.”

At this year’s session, which took place over three days in February, participants met with Target team members and leaders to learn about such topics as leadership essentials, marketing, and communications basics. They toured Target’s crisis management and security operations center, known as the Corporate Command Center (C3), and heard case-study examples of Target’s preparedness and response efforts and crisis management. The session also included a leadership panel featuring guest experts in the field of emergency management, including Joe Bruno, commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, and Jim Featherstone, general manager of the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department.

“Opportunities for leadership are all around us,” says Bruno, “and the principles used by business and government leaders—such as sharing information, setting common goals, and putting personal agendas aside—are the same ones emergency management was founded on as a coordinating agency.”

At the session, participants were grouped into teams to work on projects that apply new lessons to their current work. Throughout the spring and summer, they’ll keep in touch with their partners, despite the distance, via regular conference calls, email, and social media. They’ll also have the chance to participate in webinars, hosted by Target, covering additional areas of interest. Participants will reconvene at a Big City Emergency Management meeting this fall to present their finished projects and celebrate their graduation from the program—with many of their Target colleagues there to cheer them on.

“Local government alone can’t ensure that communities are prepared and safe,” says Robert Troy, another of this year’s Emerging Leaders participants. As manager of Emergency Management Services for the City of Chicago, Troy and his team support 911 calls and dispatch for police, fire, and emergency medical services, as well as other nonemergency services and management. “We greatly rely on partnerships with other levels of government, companies like Target within the private business sector, and the community itself to build a city that is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from disaster.”

Visit the Safety and Preparedness page on to learn more about how Target works with partners to help keep communities strong, healthy, and safe.

[Editor's Note: This case study was featured in Changing the Game: How Business Innovations Reduce the Impact of Disasters.]