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Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Readiness. Response. Recovery.

Phone: 503-823-4375

Fax: 503-823-3903

TDD: 503-823-3947

Meet the PBEM Team

Carmen Merlo, Director

Email, (503) 823-4375

Carmen MerloCarmen Merlo has served as the director of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management since 2007. In her current position she is responsible for planning, implementing and improving emergency management plans, programs, and procedures to ensure a coordinated response to major emergencies or disruptions to continuity of operations in the City of Portland. She leads the City’s disaster resilience planning and builds partnerships with local, regional and state partners to advance disaster risk reduction.

Ms. Merlo previously worked for 10 years at the State Office of Homeland Security / Oregon Emergency Management administering grant funds to improve local, regional and state capabilities to respond to and recover from emergencies. She earned a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, School of Criminal Justice in New York.


Trang Ayers, Accountant

Email, (503) 823-2694

Trang is responsible for managing several government grants and other accounting-related functions, including reviewing reimbursement requests, monitoring grant expenditures, and providing oversight to purchases made by PBEM.

Before joining the bureau, she worked for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Standard Insurance Company, and the children’s’ clothing company Hanna Andersson. She earned a B.S. in finance and a retail management certificate from Portland State University in 2012. 


Denise Barrett, Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) Manager

Email, (503) 823-5386

Denise joined PBEM in August 2001 to stand-up and direct the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization, a partnership of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector stakeholders collaborating to increase the Portland metropolitan region’s resiliency to disasters.  Among her duties, Denise facilitates strategic and program development processes.

Denise has extensive global experience leading multi-sector programs in post-disaster, war and poverty contexts.  She holds a Master’s degree in International Administration from the School of International Training.


David Blitzer, Operations Manager

Email, (503) 823-3739

David Blitzer has served as PBEM Operations Manager since 2011. He is responsible for maintaining readiness of the City's Emergency Coordination Center (ECC); providing strategic direction to the Planning, Exercise and Training, Operations and Neighborhood Emergency Team programs; and serving as principal advisor to the Director. Mr. Blitzer previously worked at the New York City Office of Emergency Management as a supervisor in their 24/7 Operations Center. Prior to his city service, Blitzer worked for CH2M Hill focusing on hazardous material investigation and remediation for the U.S. Navy and industrial clients. He earned a B.S. in Geology from the University of Rhode Island (2002).


Danielle Butsick, Natural Hazard Mitigation Planner

Email, (503) 823-3926

Danielle focuses on engaging underrepresented populations in preparing for natural hazards and finding strategies to make Portland a safer, more equitable place to live for all Portlanders. Previously, she wrote oil spill response plans for Washington State, including one for the Columbia River, and helped manage oil spill drills and responses. Danielle has an M.S. in Regional Planning and Natural Disaster Resilience. She started her career working with communities in Florida to determine their hazard risks and enhance their resilience to those hazards. As a volunteer, she deployed on relief missions in Oso, WA after a massive landslide and in Hilo, HI after Hurricane Iselle.


Dan Douthit, Public Information Officer

Email, (503) 823-3928

Dan Douthit has served as PBEM’s public information officer since 2013. This position is responsible for carrying out media relations and overseeing PBEM’s Public Information and Communications program.

Mr. Douthit previously worked at PBEM as a program specialist focused on regional coordination, and for the City of Portland as a staff member in Mayor Tom Potter’s office. He holds an M.A. in Political Science and B.A. in Political Science and Canadian-American Studies from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.


Daire Elliott, Office Specialist

Email, (503) 823-4375

Daire Elliott has been the office specialist for PBEM since 2007, supporting the bureau via timekeeping, financial, and administrative work.  His efforts help ensure an overall smooth flow of work in the office.  He also chairs the bureau's Diversity and Equity Committee and represents the bureau in the Citywide Equity Committee.

Previously, Daire has worked in jobs ranging from warehouse work to veterinary technician, and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture from Portland State in 2000.


Felicia Heaton, Senior Community Outreach & Information Representative

Email, (503) 823-4614

Felicia Heaton, a native Portlander, is PBEM's primary liaison to schools, neighborhood associations, volunteer groups, disaster aid agencies and local businesses. She also acts as the bureau's deputy public information officer.

Before joining the PBEM team in 2013, she worked as a news anchor and reporter for Portland's News Radio 1190 KEX, ABC News and The Oregonian covering a wide range of local and national stories including the Clackamas Town Center shooting; the search for Kyron Horman, and the Woodburn bank bombing. She is winner of Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Felicia continues her work in radio as a weekend on-air personality on Portland music station K103.3 fm.


Mark McKay, Program Specialist - WebEOC

Email, (503) 823-3924

Mark McKay has been with PBEM since 2006 and is the System Administrator for the City’s instance of WebEOC. In his current position he provides technical support, contract management, software development and ensures system integrity. Additionally, he oversees the critical communication and technology tools used in the City’s Emergency Coordination Center and mobile communication assets.

Mark previously worked at the Lane County Sheriff’s Office as the Emergency Management Coordinator and served 10 years in the United States Navy. He is working on his B.S. degree in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix and is a member of the Oregon Emergency Management Association.


Courtney Ochs, Program Coordinator - Exercise & Training

Email, (503) 823-3738

Courtney Ochs designs trainings and simulates disasters that teach City employees how to manage an emergency. She also develops, tests, and improves post-emergency procedures. Previously, she served as a United States Marine planning and conducting humanitarian assistance training in Okinawa, Japan; Pohang, South Korea; and Manila, the Philippines. She evacuated American citizens from Japan following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. She deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a battalion Logistics Officer. Her unit built roads and bridges and provided bulk fuel and water. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.


Jonna Papaefthimiou, Planning & Preparedness Manager

Email, (503) 823-3809

Jonna joined PBEM in 2013.  As the Planning and Preparedness Manager, she coordinates citywide planning for emergency response, continuity of operations, and hazard mitigation.  She also oversees the training and exercises section, which documents, tests, and teaches City employees skills for emergency management and working in the City’s Emergency Coordination Center.

Jonna has previously worked as a community organizer, land-use planner, and political policy advisor.  She has BS in Urban Studies and in Writing, and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Laureen Paulsen, Program Specialist - Exercise & Training

Email, (503) 823-3754

Laureen Paulsen is the primary trainer for the City of Portland’s emergency management team and a passionate advocate for exercises which test the team’s abilities. She has worked at PBEM since 2006 and has been instrumental in successful disaster debris, damage assessment, evacuation, and comprehensive planning efforts. Her efforts have been instrumental in successful grant application and compliance. Previously, she served as the domestic preparedness planner for the State of Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the emergency manager for Polk County. Amazingly, emergency management is her second career after serving 22 years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and supervisor. 


Laurent Picard, Fire Lieutenant Liaison

Email, (503) 823-7269

Lt. Laurent Picard has worked at Portland Fire & Rescue for 19 years, 14 of which he spent working as a firefighter/paramedic at Station 13 in the Lloyd District.  He is also a long-time member of PF&R’s Dive Rescue Team. As the fire lieutenant liaison to PBEM, Laurent has a wide variety of responsibilities, including: staffing the Emergency Coordination Center, coordinating emergency services for large special events, developing training curriculum, and training volunteers as part of the Neighborhood Emergency Team program.

In addition to his work at PF&R, Laurent has served on the Hood River City Council for the last 10 years.  He received his paramedic training at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and has a B.A. in English from Cornell University.


Emma Stocker, Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) Planning Coordinator

Email, (503) 823-9799

Emma Stocker manages regional planning projects across a range of topics including disaster debris management, fuel contingency, and the annual Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process. Before joining RDPO, she served as Business Continuity and Emergency Management Planner at the University of Oregon where she managed the UO’s emergency alert system, Business Continuity program, preparedness outreach, and served as Planning Section Chief. Ms. Stocker earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Reed College.


Jeremy Van Keuren, Program Specialist - Neighborhood Emergency Team

Email, (503) 823-4421

Jeremy manages the bureau’s volunteer programs and is a duty officer. He has worked for the City of Portland since 2003. He has been a policy manager in Portland City Hall (advising two mayors and one commissioner), worked in finance, housing, and economic development. Jeremy has graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and an Executive Masters of Public Administration.


PBEM Organizational Chart

PBEM organizational chart from the City of Portland's FY15-16 proposed budget.

PBEM Director Carmen Merlo

Biography of PBEM Director Carmen Merlo.