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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.


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 governance, strategic planning and program development processes and coordinates development and execution of the RDPO Policy Committee’s state and federal legislative agenda.

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 In 2016, Denise received Oregon Emergency Management Association’s Partner Award for exceptional service to the RDPO in enhancing regional coordination and collaboration across disciplinary and jurisdictional boundaries.


Laura Bruno, Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) Project Coordinator

Email, (503) 823-9799

Laura joined the RDPO in 2016 to lead planning for the organization, which includes stakeholders from five counties (Clackamas, Clark, Columbia, Multnomah and Washington). Prior to joining RDPO, Laura worked for more than a decade in international humanitarian relief and development with Mercy Corps. She managed a multi-country resilience program focused on disaster risk reduction and market systems development in Asia. She holds a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Seattle Pacific University, and an MBA Certificate from Portland State University’s Entrepreneurial Leaders program.


Anne Castleton, Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planner

Email, (503) 823-2360

Anne is a project manager with broad experience in disaster risk reduction planning; she has worked in more than 20 countries educating colleagues and communities about risk reduction strategies. Before joining PBEM, she supported the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Programme based in China. As Mercy Corps’ Director of Disaster Risk Reduction, she coordinated the review and publication of Toward Resilience: A guide to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and developed a companion e-learning course with the Disaster Ready Initiative. Before being lured into international development and disaster risk reduction, Anne spent a decade working in the private sector (technology and pharmaceuticals). 


Keren Ceballos, Business Operations, Finance Chief & Equity Manager

Email, (503) 823-4187

Keren is responsible for directing the financial, business operations and HR areas of PBEM, including fiscal administration of federal grant programs, annual budget development, capital plans, AP/AR, contracts and procurement, payroll, professional development, risk management and audit processes. Keren also leads Equity, Title VI, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) work for the bureau.

She holds degrees in Finance, HR and Management from Portland State University. She has managed people and programs across different industries in the public and private sectors with budgets ranging from thousands of dollars to billions of dollars. In 2010 and 2011, she was part of FEMA’s first two and only Latino summits.


Amy Cole, Grants Compliance Program Manager

Email, (503) 823-4375

Amy Cole joined the bureau in late 2015 and coordinates federal grant management and compliance. Before joining PBEM, she served as a program coordinator at the City of Raleigh, NC where she worked with nonprofits and local governments on homeless systems change and public services.  Prior to that, she ran a statewide homeless services grant program and worked at the local and state levels in affordable housing and community development. Amy earned a Master of Urban Planning and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Psychology from Lewis and Clark College.


Drew DeVitis, Transportation Recovery Planner

Email, (503) 823-3754

Drew DeVitis joined the bureau in December 2016 and is responsible for coordinating the City's Transportation Recovery Plan. Before joining PBEM, Drew worked at Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center, where he helped develop a guidebook for pedestrian and bicycle connections to transit for the Federal Transit Administration. Prior to that, he had a background in community development and sustainable transportation. Drew earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.


Dan Douthit, Public Information Officer

Email, (503) 823-3928

Dan Douthit is responsible for conducting PBEM’s media relations, and overseeing the bureau’s Public Information and Communications program.

Dan started working at PBEM in 2008, first as a program specialist focused on regional coordination, and then as public information officer in 2013. He also previously served as a staff member in Portland Mayor Tom Potter’s office. Dan 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.


Ernest "Ernie" Jones, Volunteer Program Development

Email, (503) 823-4711

Ernest Jones joined PBEM in October 2015 to work with the BEECN and NET programs and conduct outreach. He previously served 22 years as a reservist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in community relations and disaster survivor assistance on approximately 55 federally declared disasters, including Super Storm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and the World Trade Center in 2001.

Since 2005, Ernest has represented the U.S. as an election monitor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He was a Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholar at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and holds a B.A. from The Evergreen State College and M.S.W. from the University of Washington.


Jonna Papaefthimiou, Planning, Policy, & Communications Manager

Email, (503) 823-3809

Jonna joined PBEM in 2013.  As the Planning, Policy, & Communications 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.


Courtney Patterson, Emergency Management Operations Manager

Email, (503) 823-3738

Courtney Patterson is responsible for the Portland Emergency Coordination Center, where City employees gather to manage disaster situations. She also supervises the ECC responder, NET and BEECN programs. Prior to becoming operations manager, she spent three years designing trainings, simulating disasters, and writing procedures for PBEM. 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.


Mike Phillips, Management Analyst

Email, (503) 823-4402

Mike started working for PBEM in February 2017 and manages the solicitation process for Professional, Technical, & Expert Services (PTE) projects. He also works closely with the RDPO Manager on all grant related matters. Before joining PBEM, Mike worked for the federal government as a Contract Specialist for 9 years, awarding various types of contracts including supply/services, PTE, and construction. He also served nearly a decade in the U.S. Army.


Laurent Picard, Fire Lieutenant Liaison

Email, (503) 823-7269

Lt. Laurent Picard has worked at Portland Fire & Rescue for 20 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 PF&R liaison to PBEM, Laurent has a wide variety of responsibilities, including: staffing the Emergency Coordination Center, the PF&R Incident Command Post, and the Portland Police Bureau Emergency Operations Center; coordinating emergency services/evaluating street closures for special events; training Portland Neighborhood Emergency Team volunteers; developing policies, procedures and training curriculum; and serving as a technical advisor on committees and work groups.

In addition to his work at PF&R, Laurent previously served on the Hood River City Council for 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.


Anthea Tan, Accountant III

Email, (503) 823-0173

Anthea has worked as an Accountant with the City of Portland since 2009. She has managed and monitored expenditures for various grants, processed accounts payable and receivables, and performed year-end close activities.

Before joining the City of Portland, Anthea worked for the City and County of San Francisco and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) as an accountant.  She holds a BA in Accounting, and has 13 years of accounting and grant financial management experience.    


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. 


Katy Wolf, Exercise & Training Coordinator

Email, (503) 823-3874

Katy Wolf is responsible for recruiting and training Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) responders and for developing, conducting, and evaluating exercises designed to test and enhance the City’s capabilities. She staffs the ECC during emergency activations and serves as a duty officer. Katy is also a Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) Lead for Boise, Eliot and Humboldt neighborhoods. Before PBEM, Katy worked for six years in energy efficiency program management and business development and in urban planning and design for two years. Katy holds a B.A. in English from the University of Oregon.


PBEM Organizational Chart

PBEM organizational chart as of December 2, 2016.

PBEM Director Carmen Merlo

Biography of PBEM Director Carmen Merlo.