Monica Pinzon

Ten years ago, I had taken a day off from my work as an office manager two blocks from the World Trade Center. We lived in Sunnyside, Queens, where we had a great view of the twin towers. I looked out my window and saw smoke coming from one of the buildings, then the second building on fire. From that moment, everything changed in our lives.

We lost a great friend, Mark Whitford, a firefighter with Engine Co. 23. My job was gone when my office closed because it was affected by debris from the attacks, and the most beautiful view from our bedroom window will never be again.

In October 2002, I took a contracting job with the Health and Human Services Department as the regional manager for administrative services, Program Support Center. One of my duties was to work on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new concept of continuity-of-operations (COOP) plans. I took the process to heart. For six years working at HHS, I attended many FEMA classes, updated COOP plans, had the agency participate in annual exercises and worked with other agencies.

In October 2008, I started a new job with the Labor Department, where I have developed a robust emergency preparedness program. I work with Labor’s Emergency Management Center in Washington. I coordinate with other agencies in Boston and New York to set up annual National Preparedness Expos. Each year, more agencies join the expo with ways for reaching the federal community with the preparedness message.

This September, once again we have expos scheduled in Boston and New York. Our message is stronger. More agencies are participating, and more citizens will be educated.

Pinzon is the Labor Department’s Boston/ New York continuity program manager.