Kevin Wickersham

Response Section Manager
Washington Emergency Management Division

Q: What brought you to the Washington Military Department?
A: I’ve been in emergency management for a number of years and had partnered closely with EMD while I was working in emergency preparedness and response at the WA Department of Health. I’ve always been particularly passionate about response work and, as much as I enjoyed my work at DOH, when this opportunity became available at EMD I just had to apply.

Q: What's the most inspiring part of your job?
A: I am most inspired by the hard work and commitment of my colleagues at EMD, at other state agencies, and at the tribal and local emergency management agencies. Even in the midst of an over two and a half year response to a global pandemic and all of the associated personal and professional hardships, as well as facing all of the threats and hazards we do including catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, cyberattack, and more, in a landscape of resource constraints and competing demands, there are committed public servants in every area of the state doing their best every day to protect the people and communities of Washington.

Q:What motivates you to work hard?
A: Knowing my work and the work of my teams directly or indirectly serves 39 counties, 29 tribes, 281 cities and towns, and 1,285 special purpose districts, not to mention over 7.6 million people is a huge motivator. While local and tribal governments are directly responsible for emergency management services in their areas, we at EMD and through the State Emergency Operations Center stand by to “have their back” so to speak, when faced with an emergency that overwhelms their resources and/or capabilities. That is a weighty responsibility and demands that my work is nothing less than the best I can do.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work and how do you tackle it?
A: Resource constraints and competing demands are a perpetual challenge in my area, and in many areas of emergency management. There is so much work to do and only so many resources with which to do it, it is difficult to achieve and sustain the necessary level of capability in many areas. We tackle this by looking for the most efficient and innovative ways to use the resources we have, and we’re constantly looking to prioritize work on the most important capabilities that deliver the most valuable services to our partners and their communities.

Q: Do you ever think about the impact your work has on Washington residents? How does that make you feel?
A: I think about this every day, and it is the best and most important part of my job. I’ve lived most of my life in Washington, and much of my family and most of my friends are Washingtonians as well, so this work is personal to me. It’s pretty amazing to come to work knowing that any positive change I make will benefit all people and communities in Washington.

Q: Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Much of my childhood I wanted to be an Emergency Medical Technician – I was interested in helping people, and also thought it would be pretty cool to drive fast with lights and sirens. Funny enough, I made good on that childhood dream by completing EMT training while a senior in high school, and ended up working on an ambulance throughout college and grad school.

Q: Do you have any skills/hobbies/talents that most people don’t know about?
A: I have a weirdly large number and wide array of hobbies. I’m a pretty serious photographer – particularly nature scenes and the night sky. I also enjoy 3D printing and painting models and movie props. I do quite a bit of home renovation/DIY work, and I play drums. I also enjoy being outdoors, particularly playing golf and camping.

Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Ooh this is a tough one! There’s little I enjoy more than a good steak and potatoes, so I’ll have to say filet mignon with potatoes gratin.

Q: Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
A: Probably my iPhone (or do we consider that a necessity?? I certainly do) – aside from communications, it houses my e-book library and overall I still think it’s amazing that this device that fits in my pocket allows me to access the internet and pretty much the entire compendium of human knowledge. The miracles of modern technology.

Q: How do you recharge from a busy or stressful day?
A: I’m a pretty serious introvert, so my best recharging is done with either a good science fiction or fantasy book, a compelling TV show with action and intrigue, or a good open-world video game.

Q: What do you want to make sure you do before you die?
A: I’d like to do more international travel. There are so many amazing places, peoples, and cultures out there I have a hard time even refining a top 10 list of places I want to go.

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