Expert Advisors

Immediately after the disaster, we asked County leadership what they needed. In response, we found, vetted and engaged three national experts in disaster recovery and prevention to support and advise the County and our community.


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James Lee Witt, Senior Advisor  

James Lee Witt is a former White House cabinet member and director of FEMA. He currently serves as senior advisor to fortune 500 companies and government leaders around the world. He recently provided strategic counsel to the top European executives of a major multi-national corporation. He is recognized for his leadership and expertise in business continuity as well as crisis and emergency management.

He is held in high esteem by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, who often seek his guidance and counsel on major policy issues. He is known for his ability to plow through the haze and tension and bring people together to develop common sense solutions to the most complex issues.

As FEMA Director, Mr. Witt coordinated federal disaster response and recovery on behalf of the White House and oversaw more than 350 disasters, some of which were the most devastating disasters of all time. He is perhaps best known for the credit he received for turning FEMA from an unsuccessful bureaucratic agency to an internationally acclaimed all-hazards disaster management agency.

Prior to accepting the role of Senior Advisor for The Partnership for Resilient Communities, Mr. Witt worked with Natalie Orfalea and the County to build the Project Impact Aware and Prepare program and EOC. His role at The Partnership is to advise on the recovery of Montecito, finding additional resources and helping to secure state and federal funding for mitigation. He has already been to Washington to meet with current head of FEMA and with Congress and is able to bring in additional top expertise as needed.  


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Retired Admiral Thad Allen, Advisor

Thad William Allen is a former United States Coast Guard admiral who served as the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard. Allen is best known for his widely praised performance directing the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region, and for his role as National Incident Commander of the Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In his four decades of service, Allen has held operational command both at sea and ashore, conducting missions to support the maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship interests of the nation.

Allen's civilian awards include the 2006 Strategic Vision Award by the Global Strategy Institute (GSI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In 2009, he was awarded the Admiral Of The Ocean Sea Award (AOTOS) from the United Seaman's Service and the 2009 Business Achievement Award given by Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society affiliated with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. He was nominated for this award by the United States Coast Guard Academy. Allen, in May 2013, also received an honorary doctorate in public service from the George Washington University. Allen is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. He was elected a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow in 2003 and leads a task force on studying resilient communities.

As an advisor to The Partnership, Admiral Thad Allen will provide guidance for recovery and advise on best practices he has studied and experienced in other parts of the country and world and how they may benefit our community. 


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David Fukutomi, Chief Recovery Advisor

David Fukutomi is a national expert in disaster response and recovery, multi-agency coordination efforts, private sector integration and complex integration of government programs and authorities. He provides a unique perspective from a combination of field operations and headquarters level experience. Mr. Fukutomi has first-hand experience in government operations and the private sector, specifically in the areas of organizational dynamics, government affairs, and collaboration at the federal, state and local level and private sector.

His government service includes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). He has served as a consultant to various government agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S Department of Veterans Affairs and State of California. In his last assignment at FEMA, Mr. Fukutomi served as Special Assistant to former US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, the Principal Federal Official for the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Mr. Fukutomi has taken the position of Chief Recovery Advisor and is working inside the County with top executives, disaster recovery officials and public safety chiefs. David, who has earned the trust of the key government and public safety officials, has been able to leverage his experience and contacts to obtain extensions and access senior disaster officials to ensure that agencies governing affected communities can optimize disaster funding opportunities funded by FEMA and other government sources.