Contact Tracing to Help Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus Pandemic

June 26th, 2020

Brittani Peterson

In this episode of All Hazards we take a look at “contact tracing.” We began hearing about this in earnest shortly after the coronavirus hit. Health officials are trying to find out who’s had it, where they might have gotten it and with whom they’ve been in contact.  And to do that they employ the dedicated services of contract tracers.  We talk with one of our Cal OES colleagues, Brittani Peterson, who was recently tasked with becoming a contact tracer and she tells us about her training and what’s she’s expecting in her initial weeks on the job. 


Cal OES Home Page

OES News

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Legislative and External Affairs and Their Own Challenges During Emergencies

May 26th, 2020


This is the return of All Hazards after a Covid19 Hiatus. We hope you’re all safe and well.

We sat down with members of the Cal OES Office of Legislative and External Affairs in January 2020 with the intention of posting it asap. Then the coronavirus hit. It seemed there were more pressing issues on everyone’s minds, so we didn’t want to post this episode at that time. But it’s here now.

Lori Nezhura, Patricia Utterback and Paul McGinnis bring us into the world of elected officials and how they affect each other during disaster response.


Cal OES Legislative and External Affairs

California State Association of Counties (CSAC)

League of California Cities



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Mitch Medigovich: “Athleticism” is a Self-Imposed Requirement for Success in Disaster Logistics

February 18th, 2020

In this episode (#73) we talk with Cal OES Deputy Director Mitch Medigovich, who oversees the Logistics Management Directorate. We concentrate on some of the more recent incidents Logistics have been challenged by including the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), the Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake and Hurricane Florence. Topics include disaster logistics, base camps, supply chains, personnel support, points of distribution (PODs), whole of government, Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and more.   

Mitch Medigovich has a 37 year history of public service and currently serves as Deputy Director in the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.  In this capacity he is responsible for overseeing Public Safety Communications, Information Technology Operations, and Disaster Logistical operations for the agency.   He was appointed by Governor Brown to the Office of Emergency Services in December of 2012, and reappointed by Governor Newsom in 2019.  Prior to this appointment, Mitch worked in the California Military Department as Chief of Staff where he retired as a Colonel.  His other key assignments in the military were as the Combat Aviation Brigade Commander, Director of Army Aviation and Safety and Inspector General.  He is a combat veteran, Master Army Aviator and recipient of numerous medals and citations to include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.

He has directly supported response efforts in every recent major disaster in California that includes nine(9) Presidential Major Disaster Declarations since 2017, the Oroville Dam evacuation, Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes, LA riots, floods and many wild land firefighting operations.  Deputy Director Medigovich earned his Bachelor of Science from California State University Sacramento and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as, a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.

The Disaster Logistics Planning and Coordination Branch implements the Cal OES Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government plan focusing on essential functions and ensuring continued operations during emergencies. The Branch maintains mission-critical operations after an emergency or disaster and provides logistical planning, synchronization, accountability, and delivery of resources to support California’s catastrophic disaster plans.  The branch oversees and provides support for over fifty locations throughout California including capital outlay construction projects.  Logistical Services provides day-to-day operations of business services and facility support, including property management, facility leasing, records and forms management, courier services, shipping and receiving, and reproduction services. Also responsible for fleet administration, contracting and procurement, and property inventory control. Another service provided by this branch is Information Technology, which provides all necessary Cal OES information technology systems including enterprise applications, desktop and mobile PCs, mobile and desk phones. Provides email, remote access, network printing, Cal EOC, file sharing, and web services to the public, partners, and staff.

Also included under Logistics Management is Public Safety Communications, which is responsible for design, installation, maintenance, and repair of the statewide microwave network and public safety radio communications systems used by the State’s public safety agencies’ first responders on a 24 hours/7 days-a-week/365 days-a-year basis. Responsible for oversight and support of the 9-1-1 network serving the State’s 452 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). Operates as the point of contact with the National First Responders Network Board of Directors to implement the National Public Safety Broadband Network.


Cal OES Disaster Logistics

Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)

Podcast Episode 52: Cal OES Team Returns from Hurricane Florence Assistance and Shares Experiences, Part-1

Podcast Episode 53: Cal OES Team Returns from Hurricane Florence Assistance and Shares Experiences, Part-2




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Helen Lopez Leads Cal OES Behind and Beyond the California Borders Via International Affairs

January 21st, 2020



This episode takes a closer look at how the International Affairs Office, at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, is the central hub for matters of  international policy and guidelines, working relationships and special international projects. As the focal point of Cal OES’s engagement with the international emergency management community, International Affairs is primarily responsible for:

  • Annually participating in the Border Governors’ Conference
  • Coordinating and facilitating all foreign delegation visits to the Cal OES headquarters
  • Developing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Cal OES and their international counterparts in order to facilitate the exchange of emergency management best practices
  • Participating in the Chile-California Council
  • Participating in the California-Mexico Border Relations Council
  • Working side-by-side with the Governor’s Office to organize large international events such as the Trade Missions to China and Mexico

Helen Lopez is the International Liaison for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). As assistant director, she leads the International Affairs Office where she works with the international community on emergency response efforts and coordinates delegation visits for countries from all over the world. She has been instrumental in developing Memorandums of Understanding on emergency management with various countries including Chile, Mexico, Australia, and the Aga Khan Development Network. Ms. Lopez has a long history in public service. In 2008, she was appointed Assistant Director and later, in 2009, Deputy Chief of Staff to the newly created California Emergency Management Agency. In 2010, she was promoted to Chief of Staff.

During 1991 to 2007, Ms. Lopez served at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as the Executive Director of the State Board of Food and Agriculture, Director of the Grant Management Program and Audit Director of the Internal Audit Office, as well as the Mexico liaison. In 1991, Ms. Lopez graduated from the California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accountancy.



Cal OES International Affairs

Bracero Program

Indigenous Mixtecos

Aga Khan Development Network


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Cal OES Legal Chief Alex Pal Sets High Bar to Ensure a Resilient California

December 24th, 2019

Alex Pal Photo

In this episode, Cal OES Chief Counsel Alex Pal sits down with Shawn Boyd at headquarters to talk about the role he and his office played during a few recent California emergencies, and the importance legal affairs plays as a whole. Alex was appointed to this position by Governor Brown in 2018 and was reappointed by Governor Newsom in 2019. Prior to serving as Chief Counsel, Alex served in various attorney positions at Cal OES since 2013, including Assistant Chief Counsel and Senior Counsel. Alex has provided legal counsel to Cal OES on many disasters that have struck California, including 11 federally-declared Major Disaster Declaration events and nearly 100 state-only events for which the Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency. Alex earned his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and his Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey.



Cal OES Legal Affairs

California Emergency Services Act


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Tribal Affairs Before, During and After Disasters with Denise Shemenski

December 13th, 2019

 Photo of Denise Shemenski

Denise Shemenski is the tribal advisor for Cal OES. The purpose of the Office of Tribal Coordination is to improve and maintain communication and collaboration between California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and all Native American Tribes in California. This office aims to create effective collaboration and informed decision-making where all parties share a goal of reaching a decision together. Our office priorities are to educate internal and external partners to become informed about the cultural settings of California Native Americans, their emergency management and homeland security issues and cultural sensitivities, for the purpose of improving Cal OES’s understanding of all Native American Tribes in California.

On September 19, 2011, the Governor issued Executive Order B-10-11, to implement effective government to government consultation with California Indian Tribes on policies that affect tribal communities. In May 2015, Cal OES released the Cal OES Tribal Consultation Policy​.​

Be sure to watch the video here of the tribe in Corning (referenced in this podcast) that donated a large portion of its casino camp ground to evacuees displaced by the Camp Fire.


Cal OES Tribal Coordination

Tribal Historic Preservation Officers Program (THPOs) 

California Native American Heritage Commission 

Rolling Hills Casino Home to New Trailers for Camp Fire Survivors


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Access and Functional Needs Concerns Met During Recent California Emergencies

November 13th, 2019

Vance Taylor

In this episode of All Hazards (#69) we talk with Vance Taylor; he’s the chief of the Office of Access and Functional  Needs at Cal OES. Topics of conversation include the importance of partnerships, issues and concerns related to AFN that come up during nearly every emergency in California, and how Taylor and his team tackle those problems before, during and after the emergency strikes.

Vance is responsible for ensuring the needs of individuals with disabilities and persons with access and functional needs are identified before, during and after a disaster. Vance is a nationally recognized public speaker and advocate for individuals with disabilities.  He has a Master's degree in homeland security from the University of Connecticut and an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in communications.


Our previous episode with Vance Taylor

Area Agency On Aging

California Foundation For Independent Living Centers

State Council Developmental Disabilities

American Red Cross

Partnership For Inclusive Disaster Strategies





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Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea Talks Camp Fire One Year Later

October 23rd, 2019

We caught up with Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea just about one year after the Camp Fire broke out, and about 11 months after we first sat down with him. In this episode, Sheriff Honea talks about how the recovery effort is going, the health and wellness of the community and first responders who endured the response efforts, and what his priorities are now, going forward in the future. He also admits that he and many others underestimated just how long the recovery was going to take, and what it's going to take to rebuild the town of Paradise. 

Be sure to check out our first interview with Sheriff Honea below, just a few weeks into the Camp Fire.


Kory L. Honea became the 31st Sheriff of Butte County in May 2014.  Prior to

becoming the Sheriff, Honea served as the Undersheriff for nearly four years.

Sheriff Honea began his career with the Butte County Sheriff's Office in 1993,

when he was hired as a deputy sheriff.  Prior to that Sheriff Honea was employed

by the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.

During his law enforcement career Sheriff Honea has held assignments in

corrections, patrol and investigations.  In 2000, Sheriff Honea transferred

to the District Attorney's Office as an investigator.  While at the District

Attorney's Office, Sheriff Honea promoted through the ranks to become the

Chief Investigator in 2008.  Sheriff Honea held that position until his return to

the Sheriff's Office as Undersheriff in 2010.

Sheriff Honea holds a Juris Doctorate from the Taft School of Law and is a

member of the State Bar of California.  He also holds an Associate of Arts

degree from Butte College.  Sheriff Honea has extensive law

enforcement training certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer

Standards and Training (POST).


Podcast Episode 56: Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea Talks Candidly About the Camp Fire


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Mona Pasquil Rogers and What She’s Learned from Children, Governors and President Clinton

September 17th, 2019

Photo of Mona Pasquil Rogers

Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Mona Pasquil Rogers as senior advisor at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in June, 2019. Pasquil Rogers has served as appointments secretary in the Office of the Governor since 2011.

• Chief of staff to Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi from 2008 to 2009
• Acting Lieutenant Governor from 2009 to 2010, upon Garamendi’s election to Congress.
• Pasquil Rogers was a business development consultant at IBM from 2003 to 2006.
• Deputy political director for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004,
• Political director for Governor Gray Davis’ gubernatorial campaign in 2002
• California political director for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000
• Western political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs from 1996 to 2000.
• Pasquil Rogers was deputy chief executive officer of the Democratic National Convention in 2000.
• She is president of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute,
• Vice president of California Women Lead and a member of Women in Philanthropy.

Simeona Fortunata "Mona" Pasquil (born April 3, 1962) is an American politician who served as the 47th and Acting Lieutenant Governor of California from November 4, 2009 to April 27, 2010, previously serving as Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi's chief of staff.

On November 3, 2009, California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi was elected to the United States House of Representatives representing California's 10th congressional district, leaving the office of lieutenant governor vacant. On November 4, 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Pasquil, Garamendi's Chief of Staff, as acting lieutenant governor pending the confirmation of Abel Maldonado.

Pasquil's appointment marked several firsts for the position:
• California's first Asian lieutenant governor;
• its first Filipino lieutenant governor;
• its first female lieutenant governor;
• first California acting lieutenant governor not to succeed to the position from the President pro tempore of the California State Senate.

Pasquil served as John Kerry's political director during his 2004 campaign for the United States presidency.
In the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, she served as a superdelegate supporting Hillary Clinton.
In January 2011, California governor Jerry Brown named her appointments secretary.

She made the move to Washington, D.C., to begin her career by working with the Clinton administration in 1995 as the president’s Western political director.

While living in her hometown just outside Sacramento, the chairperson babysat for longtime political couple John and Patricia Garamendi beginning at age 12.

Although women are holding more government positions than ever before, the political arena still remains male dominated. An issue that the organization California Women Lead, which Pasquil chairs, tackles head on.



California Women Lead

Clinton Digital Library


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Brian Ferguson Takes Helm as Deputy Director of Communications at Cal OES

September 3rd, 2019

Picture of Brian Ferguson

In this episode (#66) we talk with Brian Ferguson, deputy director of communications at Cal OES.  We’ll talk about his transition from working in the governor’s office to the world of emergency management and why he’s OK with not knowing everything about his new employer, its communications team and all the facets that it faces. He’ll also talk about the relationship between PIOs and the media, the challenges that go along with the ever rapidly changing news business and how his new team will have to adapt to those changes.

On July 10, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Brian Ferguson as deputy director for crisis communication and public affairs at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Ferguson had been deputy director of media and public affairs in the Office of Governor Newsom since February 2019. Ferguson served as Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 2017 to 2019. He served as Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the California Department of General Services from 2013 to 2017, where he also served as Acting Deputy Director of Sustainability from 2014 to 2015. Ferguson was a communications specialist at the California Faculty Association from 2006 to 2013. He was a contributing writer at the Syracuse Post-Standard in 2006 and a writer at the Marin Independent Journal from 2004 to 2005. He earned a Master of Arts degree from the Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.


Cal OES Office of Public Information


Governor Gavin Newsom






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