My first introduction to resilience was in alignment with mental health. It is how well a person recovers from hardships and life’s adversity. A significant aspect of resilience practice is to assist people in developing and fostering their skills. Initially trained in human services, my background was working with individuals and families in the community to help them overcome problems and work towards stabilization in their lives. It embraces a positive feedback mechanism to improve quality of life.
After the 9/11 attacks, I was inspired to join the American Red Cross’ September Recovery Program (SRP) in NYC to bring the skills I learned to those in need. When my time at SRP ended, I discovered a strong affinity for disaster work and returned to my home state. It was essential to continue to support resilience. I joined the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, becoming the Director of Emergency Services, coordinating the state’s Disaster Behavioral Health efforts. Building resiliency In Disaster Behavioral Health was a multi-pronged effort as we developed support mechanisms for individuals, communities, first responders, and those with preexisting disorders or at-risk populations. The multicultural consortium I worked with established a continuum of cutting-edge education, training, and response to help citizens of the state recover from disasters.
I found myself drawn to organizational resilience and disaster planning. After Hurricane Katrina, I joined a core Executive Health and Human Services team to develop the first Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) across all agencies. This led to my discovery of business continuity and eventual transition to the private sector. Leveraging my experience in emergency management, behavioral health, and planning, I now bring that knowledge base to supporting people and operations globally.
Now, it has all come full circle. My work in the private sector focuses on Business Continuity Management program governance. It also includes fostering the safety and security of the company in the alignment of crisis response. It’s an ingrained mindset to incorporate resilience into all aspects of my work. For example, I am continually seeking opportunities to enhance employee preparedness and organizational response. I am excited about the opportunities afforded by the integration of operational resilience and risk into our practices. For me, resilience means integrating micro (personal, operational) and macro (organizational, global) systems into a holistic way for maximum positive outcomes to build true organizational resilience.
Finally, I am excited to be giving back to our community. Since 2019, I’ve maintained the Disaster Empire website to share my expertise and insight with other practitioners. I started a blog to give back inspired by my work in New York City after the September 11 attacks. Many know New York by its nickname, the Empire State. So it was natural for me to combine the knowledge gained in New York with subsequent experiences. Last year, I was excited to join a group of like-minded colleagues to form the Resilience Think Tank. We are committed to helping build increased resilience for our fellow practitioners and industry. I am excited about the journey ahead and hope you are as well.
Connect with Ashley Goosman