Field Operations Center:
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
ATLANTA -- Mary “Kathy” Cook, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance, was recently honored by the International Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management (InWEM). Her years of service and achievement were recognized by the organization at a recent ceremony inducting Cook into the hall of fame during an annual conference held in Reno, Nevada. The Hall of Fame is a major initiative, honoring women who are trailblazers and leaders in the field of homeland security and emergency management in government, community-based organizations, private and nonprofit sectors, academia and the military.
The Georgia resident was honored for her work in disaster assistance. She joined the SBA in 1985 as a loan specialist. Since then, Cook has been involved with every major disaster declaration in states east of the Mississippi River -- including Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy. In 2005, she was the first female government relations specialist for the newly formed Field Operations Center – East. Now in her role as public affairs specialist, she informs and educates the public, elected officials, emergency managers and others about the availability of SBA disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. She also works on innovation projects and promotes disaster preparedness.
Cook was one of the first participants to earn a Master Trainer Certificate from the Emergency Management Institute; she co-authored nine training modules used for processing SBA disaster loans; and in 1998, she was selected as SBA’s employee of the year. Cook began her government career in 1979 and is a three-generation legacy of civil servants.
“I love my job. I get to help people and communities recover from disasters. I am out in the trenches with co-workers and other agency representatives meeting with people during a time of great need. The work is so rewarding,” explains Cook.
Established in 1953, the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance. The office has provided over $53 billion in loans to nearly two million homeowners, renters and businesses since inception.