As a business and civic leader in Evanston, I have always been deeply proud of our city’s values. There is no place in the world that my family and I would rather call home.
Seventeen years ago my wife Lisa Altenbernd and I made one of the best decisions of our lives: we moved to Evanston, initially for her to attend graduate school at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP). A few years later, in September of 2001, my career as a management consultant and expert in municipal government disaster response took a stunning turn. I was called to New York City to serve as the federal government’s key liaison to the NYPD and FDNY in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks. A few months later, I was in-charge of the entire contracted Public Assistance NYC 9/11 recovery; a $7.4 billion operation, and reporting to the Federal Recovery Officer, appointed by the Director of FEMA and the President of the United States.
In my professional career, I have traveled all over the country learning the fundamentals and best practices of local, state and federal government. I helped the Federal Government, specifically FEMA, determine how much federal aid to give communities after major disasters such as Hurricane Andrew, the Northridge Earthquake, and the Midwest floods, for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and infrastructure. The company I founded in Evanston, Hagerty Consulting, played an instrumental role in the most significant disasters that occurred in this country over the last 15 years, including 9/11, Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy. We help governments plan for mass evacuations, sheltering citizens with functional needs, and developing emergency response plans for all types of crises, including active shooter threats.
In 2003-2004, I enrolled in the Evanston Community Foundation’s year-long Leadership Evanston Program. I knew I wanted to be “all in” in this community – and I have worked hard to contribute in many ways.
I have served as the President of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. I am a Director on the Youth & Opportunity United (YOU) Board and have been actively involved in their successful $15 million capital campaign. I serve on the Board of First Bank & Trust, a community owned and operated bank with 9 locations and $1 billion in assets. I have Chaired the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Harley Clarke Mansion. I have served on the advisory boards or ad-hoc committees of many local organizations, including YJC, YWCA Evanston-North Shore, McGaw YMCA Camp Echo, Romano Wealth Management and ECF’s Public Service Challenge. My family and I have supported many local non-profits who are addressing important needs in Evanston related to education, human services, and the arts.
I have looked for opportunities to pull this community together, whether it be the Evanston Mashup, the creation of RISE (Risk Innovation Success in Evanston) or organizing and participating in local events with a global focus such as supporting victims of the Charleston Shooting and the Nepal Earthquake.
I have served in many other volunteer capacities including as an assistant coach in EBSA, an external advisor to Northwestern’s Fellowship Office, and on the Evanston Inventure Board. Outside of Evanston, I serve on the Advisory Board for the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University as well as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). I speak frequently to students interested in careers in or around government and was honored in 2007 to give the Convocation Address to the Graduates of the Maxwell School’s MPA Program.
“All in” to me means caring as much about the community as I do my business and family. I’m proud to call Evanston home and I would be grateful for the opportunity to play a leadership role as we all continue to build off our strengths as a City and address our challenges and opportunities together.