Jami Haberl | Age 31, Executive director, Safeguard Iowa Partnership
Saturday, February 20, 2010 7:00 AM
Jami Haberl never expected to use her public health skills for disaster preparedness. But soon after joining the Iowa Department of Public Health, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks pushed Haberl into the role of bioterrorism coordinator for the department.
"To be completely honest, I kind of fell into it," she said. "All state health departments received a huge sum of money to enhance public health preparedness across the state. So the grant I was working on at the time was going to be coming to an end, and they asked if I would help start the program up."
Haberl and her mentor, Mary Jones, now the deputy director at the Iowa Department of Public Health, created a public health and health-care preparedness program for the state in 2001. The program continues to operate today.
Nine years later, Haberl is still dealing with disasters, but now as the executive director of the Safeguard Iowa Partnership, a position she took on in September 2007.
"I have the opportunity to do about everything," she said.
"I work with the business community as well as government agencies on disaster preparedness issues. So everything ranging from natural disasters such as flooding, tornadoes and winter storms, to man-made disasters and even public health disasters like the H1N1 virus."
The nonprofit organization has earned Jones' praise.
"Due to Jami's current leadership, the Safeguard Iowa Partnership is recognized as a national model," Jones said.
"This partnership has brought the complexities of business and governmental agencies together to focus on a common mission, that is, preparing our communities for disasters."
Haberl is also involved in a variety of volunteer roles with the Ronald McDonald House and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and has served on the Des Moines University College of Health Sciences board of directors since 2008.
Looking to the future, Haberl's main goals are seeing the Safeguard Iowa Partnership flourish and helping other states implement a similar model.
"Because in the end, it will make all of our communities better prepared if we are working government and private industry together a little better than we have in the past," Haberl said.
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