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Board of Directors & Officers

IPSA Board Chair

Chris DeChant is the Fire Chief for the El Mirage Fire Department. Prior to being selected as the Fire Chief for the City of El Mirage in June of 2018, he served twenty three years for Glendale Fire Department. During his career with Glendale Fire Department he functioned as an Operations Captain, Special Operations Captain, Division Chief of Special Operations, Division Chief of Training, Emergency Medical Services Deputy Chief, and Assistant Chief. During his ten years as an Assistant Chief he managed various sections of the fire department including budget, personnel, planning, logistics and operations.

Chris holds a Bachelor Degree of Science, Public Safety Administration, and a Master Degree of Education, Educational Leadership. He was awarded his Chief Fire Officer Designation in 2007 by the Center for Public Safety Excellence, his Executive Fire Officer by the National Fire Academy in 2013, and is a Certified Public Manager through the Arizona State University Bob Ramsey Center of Executive Education. He is proud to serve on the International Public Safety Association Board of Directors.

IPSA Immediate Past Chair

Scott Edson, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) retired chief, became executive director of Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS). Edson replaced John Radeleff, who had served as interim executive director.

Edson’s involvement with LA-RICS dates back to 2008, when he was assigned as the unit commander for LASD’s Communications and Fleet Management Bureau. He continued his involvement through the years by serving on the technology and operations committees.

Edson has more than 39 years of law enforcement experience with the sheriff’s department. He served as chief of LASD's Special Operations Division. Prior assignments included communications, technology, law enforcement information sharing, emergency management, investigations, patrol and custody.

He is a very active member of the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major County Sheriffs' Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, and several others.  Additionally, he is the current chair of the FBI CJIS Information Sharing Subcommittee, a position he has held for nearly three years. Chief Edson is married with a son who is a deputy sheriff and a daughter-in-law who is a dispatcher.  In his free time he likes to travel with family, enjoy his ham radio, fly airplanes and play golf.

IPSA Board Member

J. Scott Quirarte is a Battalion Chief with the Ventura County (CA) Fire Department. He has been with the department 30 years. He spent 17 years as a member of Special Operations as a shift captain for the HazMat Team.

Battalion Chief Quirarte is the project lead for the Ventura County Interagency Active Shooter Response Workgroup. The workgroup developed coordinated response procedures for all county agencies. Battalion Chief Quirarte was also the lead instructor of program training for over 3000 law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers and EMS personnel. He is also a founding member of Ventura County Stop the Bleed program.

Battalion Chief Quirarte is a Board Member of the International Public Safety Association and a member of the IPSA's RTF and TEMS committees. While serving as Vice-Chair of the IPSA's RTF committee, he served as a principal in the development of the IPSA RTF Best Practices Guide. Battalion Chief Quirarte is also the IPSA representative on the NFPA 3000 Technical Committee.

His course development and instructor qualifications include Hazardous Materials Outreach Instructor, State Fire Instructor, and a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program-HSEEP Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP). He has developed and delivered numerous training programs/exercises across the country to a wide array of audiences and disciplines including, Public Health, military, fire, law enforcement, FBI, NSA, ICE, emergency managers, hospitals and the private sector.

Officer: IPSA Executive Director & CEO

Heather R. Cotter is the Executive Director & CEO of the IPSA. In this capacity, Cotter is responsible for managing all business operations and implementing the association’s strategic vision. Cotter works closely with the IPSA’s Board of Directors to ensure that every initiative the IPSA pursues and every action taken is in alignment with its mission, vision and values.

In 2014, Cotter formed the IPSA as a 501(c)3, non-profit public safety membership association because she recognized the need to establish a professional public safety organization that offers networking, policy development and training opportunities between EMS, fire, law enforcement, 911 telecommunicators and allied emergency responders. It is the IPSA’s vision for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents. Given this, Cotter formed the IPSA so that every public safety official and every public safety advocate is eligible to become a member and help advance the IPSA mission.

As Executive Director, Cotter has a role in every aspect of the association from committee work and membership to the IPSA’s events and programs/services.

Cotter serves as an ex officio member to all IPSA committees: 911 Telecommunications, Civil Unrest, Cyber, Fitness/Wellness, Memorial, Mental Health, Public Safety Technology, RTF, Rural/Small Areas, TEMS and UAS. She is responsible for ensuring all IPSA committees include representatives from multiple public safety disciplines and oversees the work (e.g. publications) of each committee. Cotter ensures the IPSA membership has access to the shared, interdisciplinary lessons learned.

Cotter also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the IPSA Journal. This executive-level publication includes manuscripts that are public safety relevant, thoroughly researched and peer-reviewed. Integrated and effective public safety policy needs to be driven by research. Cotter created the IPSA Journal because she recognizes the critical need to bridge the gaps between public safety theory, research and practice.

Cotter’s vision is to bring the public safety community together beyond any call for service. Creating an integrated public safety culture takes time, but the outcomes are indisputably worthwhile: first responder safety, community safety, unified training, improved response, research-driven policy.

Cotter interacts with the entire public safety community daily.

IPSA Board Member

Brad Havrilla is a 30 year veteran for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. He is currently assigned in the Training and Safety Division where he is responsible for the Training of Palm Beach County’s Special Operations Team and Airport Fire Rescue Members. Brad is the past Chairman of the Rescue Task Force Committee and still is an active member on the committee.

Brad’s work related passion was Technical Rescue instruction and Vehicle Extrication Competition.  Havrilla served as Vice Chairman of the TERC Committee and the World Rescue Organization and Judged Competitions nationally and internationally.  He also serves in several roles with the Florida Highway Patrol; and is currently coordinating Fire Rescue’s Active Shooter Response program.  This coordinated response between Law Enforcement and Fire Rescue has tightened the gap between these two agencies and is strengthening the bond of Public Safety in South Florida.   

IPSA Board Member

A 34-year law enforcement veteran, Chris Butler recently retired as the Inspector of the Major Event and Emergency Management Section of the Calgary Police Service in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; an agency of over 2,200 sworn officers policing approximately 1.2 million people.

During Butler's law enforcement career, he has been a member of the Public Safety Unit for over 14 years and during this time was involved in conducting risk assessments and planning operational tactics for events such as the World Petroleum Congress and the G8 Summit. Butler was also deployed to Toronto for the G20 Summit. He has a particular professional interest in ‘Human Rights Policing’ and has delivered training on this topic extensively.

Butler has made presentations at national and international law enforcement conferences and has been qualified at Provincial and Federal court as an expert in firearms safety, police firearms training, law enforcement use-of-force training and evaluation. He has testified over 30 times as a use of force expert in criminal matters pertaining to officer involved shootings and in-custody deaths in Canada.

He is currently the Director of Program Development for the Force Science Institute and has been certified as a use of force investigator and advanced force science analyst and has instructed the ‘Biomechanics of Human Force Encounters’ workshop for FSI throughout Canada and the United States for the past six years. He is also the owner of Raptor Protection and Safety Services Inc. a company dedicated to the delivery of cutting edge risk assessment and public safety training. 

IPSA Board Member

James Dundas has over forty-three (43) years of experience in the emergency response discipline, as both a practitioner and as a consultant.  His experience spans multiple facets of emergency response: from Fire Services, EMS, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, and corporate and institutional security. 

As a practitioner, he served twenty-seven (27) years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in suburban Washington, DC. He was among the first firefighters in Fairfax County to achieve ALS certification and went on to teach Paramedicine at the Fairfax County Fire Academy and George Washington University, School of Medicine. Following promotion to Captain, he assumed the role of Fire Dispatch Manager when Fairfax went from seven digit emergency calling to 9-1-1 and manual dispatching to Computer Aided Dispatch.   He went back to EMS for a while as a Paramedic Supervisor and then on the Fire Academy again where he managed all fire training programs. Promoted to Battalion Chief in 1991, he served out his career in two battalions, the last being the most heavily populated area of the County. 

IPSA Board Vice-Chair

Jennifer Stewart is a 15-year veteran with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Communications Division.

She was a Telecommunicator for five years before being promoted to Communications Supervisor. During her time as a Communications Supervisor she has obtained her APCO Public Safety Telecommunicator 1 Instructor Certification, APCO Communications Training Officer Certification, APCO Communications Training Officer Instructor Certification, North Carolina General Instructor Certification and North Carolina RADO/TERT Certification.

Since she joined the IPSA, Stewart has been actively involved through her participation on multiple committees. She also serves on the APCO Agency Training Committee and SDC ADA Operational Writing Group. This past year she served on the Awards Committee and Membership Task Force. Last year, Stewart received her APCO-Registered Public Safety Leader Certification and graduated in Denver, Colorado in August 2017.

Stewart is actively involved in community relations with the CMPD and developed an educational program to inform the public of the inner workings of the 9-1-1 center and how it can be best utilized by the public. She also works with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system and attends community meetings and events within the county to answer questions related to 9-1-1.

IPSA Board Member & Secretary

George Steiner is a U.S. Navy veteran and after receiving an honorable discharge he started his career in the fire service.
Steiner has over 24 years experience in the fire service and is currently a Fire Lieutenant Paramedic with the City of Elgin (Illinois) Fire Department. He has been with EFD for 12 years. He is also the program coordinator for the EFD Explorer Post. 

In addition to his fire service experience, Steiner is a certified police officer with over 10 years experience and continues to work part-time at two police departments.

Steiner helped develop Elgin's Rescue Task Force and ative shooter program. He has also consulted and helped other communities with their RTF programs. In addition to RTF, Steiner also teaches Tactical Emergency Casualty Care and Bleeding Control to other first responders and civilians. 

Steiner has been a member of the IPSA’s RTF Committee since its inception and is the current IPSA RTF Committee Chair.

IPSA Board Member

Paul Manley is currently a Lieutenant with the Nahant, MA police department. He brings more than 30 years of experience as an officer and a leader in his department and his community. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at North Shore Community College in Danvers, MA. In his role of Executive Officer, Paul is a transformational leader who affects positive change through education, open communication, and by establishing a commitment to shared goals and values by distributing leadership throughout all supervisory levels.

He has successfully implemented leadership training for numerous law enforcement officers and community officials by developing flexible training programs and setting goals for educating all levels of personnel. He led an organizational change project by identifying redundancies, reassigning staff, and reorganizing workloads. Paul increased efficiency and effectiveness throughout entire Department by establishing performance metrics for patrol units, investigation teams, and field training.

Paul initiated and carried out transformation of the Department’s vision and goals by persuading Department leaders to embrace a new, proactive philosophy of community policing. He created environment of partnership and collaboration by building relationships with community leaders and achieved the goals of increased community awareness, education, and participation by opening lines of communication and by conveying mutual respect and understanding of each other’s needs. He developed a community outreach program to address complaints of disorderly youth in public places by creating opportunities for employment and positive social interaction.

Paul’s involvement with the local community extends to his position as an adjunct faculty member at North Shore Community College. Paul’s experience as an educator, instructor, and trainer translate into a collaborative approach to teaching and learning. Throughout his career, Paul has synthesized his field experience and his passion for continued education to develop courses and presentations designed to educate individuals about personal and public safety issues. He remains well-informed with the latest in law enforcement research and technology and integrates this knowledge with extensive field experience.

Paul’s proactive approach toward law enforcement through behavioral analysis and ongoing threat assessment and prevention led him to found his consulting business, Risk Mitigation Technologies. In this capacity, he frequently develops courses and programs tailored to specialized audiences, including law enforcement and public safety, major corporations, local business owners, and community leaders.

IPSA Board Member

Dr. Jerge is a native Californian. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame and earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. She went on to a general surgery residency at UNC Chapel Hill. She then transitioned to St. Louis University for Surgical Critical Care Fellowship as well as completion of her general surgery residency. At SLU, Dr. Jerge trained with CSTARS surgeons and was involved in teaching military medical personnel pre-deployment. Dr. Jerge began her trauma critical care practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She then assumed the role of Trauma Medical Director at HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Jerge joined the University of Kansas Department of Surgery in the fall of 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Surgery where she currently practices as a Trauma Critical Care and Acute Care Surgeon.

Dr. Jerge is double board-certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. She has a strong passion for trauma and critical care. Her interests within the field are prehospital outreach and education, disaster preparedness, injury prevention, tactical medicine, and hemorrhage control. Dr. Jerge is an instructor in ATLS and tactical combat casualty care. She is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the Eastern Association for Surgery in Trauma, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the International Public Safety Association, and the Association of Women Surgeons.

Dr. Jerge spends as much time as possible advocating for prehospital personnel and greatly enjoys working with law enforcement and fire/EMS on prehospital trauma care and hemorrhage control. She was trained by military surgeons, became certified in TCCC, and served as a tactical medical provider for a SWAT team in Arizona. She attends SOMSA every year and eagerly follows the published medical data in the tactical medical field. As an IPSA member, Dr. Jerge has been active on the TEMS committee and proudly promotes IPSA on social media.

IPSA Board Member

Wren Nealy Jr. is a certified Paramedic and Licensed Peace Officer in the State of Texas. He is the Assistant Executive Director of Cypress Creek EMS managing Field Operations, Clinical Operations, Communications, Special Operations, Logistics, Public Information, and Community Relations. Wren is a Reserve Lieutenant and former Assistant SWAT Commander for the Waller County Sheriff’s Office.

He is the Vice Chair of the Emergency Services Sector – Coordinating Council for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, representing the IPSA. Wren is also the President of the International Police Mountain Bike Association. IPMBA is the standard in public safety cyclist training with 5000 Police, EMS/Fire, and Security members in 17 countries.

He serves as the program director for the CCEMS Tactical Operational Medical Support training program, training tactical medics from across the country and abroad. He has developed several specialized training programs for public safety. He is an accomplished author and public speaker on EMS Special Operations and Emergency Preparedness, presenting at state and national conferences. In 2013 he consulted with Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara in the revision of HB1111 to allow law enforcement officers trained in tactical combat casualty care to intervene and perform lifesaving medical care during hostile incidents, ultimately testifying before the Indiana House of Representatives on behalf of this bill. In 2015 he was awarded the National Tactical Officers Association TEMS Award for his significant contributions to the Tactical Emergency Medical Support community.

IPSA Board Member

John Thompson is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA).

His public safety career started in 1968 as a volunteer firefighter. He worked as a paid federal firefighter and emergency communications operator before enlisting in the United States Army. While in the Army, he served as a military police officer, canine handler and military intelligence officer before being honorably discharged in 1982. John continued to work in law enforcement after his military service, and in 1989 was appointed Chief of Police for the City of Mount Rainier, MD. In 1998 John was appointed Assistant Sheriff for Prince Georges County, Maryland where he worked until 2002.

Over the years, John has expanded his expertise and his reputation as a law enforcement and NGO professional. He serves on a variety of state and national boards including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Criminal Justice Information Advisory Policy Board, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Training Advisory Board and the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Review Board.

Officer: IPSA Treasurer

Karen Ziegler has over 30 years of experience in criminal justice program administration; budget and finance; and full life cycle grant management. Retired in 2016 as Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, the State Administering Agency (SAA) for US Department of Justice and state criminal justice grants, Ms. Ziegler was responsible for the acquisition; sub award; management; and reporting of over $50 million in federal, state and non-profit grants. In addition to financial management, Ms. Ziegler managed the Arizona Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program – a federal gun and gang violence prevention program, where she was responsible for the state’s strategic approach to reducing gun and gang violence in Arizona. Ms. Ziegler has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University and is also a Certified Grant Writer.

Currently, Ms. Ziegler is providing consulting services to the State of Arizona Department of Administration as the program manager for the Arizona Public Safety Broadband Network (AZ FirstNet) and as a Funding Consultant for Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology.

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