Florida’s Unlikely Emergency Management Director

Many are watching to see how former Wal-Mart executive Bryan Koon will adapt his private-sector knowledge to aiding the Sunshine State.
by | September 2011

After Florida Gov. Rick Scott was elected last November, one of the first things he did was to name a new state director of emergency management. Scott’s decision drew attention (and raised eyebrows), because his appointee didn’t come from the public sector. He came from Wal-Mart.

Bryan Koon, who was responsible for more than 8,500 facilities and 2.1 million store associates at Wal-Mart, now watches over more than 54,000 square miles and 18.8 million residents. Notorious for its hurricane seasons, Florida has already had a tough year -- wildfires have torn through more than 200,000 acres in the state so far this year.

Koon, a Navy vet whose emergency management experience began at the White House Military Office, has big shoes to fill. One of his predecessors is current Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate. Since taking the position in January, Koon has scheduled monthly calls with county emergency management directors to determine their capacities and how the state can help. His department has also promoted personal preparedness efforts to prevent complacency and educate newer residents. “It’s a constant effort to ensure that we are apprising those citizens of the hazards they could face living in Florida,” Koon says.

Tina Trenkner
Tina Trenkner | Deputy Editor, GOVERNING.com | ttrenkner@governing.com  |  @tinatrenkner