Publisher's Note: Auld Lang Syne (A Chance to Recollect and Restore)

by MacGregor Stephenson

As we come to the end of 2022, we have an opportunity to reflect not only on all that has occurred this year but what has affected us over a longer period. The COVID-19 pandemic has sorely tested the strength and resilience of preparedness professionals around the globe. Active shooter incidents, technological threats, and other human-caused disasters have impacted individuals and communities far and wide. Natural disasters, including hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes, volcanoes, and mudslides, changed lives in mere moments. The expectations on preparedness professionals are as high as ever, with the public needing and demanding help in times of crisis.

This holiday season is an excellent time for all preparedness professionals to take a deep breath and reflect on the accomplishments of the past. Take a few minutes to shut the door on pressing problems, calls from superiors, and emails awaiting your attention, and consider what you have accomplished this year. All too often, the demands on firefighters, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, public service employees, and all those attempting to provide help during life’s most challenging days limit the ability to stop for a moment and appreciate the positive impact made on others.

Every first responder, emergency room doctor, emergency manager, or city engineer has positively impacted lives in their communities. It is critical that these hometown heroes recognize that they have saved lives, protected communities, helped rebuild homes and hometowns, prevented crimes, mitigated damage to critical infrastructure, and helped to transition from disaster to the norms of daily life. Preparedness professionals carry out these roles in service to the community. It is frequently a thankless task and always one that has no end.

As you consider past accomplishments and appreciate your positive impact on communities, it is also the time to consider your personal after-action report and identify ways to improve your efforts and those of your organization. To that end, please actively consider a few questions as you reflect, not while driving to your next meeting or sitting in that meeting. Instead, take the time to focus on how you can better impact your communities and meet the needs that you have as well.

  • What are the most important aspects of my job …
    • To the public?
    • To the entity for whom I work?
    • To my family and friends?
    • To me?
  • Where do I spend the most significant parts of my time?
    • Am I spending time on things that are not important?
    • Is my time spent on the most important aspects of my job?
    • Is there a way to better align my time to the more important aspects?
  • How can I improve my performance?
    • Is there training that I need?
    • Can I delegate more to those with whom I work?
    • Can I train those around me to better meet the needs of our community?
    • Am I supporting those around me as effectively as I am able?
    • Can I better communicate with those around me?
  • What help do I need to fulfill the expectations of my job?
  • How can I improve how I take care of myself and my family?
    • Mentally
    • Physically
    • Emotionally

As you consider these questions, many others will pop up. I encourage you to write down all these questions with your answers. Then use these notes as a touchstone to return to throughout the coming year to help bring focus to your daily efforts.

As we come to the end of a challenging year and a tumultuous period, please know that your efforts are appreciated, and the sacrifices of you and your families have a significant and positive impact on all of our communities. On behalf of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, its staff, and its advisory board, I offer a heartfelt thank you to all of the preparedness professionals who are carrying out critical roles every day to benefit all of us.

May the holiday season bring you relaxing time with family and friends and the new year bring clear skies and more peaceful times.

MacGregor Stephenson serves as the publisher for the Domestic Preparedness Journal and is the Chief of Policy and Research at the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).  In this role MacGregor is working to improve the implementation of academic research related to emergency management into the practice of emergency management.  Ensuring that academic research that could improve emergency management operations is available in a practical and applicable fashion to emergency managers is critical in the continuously changing realm of emergency management.  Prior to working at TDEM, MacGregor has served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Texas, Assistant Commissioner for Academic Affairs at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for the Texas A&M University System, and as a chief of staff in the Texas House of Representatives.  He holds a law degree from the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University.

The website,, the Domestic Preparedness Journal, and the DPJ Weekly Brief include facts, views, opinions, and recommendations of individuals and organizations deemed of interest. The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas A&M University System do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of, or otherwise endorse, these views, facts, opinions, or recommendations.