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Public Assistance Experts

Rick Patterson, Senior Program Manager

Rick Patterson has over 25 years of experience in emergency management and public safety. His experience includes disaster response and recovery, emergency operations, and assisting clients with federal disaster assistance programs, helping clients to capitalize on all opportunities to maximize their funding. Mr. Patterson brings a unique skill set to working with Witt O'Brien' s healthcare clients based on his experience as the state coordinating officer for the state of Texas during two of the largest disasters to ever affect Texas. He led the state recovery efforts after T.S. Allison to develop hazard mitigation projects to protect the Texas Medical Center member institutions from future damages. He uses these experiences to help identify and solve issues that healthcare entities commonly encounter in attempting to manage large-scale events. His expertise in public assistance policy and guidance allows him to provide support to healthcare entities in all phases of the recovery process. In this role, Mr. Patterson has established operations, led the development of the project worksheets, developed hazard mitigation to reduce future damages and worked with healthcare entities to ensure disaster repairs remain in compliance with JACHO standards.

Sample Experience:

  • Univesity of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Texas Medical Center, Hurricane Ike Recovery
  • University Health Science Center, Tropical Storm Allison Recovery
  • Charity Hospital – New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina Recovery
  • East Jefferson General Hospital, Hurricane Katrina Recovery
  • LSU Medical and Dental Schools, Hurricane Katrina Recovery

Ryan Kappes, Senior Disaster Recovery Specialist

Ryan Kappes is a Senior Disaster Recovery Specialist for Witt O’Brien’s with twelve years of experience and specialized skills in long-term recovery. He specializes in Public Assistance, Individual Assistance and other federal programs, including response and recovery operations, policies and procedures.

Prior to joining Witt O’Brien’s, Mr. Kappes served as Technical Assistance Contractor to FEMA spanning nine disasters. Mr. Kappes conducted eligibility determinations and damage assessments for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance in the roles of Interim Housing Specialist, Temporary Facilities Specialist, Insurance Specialist, Lead Project Officer, Deputy Group Lead, and Group Lead. Mr. Kappes has extensive knowledge of the Stafford Act and exceptional experience with all categories of work including mitigation, and alternate and improved projects. Using this experience, Mr. Kappes has helped applicants receive reimbursement for more than $700 million in grant funds.

Mr. Kappes has worked with hundreds of local governments throughout Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Dakota, and New Jersey. He assisted each individually and helped them maneuver every aspect of the FEMA Public Assistance Program.

Sample Experience:

  • Western Parishes of Louisiana, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike Recovery
  • Southern Parishes of Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Gustav Recovery
  • City of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina and Gustav Recovery
  • County of Monmouth, NJ, Superstorm Sandy Recovery
  • County of Ocean, NJ, Superstorm Sandy Recovery

Ralph Lawrence, Senior Disaster Recovery Manager

Ralph Lawrence has nine years of experience in emergency management and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance. As an experienced disaster recovery manager, he has managed multiple disasters and many staff members simultaneously, from the local levels: cities, counties, school districts, and non-profit organizations, as well as assisted many state governments with all areas of the FEMA Public Assistance grants programs, from initial preparation of project worksheets, reimbursement requests, as well as the final closeout process. A skilled communicator, Mr. Lawrence provides comprehensive information, explanations, and technical assistance and guidance, in order to maximize FEMA federal funding.

Mr. Lawrence was recently the project manager in the Superstorm Sandy recovery for nine different local contracts with sub-grantees/applicants in New Jersey, a $2 billion disaster. As a result of the efforts and advocacy of the Witt O’Brien’s staff and Mr. Lawrence’s technical expertise and guidance, the local applicants/clients have received from FEMA millions of dollars in additional obligated funding that FEMA had deemed not eligible or missed in the original project formulation process.

Sample Experience:

  • Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, Superstorm Sandy Recovery
  • Monmouth County Outfall Authority, Superstorm Sandy Recovery
  • Joplin, Missouri School District, 2011 Tornado Recovery
  • Lavalette, New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy Recovery
  • Tom’s River, New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy Recovery
  • Union Beach, New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy Recovery

Cherie Clevenger, Disaster Recovery Specialist

Cherie Clevenger has more than 10 years of experience working in the Public Assistance area providing comprehensive information, explanations, and technical assistance. She has held such positions as a deputy project manager, project specialist team lead, initial review, QA/QC, deputy debris operations monitoring coordinator, grant administrator, trainer, system administrator, closeout, and reporting.

Ms. Clevenger brings a unique skill set to working with Witt O'Brien' s state clients based on her experience during two of the largest disasters to ever affect the United States (Hurricane Katrina/Rita in Louisiana and Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey). She began her career in disaster recovery with Polk County, Florida, in 2004 on Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne. In 2010 Ms. Clevenger led the recovery for DR 1874 and DR 1905 for Fairfax County, Virginia. In 2012 she was assigned as team lead on DR 1980 for Joplin School District.

Sample Experience:

  • Joplin, Missouri, School District, 2011 Tornado Recovery
  • Fairfax County, Virginia, Severe Winter Storm 2010
  • Polk County, Florida, Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne Recovery