Chief Technology Officer
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
A member of the Senior Executive Service and FEMA’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Mr. Ted Okada is responsible for leading the technology strategy and direction for a wide variety of mission, business and enterprise systems, providing guidance, advisory services as well as investment and change management planning. Under his leadership, he has aspired to drive FEMA towards the ethos of an “expeditionary start-up organization” by leveraging a broad range of continuous improvement initiatives involving open data, geospatial technologies, cyber security, as well as a whole community approach to interoperable communications in the event of a disaster.
Mr. Okada is the creator and executive sponsor of OpenFEMA—a project that ensures FEMA is providing timely, usable, and accurate information to constituents to enhance and promote a transparent and collaborative culture within FEMA. This growing open source and digital nature of information-sharing and communications were opened up for use by the media, non-profits, and universities immediately after the Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, and Maria disasters that resulted in a number of outcomes benefitting storm survivors. It has also led to a unified strategy to reduce complexity in FEMA systems built around simplified web services, built on the same OpenFEMA foundation.
Mr. Okada has been with FEMA since March 2012 and previously served as the Senior Advisor for Technology for the FEMA Administrator. He has over thirty previous years in international relief and development with a decade in internet services architecture and two technology start-ups. He served as the Director of U.S. Global Public Private Partnerships as well as Director of the Humanitarian Systems Group, both positions at Microsoft. In this position, Mr. Okada developed solutions to the world’s most vexing and least served humanitarian problems. He supported and developed programs in Uganda, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Haiti, DR Congo, Albania, Dominican Republic, Kosovo, Pakistan, Guatemala and the Philippines. With a background in child survival, community health systems, food security, agricultural extension, and emergency management, Mr. Okada also managed advocacy programs for refugees during the 1980’s and worked on landmark citizenship legislation.
While at Microsoft, Mr. Okada led his team in response to the Kashmir Pakistan earthquake in 2005, humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, and was part of the rapid deployment team that assisted the city of Galveston during Hurricane Ike. He is also lead inventor with former colleagues at Microsoft’s Concept Development Labs on a 2009 US patent filing related to mesh networks in disasters.
Mr. Okada is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern University with a B.A. in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Economics, studying under the late Michael Dacey and Nobel Laureate, Dale Mortensen. Mr. Okada is a member of Burke Fire Station 14 in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is a licensed Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator. While reachable through email, Mr. Okada typically listens on the Maritime Mobile and National Hurricane Nets at 14.300 and 14.325 Mhz.