First and foremost, I am concerned with how writing and other forms of rhetorical action mitigate risk and, ultimately, save lives. My dissertation, “Writing Resiliency: Emergency Management, Technical Communication, and the Resilient City,” which I will defend this fall at the University of Pittsburgh, exposes the negotiations between building codes, disaster response plans, training materials, accident reports, and the like that have directly influenced coordinated emergency preparedness, response, and recovery throughout the history of New York City.
My interest in technical communication and emergency management has developed over the course of two overlapping careers, one in emergency medical services and the other in rhetoric and writing studies. Since 1995, I have worked as a paramedic, instructor, and emergency management specialist for emergency services and public policy agencies across New York State and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During this time I have participated in curriculum development for emergency responders, strategic- and tactical-level response planning for catastrophic mass casualty incidents, and public advocacy and education projects.
In 2010, I was appointed as a research fellow at the Center for National Preparedness where I developed risk communication and mass-evacuation projects for clients including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and the Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council of Governments. This appointment afforded me the opportunity to work closely with engineers, public health specialists, policymakers, and corporations on revising the texts that mediate idea-sharing and project coordination across organizations and disciplines.
My background in adult education and emergency services informs the case-based, scenario-driven pedagogies that characterize my courses. As an instructor and curriculum coordinator for paramedic classes, I have experienced first-hand the effectiveness of hands-on, simulation-based teaching experiences that give students a chance to experiment (and, yes, fail) within a structured, “safe” space—a space separate from, but contingent on, the concerns of the “real world.”
I see my teaching as a thoroughly rhetorical, ludic enterprise designed to help students develop the multiple literacies and critical consciousnesses necessary for knowledge work across the disciplines. My courses encourage synthetic discourse communities that are interdisciplinary in constitution and whose interactions span a range of rhetorical situations and media. I try to instill a sense that writing is just one mode of composition and that multimodal composing is an essential part of contributing to diverse communities whose interactions are increasingly distributed across a range of analog and digital media. I accomplish this, in part, by interpreting pedagogical touchstones such as “class participation” broadly, offering students a chance to make their own informed rhetorical choices about the media though which they engage the course. In blog posts, through word-processed and multimodal essays, or during in-class discussions, students have every opportunity to experiment with different voices, strategies, identities, and technologies—to test the boundaries of possibility.
Outside of academia, I can usually be found reading technical documents for fun, performing stand up comedy, or working as a risk management, business continuity planning, and curriculum development consultant.