Special Needs Populations in Disasters
Katrina and Beyond

Michael M. Weston
Disaster Consultant
U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA)

Elizabeth A. Davis
Founder and Managing Director
EAD & Associates, LLC

Daniel W. Sutherland
Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

January 25, 2006

(MS Word)

Related Websites:
NOD's Report on Special Needs Assessment for Katrina Evacuees (SNAKE) Project
NOD's Prepare Yourself: Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Disabilities
Emergency Preparedness and Response for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2005
U.S. Administration on Aging Disaster Assistance Program
DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities

Up Arrow to Top of Page


Michael Weston is the former and founding Director of Disaster Planning and Operations for the State of Florida's Department of Elder Affairs. He currently serves as a Disaster Consultant to the US Administration on Aging (AOA) and in that capacity has been tasked by the Department of Homeland Security as the Federal Coordinating Officer over recent presidential declared disaster events. Most recently he deployed to the Gulf Coast region as the Director of Field Operations for AOA during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

As President of Servision, Inc. Mr. Weston has invented, patented and is producing the WESTCOT, the only affordable completely portable folding hospital-type bed in the world. Other products include the Special Needs Picture Board which readily facilitates communication with victims in times of disaster.

Mr. Weston is recognized as one of the nation's foremost experts on Special Needs populations. He has chaired the Disaster Services Committee for the American National Red Cross, serves on the Statewide Human Research Subject Review Board and has made numerous presentations at the national and international level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Human Services and is constantly utilized as a consultant and educator.

Up Arrow to Top of Page


EAD & Associates, LLC founder and Managing Director Elizabeth Davis, JD, EdM, is an internationally recognized and published expert in the fields of emergency management and special needs planning. A leader in the development and implementation of special needs policies and protocols, Ms. Davis brings more than a decade of passion, dedication, experience and accomplishments to her work.

After many years as a legal advocate in the disability community, Ms. Davis began her distinguished career in public service in 1994 when she was appointed Assistant to Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the New York City Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Ms. Davis was the first Director of the National Organization on Disability's (N.O.D.) Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI), and is an advisor to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She co-chairs the National Hurricane Conference's Health Care/Special Needs Committee, chairs the International Association of Emergency Managers' (IAEM) Special Needs Committee, and sits on the Advisory Boards of several national disaster preparedness and response organizations and research teams. Ms. Davis also conducts special need planning workshops and presentations nationally and internationally, and has contributed to numerous academic studies.

Up Arrow to Top of Page


Daniel W. Sutherland was appointed by President Bush to serve as the first Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This unique position calls for Mr. Sutherland to provide legal and policy advice to the Secretary and the senior leadership of the Department on a full range of issues at the intersection of homeland security and civil rights and civil liberties.

Mr. Sutherland and his office provide advice on issues such as: the use of race or ethnicity in law enforcement and intelligence activities; detention policies relating to aliens deemed of "special interest" to national security investigations; building strategic partnerships between the homeland security effort and the Arab American and Muslim American communities; the development of biometric identifiers without creating a national identification system; and, the need to integrate people with disabilities into emergency planning and preparedness.

Mr. Sutherland has been a civil rights attorney throughout his legal career, serving fourteen years with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and nearly two years with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. At the Justice Department, Mr. Sutherland litigated a number of important civil rights cases, many in the disability rights area.