John Pennington

John Pennington

John Pennington, PhD

Phone: 907-474-6537

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Faculty - National Emergency Management Advanced Academy
  • Former Director - FEMA Region X
  • Emergency Management – Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS)

John E. Pennington is an internationally recognized emergency/disaster management and public policy professional. He is a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security-FEMA Regional Director (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) and serves as one of the four national lead faculty for FEMA’s National Emergency Management Advanced Academy (NEMAA). Over his 26 year public service career, he has led response and recovery efforts to approximately 30 federally declared disasters on behalf of federal, tribal, and local governments. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and D.H.S. Secretary Tom Ridge as Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and Deputy Principle Federal Official (PFO) under the former National Response Plan.

He began his public service career serving for four elected terms in the Washington House of Representatives.  In that capacity, he was elected as Washington’s 11th Speaker Pro Tempore of the House for three terms

Research and Scholarly Interests

Emergency and Disaster Management, Indigenous Revitalization and Sovereignty, Arctic Disaster Resilience, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Indigenous Knowledge Systems


  • PhD, Indigenous Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks: How Alaska’s Tribes Participate in Government-to-Government Relations in a Post-Disaster Environment
  • Executive Leaders Program (ELP), Naval Postgraduate School-Center for Homeland Defense and Security (2013)
  • M.A., Emergency and Disaster Management, American Military University (2012)
  • B.S. Business Administration, California Coast University (2001)

Certifications and Credentials

Certified Emergency Manager-CEM©, International Association of Emergency Managers (2015-2021; Recertified 2021-present)

Graduate-National Emergency Management Advanced Academy- Federal Emergency Management Institute (2017)

Related Scholarly Activities

Pennington, J., (2019, Oct), Higher Education and Tribal Emergency Management. National Tribal Emergency Management Conference, Oneida Nation, Green Bay, WI.

Pennington, J., (2018, Oct), The Future of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Professional. Oregon Emergency Management Annual Conference, Bend, OR.

Pennington, J., (2014, Nov), Mass Fatality and Flooding Events – 2014 Oso, Washington Disaster. British Columbia Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC.

Pennington, J., (2014, Nov), Washington State Route 530 (Oso, Washington) Catastrophic Landslide and Flooding Disaster. International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX.  

Pennington, J., (2014, Oct), Catastrophic Landslide of 2014. North Carolina Emergency Management Association, Sunset Beach, NC

Pennington, J., (2002, Aug), Official Testimony and Statement., U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, United States Senate, Committee on Appropriations, Anchorage, AK.

Publications (Other)

Pennington, J., and Troy J. Bouffard. Homeland Security Should Prioritize Climate Security, Indigenous Primacy in its Arctic Strategy. Anchorage Daily News, 15 Sept 2021.


Outdoor Activities, Acoustic Guitar and Songwriting, Wandering

Courses Taught

F233: Critical Infrastructure Protection

F301: Principles of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

F320: Survey of Emergency Management in Rural Alaska

F423: Disaster Response Operations (Coordination) and Management

F605: Community Planning in Emergency Management