White House Recognizes California Radio Amateur as “Champion of Change”
The White House has recognized Matt Brisbois, KI6RBS, of Newport Beach, California, as part of its Champions of Change program. The Newport Beach Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program coordinator “has trained and mentored more than 1000 residents, business and community leaders, and educators, resulting in the highest per-capita volunteer-to-resident ratio for CERT programs in all of California,” a City of Newport Beach news release said. CERT, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program, seeks to train members of the community to prepare for and assist in the event of an emergency or disaster; Amateur Radio training and communications are among the Newport Beach CERT activities. Brisbois, a Newport Beach Fire Department life safety specialist, was one of 18 individuals selected this year as “Champions of Change for Community Preparedness and Resilience.”
“On behalf of the Newport Beach Fire Department and its Community Emergency Response Team program, it’s a true honor to be here among all these award recipients and be recognized as a Champion of Change,” Brisbois said at the September 24 ceremony, headed by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ. “I really wish I could have all 1000 of my volunteers here today…”
Brisbois said the volunteers in his city of 88,000 “believe in what they’re doing,” and “really should be up here” at the ceremony. “If we can develop a culture of preparedness in Newport Beach and with our residents,” he concluded, “I really believe anyone in the United States can.”
The White House Champions of Change program recognizes individuals, businesses, and organizations doing “extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.” Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster commented, “To have Matt recognized as a Champion of Change for his efforts is a well-deserved commendation for Matt, our program and all of the volunteers.”
While in the nation’s capital Brisbois and CERT board member Karen Tringali also will pick up the Individual and Community Preparedness Award for Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiatives that the city won from FEMA last year.
A life safety specialist since 2007, Brisbois has been the recipient of several awards, grants and honors over the years, including a Bravo for Bravery Award. The one-time lifeguard, coach, and substitute teacher once served as a Congressional intern and holds master’s degrees in education and politics.