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Joyce Sagi, CEO of Disaster AND Risk Associates

Joyce Sagi, CEO of Disaster And Risk Associates

“Beyond 10 West Lafayette” is a periodic online column highlighting the diverse membership of the NJBIA.

“It will never happen to me” is a common answer to a question about preparedness for potential disasters. But what happens when a real world “it” occurs, such as Superstorm Sandy? Businesses, communities and homes are destroyed and lives may be lost.

That’s why there are organizations’ like NJBIA-member Disaster And Risk Associates, LLC (DARA), a New Jersey woman-based enterprise (WBE) led by CEO Joyce Sagi, who is so actively involved in helping communities in NJ before and after disaster strikes that she has gained the moniker “Jersey Joyce.” DARA’s mission is to engage, educate and empower individuals, businesses and communities globally to prepare BEFORE disaster strikes to minimize losses, reduce recovery time, eliminate chaos and reduce risk.

Joyce shares there are four phases to the customary disaster continuum—Response, Recovery, Preparedness and Mitigation. DARA operates under the premise that there are only two—DISASTER (Response/Recovery) or RISK (Preparedness/Mitigation)—and that the best response involves enhancing communication through collaborative efforts and working together in bringing all partners and agencies to the table.

Joyce has a very impressive background for this line of work. She had a proud 26-year career at Rutgers, where she served many roles including working with the college’s Division of Public Safety and Residence Life.  She coined the slogan “Students Serving Students” and implemented the Community Service Officer program, which received national recognition. She was also the NYC Branch Manager and Northeast Regional Training Coordinator for Globe Security Systems, where she worked on assignments under the direction of  Mayor Ed Koch’s office.

Her roots in the New Jersey are very deep with over 30+ years of experience working with multiple federal, state and local agencies as well as volunteer organizations, businesses and faith-based groups. In fact, she volunteers over 2,500 hours each year and actively belongs to over 15 organizations. She’s been recognized many times for her work including receiving the 2013 Education and Trainer of the Year award from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. In 2014, Governor Chris Christie appointed her to the Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board for a three-year term. She also is the president-elect (2016) for the National Association of Women Business Owners Central Jersey Chapter.

Joyce knows the devastation that Superstorm Sandy has caused; it is estimated that the recovery will be 25+ years. She personally feels that the disaster response has not changed fast enough over the past 20 years and needs to be more efficient and effective in providing direct services to disaster survivors (individual assistance) and recovery for infrastructure, roads and buildings (public assistance). Since Sandy, DARA has been particularly active, collaborating with FEMA and a variety of New Jersey agencies in providing safety training and outreach as well as assisting with case management for residents.

With regard to businesses, DARA offers tailored presentations, training sessions and seminars on emergency preparedness and provides resources to expedite disaster recovery. Businesses are an integral part in any recovery, and every business should have a disaster recovery plan. She believes such action can greatly reduce disaster recovery times as well as be very beneficial to NJ residents in both economic and social development terms.

September is National Preparedness Month and you can find information about business preparedness at www.ready.gov/business, which was launched in 2004 by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA. You can also find a host of information about preparedness, and much more, by visiting Disaster And Risk Associates (DARA) website or their Facebook or Twitter pages. Kudos to “Jersey Joyce” for all her efforts in helping so many in NJ.

Disaster And Risk Associates is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.