Follow Christ, Lead the Way

With the pandemic situation facing our state, county and the world, emergency managers play an important role in working to stabilize the situation and save lives. “An emergency manager’s job is to bring relative calm and order to the chaos,” explains Dr. Thad Hicks, Head of the Emergency Management Program at Ohio Christian University and Certified Emergency Manager.

Ohio Christian University has offered programs in Emergency & Disaster Management for over 10 years and has many graduates serving in the field. “It is exciting for me to watch and work with graduates who are actively involved in this fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said Hicks. Read below to meet a few of these current and former students working on the COVID-19 response:


Lesli Holt, Operations Manager at Warren County Emergency Management Association

Lesli is a current Adult Online student planning to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Emergency & Disaster Management in 2021.

Role in COVID-19 Response: Her team has ramped up their Emergency Operations Center in order to better serve the community. She is gathering situational awareness, receiving donations and requests for personal protective equipment (PPE), assisting public health with providing guidance, and planning for current and future situational needs and cascading effects.

“OCU has helped me prioritize essential functions that help me move forward not only in my career, but in my personal life and my faith. Serving through a Christian worldview is very important to me and the spiritual focus and guidance emphasized in every course keeps faith at the forefront of my life as I work with people who are going through the most difficult moments in their lives.”

“The field of emergency management is ever-changing, and it has great impacts on the overall health and safety of the public. I enjoy the variety of the functions that accompany the role of a county emergency manager, as well as the diversity of jurisdictions and people that I serve.”


Donald Gossel, Director for Athens County Emergency Management Agency

Donald graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Emergency & Disaster Management.

Role in COVID-19 Response: He is communicating information to county residents, helping with personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement for the health department and providing direction, command, and control through their Emergency Operations Center.

“OCU provided essential knowledge and foundation to understand the Incident Command Structure [the standardized approach to emergency response] and public relations during disasters.”

“I enjoy the public interaction with citizens and county government and the rapport established with first responders.”

Bonus Fact: His recently hired assistant is 2019 OCU graduate, Cayla Allen!


Sam Neill, Emergency Response Coordinator for Pickaway County Public Health

Sam graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management & Business.

Role in COVID-19 Response: He is working closely with the Pickaway County Emergency Management Agency and Sheriff’s Office in their Emergency Operations Center to keep the public up-to-date with accurate information and guidance on how to follow new directives. 

“OCU gave me the fundamental background on what I am doing on a daily basis within the Emergency Operations Center.”

“When I walk into work, I do not think that I am working. I am doing something that I love. I have a passion to help people and am truly blessed to be able to help people in the way of public health.”


Dustin Hube, Emergency Response Coordinator for Athens City-County Health Department

Dustin graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management & Disaster Relief.

Role in COVID-19 Response: In addition to being the Health Department Liaison Officer, he is making sure they are following FEMA’s Incident Command Structure [the standardized approach to emergency response], filling out the right forms, and tracking and distributing needed medical resources to local emergency management agencies.

“OCU has prepared me to make sure I know how and when to take the next steps to help my team manage during any incidents.”

“I enjoy managing through what some see as chaos and problem solving through a disaster.”


Ohio Christian’s Emergency & Disaster Management Programs prepare students for work in government, non-profit and private emergency response organizations. “A degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from OCU not only gets you ready for an established and exciting profession, but also prepares you for one of the emerging new missions techniques taking place around the world,” said Hicks. Explore all programs below.


PHOTO: Donald Gossel pictured in the Athens County Emergency Operations Center.


Online Programs:

BA in Emergency & Disaster Management

BA in Business with Emergency Management Concentration

Certificate in Emergency Management

Undergraduate Campus Programs:

BA in Emergency & Disaster Management

BA in Emergency & Disaster Management and Business (Dual Major)

BA in Intercultural Ministries and Emergency & Disaster Management (Dual Major)

Minor in Emergency & Disaster Management