Sharon Hawa from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) will discuss the importance of disaster reunification planning and the implications for children who become separated from their parents and guardians in the aftermath of a disaster.

She will also discuss the various national disaster resources that NCMEC offers to support disaster-impacted states with the identification, location and reunification of children with their families.

Sharon began her emergency management career with the American Red Cross in Greater New York immediately following the tragedies of 9/11. She spent the next 12 years working and volunteering with the Red Cross disaster response units in both New York and later at their headquarters in Washington D.C. where she supported critical emergency services - sheltering, mass feeding, the distribution of bulk relief items and reunification information, for the entire country.

Sharon also spent numerous years working for the New York City Office of Emergency Management as a human services planner and member of the external affairs unit helping to coordinate assistance during several large-scale emergencies in the New York City area. She also managed the City’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program which at peak reached 275 trained members.

In addition, she spent several months prior to hurricane season each year, working for the City University of New York training city employees to manage emergency shelters.

Sharon has a vast knowledge of disaster planning and operations management, coordinating response efforts and training large workforces. Sharon is also a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, responding to international humanitarian crises.