Poarch Band of Creek Indians
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Poarch Band of Creek Indians Director of Tribal Emergency Services selected for FEMA Executive Leadership Program

The PBCI Tribal Emergency Services Director was selected for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Vanguard Executive Crisis Leaders Fellowship.

April Sells, Director –Tribal Emergency Services, was one of 26 senior crisis leaders chosen for FEMA’s executive leadership cohort focused on disruptive changes in emergency management and crisis leadership.

FEMA Vanguard’s cohort represents some of the most influential and experienced minds in crisis leadership, including state, local, tribal and territorial emergency management directors, corporate executives, philanthropic leaders, elected officials, academics, policymakers, and other emergency management executives. Developed by FEMA in partnership with the RAND Corporation and McChrystal Group, the program is designed to establish the relationships needed to innovate, prepare, and respond to future crises more effectively.

April, a Psychology graduate with a minor in Marketing from the University of Alabama, has been a cornerstone of the Poarch Creek Indians since 1986. Currently serving as the Tribal Emergency Services Director, she oversees Emergency Management and Fire Service operations. Under her leadership, the Fire Department, initially a Volunteer Fire Department with a 35-year history, has evolved significantly. Collaborating with Emergency Management, her team actively engages in hurricane response efforts, including coordinating with the Alabama Urban Search and Rescue team. During the COVID-19 pandemic, April led her team in procuring Personal Protective Equipment, managing logistics, and establishing the Tribal COVID-19 Health Task Force. This task force played a crucial role in guiding the Tribe’s reopening and vaccination efforts, ultimately securing the first Federal Declaration for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in response to COVID-19.Applicants undergo a rigorous application process that assesses their experience leading through crisis and potential to influence change in the emergency management profession. It is the only course at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute that requires applicants to apply directly to the Superintendent.

The two-week cohort is held at rotating sites across the U.S., allowing selectees to meet with leading experts in crisis leadership from across the country. The executives are also invited for a series of high-level engagements with the National Security Council, Congressional representatives, Department of Homeland Security leadership, the FEMA Administrator, and former FEMA Administrators.

Fellows participate in roundtable discussions with top experts and peers, engage in seminars, site visits with crisis leadership experts, and small-group sessions to discuss and debate issues with the goal of improving federal, state, local, tribal, and industry preparedness.

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute supports the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA by improving competencies and collaboration among U.S. Emergency Management professionals at all levels to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the potential effects of disasters and emergencies in service of a more resilient Nation.

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe based in Alabama, with a rich cultural heritage dating back centuries. They are known for their resilience and adaptability, having navigated various historical challenges. Today, the tribe is actively involved in tribal governance, economic development, and preserving their cultural traditions. With a focus on community welfare and sustainability, they play a significant role in the region’s social and economic landscape.


Kristin Hellmich
(251) 359-8554

About the Poarch Band of Creek Indians:

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized tribe in Alabama. From hospitality to aerospace, we continue to operate in a variety of industries across the World. Read more about our Tribe here.

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