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Inaugural IAFC Diversity Executive Leadership Program Fellows Selected

Fairfax, Va. – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) today announced the participants accepted into the inaugural year of the IAFC Diversity Executive Leadership Program (iDELP).

iDELP is a new program developed by the IAFC to bring together a group of current and future leaders to foster a diverse and inclusive leadership and workforce. The program aims to provide them with the tools necessary to become national leaders in the fire and emergency service and the IAFC. 

The fellows will meet for the first time next month at Fire-Rescue International in Charlotte, N.C. for a two-day session. The group plans to meet two to three times in person throughout the program. In between the in-person meetings, the group will communicate via KnowledgeNet, the IAFC’s online community.

Throughout the course, the fellows will hear from experienced leaders at the IAFC and explore avenues in which they can become leaders on the national stage and assist others to do the same.

Accepted into the 2017-2019 program are:

  • Deputy Chief Geo Blackshire, Palo Alto (Calif.) Fire Department
  • Battalion Chief Debbie Carpenter, Carrollton (Tex.) Fire Rescue
  • Assistant Fire Chief Joe Dixon, Howard County (Md.) Fire & Rescue
  • Battalion Chief Oscar Espinosa, Graham (Wash.) Fire & Rescue
  • Fire Chief Virgil Fernandez, City of Miami Beach (Fla.) Fire Department
  • Fire Chief Darnell Fullum, DeKalb County (Ga.) Fire Rescue
  • Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Shawn Hanson, Greater Naples (Fla.) Fire Rescue District
  • Battalion Chief Radcliffe McKenzie, Central Pierce (Wash.) Fire & Rescue
  • Battalion Chief Shirese Moore, Winston-Salem (N.C.) Fire Department
  • Health and Safety Chief Officer R. Carlos Nava, Santa Fe (N.M.) Fire Department
  • Commissioner Claudio Norita, Northern Mariana Islands Dept. of Fire and EMS
  • Deputy Fire Chief Deryn Rizzi, Vaughan (Ontario) Fire & Rescue Service
  • Deputy Fire Chief Rudy Ruiz, Perrysburg (Ohio) Fire Division
  • Paramedic Field Chief Deborah Sommer, Chicago (Ill.) Fire Department
  • Deputy Chief Laurie VandeSchoot, Calgary (Alberta) Fire Department

According IAFC President and Chairman of the Board John Sinclair, who initiated the program, the group will focus on challenges that fire-service leaders are facing related to inclusiveness and diversity at the department level and the impact those challenges are having on the entire fire and emergency service.

“Our goal is to offer these current and future leaders a forum to learn from each other, explore and develop solutions to current and emerging challenges and share those ideas and solutions with the IAFC community. Further, we aim for this select group of individuals to grow and enhance as leaders and ambassadors of the IAFC.”



Additional Resources
Diversity and Inclusiveness: Take Leadership All the Way

IAFC Human Dignity Statement


About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous response, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more

About the IAFC Diversity Executive Leadership Program (iDELP)
iDELP supports individuals from under-represented identity groups and those interested in creating a diverse workforce to advance into the ranks of leadership in the IAFC and fire and emergency service leadership at a national level. IAFC DELP Fellows participate in a leadership program of education, mentoring, and volunteer service in the IAFC and fire service community.


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