Graduate Tapped to Serve as FEMA Regional Administrator
David Warrington ’06 credits York College of Pennsylvania with providing him the foundation and internships necessary for success in emergency management.
David Warrington ’06 had been a first-year student at York College of Pennsylvania for only a few weeks when he received a call from his roommate’s mother.
“We’re under attack,” she said. “Turn your television on.”
He and a dozen other students crammed into his Manor West dorm room and watched the terrorism events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It was shock and awe,” says Warrington, who grew up in suburban New Jersey. “There was a lot unfolding. People on campus heard about it, classes started getting delayed and canceled. I remember feeling helpless.”
Warrington entered York College with the goal of becoming a police officer. His Orientations of Criminal Justice class and the events of 9/11 changed his plans.
“The College brought in speakers from all walks of life to talk about their careers,” Warrington says. “At that point, emergency management and infrastructure protection were new concepts. That class birthed my knowledge of emergency management.”
Taking the lead
A career path in emergency management has led Warrington back home. On February 15, 2022, he was sworn in as the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As regional administrator, Warrington oversees preparedness, readiness, and emergency response efforts. His team supports recovery operations, public assistance, and disaster mitigation.
“Most folks that work with emergency management have an underlying desire to help people,” Warrington says. “FEMA presented an opportunity to lead an entire staff of people with that thinking. New York and New Jersey are my home, and I get to help people from my background.”
Before joining FEMA, Warrington spent more than a decade with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He led the advancement of next-generation technology against chemical, biological, and radiological attacks. In 2019, he oversaw the review of and updates to all Port Authority emergency operation plans.
Even with that experience, his position with FEMA has left him in awe of the scale of recovery efforts in his region.
“I don’t think I appreciated the volume of effort by FEMA as well as our state partners on the recovery side,” Warrington says. “The size and scope of getting Puerto Rico back is expansive in the wake of several hurricanes and earthquakes. It’s not an insurmountable task. We can work with partners to train partner agencies and be ready to respond in future events.”
Networking is key
Warrington enrolled at York College for its four-year Criminal Justice degree program. Many institutions at the time offered only two-year programs. He committed to York College after a visit to campus.
“York seemed the most like a small-knit, family community,” Warrington says. “I had friends there. I wasn’t going to be overwhelmed by being one of 30,000 undergraduates.”
Through York College, Warrington secured internships with the Delaware River Port Authority and the New Jersey Office of Counterterrorism.
“Those internships framed my mindset of where I wanted to go and the people I wanted to surround myself with,” Warrington says. “Emergency management was interesting because you’re engaged at different levels of community and government. In the end, emergencies always start and end at the local level. That’s where you build a community approach and help people who really need it.”
Emergency management was in its infancy when Warrington was in college. Having access to internships in the field separated York College from other institutions.
“They are invaluable in understanding the field you’re interested in,” Warrington says. “It exposes you to life experiences that you won’t get in the classroom. Leverage that network that YCP provides. It is tremendously beneficial.”