Meet the team! Here are the CERT Program Directors and a little bit about them

Program Leadership

Meet the team! Here are the CERT Program Directors and a little bit about them

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Elizabeth received her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of South Florida in Global Disaster Management and Humanitarian Relief. In 2013, she was invited to teach at USF as an instructor for the public health undergraduate program in homeland security & emergency management. She is currently pursuing her Doctor in Public Health (DrPH) degree in Public Health Leadership.​ 

In 2013, Ms. Dunn started training students, faculty, and staff in the FEMA Basic CERT in an effort to bring CERT to the university. She now serves as a FEMA CERT Instructor, Train-the-Trainer for future CERT Instructors, and organizes HSEEP compliant exercises in Hillsborough County. In addition, Ms. Dunn is a Shelter Manager, a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Lead, Adult & Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, and Hands-Only CPR Lead Trainer for the American Red Cross. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the USF Red Cross Club, USF HOSA, and Photography Club. 

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Elizabeth Dunn, MPH, CPH
Program Director

Why I believe in CERT? >

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Building a resilient community takes a team, and the CERT program is designed to bring people together to strengthen communities before the storm & be able to respond to the needs of others during & after a disaster

Chiara is a Senior at USF majoring in Public Health with a minor in infection control and psychology and she aims to serve those in need. Her first experiences with CERT was as a member of the East Lake CERT during high school before coming to the University of South Florida in the Fall of 2018. Chiara is a certified Stop-The-Bleed Instructor and instructor for annual training for USF CERT and community members. Chiara is an active member of UEMSA and serves as a liaison for key organizations at University Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADS) and local government agencies. 

Why I Joined >

Chiara Simeoni
Community Liaison Officer

I got involved with CERT because I wanted to be on the front lines of disaster response and recovery!

Tracy is studying for her Master of Public Health (MPH) at the University of South Florida College of Public Health with a concentration in global health practice. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Tracy served with the Peace Corps in Tanzania where she developed her passion for public health, humanitarian assistance, and health equity. She is excited to serve as the Deputy Director with the USF CERT program as she continues to build her emergency management and disaster response skills while serving the community.  

Why I Joined >

To serve and support

people in times of hardship, gain disaster relief experience, and promote resiliency within the Tampa community.   

Tracy Gates
Deputy Director

Veronica Soler Torres is a Senior pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. 

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Why I Joined >

Veronica Soler Torres
Co-Deputy Director

I got involved with CERT because I wanted to be on the front lines of disaster response and recovery!

Personal Thoughts >

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Ca Hoang
Executive Assistant

Ca is a second-year student at USF, pursuing concurrent degrees in Statistics and Public Health. She aspires to become a biostatistician and will thus pursue graduate school after completing her undergraduate studies. Although she is new to the CERT program, she looks forward to developing herself and to contributing to the community together with the team.

Kelly received his Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security from Arizona State University. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) with a minor in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from USF. Kelly works as an Emergency Management Coordinator for Tampa Electric Company.

 

Kelly’s experience includes being a medic in the Army National Guard, as well as a supervisor for a private ambulance company. Kelly volunteers as an Emergency Medical Technician and is on the board of directors for the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. Kelly is a certified instructor for the FEMA CERT, Stop-the-Bleed, Emergency Medical Responder, CPR and NAEMT courses. Kelly serves on the Higher Education Committee for the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA) and is working towards his Florida Professional Emergency Manager (FPEM) certification. Kelly has been a member of USF CERT since 2014.

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Why I joined >

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Kelly Knigge, M.A.
Training Director

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Alejandra Cintron-Lopez is a Senior pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She serves as an intern at the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management focusing on strengthening the local CERT program as a USF CERT officer. Her aim is to build exercises for CERTs and identify outreach and education strategies for local teams while strengthening our engagements and partnerships with CERTs across Tampa Bay. Her focus for the UWF CERT is to manage communication and outreach for our CERT members and to increase awareness of current events, hazards, training opportunities, and to lead marketing and outreach. 

What does it mean to lead >

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I got involved with CERT because I wanted to be on the front lines of disaster response and recovery!

Alejandra Cintron-Lopez
Media & Communications Director

Maria Paula is an international student from Peru, currently, she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a minor in Community-Engaged Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the University of South Florida (USF).  In the future, she has plans to pursue an MPH in Global Health.  Prior to coming to the United States, Maria Paula was attending medical school in Peru where she realized how inequality impacts people’s health.  As a medical student, she was an intern for a community health care center and an OB/GYN neonatal specialty hospital.

Quote that I live by  >

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"If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew you never knew.”

         

         - Colors of the wind

Maria Paula Ibarcena Woll 
Health & Medical Officer

Personal Quote >

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Who I am is who I want to be, living life with desire and intent. I am proud to be a part of a team that shares the common goal of protecting our community during moments when leaders are the essence of recovery.

Stephanie Toledo
Training Officer

Stephanie Toledo is majoring in Public Health at the University of South Florida. She is passionate about volunteering and getting to know the people as she serves her community. Stephanie transferred to USF after receiving her Associate in the Arts degree at Hillsborough Community College. While she was a student at HCC, she started the first Public Health Student Association at the college with the goal in mind of providing information for the Tampa Bay community to inspire them to take a lead in their own health. As a Training Officer for the USF Hillsborough County Emergency Response Team (CERT), I aspire to share my team management skills and learn from the skills of my teammates.

William Steck is a Sophomore at the University of South Florida pursuing a Bachelor's in Global Business with a minor in Community-Engaged Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He is serving in an internship position with Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management with Command Support. 

Personal Thoughts >

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William Steck
Training Officer

Personal Thoughts >

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I joined CERT because I want to play an active role in helping to keep Tampa residents safe.

Rachel Kline
Grants and Financial Officer

Rachel Kline is a first-year Nursing student at the University of South Florida who will graduate in 2024. She is looking into public health minors that align with her interests. Rachel is passionate about disease control and clinical health. Although this is her first year with CERT, Rachel is excited to get involved in club activities serving in a leadership role with the Disaster and Humanitarian Relief Student Collaborative and USF CERT. Besides her passion for medicine and public health, Rachel enjoys hiking, rock climbing, mixed martial arts, and getting food with friends.

Quemi "Mimi" Cao is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) at the University of South Florida with a minor in Community-Engaged Homeland Security and Emergency Management. She plans to pursue her MPH in Epidemiology with a focus on Disaster Epidemiology. 

Personal Thoughts >

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Quemi "Mimi" Cao
President
Disaster and Humanitarian
Relief (DAHR) Student Collaborative

Adding Biography...

Personal Thoughts >

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Sola Orogada
Vice President
Disaster and Humanitarian
Relief (DAHR) Student Collaborative

Jay Rajyaguru is an alumnus of the USF College of Public Health with his Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) with a minor in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Currently, Jay works for the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management as an Emergency management Planning Coordinator.

 

Jay is a certified FEMA CERT Instructor and has been with the CERT program since Fall 2016 and remains an active supporter of the USF CERT program serving on the board as an Advisor. He is an American Red Cross Shelter Manager, Hands-Only CPR Instructor, and a certified Stop-The-Bleed Instructor.

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Personal Thoughts >

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Jay Rajyaguru, FAEM
Emergency Management Advisor & Instructor

APPLY FOR A LEADERSHIP POSITION

​If you are interested in applying for a leadership position click on the Join our Team button below. We currently have the positions of public information officer, secretary, instructor, and assistant instructor open. You may also apply to be a non-voting member, this is someone who sits in on the meetings and can take on additional tasks but does not have a designated position.