Lee County emergency management chief hired for same position in Sarasota County, replacing Ed McCrane

Sandra Tapfumaneyi recognized last year as state’s Emergency Management Professional of the Year

Sandra Tapfumaneyi. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

On Feb. 16, Sarasota County staff announced that Sandra Tapfumaneyi had been named Sarasota County’s new Emergency Management chief.

“I am looking forward to working with [Sarasota County’s] amazing team,” she wrote on her LinkedIn account. She officially joined the Sarasota County staff in January, that account says.

Tapfumaneyi had served as chief of Lee County Emergency Management since January 2021, a Sarasota County news release noted. In 2023, the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association recognized her as the Chad Reed – Emergency Management Professional of the Year, the release added.

On its website, the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA) explains that the Chad Reed award is presented “[t]o any Emergency Management Professional who has distinguished themselves in the field of Emergency Management in the State of Florida.”

The FEPA continues, “Chad Reed became the youngest person appointed as a Florida County Emergency Management Director when asked to serve by Dixie County at the age of 24. Chad’s devotion to emergency service began early as he completed volunteer service and his EMT training in high school. By doing this, he could qualify for a paid position the January following his graduation.”
“Tragically, Chad died in the line of duty in 2010 at the age of 33, while serving with the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office,” the FEPA adds.

The award presented in his name is the highest honor accorded by the FEPA, the organization points out.

In congratulating her for the honor, as shown on her LinkedIn account, Jody Dickhaut, a state voluntary agency liaison with Missouri State Emergency Management, wrote, “A well deserved recognition Understood that the first day I arrived at the Lee Co. [Emergency Operations Center] and listened to your briefing, comments and recognition of the hard work and dedication of those working. You are a Great Leader, and I will always remember the privilege I was given to be a part of your team for the [Hurricane] Ian Response.”

In her role as Sarasota County’s Emergency Management chief, the county news release continued, “Tapfumaneyi will be responsible for overseeing the preparation, prevention, response, recovery, and mitigation in an all-hazards environment.”

In 2022, Tapfumaneyi served as the incident commander of the Lee County Emergency Operations Center during the response to and recovery from Hurricane Ian, “one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the United States,” the release noted.

Additionally, after Hurricane Michael’s strike on Florida in 2018, Tapfumaneyi deployed to the Florida Panhandle, where she served as the Bay County Emergency Operations Center Human Services Branch director, the release said.

During her tenure in Lee County, Tapfumaneyi also spent time as director of Domestic Animal Services and operations chief of Emergency Management, the release continued.

Sandra Tapfumaneyi accepts the 2023 Emergency Management Professional of the Year Award. Photo from Tapfumaneyi’s LinkedIn account

Further, her LinkedIn account notes, from September 2005 through May 2012, she was the emergency management and business continuity consultant for SAIC. On its website, that company says, “SAIC is a premier Fortune 500® technology integrator driving our nation’s digital transformation. Our robust portfolio of offerings across the defense, space, civilian and intelligence markets includes secure high-end solutions in engineering, IT modernization and mission solutions. Using our expertise and understanding of existing and emerging technologies, we integrate the best components from our own portfolio and our partner ecosystem to deliver innovative, effective and efficient solutions that are critical to achieving our customers’ missions.”

When Tapfumaneyi was with SAIC, her LinkedIn account explains, she was “[r]esponsible and accountable for various Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Integrated Emergency Management Plan (IEMP)-Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program projects, including the Atlanta Area and Pittsburgh Field Office Emergency Response Programs, the domestic and international Humanitarian Assistance Program, and the common operating SharePoint portal for internal emergencies.”

The county announcement noted that Tapfumaneyi has more than 21 years of professional experience, including her work in crisis and emergency management, and she has extensive knowledge regarding the development of facility-specific emergency management procedures and the development and facility of team training and exercises.

Tapfumaneyi holds a Master of Arts in international peace and conflict resolution from the American University School of International Service and a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and global affairs from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, the release said.

She also is a Certified Public Manager (CPM), it noted, and she has experience with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

As The Sarasota News Leader reported in late August 2023, Ed McCrane, who had served as Sarasota County’s emergency management chief for 18 years, retired shortly before Hurricane Idalia threatened Florida’s Gulf Coast in August 2023.

In announcing McCrane’s departure, a county news release said that the Emergency Management staff would “work toward a seamless transition” in hiring his replacement.