August 19, 2014

CWS Emergency Response Specialist Joann Hale Dies

Pictured: CWS Emergency Response Specialist Joann Hale (left) speaks with Ironbound Community Corporation's Director of Administration Mayra Ramirez outside the corporation's office in the Ironbound District of Newark, NJ. Photo: Various

Church World Service Emergency Response Specialist Joann Hale of Grand Island, N.Y., died during the night of Sunday-Monday August 17-18 following a heart attack.  She was 60 years old.

A veteran disaster preparedness and recovery specialist, Hale served CWS for some 27 years, first as a volunteer and since 2002 as paid staff. 

A survivor of the toxic waste disaster in the Love Canal area of Niagara Falls, N.Y., she developed special expertise in recovery from technological disasters. 

Hale trained and guided countless local communities across the United States in how to organize for long-term recovery following hurricanes, tornados, floods, oil spills and other disasters both large and small.  She was deeply involved in recovery work following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001; Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy. 

She also worked as a United Church of Christ tech disaster coordinator; as a disaster assistant employee for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and as a legal assistant for a Buffalo, N.Y., law firm handling mass toxic tort cases.

Donna Derr, CWS Director for Development and Humanitarian Assistance, said: “Indeed, this is beyond sad....Joann was an amazing and compassionate advocate for those who were disaster affected...a bright light in the world of humanitarian response.  Through her work she left an invaluable legacy that I hope we can all carry on.”

Hale’s immediate supervisor Barry Shade, CWS Associate Director for U.S. Disaster Response, said, “Joann’s greatest joy in her job was being with communities.  I never liked to think of myself as her boss but rather as her partner.  I’m devastated at the loss.”

Hale was born September 21, 1953.  Survivors include her husband, Gary, and two daughters.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

More information will follow.