James Lee Witt has been at the forefront of disaster and crisis management for more than 25 years. As Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1993-2001, Witt was responsible for the agency's overhaul. In 1996, Witt became the first FEMA Director to be elevated to a Cabinet position.
During his tenure, Witt transformed FEMA into an effective disaster response agency that provides hands-on assistance to those at risk, both before and after disaster strikes. Witt led FEMA through more than 350 federally declared disasters in more than 6,500 counties in all 50 states and territories, including the most costly flood disaster in the nation's history, the most costly earthquake, and a dozen damaging hurricanes.
After 12 years as a successful businessman and community leader, he was elected County Judge for Yell County. At age 34, he was the youngest elected official in Arkansas. After being re-elected six times to the position, Witt was tapped by then-Governor Bill Clinton to assume leadership of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services.
Currently, as President of James Lee Witt Associates, LLC, Witt provides local governments, the international community, corporations, hospitals, universities, and other non-profit organizations with innovative disaster mitigation solutions, including planning and preparation. The firm also offers a complete range of recovery services in the event of natural and manmade disasters.
In addition, Witt is the CEO of the International Code Council. The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools.
Mr. Witt has recently completed his first book. Stronger in the Broken Places. Mr. Witt and his wife, Lea Ellen, currently reside in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.