Meet our Discussion Panelist
Lois James is the Assistant Director for Research at the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing, where she focuses on bias, stress, sleep, and performance in “high stress” populations such as police officers, military personnel, nurses, and athletes. She has received multiple honors and awards for her work and is internationally recognized as a leading expert. Dr. James’s work has been published extensively in academic journals, practitioner magazines, and mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. During her time at WSU, she has brought in approximately $6,000,000 of extramural funding.
“Learning to recognize and manage the impact of implicit bias on critical decision making”
Overview: This talk will explain the origins of bias, how the brain processes information, how to recognize implicit bias, and how to safeguard against biased decision-making. Attendees will learn that “if you have a brain, you have bias” and will gain insight into optimizing public safety performance in ways that promote equity.
Stephen James, Ph.D.
•Stephen James, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. His research focus includes the interaction between physical stressors [such as sleep-related fatigue], law, policy, training, and practice relating to operational performance for high-consequence occupations (nursing, law enforcement, military, etc.). When an individual operates under stressors, their ability to make decisions is more prone to cognitive errors and biases. Dr. James’ training on sleep and stress management to reduce bias will complement other bias reduction training and policy development within the College of Nursing.
•In addition to his research and training development, Dr. James is a combat veteran. He spent more than 20 years in the British Army’s infantry as a soldier and officer, serving in Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, and Afghanistan. This experience enables him to better support our international students and those from the veteran community.
•“The Alertness Edge: The Impact of Fatigue on Health & Safety” (Lois will be presenting)
•Overview: Our society depends on first responders providing services 24/7, despite mounting evidence for negative physical and mental health outcomes from sleep displacement due to shift work. This talk reviews short- and long-term health consequences of sleep displacement and circadian misalignment due to shift work. We will also discuss the impact of sleep loss on cognitive function, decision-making, and the first responder's ability to process stress. You will be given a better understanding of why sleep alludes us and concert advice on achieving more sleep. Sleep is a core biological function that can help protect you from the stresses of your job and promote recovery.
Janine Shepherd is an inspirational speaker and writer whose books have become classics in the survivor genre. A champion cross-country skier in training for the 1988 winter Olympics, Janine’s life changed forever when she was hit by a truck during a bicycle training ride in the Blue Mountains of Australia.
Doctors warned her parents that—even if she somehow miraculously survived her massive injuries—Janine would almost certainly never walk again. After a risky procedure to rebuild her shattered vertebra, and almost six months flat on her back in a hospital spinal ward, Janine came home to heal. With the promise of a career as an elite athlete now gone forever, Janine faced a daunting recovery and an uncertain future.
Struggling to rehabilitate with permanent disabilities, Janine rekindled her defiant spirit in a dramatically improbable way. Sitting outside in her wheelchair one day and watching a small plane fly overhead, she declared, “That’s it! If I can’t walk, I’ll fly!”
Still encased in a full body cast, Janine had to be lifted into an aircraft for her introductory flight lesson. But within a year she had defied the odds and succeeded in gaining her private pilot’s license. Her talent and skill as a pilot subsequently earned Janine a commercial pilot license and ultimately, her flying instructor’s rating. She then decided to learn to fly upside down, and finally, to teach aerobatic flight to other pilots.
Janine went on to succeed not only as a professional pilot but also to attain her University degree, raise three children and author several best-selling books.
Her remarkable life story ultimately captured the interest of a prominent film company, which produced the feature length movie, aptly titled Never Tell Me Never.
In recognition of her service to the community and her tireless efforts in raising awareness for spinal cord research, Janine was awarded the Order of Australia, her nation’s highest honor.
She is an ambassador for Spinal Cure Australia and Red Bull’s “Wings for Life” and a contributor to Deepak Chopra’s workshops. Janine’s story has been featured on 60 Minutes, This is Your Life and CNN’s Turning Points with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her inspirational and emotional TEDx talk, “A Broken Body Isn’t a Broken Person,” has been viewed almost 2 million times.
She was recently named as an “Architect of Change” in Maria Shriver’s “Sunday Paper” Her latest book, “Defiant: A Memoir” was published for worldwide distribution by SoundsTrue®. Janine lives in Wyoming, USA but is frequently traveling the globe delivering keynotes and her inspirational message of “defiance.” For more information, visit janineshepherd.com
Matthew Pegg is the Fire Chief in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Toronto Fire Services is the largest fire service in Canada and one of the largest in North America, with more than 3,250 career staff.
From March 2020 through April 2022, Chief Pegg led the City of Toronto's response to COVID-19 and served as the COVID-19 Incident Commander throughout the global pandemic, leading the development and continued operation of one of the most complex incident management systems in North American history. This included leading the longest-ever continuous deployment of Toronto’s Emergency Operations Centre, as well as the development and operation of Toronto's COVID-19 Immunization Task Force.
Prior to being appointed as Fire Chief in Toronto, Chief Pegg served as a Deputy Fire Chief in Toronto, Brampton, Ajax and Georgina, and he is also a licensed mechanic and a commercial pilot, having also worked in both industries.
Chief Pegg is a graduate of Dalhousie University in both Leadership and Administration, Queen’s University in Labour Relations, and the Schulich School of Business' in Public Management. He is a recipient of the Heroism and Community Service Medal, Ontario Medal of Firefighter’s Bravery, the Canadian Fire Service Exemplary Service Medal, and the Ontario Fire Services Long Service medal.
Chief Pegg has been awarded the Executive Chief Fire Officer Professional Designation and also serves as Honourary Aide de Camp to Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Chief Pegg volunteers his time and expertise as a Board Member with both the Canadian Journal of Emergency Management and Lay-Up Youth Basketball and is proud to serve as an ambassador for Wounded Warriors Canada.
Chief Pegg previously served 13 years on the Board of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, serving the last three years of his tenure as President, where he developed the implemented the “One Message - One Voice” government relations strategy.
Chief Pegg is a co-author of the Leadership Forum in Fire Fighting in Canada Magazine and is a highly sought-after international speaker, trainer and leadership expert who frequently works with both public and private sector executives on developing and implementing transformational leadership and management strategies along with providing leading-edge crisis management training for c-suite executives.
“Shon Buford is a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Fire Department. Born and raised in San Francisco, he has served across the city, including Rescue 2 and Engine 1 assignments. In 2019, he was elected as Union President of San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, representing nearly 1700 uniformed service personnel who keep San Francisco safe.
In June 2022, Shon ended an 18-year tenure serving on the Executive Board of San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798. He was promoted in November 2022 to the rank of Assistant Deputy Chief in the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.
“Committed to public service and a lifetime of civic engagement, Shon is also on The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Review Board.”
Shon holds a Bachelor of Science in Management with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from the University of San Francisco. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Julia and their young daughter.”
Abby Morris, MD
Dr. Abby Morris received degrees from Cornell University, and Georgetown School of Medicine and completed her residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is double board certified in Psychiatry/neurology and Addiction medicine. She has been a physician for 20 years and has been working as a medical director for the last 15 years. She has worked in diverse medical settings including as the Medical Director for a CMHC, as the Medical Director for an Assertive Community Treatment program and as the Medical director a 24-bed psychiatric unit in a Johns Hopkins Hospital in suburban Maryland. She is currently the Medical Director of the IAFF Center of Excellence, a stand-alone mental health treatment facility for first responders with PTSD, addiction, or other behavioral health challenges. She has been awarded many local and regional honors for her academics and work in her field and is considered an international expert in first responder mental health and trauma. Dr. Morris has been on multiple news programs, panels, and conference forums and has been invited to teach in a variety of settings around the country and internationally. In addition, she serves as the medical consultant for the SWAT/CIT team in Montgomery County, Maryland and was named the Volunteer of the Year by the police in that county in 2017. However, Dr. Morris is most proud to be the mother of two incredible young men.
Kent Williams is the owner of Breach Point Consulting and has been involved in law enforcement as a police officer for over 32 years, where he recently retired as Chief of Police for a Chicago area police department. Now consulting full-time, he has served as the 2-term President of the Northern Illinois Critical Incident Stress Management Team where he still serves as a peer supporter for more than 20 years. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the University of Southern California’s Delinquency Control Institute, the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police, at Boston University, and the Buechner Institute for Governance’s Rocky Mountain Leadership Program at the University of Colorado. He served as a Tactical Commander on a regional SWAT team serving 60 Chicago collar communities. He has taught extensively on various courses related to leadership and organizational change. Additionally he has taught for over 28 years on topics including use of force, weapons and tactics.
WILLIAMS, K.JPGThrough the development of Breach Point Consulting he has launched several courses, seminars and programs being taught on a national level, based upon the principles of Servant Leadership and how simple shifts in organizational perspective can profoundly reduce the stress, frustration and open anger expressed throughout the typical law enforcement agency. At very little cost to a police organization Chief Williams has been teaching leaders how to negate the toxic work climate which can be caused by what he has termed “The Universal Police Frustrations”. These misunderstood stressors are created by the unique combination of an effective police personality coupled with an efficient police culture. The mix if not fully understood can be very destructive to an agency’s morale and reputation. Additionally, it predictably places officers at risk for failed careers, marriages and relationships. He sums this situation up by calling it, “The Caustic Risks of performing well in law enforcement.”
These efforts have lead to ground breaking ways agencies can create healthier more productive and loyal work groups who remain highly dedicated throughout their careers. These same principles have been assisting officers themselves create a deeper more meaningful vocation in policing and developing a harmonious and rewarding personal life away from their career. His work on the predictable transitional issues confronting the police officer’s family has led to numerous speaking engagements designed to keep the family of a police officer emotionally and spiritually healthy.
Chief Williams lives in Illinois with his wife and three children. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Aurora University, and a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership from Judson University.
Matt Cowan is the Fire Chief of the Shoreline Fire Department, a fire district located immediately north of Seattle in King County, Washington. The Department is a full-career, all-hazards response fire department serving four cities in an urban environment. Operations are provided out of five stations responding to nearly 18,000 calls annually, including Paramedic responses. In addition to all the other divisions, the Department is one of the few ALS providers in King County, with the jurisdiction extending from Shoreline across the north end of King County through Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and downtown Woodinville. Total staff includes nearly 190 personnel with a budget of over $45 million.
Chief Cowan started his fire service career in 1986 as a volunteer while working for San Juan County Fire District #4 on Lopez Island. He volunteered during the summers while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in physics at the University of Puget Sound. After graduating, Matt volunteered and worked night shifts for King County Fire District #10. In 1992, he accepted an offer for a full-time position with Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety. Four years later he also became the Fire Chief of Snoqualmie Pass Fire & Rescue, a volunteer fire department in the community where he lived. As Matt progressed through the ranks in Maple Valley, he was also transitioning Snoqualmie Pass from a volunteer to a combination fire department. Eventually, as things became busier in Snoqualmie Pass, he promoted his Assistant Chief to full-time Fire Chief and assumed a Deputy Chief role. In 2013, Matt was the Deputy Chief in Maple Valley when the Shoreline Fire Department hired him to be their Fire Chief, where he has been for the past ten years.
Chief Cowan entered the fire service with a degree in physics, with an emphasis in math and economics. However, after becoming a Firefighter, he soon received an Associate’s degree in Fire Command Administration and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Matt is also a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program, is a certified Chief Fire Officer with CPSE, and is an Executive Chief Officer with the IAFC. He is a senior consultant with Fitch & Associates, has received numerous citations throughout his career, and currently sits on multiple advisory boards promoting succession development and education.
More importantly, Matt has been married for 24 years and has three children, two of whom are in college, with his youngest getting closer to graduating high school. He lives in North Bend, Washington, up against the Cascade Mountains, enjoying winter and water sports and golfing.
Kristan Maurer is Fire Chief of Clark County Fire District 6 in Vancouver, Washington. She has been a member there since 1999. Kristan has worked her way through the ranks, starting as a firefighter/paramedic and being promoted through all officer ranks up to her current role as Fire Chief.
Kristan has an associate degree in Fire Science from Portland Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree from Central Washington University with a Major in Paramedicine and a Minor in Biology. She has completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and the Los Angeles Fire Department Leadership Academy. She has her Master’s of Public Administration and is Vice President of the Washington State Fire Chiefs’ Association.
Kristan resides in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband. She has two children, ages 21 and 19. She enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the Northwest’s many outdoor activities.
Retired Fire Chief Matthew Morris has over 30 years of experience in the fire service. He was appointed as Fire Chief of Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority in 2017 where he remained until his recent retirement in February of this year. As an Internationally Accredited (CFAI) agency and the second largest fire department in King County, Washington, Puget Sound RFA provides services to the Cities of Kent, Covington, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Maple Valley, along with Fire Districts 37 and 43.
He began his career as a reserve firefighter/EMT in 1990 for the City of Boulder City, Nevada. He was then hired by the City of Henderson, Nevada as a firefighter/paramedic, where he spent the next 22 years. He rose through the ranks of Captain, Battalion Chief, and Deputy Chief before being promoted to Fire Chief in January 2016.
Before joining the fire service, Chief Morris served in the US Navy as an aviation electronics technician assigned to Air Squadron VA-176 on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
A graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program, Chief Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and an MBA. He is also a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Association of Public Administrators. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit agency DAWN, which supports victims of domestic violence.
Chief Morris has two adult children and a golden retriever named Zoe.
According to Chief Morris, "I have a philosophy that is value-based and focuses on taking care of people and building strong relationships." He adds, "l want this fire department to continue to be a trusted community partner.”
A firefighter for the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority since 1984, Greg now serves as Division Chief for the department, overseeing governmental relations, accreditation, and grant programs.
He was elected as a District Representative and joined the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters (WSCFF) Executive Board in 1997. He was elected Secretary/Treasurer in 2003 and still serves in that role.
Markley chairs the Post-Retirement Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan (MERP) and the IAFF Health & Wellness Trust.
In addition, he is the Treasurer of the Bates Technical College Foundation and has volunteered for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through Local 1747 Kent Fire Fighters for over three decades.
In 2017, he was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee as one of seven members of the Washington State Investment Board and now serves as a member of the WSIB administrative committee.
Markley is a member and serves as chair of the board of the Washington State Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).
Lieutenant Doug Loeser has been with Shoreline Fire Department since 2017.
He also serves as President of IAFF Local 1760.