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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

For immediate release:
  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
  • Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Elaine Driscoll, Director of Communications and Policy


BostonToday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the departure of Samantha Phillips, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), who has served in this role since February 2019.  The Administration also announced the appointment of Dawn Brantley, MEMA’s current assistant director for planning and preparedness, to acting director.

“We thank Director Phillips for her dedicated service to the Commonwealth, and especially for her efforts in leading MEMA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and through multiple severe weather events,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Sam provided critical leadership during the pandemic by procuring life saving equipment and establishing field hospitals and we wish her well. Dawn Brantley’s extensive disaster response experience and the fantastic team at MEMA will serve the Commonwealth well."

“We are grateful to Director Phillips for her public service, strong leadership during critical times, and commitment to protecting the people of the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I wish Sam all the best and welcome Acting Director Brantley to her new role with a great senior team at MEMA.”

“We are grateful to Sam for her steady leadership throughout the pandemic and, most recently, her successful oversight of the 125th Boston Marathon,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “We are pleased to welcome Dawn to her new position as acting director and know that MEMA’s crucial mission will be well served by her vast experience in emergency management, planning, disability integration, and inclusive emergency planning.”

“It’s been a privilege to serve as MEMA Director and to lead its exceptional team of emergency operation professionals. I am proud of our team’s accomplishments. MEMA’s establishment of emergency systems to support the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response, effective oversight of disaster relief funding, and enhanced preparedness for severe weather events will continue to strengthen the Commonwealth’s recovery and resiliency,” said outgoing Director Phillips. “I’d like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Reidy, and retired Secretary Thomas Turco for their leadership and support.”

“I am honored to be appointed as Acting Director. I look forward to leading the dedicated team at MEMA and to continue advancing a comprehensive emergency management plan centered on policies that prioritize equity and inclusion,” said Acting Director Brantley.

MEMA is the state agency responsible for ensuring the Commonwealth’s preparedness to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters. From large scale events to severe weather response, MEMA’s vital mission strengthens the Commonwealth’s emergency readiness by assessing threats and mitigating hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and fortifying the state’s capacity to rebuild and recover.

About Dawn Brantley, JD, CEM, ADAC

With over 14 years in emergency management at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, Dawn Brantley has responded to 19 disasters, implemented inclusive programs and services, and championed progress in accessibility and equity both agency-wide at MEMA and across the country.

Brantley joined MEMA in January 2020 as assistant director for planning and preparedness. In this role, Brantley directly supervised the Technological Hazards Unit, Planning Unit, Preparedness Unit, and Training and Exercise Unit. Brantley also guided all hazards planning, including the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and the development of the Commonwealth’s disaster public information program. Throughout the pandemic, Brantley managed Massachusetts’ statewide COVID isolation hotel program, including the development of the online system to manage intake, tracking and reporting.

Before joining MEMA, Brantley served as Strategic Planning Branch Chief at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. During her tenure, she served in several capacities, including Access & Functional Needs Officer, Acting Director of External Affairs, Human Service Branch Coordinator and Sheltering Coordinator.

Brantley has extensive field response experience and has held various emergency management positions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, and the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management.

During her tenure in Anchorage, Brantley served as Emergency Programs Manager, Community Preparedness Coordinator and Public Information Officer. She was responsible for updating and revising annexes related to mass sheltering, alert & warning, air quality, mass casualty, and public information, among others. Brantley guided inclusive planning and program development to ensure equal access to emergency response operations, public information, and outreach. Her revision of the Mass Sheltering EOP Annex ensured the inclusion of unaccompanied minors, medically fragile individuals, and individuals with disabilities and other functional and access needs.

Brantley holds a JD, CEM, and ADA Coordinator certification and has degrees in psychology and human services. She is a national expert in access and functional needs and inclusive emergency management. 


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency 

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency ensures the state is prepared to withstand, respond to and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters.

Executive Office of Public Safety and Security 

EOPSS is responsible for the policy development and budgetary oversight of its secretariat agencies, independent programs, and several boards which aid in crime prevention, homeland security preparedness, and ensuring the safety of residents and visitors in the Commonwealth.