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7:00pm to 9:00pm
Westport Public Library | 20 Jesup Rd, Westport, CT 06880

A 22-Year Journey: From 9/11 to Today

A 22-Year Journey: From 9/11 to Today
Wednesday, October 18
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Westport Public Library
20 Jesup Rd, Westport, CT 06880

Mary Fetchet, Founding Director of Voices Center for Resilience presented A 22-year Journey from 9/11 to Today: Helping Families and Communities Prepare for Emergencies. Ms. Fetchet, a New Canaan resident for 35 years and mother of Brad Fetchet, who died in the September 11 attacks, shared her personal experience and perspective on preparing communities in advance of a tragedy. The three-town presentations included remarks from representatives of local and state emergency management, highlighting their efforts to prepare communities. Tipsheets and preparedness materials were distributed to those in attendance.

Ms. Fetchet spoke about the how the loss of her son and the needs of the other families led to her advocacy efforts, and the creation of Voices Center for Resilience, formerly known as Voices of September 11th. In the years since 9/11, Fetchet and her dedicated staff have provided long-term support services for thousands of victims’ families, responders, and survivors. “An important lesson we learned on 9/11 – it is incumbent on individuals, families and communities to have a plan in place in the event of an emergency” remarked Fetchet. To that end, VOICES continues to collaborate with public-private partnerships to assist communities in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from other tragedies, in the United States and abroad.

Voices Center for Resilience worked in partnership with STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way to promote September as Preparedness Month through presentations at the New Canaan, Darien and Westport libraries. The project was funded in part by a grant from AmeriCorps 9/11 Day of Service and The Arc. Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR stated, “STAR is pleased to collaborate with Voices Center to enhance community preparedness while remembering and respecting the lives and lessons of September 11th. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the impassioned, dedicated and knowledgeable experts at VOICES to share valuable insights that can save lives.”

An advocate for the establishment of the 9/11 Commission, Fetchet campaigned to mark September as National Preparedness Month in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Established by the US Government, the campaign encourages all citizens and communities to make their own preparedness plans.

Local Resources
National Resources
About the Presenters
Jennifer Tooker
First Selectwoman, Town of Westport
First Selectwoman of Westport Jennifer (Jen) Tooker has long been a public servant in Westport. She has served as a member of the Westport Board of Finance, the Westport Board of Education and the Westport Conservation Commission.
She has donated her time and talents to a number of local organizations including the Westport-Weston Family YMCA Board of Trustees, the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club, the Sunrise Rotary 21st Century Foundation Board, the Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund Committee, and as a coach for the Westport Soccer Association.
In 2013, Jennifer left her 22-year career as an executive with Gen Re, during which time she held various leadership and management positions in the US and European reinsurance markets.  She served on the Board of Directors for the Women's Business Development Council, served as a member of the Board of Directors of the State Education Resource Center and on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Education Commission for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Most recently, she served as a Board Member of the Adam J. Lewis Academy in Bridgeport.
Jen received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan
Emergency Management Director
Nick Marsan started his career with the Westport Fire Department as a career firefighter in 2007. Upon graduation from the Connecticut Fire Academy, he was assigned to Platoon 3 where he served as a firefighter for nine years.
In 2016, he was promoted to Fire Inspector and was assigned to the Fire Marshal's Office for 12 months before being promoted to Lieutenant. Nick served 5 years as an Engine Company Lieutenant, most of which was spent at Station 4 in Saugatuck. He was promoted to Deputy Chief of Department in January of 2022.
Nick is a veteran of the US Army and the CT Army National Guard. In 2010 he was deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Nick was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal for Valor for actions during operations in Afghanistan and here at home has been the recipient of two Westport Rotary Public Protection & Safety Awards, and two unit citations.
Nick is an EMT, a graduate of the Connecticut Fire Academy Class #41, a nationally certified Fire Service Instructor III and Fire Officer III. He is a state certified Fire Marshal and, prior to his appointment to Deputy Chief, served the communities of Norwalk and Darien as a Fire Inspector and also served as president of the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Association, Local 1081. He is a State Fire Instructor for the New York Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Nick is a graduate of Fairfield Prep and holds a Masters in Public Administration and Emergency Management from Sacred Heart University and a Masters in History from Western Connecticut State University.
Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson
Operations Commander Westport Police Department
Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson is the Operations Commander for the Westport Police Department and he directly oversees the Patrol and Training Divisions. He was hired as a patrol officer in 2000 and along with his patrol duties, served as a K9 handler, rescue diver for the joint Police/ Fire Dive Team, Marine Officer and a tactical officer for the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team.
He was promoted to sergeant in 2012 and again to lieutenant in 2014 during which period he was in charge of all training for the department as well as serving as Team Leader for both the Dive and Southwest Emergency Response Teams. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 2017, where he commanded the Professional Standards Division before taking over Operations in 2019. He was promoted to his current rank of Deputy Chief in 2021.
Paulsson additionally oversees the Special Services division which encompasses the departments Motorcycle Unit, K9 Unit, joint Police / Fire Dive team, and Regional Emergency Response team.
He has a bachelor’s degree in justice and law administration from Western Connecticut State University and is pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice at Sacred Heart University.
Elaine Allen Daignault, MA, NCC
Director of Human Services
Elaine Allen Daignault is the Town of Westport's Director of Human Services, is a Nationally Certified Mental Health Counselor and a member of Westport’s Emergency Management Team.
She has worked for the Town of Westport for the past 27 years, serving youth, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and families in various educational and social services settings with previous experience working in clinical non-profit agencies in Westport and Bridgeport, CT. A 40+ year Westport resident, she graduated from Staples High School, received a B.S. at Colorado State University, and M.A. in Mental Health Counseling at Fairfield University.
Elaine holds certifications in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Wisconsin and is a Certified Grant Administrator by the State of CT, among other certifications in evidence-based prevention programs. Elaine is a certified yoga and meditation instructor passionate about celebrating diversity, enhancing access to programs and services, and advocating for inclusivity through education, collaboration, and community-building initiatives. Residing in Westport, Elaine and her husband Jesse have two children (Jackson, 23, and Mia, 20).
Robert F. Kenny, Jr.
Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Bob Kenny has been with the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security since 2008, and currently serves as the Region 1 Emergency Management Coordinator.
He is the former Assistant Chief of Police for the Town of Orange, CT., a graduate of the 198th Session of the FBI National Academy, and a Connecticut licensed Paramedic with over 35 years of clinical experience in the Emergency Medical Services field. Prior to his current role, Bob served as the State’s EMS Field Program Coordinator within the CT Department of Public Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness where he helped develop mass casualty plans, with a focus on response to bio-terrorism incidents. He previously served as an active volunteer firefighter and officer with the North Haven Fire Department for 30 years. He currently serves as the Chair of the Statewide ESF-12 / Energy and Utilities Work Group, is the Co-chair of the Statewide Citizen Corps Council and is a member and Past President of InfraGard CT. Bob has served on numerous preparedness committees at the State and National level, as well as serving as committee member of the International Emergency Management Group with our Canadian partners.
Mary Fetchet, LCSW
Founding Director, Voices Center for Resilience
Mary Fetchet is the driving force behind Voices Center for Resilience (VOICES), a non-profit organization she co-founded in 2001 following the death of her 24 year old son Brad at the World Trade Center. Her unique background as a mother of a victim, along with over 20 years of expertise as a clinical social worker, influenced VOICES innovative approach.
Using social work practices, she guided the development of programs that provide continuity of care and promote resiliency in the lives of victims' families, responders and survivors. Today, Ms. Fetchet is also helping communities heal after other traumatic events through VOICES Center of Excellence for Community Resilience, an initiative that she launched in 2014.
Under her leadership, VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial Project in advance of the 5th anniversary to document the nearly 3,000 lives lost and stories of survivors. As a clinician, she recognized the importance of commemoration and supporting families through the emotional but therapeutic process of honoring their loved ones in a meaningful way. The 9/11 Living Memorial Project is now an extensive digital collection of over 70,000 photographs and personal keepsakes contributed by thousands of family members. The collection is located on VOICES website and is also a core component of the In Memoriam exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
A strong advocate for the rights of victim's families and survivors, and public policy reforms to make the country safer, Ms. Fetchet advocated for an appropriate process for the notification of human remains, the Victim's Compensation Fund and the creation of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. She was also instrumental in campaigning for the 9/11 Commission and the implementation of reforms based on their recommendations. She testified before the 9/11 Commission and the U.S. Congress on five occasions.
Ms. Fetchet's work through the VOICES Center of Excellence for Community Resilience includes establishing public-private partnerships, educational initiatives and research projects to document best practices in preparing communities to more effectively respond to the long-term needs of victims' families, responders and survivors. Through a U.S. Department of Justice grant, VOICES produced a publication, Preparing for After, a resource kit of best practices based on interviews conducted with those who responded to the 9/11 attacks; the Oklahoma City bombing; and the shootings at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University and Tucson, Arizona. Currently, she is leading several research projects that are examining the long-term needs of families and communities impacted by traumatic events.
An expert on the long-term needs of victims and survivors, mental health care, preparedness, and national security reforms, she has personally advised organizations and federal agencies both nationally and internationally. Ms. Fetchet has made hundreds of appearances on national television and at conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and contributes regularly to print and radio. Her awards include induction into the Hall of Fame at Columbia School of Social Work in NYC, the Social Work Managers Award, Hometown Heroes on DIRECTTV, ABC News Person of the Year, Moffly Media Light A Fire Award and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Making a Difference.