Technology is changing both the type of disaster aid and the way it is delivered. From requiring power where most needed, to finding a means of telecommunication to electronic communication, to locating safety routes following disasters. And, seeking assistance in remote areas, disaster rescue teams are using data-intensive communications systems with today’s growing technology. How? Come hear from leading disaster relief organization leaders how technology is shaping the way experts monitor, track and respond to relief needs around the world as well as in our own backyard.

Rescue robot sent into rubble following a devastating earthquake to shut off critical valves — too dangerous a task for humans.

CEO, Thomas Tighe will provide a keynote presentation showcasing how locally based Direct Relief is leading the way in providing disaster assistance to meet emergency needs created by catastrophic earthquakes, volcanoes, plagues and deadly storms wherever the needs may arise.  In addition, a panel of industry experts including CMC Rescue Technology Specialist, Joe Flachman, local Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, Deputy Director Robert Troy, and Michael Conner of Life Cube will discuss how technology is shaping the way both organizations provide first response assistance to those hardest hit by tragedy.

Emergency Services organizations will discuss how technology is shaping the way each lifecubeof their groups provide disaster relief and first response assistance to those hit hardest by tragedy.

After the keynote presentation, each member of the panel will present a brief overview of their individual organizations followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session with event attendees.

(Pictured at right, from top to bottom: Drone delivering aid to area struck by disaster. Rescue robot sent in to handle a task too dangerous for humans, following a devastating earthquake; Life Cube shelter, complete with survival kits.)

About Our Speakers

Thomas Tighe – CEO/ Direct Relief

thomastigheThomas Tighe has served as President and CEO of Direct Relief, a nonprofit humanitarian medical organization, since October 2000. Direct Relief, established in Santa Barbara in 1948 and funded entirely with private support, provides medical material assistance to locally run health programs around the world and in the U.S. Since Tighe’s arrival, the organization has provided cash grants of more than $35 million and furnished more than $2.2 billion essential medicines, equipment, and supplies to support health services for low-income people in 88 developing countries and in all 50 U.S. states, where the organization conducts the country’s largest nonprofit charitable medicines program. During this tenure, Direct Relief has been named one of America’s Best 100 Charities by Worth magazine, has been rated by Forbes as being 99 percent efficient or better in fundraising since 2001, won the Peter F. Drucker Foundation’s award for Nonprofit Innovation, the ESRIPresident’s Award for GIS innovation, the Office of the Surgeon General’s National Leadership andPartnershipH Award, become the first U.S. nonprofit to obtain VAWD accreditation and be licensed to distribute Rx medications in all 50 U.S. states.

From 1995 to 2000, Tighe served as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Peace Corps, overseeing day-to-day operations of the agency’s worldwide programs and a resurgent growth of the agency to a 27-year high. From 1993 to 1995, Tighe served as Associate General Counsel of the Peace Corps, negotiating bilateral agreements to initiate Peace Corps programs in South Africa and China. From 1989 to 1993, he served as Associate Counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, conducting oversight and developing legislation related to veterans’ mental-health care, special disability programs, drug and alcohol treatment, and services for homeless veterans. Tighe also handled collateral duties related to foreign aid and the Peace Corps.

A 1982 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Tighe received a J.D. in 1985 from the University of California, Hastings College of Law and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in May 2003. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher in rural Thailand from 1986 to 1988. He was selected for the Aspen Institute’s 2003 class of Henry Crown Fellows, is on the editorial advisory board for Miller-McCune Magazine, is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, is an adviser to the Clinton Global Initiative, and is a former member of the Board of Directors of InterAction and Antioch University Santa Barbara. He was named Executive of the Year in 2006 by the South Coast Business and Technology Forum and is a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s graduate program in Global and International Studies.

Joe Flachman – SAR / CMC Rescue

joefJoe Flachman has been an active volunteer member of the Search And Rescue (SAR) community for more than a dozen years. He learned the ropes of technical rescue while serving as a volunteer firefighter and as part of a SAR team located in mountains of northern Arizona. After relocating to San Luis Obispo, he joined the County Sherriff’s SAR unit as an EMT and team leader of the Technical Rescue Team. In his professional career, he is responsible for Business Development at CMC Rescue, Inc., an employee-owned Goleta, California-based company. For more than 37 years, CMC Rescue has developed innovative products and rescue techniques used by professionals in the fire service, USAR, wilderness rescue, and tactical, rigging and work-at-height industries. Today, the CMC Rescue brand is synonymous with technical rescue and rescue products, publishing and training worldwide.

Robert Troy – Deputy Director / Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management

Robert TroyRobert Troy oversees the day-to-day operations of the SB County’s Office of Emergency Management, and fulfills the duties of the Director as necessary. He served as the Local On-Scene Coordinator during the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill. He also serves on the WebEOC User Advisory Board, and the California Statewide WebEOC User Advisory Committee.

Prior to moving to California, Robert was the Manager of Emergency Management Services at the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Working there since 2005, he managed the Emergency Management branch and coordinated planning and response activities with other City, State, Federal, and private agencies. He oversaw the City’s Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) program, the City’s implementation of WebEOC, was Co-Chair of the Regional Catastrophic Planning Team’s Intergovernmental Sub-Committee, and was the OEMC representative on the Area Maritime Security Committee.

Prior to working in Emergency Management, he was a Supervising Investigator for the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards, where he directed administrative investigations of officer-involved shooting incidents and deaths in police custody. He directed a team of nine Investigators and ten administrative Intake Aides, and coordinated the unit’s Internship program. He is a native of Chicago but grew up in many different parts of the United States. He has a B.A. in English from Ohio State University. He and his wife, Eleanor, happily reside in Ventura, CA.

Michael Conner – Founder, Life Cube, Inc. 

Michael ConnerMichael Conner has been building and inventing all his life. Having built over 250 high end residential homes throughout Colorado and California and the largest stone fabrication facility on the West Coast, his passion for entrepreneurship led him to found Life Cube– a company that designs and manufactures innovative and unique shelter technologies for disaster relief and emergency response. Following the Great Kashmir Earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, he saw the need for rapidly deployable shelter systems that were easily delivered to the remotest places on earth. His skills in team management and engineering have allowed him to grow his early designs into a pioneering young company providing command and control systems to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with ambitions of preparing a cache of units around the world to better enable our ability to respond to any and all threats we might face.


The program will be moderated by local Architect, MIT Enterprise Forum Board Member and SYNERGY Tech Center Director Michael Holliday FAIA.

Michael Holliday PhotoMichael Holliday FAIA is a principal architect at DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, where he has been involved as the Principal Architect on a number of creative high technology office and manufacturing projects throughout the South Coast area, including the new Rightscale offices and the Santa Barbara Business & Technology Center Incubator project.  As a LEED-accredited professional, Holliday has been a leader in local green design and sustainable planning initiatives on the South Coast.  Mr. Holliday is the Director of SYNERGY Business & Technology Center, Santa Barbara’s newest business incubator project. Michael was  recognized in 2012 as a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects National Organization.

Mr. Holliday has served as a local business leader on the south coast for over a decade.  He currently is the Chairman of the South Coast Business Forum, was the 2011 Chairman of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, is a past President of the American Institute of Architects SB Chapter, is a board member of the MIT Enterprise Forum, the UCSB Economic Forecast Project, Kids Helping Kids, and La Montana Christian Camps.


Event Registration:

When:  Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Where: Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA 93103


  • Student $15.00
  • Regular (Online pre-registration only) $30.00
  • At the Door $40.00
  • Parking $4.00 – $6.00 (separate; paid at lot)


  • 5:00 – 6:00 Networking Hour, Check-in & Registration for Walk-ins
  • 6:00 – 7:30 Discussion
  • 7:30 – 8:00 Q&A

Registration includes appetizers and refreshments.

If you miss the early-bird registration, not to worry! We welcome walk-in guests to register at the registration table in the lobby of the venue.

Online event registration for Tech of Disaster Relief powered by Eventbrite


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