Where Have I Been?

Beam of light on a forest road

Photo by JOHN TOWNER / Unsplash

I am grateful for all of the professional experiences I have had. I also recognize that there are some people who will dismiss me and my efforts because I have worked in government agencies. However, the reality is that I walked into every organization as Atyia and I walked out of them on my own terms as Atyia. Much of the knowledge and skills that I developed in all of these different settings have allowed me to support communities and organizations to advance racial and social justice in many different contexts.

I am currently the CEO and Founder of All Aces, Inc., an alternative to traditional diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firms. My team and I partner with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies on organizational, professional, and personal development that advance racial justice and build resilience.

I am also the Executive Director of the nonprofit, Next Leadership Development, with a mission to strengthen resilience for Black leaders and communities by accelerating change through leadership building, creating our own tables, and developing partnerships with allies.

My personal mission is to unleash the invisible power that every person and organization has to intentionally act to disrupt oppression.

I am published in scholarly journals, reports, and books on emergency management, business continuity, resilience, and psychological trauma response. I am the author of We Are the Question + the Answer. Additionally, she is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Northeastern University's Global Resilience Institute.

I was the first Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Boston as part of 100 Resilient Cities. In this role, I led the development and implementation of Boston's initial resilience strategy which was the first one in the 100 Resilient Cities network to make racial equity, social justice, and social cohesion the foundation of building resilience across the city. We engaged over 12,000 people across government, community, businesses, and nonprofits to develop Resilient Boston: An Equitable, Connected City. Smart Cities magazine selected Resilient Boston as the best resilience strategy of 2017 and the Center for American Progress featured it in its report A Framework for Local Action on Climate Change.

Prior to my role as Chief Resilience Officer, I was the director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). In this role, I was responsible for coordinating public health, healthcare, and community health emergency management, including oversight of the Stephen M. Lawlor Medical Intelligence Center to coordinate response and recovery efforts; and education and training through the DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness. I also led the expansion of the DelValle Institute from the greater Boston area to the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Additionally, I increased their reach and capacity by facilitating the development and implementation of a learning management system to support in-person training and expansion into online learning. During my tenure, I led the public health and healthcare response to the Boston Marathon bombings, the winter snow storms of 2015, trolley crashes, train crashes, the Long Island bridge closure and evacuation, and dozens of smaller-scale emergencies.

My previous professional experience includes adjunct faculty in the Master of Homeland Security and Public Policy programs at Northeastern University; the Boston Police Department’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center; City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management; the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); active duty Air Force assigned to the National Security Agency as a Serbian/Croatian linguist and analyst; and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).

I am experienced emergency manager with an Inclusive Workplace Culture Specialty Credential from the Society for Human Resource Management, an Associate of Arts in Serbian Croatian from the Defense Language Institute (DLI), Bachelor of Science in Administrative Studies and Serbian/Croatian from Excelsior College, a Master of Homeland Security Leadership from the University of Connecticut, and a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University. My husband and I were born and raised in Boston, where we currently live. We co-founded Next Leadership Development Corporation, a nonprofit focused on building resilience in Black households and communities. We have five children, two still at home.