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Andrew Sachs
Vice-President for Government Services
Witt O'Brien's

HOPE Coalition American National Advisory Board Member Since: January 2014

Andrew Sachs is currently the Vice President for Business and Government Services at Witt-O’Brien’s, a public safety and crisis management consulting firm headquartered in Washington, DC, where he is leading the strategic\business development and project management efforts associated with thecompany’s highly-successful disaster and preparedness services business lines, both domestically and internationally.  In this capacity, and in his prior position as Vice-President of Disaster Services at Witt Associates (prior to the January 1, 2013 merger of the company with O’Brien’s Response Management), he has managed personnel in teams ranging in size from 7 to 200 to successfully meet client objectives.  During his time as a senior executive, he has managed billions of dollars of funding on behalf of his clients, quickly designed, established and managed recovery organizations the size of small companies to manage complex recovery efforts, facilitated the implementation of thousands of projects, and has been responsible for overseeing contracts that have generated nearly 85% of the company’s revenues since 2005.  Mr. Sachs has become a trusted advisor to Governors and their staffs, local elected officials, Members of Congress, senior company executives, and others, supporting their efforts at the state, national, and corporate levels to address complex public policy and operational challenges, including the economic and physical recovery from disasters of all kinds, both natural and man-made.  He has also been a regular presence with both national and regional media outlets on disaster management and recovery issues.

During his time with Witt-O’Brien’s and Witt Associates, Mr. Sachs served as a senior recovery advisor to Governor Chris Christie and helped the state to establish and manage the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding (GORR) in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.  In 2011, he helped to lead efforts in the Gulf region to establish a recovery infrastructure for BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including the establishment and management of a governmental claims process and the development of a Gulf Coast Recovery Planning effort designed to identify and prioritize recovery needs.  He helped lead a focused team to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, providing support to both USAID and the United Nations, and provided support to the Clinton Foundation for the establishment of a logistics and management system to handle and track donated goods.  

Mr. Sachs led recovery planning and implementation efforts and oversaw the implementation of recovery programs for the State of Iowa in the wake of the catastrophic Midwest Floods of 2008, which at the time was the nation’s fifth largest disaster measured by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) obligations.  While in Iowa, Mr. Sachs was a trusted advisor to the Governor, designed and helped lead the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) to develop a statewide long-term recovery plan and coordinate recovery efforts statewide, managed the State’s crisis communications effort, and oversaw the teams helping to the state to obtain and maximize funding under the Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation programs.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Mr. Sachs also was one of three senior executives tasked with leading the Witt Associates recovery team in Louisiana. While in this capacity, he helped design and implement the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), an entity established to identify and coordinate overall recovery efforts, establish priorities, receive and distribute appropriated relief funds, and provide a single voice for the State on recovery issues.  Mr. Sachs also led the State's long-term community recovery planning effort with the 26 most impacted parishes, and developed and implemented regional and statewide planning activities designed to address issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries.  Mr. Sachs has since served as a senior advisor to both the Governor and Executive Director of the LRA on matters related to disaster response and recovery, including how to spur recovery in heavily impacted communities and business sectors, how to speed and maximize Federal assistance to the State and local governments, and how best to work with FEMA and other federal agencies to achieve results. Additionally, Mr. Sachs provided technical assistance and support for the State's initial implementation of its $13 billion Public Assistance and $2.5 billion Hazard Mitigation Grant programs, to include resolution of critical issues and disagreements with FEMA, representation of applicant and State needs, and communications with applicants.

Previously, Mr. Sachs served as the Director of Economic Development in Brewer, Maine, where he was responsible for attracting new business and creating jobs.  In this capacity, Mr. Sachs led many critical economic development efforts, including the successful acquisition and initial redevelopment and clean-up of the contaminated and dilapidated Eastern Fine Paper mill, for which he served as the Managing Director of the South Brewer Redevelopment Corporation.  This site eventually became the site of a major redevelopment effort, where it became the home of manufacturing operations of Cianbro Corporation, creating nearly several hundred quality manufacturing jobs.  Mr. Sachs worked to secure and develop property as the “Brewer Professional Center,” and attracted significant high-value development to the site including the headquarters of Eastern Maine Healthcare and the Maine Institute of Human Health and Genetics, which attracted nationally and regionally-significant research and healthcare activities and tenants to the site.  Mr. Sachs was also widely recognized during his time with the City of Brewer for his role in securing and promoting multiple major expansions of manufacturing company operations, the attraction of major new retailers along the City’s commercial thoroughfare, and the development and implementation of a waterfront redevelopment plan for areas along the Penobscot River. 

Earlier in his career, Mr. Sachs also held several leadership positions at FEMA.  As the Chief of Program Outreach at FEMA, he developed partnerships with private sector organizations, non-profit groups, and other agencies to influence policy design and program delivery. He regularly represented the Agency before the Congress, constituent groups, the media, and senior governmental officials to influence policy and redirect resources toward cost-effective hazard mitigation and risk reduction efforts.  He also served as the Special Assistant to the Associate Director of the Response and Recovery Directorate, during which time he supported overall policy and program management efforts related to Federal disaster programs.  While in this role, Mr. Sachs was selected by the FEMA Director to co-manage a staff of 40 to successfully close-out over $750 million in disputed disaster claims by the State of Florida after Hurricane Andrew. He successfully researched claims, developed resolution strategies, and negotiated settlements for all projects in less than five months.

Prior to his time working at FEMA, Mr. Sachs held positions with the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, where he organized international trade missions to the developing world to promote economic growth and opportunity for U.S. companies.  He worked for U.S. Senator William Cohen in Washington, DC, where he served as a Legislative Aide working on economic and business affairs issues, as well as on the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  Also, Mr. Sachs worked for U.S. Representative Olympia Snowe in her Auburn, Maine, district office, assisting with the resolution of constituent casework and representing the Congresswoman before key groups and organizations.

Mr. Sachs holds a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in business and government relations from The George Washington University, and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Bates College.  He graduated from both programs with Honors.