Newsom appoints new emergency services director as storms threaten California

California Governor Gavin Newsom. | Photo source:

Jacque Porter | KTXL

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of a new director for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Saturday.

The Governor’s office said Nancy Ward will be the first woman to lead the department and that she has been with Cal OES since 2014. “Nancy Ward is a seasoned emergency response veteran with decades of experience at the local, state and federal level,” the governor’s office said in a press release. “Under her leadership, California will remain ready to respond, no matter the crisis, keeping the safety of Californians at the forefront. I thank her for taking on this role and her dedication to serving the people of California.”

The same weekend as Ward’s appointment, Cal OES handled important duties as storms moved throughout Northern California the day of her appointment, knocking down trees, damaging electrical lines and causing widespread flooding.

On Sunday, Cal OES took steps to “coordinate the state response in providing aid to local government requests including supplies, personnel, and equipment” and noted that significant rainfall is forecast for later in the week Cal OES has placed the State Operations Center (SOC) at Level 1 in a 24-hour capacity to coordinate the state response in providing aid to local government requests including supplies, personnel, and equipment. Significant rainfall is expected later in the week, with additional impacts to communities likely.

The previous Cal OES Director, Mark Ghilarducci, announced his planned retirement in September after having served in the position for 10 years. Ghilarducci took on a leading role in the state’s response to the covid-19 pandemic, appearing alongside the governor and the state secretary of health in many meetings and news conferences.

The governor’s office said that the director position requires Senate confirmation and that the compensation is $232,858.

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