Michael D. Brown

Global Crisis Management

The Power of Resilience!
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About Michael D. Brown

Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of FEMA, Author, Speaker, Talk Show Host.

Michael Brown served as the first Under Secretary of Homeland Security for President George W. Bush from 2003-2005, and as the Director, Deputy Director and General Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, from 2001-2005. He was a member of the White House Consequence Management Committee, comprised of cabinet deputies, following the attacks of 9/11. He chaired the White House Transition Team for Emergency Preparedness & Response, Department of Homeland Security. He also served on the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee.

Michael has a unique perspective on homeland security issues since he is the only Presidential appointee to have served in a legacy agency, on the transition team to create DHS and as an Under Secretary in the newly created cabinet department. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley described Michael’s participation as particularly critical after the attack of 9/11. You can read their letter below.

During his tenure in the Bush Administration Michael served as a representative to NATO’s Civil Emergency Planning Committee. He worked on various matters in Russia, the European Union and its member nations, and throughout Southeast Asia.

He has appeared on all major national television news programs, including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel. He is a regular contributor to Newsmax TV’s The Hard Line seen on Newsmax.  He has blogged for The National Journal, written for The Huffington Post and The Daily Caller. He has been an expert for publications such as the Homeland Defense Journal, Crisis Response Journal and others. He has been quoted several times on the nationally-syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show.

Michael is the author of Deadly Indifference: The Perfect [Political] Storm in which he poignantly describes the role of politics in a risk-averse society facing natural or man-made disasters. He has traveled around the world speaking on issues of homeland security, crisis management and personal resilience.

He is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City University School of Law. Michael has been an adjunct professor of law at the OCU School of Law and the University of Denver School of Law where he taught courses on legislation, state and local government, and national security.



It’s a word we don’t use often enough, or fully understand.

Resilience in its most basic form is a person’s or organization’s capacity to recover quickly and completely from adversity, whether internal or external.  I like to think of resilience as the ability of you and me, or our organizations, to spring back from adversity even stronger than before.

I know what resilience is because I had to draw upon it in a very public, and often humiliating, adverse period in my life.  You probably read or saw something about that – Hurricane Katrina.  It was the most devastating time of my life played out in the media, congressional hearings, and ad hominem attacks.  Some of it was justified, some was not.  But whether any of it was justified or not is immaterial.

It’s how I responded, what I learned, and how I thrived after that horrific period that gives me organic credibility to talk about personal and organizational resilience.

We live in a world where everything is subject to scrutiny by anonymous commentators, reviewers, a media that is sometimes too lazy or inept to search for the truth.  And most importantly, you and your organization live in that same world.  At any moment you could find yourself in a situation like mine.

Do you know how to make yourself resilient?  Do you know how to create and maintain a resilient organization?  I do, and can show you, your employees, your partners, vendors, all of those around you how to draw on a well of resilience that exists in each of us, but oftentimes gets buried in self-pity, or hides in the darkness away from the klieg lights of an omnipresent media.

Jewish tradition says that a scapegoat was the way to rid the village of its sins.  Cast all the sins upon the goat, throw the goat over the cliff, and wipe your hands of your sins.

You might be a scapegoat.  You might be thrown over the cliff.

But that doesn’t mean you must lie wounded, dead or scared to refuse being a scapegoat.

Resilience will empower you, your organization, your employees and those around you to thrive even when you think that’s impossible.

Resilience will also prepare you for that moment that most people believe will never come – that moment, either personally or professionally, when resilience is the only thing that will bring out the other side a stronger, better leader, person, organization.


Let’s talk about you and your organization and how to be resilient.


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Is your organization resilient?  Are you resilient?  Most people are, but don’t know how to draw upon that resilience in times of crisis.  Resilience is the key component to overcoming a crisis you never anticipated.

Michael Brown has survived both organizational and personal crises.  And, he has survived well.

Most organizations believe they are ready to survive any disaster or crisis, whether it’s a regulatory rule that impacts your business, or a natural disaster that upends your supply chain.  But amid that unexpected crisis the ability to draw on that well of resilience gets buried in the onslaught of internal and external factors that keep you or your organization from coming out on top.

Michael has learned the hard way how to draw on resilience.  Hear his story of surviving a public onslaught of personal and professional attacks. Learn from his mistakes.

You and your organization will learn how to be resilient and not only survive, but thrive after a crisis.


“Inside the beltway” is more than a phrase. It’s a way of life.  It’s all about the politics – and how things really work in the political world.

Unless you’ve lived inside that bubble, you can’t truly comprehend just how crazy or different it is than what’s presented in the media.  Yes, it is that different.

You can watch all the news you want, read every newspaper, engage on Facebook or Twitter, and read all the pertinent websites, but they won’t give you that “insider’s view” that Michael Brown delivers.

If your audience wants to understand the latest news story, whether it’s from Wall Street to Capitol Hill, you will be enthralled with Michael Brown’s insightful, and yes, irreverent, view of what’s going on in the DC-New York corridor.

He has lived and breathed it.  He’s been on the mountaintop; and at the bottom of the cesspool.

So, have Michael come speak to your group about current events or politics.

You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  But you’ll walk away with a different perspective.  Politics and current events will never be the same for your audience.


On September 11, 2001, Michael Brown found himself aboard a KC-135 being escorted by fighter jets back to Andrews Air Force Base.  Hear his intriguing story of what took place at the White House, the Pentagon, Ground Zero and FEMA in those days afterwards.


Most people and organizations become complacent about their plans to survive a cybersecurity attack, a natural or man-made disaster, or a simple but devastating crisis brought on by a regulatory or competitive change.

That complacency is dangerous and can be fatal.

Michael Brown, having served in the highest levels of government, know the ins-and-outs of surviving those disasters.  His experience will wake your employees or coworkers out of their slumber of complacency.  He will inspire you to rethink how and what you or your organization will do in a time of crisis.

This inspiring presentation on the nature of all forms of crisis and how to survive them will leave your audience rethinking how they do their jobs.  It will inspire them to be the very best they can – and to be prepared to use that excellence to survive a disaster or crisis of any kind.

This is not your standard leadership presentation.  This is real world, can happen to you, how-to presentation on surviving a crisis.


Keep your audience in rapt attention as they hear what happens when an organization is faced with a crisis where nothing works and the whole world is watching.

Every organization may face an expected crisis that tests the very existence of the company.  What do you do when that happens and nothing seems to work?

Once vilified publicly, but now sought regularly by news organizations and major corporations, Michael Brown describes how to anticipate, react to and survive a crisis that has the potential of destroying any organization.

Hear the gripping details of how to recognize when things aren’t working and what you must do to keep your organization afloat and working.

Don’t think it won’t or can’t happen to you?  Then ask Michael Brown to speak to your group and see their reaction afterwards.

Your employees and coworkers will have a new sense of responsibility and accountability.


Michael will customize a presentation for your audience.  A tailor made presentation, followed by a Q&A session, may be best for your needs.  Your company may be facing or has gone through an episode which needs to be specifically addressed on how to respond and react.  Michael will customize the presentation to your specific issues, giving your audience concrete and tangible solutions.  Have Michael customize a presentation for your audience.

Rave Reviews for Michael D. Brown

  • “Michael Brown was an outstanding speaker for our cybersecurity conference in the UAE.  Michael was so engaging that he was able to take an audience reticent to ask questions and got them to vigorously engage in a Q&A session that was just as intriguing as his keynote address itself.

    I highly recommend Michael to any group wanting a keynote speaker to address personal resilience, insight into how government works, and how to manage both personal and corporate crisis. His experiences provide a unique insight that your audience will find amazingly engaging. ”

    — Billa Bhandari, President, GoSecure

  • “Michael Brown’s presentation transcended the multiple countries, languages and delegates at this venue. He spoke from the heart and everyone was enthralled with his dedication to help people in need & the fact he was not the typical “former federal employee” with a superiority complex. His personality and delivery made for an exciting and robust exchange of ideas. Michael’s presence encouraged the delegates to think beyond their finger tip, stretch for new ideas and be willing to learn from past mistakes. His participation in IDER is still considered the highlight of all IDER programs. Yes, Michael Brown is a tried and true professional in his field – however he can discuss topics with head’s of state and a volunteer ambulance driver and make both feel they are the most important person in the disaster arena. Michael is gifted, talented and has a fantastic message everyone in must hear!”


  • “Michael Brown was the keynote speaker at our annual conference held in Newport, RI. He was one of the best received speakers we have ever had. He knew his audience and connected with them immediately. Michael was direct and to the point and was very candid about lessons learned, the value of communications and the importance of preparedness. I would highly recommend Michael Brown to speak to any corporation or organization.”



  • “Michael spoke at our Constitution Week and the audience was enthralled. Not only was he on point and met our expectations, his Q&A session was remarkable. He gave our audience incredible insight into government, politics and most importantly, his own personal experience. He held nothing back.”

  • “Michael Brown came to our ‘Floodfighters Conference’ in the UK and immediately engaged with the delegates on the issues that he faced during the “Hurricane Katrina” period. This major International Conference on the strategic and tactical matters involved in flood and disaster response, at Warwick University, UK, whose audience was predominantly from the First Responder background, HM Government and senior strategic UK managers was highly challenging and eager for information on such a catastrophic event. Mr. Brown gave a hugely honest direct presentation that delved into the facts surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which facilitated greater understanding of the events during which the audience warmed and responded to Michael’s clear presentation and style. He didn’t move away from either difficult topics or challenging questions, of which there were a high number, in his presentation or answers and handled all the issues with grace, reasoned answers and great warmth and charm.

    Many afterwards commented on their new found respect for Mr. Brown to have traveled so far and face such a knowledgeable and professional audience with such aplomb and dignity. Our audience made it very clearly known that his presentation and presence had truly enriched the whole experience.”


Deadly Indifference

Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Brown — infamously praised by President George W. Bush for doing a “heckuva job” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — tells his side of the response to one of the greatest natural disasters to occur in the United States. Without making excuses for anyone, least of all the President of the United States or himself, Brown describes in detail what ultimately turned out to be the largest federal response to a natural disaster in U.S. history.

You can order Deadly Indifference from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you would like an autographed copy you can use the Contact Page to send your book to Michael with a postage paid return mailer and he’ll be pleased to personalize your copy.

Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katringa, The Bush White House, and Beyond

By Michael D. Brown, Ted Schwarz


Pensecola, FL, September 19, 2004– President George Bush and Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Michael Brown, talk with local residents at an area impacted by Hurricane Ivan.
FEMA Photo/Jocelyn Augustino
Washington, DC, November 4, 2004 — Under Secretary Michael Brown meets with Major General Shahzada of the Afghanistan Disaster Response Department at FEMA Headquarters. Photo by Bill Koplitz/FEMA NewsPhoto

(San Diego County, November 04, 2003)– Under Secretary Michael Brown updates reporters on the status of the California Wildfires as he tours the affected areas.
Photo By: Andrea Booher/FEMA News Photo
Milton, Fl, July 7, 2005 — Undersecretary Michael D. Brown addresses a press conference. Florida Governor Jeb Bush, left. Florida Senator Mel Martinez (r). FEMA Photo/Leif Skoogfors
Pensecola, FL, September 19, 2004– President George Bush and Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Michael Brown talk with residents affected by Hurricane Ivan.
FEMA Photo/Jocelyn Augustino
Ft. Myers, FL, October 28, 2004 — Under Secretary Michael D. Brown presents a check for $10.2 million to Major General Douglas Burnett, Adjutant General, State of Florida, for reimbursement of Florida National Guard costs associated with hurricane response support.
Photo By Dane Golden/FEMA News Photo
Orlando,FL.,5/2/2005–FEMA Under Secretary Michael Brown gives the keynote speech at the yearly National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) conference. Nearly 3000 attendees are participating in the conference held in Florida.
FEMA photo/Andrea Booher
Pensecola, FL, September 19, 2004– President George Bush and Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Michael Brown talk with residents affected by Hurricane Ivan.
FEMA Photo/Jocelyn Augustino

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