Kasch appointed director of crisis management

Jerusha Beach Kasch, who has more than a decade of experience as an emergency manager, has been named director of crisis management at Rice. She takes on this position Feb. 1.

“Jerusha brings a new level of rigor and professionalism to Rice,” said Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby, chair of Rice’s Crisis Management Team. “She’s well-connected outside of Rice in the field of emergency management, and we’re fortunate to have her join our team.”

Jerusha Kasch

Kasch comes to Rice from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, where in 2014 she became the first emergency management director for the school, which has about 30,000 students.

“I’m one of those people who like to make order out of chaos,” said Kasch, who is a certified emergency manager and is accredited by the International Association of Emergency Managers. “In regular daily life, if there is a stressful environment around me, my world comes into focus. Priorities highlight themselves for me. I thrive in high-stress situations.”

Kasch said she managed “a weird array of crises” – volcanoes, shootings, floods and winter storms – while serving as the emergency preparedness and response manager for the Multnomah County Health Department in Portland, Ore.; as the public health emergency response coordinator for the Cowlitz and Wahkiakum County Health Department in Longview, Wash.; and as a reserve police officer for the Longview Police Department.

She said her more than 10 years of experience in these roles enabled her to “learn the language” of emergency medical services, law enforcement and firefighters and to develop collaborative partnerships that benefited the community, which she hopes to do at Rice.

In her new role, Kasch will be responsible for providing leadership to universitywide crisis management. She will plan, coordinate and manage the activities of the Crisis Management Team, including reviewing Rice’s emergency response and business continuity plans and conducting periodic reviews of crisis notification processes and tools. She will lead the governance of those plans via the university’s incident response teams that are formed to deal with crises ranging from active shooters on campus to hurricane preparedness and disease outbreaks. She also will conduct post-event analyses to make recommendations for how to improve future plans.

“I have an unusual spectrum of understanding and experience that gives me the ability to train others,” Kasch said. “I want to empower people to take care of themselves.”

“Jerusha is collaborative and a great listener,” said Kathy Jones, associate vice president for Facilities Engineering and Planning. “Her diverse background in law enforcement, public health and higher education makes her uniquely qualified for this position. She understands the needs of a campus community.”

Kathryn Cavender, director of environmental health and safety, said Kasch brings “a lot of energy” to the position. “She understands the educational environment and can hit the ground running. She’s very knowledgeable in her field.”

Kasch has a bachelor’s and a master’s in criminology and criminal justice services from Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

She and her husband, Glenn Kasch, have five children and three grandchildren.

Kasch succeeds Dan Fu, who left Rice in the fall to attend graduate school.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.