Christopher Paquet

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Assistant Commissioner
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response (OEPR)
Christopher Paquet

Describe your current job.

The Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response (OEPR) promotes DOHMH’s and NYC’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from health emergencies through the coordination of agency-wide emergency preparedness planning, training and exercises and through regular engagement with communities as well as city, state and federal partners.

I was initially charged with overseeing OEPR’s Policy and Strategic Initiatives portfolio, coordinating with various partners on key projects that are critical to improving DOHMH preparedness and response efforts and assuring the implementation of strategic agency-wide initiatives. This unit aimed to address strategic challenges by offering both operational, management and policy resources. When named as Acting Assistant Commissioner, the role expanded to three other critical programs: Bioterrorism Detection and Recovery, Medical Reserve Corps and Community Engagement and Response Initiatives. During the fall of 2020, I was promoted to Assistant Commissioner and asked to perform a reorganization that would better connect the NYC’s large and complex healthcare system preparedness, response and recovery work to our community readiness programs. By engaging these important stakeholders together, we are making best use of the resources needed to build local capacity to respond and recover from disasters. Focusing on medical surge planning and establishing sound crisis standards of care are just two examples that are critical to saving lives during a disaster. Lastly, the reorganization centralized our technology, data and communication efforts which made for more targeted programmatic decisions to really drive a collective impact. Little did I know that we would soon be involved and leading the city's response to COVID-19.

On a national level, I chair the National Preparedness Initiate started by the CDC's Office of Preparedness and Response. This effort connects those throughout this country working on similar initiatives to serve their community. Together we share lessons learned and develop education materials used to inform policy makers on the importance of public health preparedness. As I always say, “Every emergency has a public health impact.”

How did your experiences at NYU Wagner prepare you for your career?

The education I received at NYU Wagner gave me the skills necessary for nearly any career path. My time at Wagner taught me what I needed to succeed in the workplace and tackle a variety of complex workplace challenges. The curriculum is well rounded, giving me the knowledge and tools needed in several key areas such as strategic planning, program management/evaluation, financial analysis and how to assess and develop sound policies that impact real lives. Wagner ensures graduates are equipped for the workplace of today and tomorrow.

In addition to learning these skills, my experience with the Capstone program gave me the chance to apply my skills to a real-world situation with fellow classmates. Although I was assigned to a health-based concentrated project, I quickly realized that my role in this effort was to bring my strengths to the problem at hand. During this capstone, my strategic thinking, project management and my ability to evaluate and assess organizations was put to good use. Throughout the capstone experience the team was able to apply all we had learned throughout the program to a real-world problem. That capstone experience made my time at Wagner all the more valuable.