Meet the Team

Vince Covello, PhD, Director of Center for Risk Communication

Vince Covello, PhD, Director

Dr. Vincent T. Covello, founder and Director of the Center for Risk Communication, is a nationally and internationally recognized trainer, researcher, consultant, and expert in crisis, conflict, change and risk communications. Over the past twenty-five years, he has held numerous positions in academia and government, including Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Clinical Medicine at Columbia University. Prior to his joining the faculty at Columbia, Dr. Covello was a senior scientist at the White House Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, D.C., a Study Director at the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences and the Director of the Risk Assessment Program at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Covello received his doctorate from Columbia University and his B.A. with honors and M.A. from Cambridge University in England. He is on the editorial board of several journals and is the Past President of the Society for Risk analysis, a professional association with over 2,500 members. Dr. Covello has authored or edited over 25 books and over 75 published articles on risk assessment, management, and communication.

Joe Wojtecki, Senior Fellow, Center for Risk Communication

Joe Wojtecki, Assistant Director

Mr. Joseph Wojtecki develops and applies strategies based upon risk communication principles to meet management and leadership communication challenges. He has over 30 years of experience in communications and public affairs, including the public and private sectors. Prior to joining the Center for Risk Communication, he held senior positions at several firms, including Hill and Knowlton and Ruder-Finn. Before entering the private sector, Mr. Wojtecki completed a career in the U.S. Air Force, and served as personal public affairs advisor to the Air Force Chief of Staff. He retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Mr. Wojtecki received his Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication from Kent State University, and a Master of Arts in organizational communication from the University of North Dakota.

Richard C. Hyde, Center for Risk Communication

Richard C. Hyde, Senior Fellow Crisis Preparedness and Response

Richard C. Hyde is currently serving as a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for Risk Communication. He is also Executive Vice President of Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s largest public affairs/communications firms. Based out of New York City, Mr. Hyde is in charge of Hill & Knowlton’s U.S. crisis communication management. He has more than 40 years of experience in crisis communications, issues development and management. He has counseled on more than a dozen major global crisis events ranging from physical disasters to threats to organizational reputation. Among other assignments, his crisis teams have handled the International Olympic Committee following the Salt Lake City scandal; the crash of Swissair flight 111, and Union Carbide’s settlement with the Indian Supreme Court following the Bhopal tragedy.

Mr. Hyde also has assisted scores of organizations with emergency response plan development and training in the chemical, energy, financial, petroleum, transportation, food and heavy manufacturing sectors. He introduced war gaming techniques to the commercial world in 1979 by developing crisis simulations for clients. He has subsequently conducted global crisis communication workshop, simulations, and training exercises in more than 25 countries. Mr. Hyde retired as a Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve where he served as an information officer for Annapolis among other assignments. He graduated from The College of Wooster and earned a masters degree at Boston University.

Randall Hyer, MD, PhD, MPH, Senior Visiting Fellow

Randall Hyer, MD, PhD, MPH, Senior Fellow and Assistant Director for Environmental,  Health and Safety

Randall N. Hyer, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy, and served 12 years on active duty in the US Navy. After earning his medical degree from Duke University, Dr. Hyer served as the 40th Winter-Over Medical Officer and Assistant Officer-in-Charge with Operation DEEP FREEZE at McMurdo and South Pole Stations in Antarctica. Dr. Hyer has also earned the D.Phil. (Ph.D.) from Oxford, studying the molecular genetics of juvenile diabetes and helped determine the role of the insulin gene in disease susceptibility. In 1994, the National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Hyer the “NIH Outstanding Research Award for Clinical Trainees”. Trained in public health at Walter Reed Hospital and Harvard University, Commander Hyer supported four major military operations in the European, African, and southwest Asian theatres to include service as Chief Public Health Advisor for the Kosovo operations and Deputy Surgeon for the Mozambique flood relief operations. Dr. Hyer then spent four years at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva as the first WHO Civil Military Liaison Officer and served as part of the WHO’s outbreak response team to deadly outbreaks like anthrax, SARS and avian influenza as well as having organized missions during the 2005 Tsunami response. His experiences with the media in outbreaks and emergencies led him to co-author the popular WHO handbook, Effective Media Communication during Public Health Emergencies. Appointed a US Congressional Fellow for Senator Pete V. Domenici (R.-NM), he helped introduce legislation to safeguard genetic privacy that eventually became the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA) of 2008. In 2005, Dr. Hyer joined Merck Vaccine Division in Global Medical Affairs and Policy. His focus has been the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. In 2009, he was transferred to MSD in Tokyo, Japan.

Direct Phone: 202-330-1160 011 81 80 3505 9361 Postal Mail: Center for Risk Communication P.O. Box 291 Stevensville, Maryland 21666

Linda Lou Crosby, Multi media messaging

Linda Lou Crosby, Associate Multi-Media Producer

Linda Lou Crosby is our Director Change Communication – Multi Media Messaging. Ms. Linda Lou Crosby forged a cutting edge video application to science-based communication that is a key element of the Center’s core principles. Solution-based strategies and products through innovation are icons of her 30-year government and private sector career. She designs visual messaging that facilitates dialogue, engages tough issues, and fosters informed support of organizational change initiatives. Her award winning videos for the U.S. Navy carry important messages to troops around the globe. These visual messages, combined with an overarching science-based communication strategy, are currently supporting U.S. Navy and Defense Department organizational change initiatives. Her exclusive approach to Multi Media Messaging adds another dimension to the Center’s ongoing initiatives. Ms. Crosby’s private-sector expertise gained widespread acclaim for in-depth reporting that resulted in Emmy-nominated documentaries for public television. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Broadcasting from California State College at Los Angeles. She is also certified in ADKAR Change Management, the Cognitive Edge discipline, Facilitation, and Communication Measurement Development.

Direct Phone: 760-382-1706

Fax: 406-545-3948

Postal Mail: Center for Risk Communication, P.O. Box 291, Stevensville, Maryland 21666

Leonard Biegel, Crisis Management Consultant

Leonard Biegel, Fellow Crisis Preparedness and Response

Len Biegel is a widely recognized expert in public relations, crisis communications, training and management. He has counseled a large number of Fortune 500 corporations and trade groups on crisis planning and has been part of the responses to some of the major crises of recent years.

He frequently works alongside and for law firms on sensitive client issues, supporting litigation and investigations which and has developed a strong network of lawyers. He currently is active in the Homeland Security section of the American Bar Association.

Mr. Biegel’s crisis consulting work began in 1982, when he was part of the team advising Johnson & Johnson in the wake of the Tylenol tamperings. His work, in addition to specific crises, has included developmental work in what has come to be known as Best Practices in crisis management. His book, Never Say Never: The Complete Executive Guide to Crisis Management, published in 2008, highlights much of this progress.

He was executive vice president and head of Weber Shandwick’s Global Crisis Management practice, where he created a disciplined approach to crisis management, with a practice encompassing senior experts in principal offices worldwide. He personally was involved in a number of assignments connected with Homeland Security; and public affairs work for GE, Hershey Foods and Tyco International, among others. His work for GE included crisis planning and training for all of the operating divisions and headquarters. His work for Hershey was wide-ranging, including communications strategies as the company faced a number of labor issues at their plants; and, on the international front, how they and the industry faced accusations of child labor in the Ivory Coast.

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Dr. Christopher Morris Teaf, Toxicologist

Dr. Christopher Morris Teaf, Associate Senior Fellow Environmental, Health and Safety

Dr. Teaf is a Board-certified toxicologist with extensive experience in evaluation of potential effects from exposure to chemical, biological and physical agents.  Chris has worked in issues related to industrial, agricultural, waste management, power generation, and health care facilities, as well as drugs and alcohol, or products in general commerce, particularly regarding the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, state Right-to-Know, and product safety laws/regulations.  He has extensive experience in evaluation of environmental fate, potential health effects, and risk management or remedial considerations of petroleum, solvents, metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, molds/bacteria, and physical agents (e.g., particulates, asbestos).  He served as Chair of the Toxic Substances Advisory Council for the Florida Department of Labor, and the Florida Governor’s Financial and Technical Advisory Committee concerning petroleum sites.

For over 30 years, Dr. Teaf has held academic and consulting positions, conducting research on environmental and occupational toxicology for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state or local agencies in many states (e.g., FL, GA, WA, CA, OK, NC, SC, NY, NJ).

Chris has organized and participated in university graduate/undergraduate courses and focused technical seminars for presentation to Florida State University, University of Florida, Florida A & M University, Georgia Tech, USEPA, ATSDR, USDA, Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  He has served on editorial boards or as peer reviewer for Human & Ecological Risk Assessment, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Risk Analysis, Environmental Forensics, Journal of Toxicology & Environmental Health, Bulletin of Marine Science, and Environmental Biology of Fishes.

Dr. Teaf has provided research and advisory services to environmental agencies and private sector firms regarding toxicology, environmental and human health risk assessment, waste and resource management, recycling, water quality, and occupational health and safety.  He has provided advisory services for environmental and toxicological issues to the U.S. Attorney, Florida State Attorney, and Attorneys General of FL, OK, and WA.  Chris has been qualified to testify in federal/state court and to administrative or legislative bodies on many occasions in a number of states regarding toxicology, health risk assessment, and environmental chemistry.

Curriculum Vitae
Dr. Gene Sands, communications planning expert

Gene C. Sands, EdD, APR, Senior Fellow Crisis Preparedness and Response

Dr. Gene Sands is a nationally recognized authority on institutional communications planning and implementation. During his 40 year career he has held senior public relations/marketing positions with the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, Fairfax County Public Schools, The College of Saint Benedict, Saint John’s University and Louisiana State University.

His practice is based on a solid understanding of how research, communications tactics and strategies, and crisis management work together to build and maintain informed public support for the organization. His portfolio includes handling inter-agency public affairs guidance for DoD units in Europe, responding to the bombing of the Marine Corps Barracks in Lebanon in 1983, directing all internal and external responses to situations such as hurricanes threatening his institution, student suicides and communications in response to the presence of a serial killer who was at large locally for 18 months.  While he was in Thailand he managed a number of sensitive issues between the U.S. Air Force and The Royal Thai Government.

Dr. Sands’ vitae includes service, to include papers and presentations, on several national boards such as Counselors to Higher Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.  He received his bachelors and masters degrees from The University of Oklahoma and his doctorate from The Catholic University of America. He is an accredited member of The Public Relations Society of America.

Elaine Beich, Organizational Change and Development Consultant

Elaine Beich, Senior Fellow

Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates inc, an organizational and leadership development firm that helps organizations work through large-scale change. She has been in the training and consulting field for thirty years working with private industry, government, and non-profit organizations.

Elaine specializes in helping people work as teams to maximize their effectiveness. Customizing all of her work for individual clients, she conducts strategic planning sessions and implements corporate-wide systems such as quality improvement, change management, reengineering of business processes, and mentoring programs. She facilitates topics such as coaching today’s employee, fostering creativity, customer service, creating leadership development programs, time management, speaking skills, coaching, consulting skills, training competence, conducting productive meetings, managing corporate-wide change, handling the difficult employee, organizational communication, conflict resolution, and effective listening. She is particularly adept at turning dysfunctional teams into productive teams.

She has developed media presentations and training materials and has presented at dozens of national and international conferences. Known as the trainer’s trainer, she custom designs training programs for managers, leaders, trainers, and consultants. Elaine has been featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Management Update, Washington Post, and Fortune Magazine.

As a management and executive consultant, trainer and designer she has provided services to Outback Steakhouse, FAA, Land O’ Lakes, McDonald’s, Lands’ End, General Casualty Insurance, Chrysler, Johnson Wax, PricewaterhouseCoopers, American Family Insurance, Marathon Oil, Hershey Chocolate, Federal Reserve Bank, U.S. Navy, NASA, Newport News Shipbuilding, Kohler Company, ASTD, American Red Cross, Association of Independent Certified Public Accountants, the University of Wisconsin, The College of William and Mary, ODU, and hundreds of other public and private sector organizations to prepare them for the challenges of the new millennium.

Elaine is author and editor of over fifty books, including A Coaches Guide to Exemplary Leaders, ASTD Leadership Handbook, Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery, Successful Team-Building Tools (2nd edition), 12 Habits of Successful Trainers (ASTD Infoline) and many more.

Elaine has her BS from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in Business and Education Consulting, and her MS in Human Resource Development. She is active at the National level of ASTD, is a life time member, served on the 1990 National Conference Design Committee, was a member of the National ASTD Board of Directors and the Society’s Secretary from 1991-1994, initiated and chaired Consultant’s Day for seven years, and was the International Conference Design Chair in 2000. In addition to her work with ASTD, she has served on the Independent Consultants Association’s (ICA) Advisory Committee and on the Instructional Systems Association (ISA) board of directors.

Elaine is the recipient of the 1992 National ASTD Torch Award, the 2004 ASTD Volunteer-Staff Partnership Award, and the 2006 ASTD Gordon M. Bliss Memorial Award. She was selected for the 1995 Wisconsin Women Entrepreneur’s Mentor Award. In 2001 she received ISA’s highest award, The ISA Spirit Award. She has been the consulting editor for the prestigious Training and Consulting Annuals published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer for the past twelve years.

Dr. McTyre, Certified Epidemiologist with the Center for Risk Communication

Rosanne B. McTyre, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

Dr. McTyre is a certified epidemiologist with more than 25 years of experience. She has provided scientific consulting services for numerous clients in industry and government. Her specialty is the evaluation and analysis of scientific data to resolve complex issues. Dr. McTyre is skilled in the translation of complex scientific concepts for lay audiences and the media. She has written primers in epidemiology and conducted seminars tailored to the needs of various organizations. She has extensive experience in the application of strategic risk communication principles, including applications to issues related to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health care products, hazardous waste, and the environment. She has excellent written and oral communication skills in both English and in Spanish.

Dr. McTyre was elected as Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology in 2005. She served as member of the Board of Directors of the College for two consecutive 3-year terms. She was also co-chair of the Education Committee, reflecting her interest in communication of scientific and health related information. In her early professional career, Dr. McTyre served in the US Public Health Service and worked in the department of Preventive Medicine at the US Public Health Hospital in San Francisco. She also conducted research at the National Institutes of Health, Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Dr. McTyre received a Bachelors degree in Biology (Swarthmore College), a Masters in Public Health in Infectious Disease Epidemiology (Yale University School of Medicine), and a PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology (The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health). She has also served as Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the George Washington University School of Public Health Services.

David C. DeGagne, B.Sc., Senior Fellow (Canada)

David C. DeGagne, B.Sc., Senior Fellow (Canada)

Mr. DeGagne is currently the Executive Director of the Centre for Risk Management located in Calgary Alberta, and has worked with many Government, University, First Nations, and Industry clients in Canada, United States, Mexico, and Europe providing services on managing and communicating about public safety and environmental risk.

Mr. DeGagne started his career with the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and later as Vice President Corporate Development for a Calgary based environmental engineering company. Over his working life he focused primarily in the areas of stakeholder consultation, public safety, environmental protection, acoustical engineering, and risk management and has published over three dozen technical papers in these areas.

Mr. DeGagne holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Sciences and a Diploma in Hydrocarbon Engineering Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

David Kalson, Senior Fellow

David Kalson, Senior Fellow

David Kalson is 30-year veteran of the public relations industry. He has worked extensively with science-based organizations and is an expert in energy issues, crisis communications and media/presentation training.

Mr. Kalson has held senior management positions at several public relations agencies including Hill & Knowlton, E. Bruce Harrison Company, was CEO of Ricochet Public Relations and was Executive Managing Director of RF Binder, part of the Ruder Finn Group. For ten years, he was Manager of Public Information for the American Institute of Physics where he created and produced the award-winning, nationally syndicated “Science TV Report,” that translated complex physics news into visually exciting stories understandable to TV news audiences.

Mr. Kalson is also an adjunct instructor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business teaching crisis communications and has been an invited lecturer and symposium arranger for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Association of Science Writers, Johns Hopkins University, Iona University, the Institute of Public Relations, the American Physical Society, the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives, and the Cause Marketing Forum.

Gary Shrout, Senior Fellow

Gary Shrout, Senior Fellow

Gary Shrout has more than 35 years’ experience in public affairs and corporate communications. Mr. Shrout served on active duty as a Navy Public Affairs Officer for more than 20 years, and as a Navy Civil Service Public Affairs Specialist for fourteen more years. Mr. Shrout was instrumental in creating the professional development and media-training program for the Navy Chief of Information, and also served as the Navy’s liaison to the entertainment industry. More recently, Mr. Shrout served as the Public Affairs and Strategic Communication leads for the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Naval Aviation Enterprise, representing more than $42 billion in equities. Mr. Shrout received his Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from the University of Minnesota, and his Master of Arts in journalism and public relations from the University of Maryland, College Park. His publications include “Public Affairs Excellence In the United States Navy,” unpublished master’s thesis, University of Maryland, College Park; “Naval Aviation Vision, January2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014,” “Naval Aviation Enterprise Strategic Communication Plan 2008, 2010 and 2012,” “Telling the Navy Story: A Handbook for Collateral Duty Public Affairs Officers,” “Naval Aviation Readiness Integrated Improvement Program (NAVRIIP) Leadership Communications Tool Kit,” “NAETOPS: A Pocket Guide to the Naval Aviation Enterprise,” “Alphabet Soup: a Pocket Guide to Navy Experimentation Acronyms.”

Bob Coble, Senior Fellow

Bob Coble, Senior Fellow

Bob currently consults in organizational and risk communication issues after retiring as a US DOD Public Affairs / Strategic Communication Officer and Program Integrator. He has worked in the communication field for more than 40 years. Bob’s DOD communication assignments have included a DOD/NATO Joint Assistance Force, a Joint Special Operations Component Command, a US Combatant Command, a US Systems Command, and a DOD Joint Service Organization and an overseas Support Command. Those assignments have included US facilities and deployed units in two war zones and 5 countries.

Bob has provided communication advice, counsel and assistance during typhoons, earthquakes, a volcano, coup attempts, assassinations, maritime and aviation accidents/incidents, international treaty negotiations, Joint International military exercises, US DOD Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) reorganizations, and multiple other issues attendant to US military operations around the world.

He received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Kansas State University, and did post-graduate work in Marketing Communication at the University of Wisconsin.