Dr. C. Ryan Akers
Dr. C. Ryan Akers is an Associate Extension Professor of Community Preparedness and Disaster Management at Mississippi State University.
Adv. Grad. Certificate, Community Preparedness and Disaster Management, University of North Carolina
Ph.D., Student Affairs Administration, University of Georgia
M.S., Counselor Education, Mississippi State University
B.A., Psychology, Delta State University
B.S., Biology, Delta State University
Harvard University Executive Education, Leadership in Crises
Harvard University Executive Education, Crisis Leadership in Higher Education
Dr. Akers focuses on statewide and regional community preparedness and disaster management initiatives for the MSU Extension Service, which serves all 82 counties of the state by providing research-based information, educational programs, and technology transfer focused on issues and needs of the people of Mississippi, enabling them to make informed decisions about their economic, social, and cultural well-being. With an academic home in the MSU School of Human Sciences, Dr. Akers provides direction on enhancing individual, family, and community preparedness across the lifespan for the people of Mississippi.
Among his programs, Dr. Akers created and coordinates the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative (also known as MyPI), the MSU Community Emergency Response Team (MSU CERT), and the development of the National Institute for Food Safety and Security Training, a charter member of the Food and Agriculture Protection Training Consortium. In September, 2014, MyPI was awarded the nation’s Most Outstanding Youth Preparedness award and also received an Honorable Mention recognition for “Preparing the Whole Community,” both from FEMA. Dr. Akers was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House and spoke on MyPI and youth preparedness at the White House and FEMA headquarters that September. MyPI was recently named one of the nation’s first Affirmers of the new National Strategy on Youth Preparedness Education, a collaborative effort between FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the United States Department of Education. For this, Dr. Akers again represented MyPI and Mississippi’s efforts in youth preparedness at the White House in January, 2015. He also serves on two national working groups within the national Affirmers group that further promotes national youth preparedness efforts. Also, in 2016, Dr. Akers received a NIFA Smith Lever Special Needs grant that enables the development and oversight of a National Youth Preparedness Initiative pilot program that seeks to replicate the MyPI model and success in seven additional states.
Building on the momentum and success of MyPI, Dr. Akers, in 2016, unveiled two new youth preparedness programs for delivery by the MSU Extension Service, enabling both MSU Extension personnel and non-Extension personnel to engage Mississippi youth between the ages of 8 and 19 in individual, family, and community preparedness. The first program, a cooperative partnership with the American Red Cross, enables MSU Extension to deliver the ARC program, The Pillowcase Project, to children between the ages of 8 and 10. And to reach 11-12 year olds and their families, a new program, Ready in the Middle, directly involves the youth and their families in a home hazard hunt that assists them in identifying risks and hazards in and around the home as well as strategies to mitigate those risks.
In addition to his faculty role at Mississippi State, Dr. Akers coordinates the MSU Community Emergency Response (CERT) program and is the MSU CERT Leader. MSU CERT, comprised of approximately 40 faculty/staff and graduate students has both a proactive role in educating the MSU and Starkville, MS community about the threats they face and the resources that are available in times of need, and a reactive role, which enables them to assist in specific emergency response efforts when the situation arises. MSU CERT has substantially promoted and enhanced individual, family, and community preparedness with proactive education programs like the PREP Workshop, an 11-day Emergency Preparedness Week, and most recently, the MSU CERT Preparathon, a comprehensive community preparedness fair with over 4o local, state, and national agencies represented, along with a half-marathon, 5K, and 1 mile family fun run that raised funds for local emergency response agencies. MSU CERT has also won overall gold medals and top individual skills assessments awards under Dr. Akers’ leadership.
His role within MSU CERT, coupled with his role within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and his expertise in campus emergency management, enables Dr. Akers to also serve on the Mississippi State University Crisis Action Team, the group responsible for the overall emergency management functions within the institution.
Ryan’s research agenda emphasizes critical incident management in low resource communities and in higher education, and the individual response to crisis. He completed a mixed methods dissertation at the University of Georgia entitled Evolution of Emergency Operations Strategies: Structure and Process of Crisis Management in College Student Affairs, which was awarded the SACSA Dissertation of the Year award. He has presented over 100 national, regional and state-level presentations on various aspects of campus crises and the effects of crisis on campus stakeholders, including IAEM, EDEN, SACSA, NASPA, ACPA, ASHE, and ACHA.
He has served on the ACPA Directorate of the Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services and developed NASPA's Campus Safety Knowledge Community (CSKC), serving as its first National Chair. In 2010, Ryan was awarded the NASPA CSKC Hero Award for significant contributions to the advancement of the CSKC. In September, 2011, Dr. Akers was invited to speak at the 20 year commemoration of the Jeanne Clery Act, also known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He also has national consulting experience related to campus emergency management and course development experience, including the recertification of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training’s Campus Emergencies executive seminar. Ryan serves as a voting delegate for Mississippi within the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and is a member of EDEN’s youth preparedness program area work group.
Ryan is a member of the Advisory Council of Mississippi Citizen Corps, of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, board member of the Oktibbeha Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services, and has served on the editorial team for the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, the College Student Affairs Journal, and the Journal for College and University Student Housing. He is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP) Program at the National Emergency Training Center and is a Certified CERT Instructor and Program Manager. In 2016, Dr. Akers was selected to participate in the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy at the Emergency Management Institute. He is also a certified MBTI Interpreter and Facilitator. Recently, Dr. Akers was named an Outstanding Young Alumnus from the University of Georgia’s College of Education.
Dr. Akers recently brokered a partnership between the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. MSU Extension now directs the programmatic initiatives and is responsible for the financial aspects of Citizen Corps administration in Mississippi. In total, Dr. Akers has received over $650,000 in grant funding and private gifts for emergency preparedness and outreach programming.
Dr. Akers is an avid half marathon and obstacle course racer. He and his wife, Brandy, live in Starkville, MS with their two children, Will and Alyssa, and their four-legged family, Athena, Token, Sophie and newcomers, Max and Molly.