A PIO for more than 20 years, Jim Whittington has responded to over 90 large and complex wildfires. He has been the spokesperson for incidents of national and international interest, including the Cerro Grande, Rodeo-Chedeski, Wallow, and Yarnell Hill fires. He also worked with media as part of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots Memorial Service team and led the PIO function for the Iron 44 Memorial Service.
An experienced mentor and teacher, Jim has directly trained many advanced PIOs and instructed numerous classes on incident management and leadership. He is the first PIO to serve as a coach/evaluator for Advanced Incident Management (S-520), a class needed to qualify for Command and General Staff on the most complex incidents. Whittington is a qualified Lead Instructor for a number of FEMA and National Wildfire Coordinating Group classes. He advises federal and state agencies on incident management and risk/crisis communications and assists state and local agencies in both pre-crisis planning and crisis communications.
As a PAO for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Whittington served as the national spokesperson and member of the response team for the BLM on the Sugar Pine Mine militia occupation and has provided regional and national interviews on politically-charged issues like the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion.
Whittington started his career in the Washington, DC office of Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. and has worked for the National Archives and Records Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and the BLM. His education includes an MA from the University of Virginia, a BA from the University of North Texas, and continuous professional coursework. He lives in Medford, OR with an incredibly patient wife, a bassoon-playing daughter, an annoying cat, and two rambunctious rescued pups. Occasionally, a college-going daughter will make an appearance.
Jim has an agile mind and possesses an uncanny way of discerning the important elements of an emergent issue; and in emergency services, he is a quick study of organizational responses and adapting actions to sudden needs. Jim is also kindly and good humored, which are attributes helpful with faculty and students, everywhere, and of any age.
Jim is able and willing to stretch his limits and go outside his comfort zone if he determines that it is going to help the situation or project be successful. He is able to rapidly determine priorities and direction. Jim has a deliberative and confident delivery, a great vocabulary, and an innate ability to effectively facilitate open dialog and discussion. Most importantly, Jim is confident and comfortable, with a great sense of humor. However, he is not full of himself, which goes a long way in a classroom or instructional setting.