Director of Disaster Management, Ms. Sharleen S. DaBreo is the Territory’s newest recipient of the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award from Her Majesty the Queen.
Ms. DaBreo was presented the insignia and the Royal Warrant by His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Augustus J. U. Jaspert at an investiture ceremony in the presence of family, friends, past honorees and Government officials on November 27.
Governor Jaspert said just weeks into the job, he had the privilege of working closely and almost constantly with Ms. DaBreo and saw her expertise in action as the Territory navigated through the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The Governor said that in 2017, her many years of experience in the field of disaster management were put to the extreme test but she ensured that the Territory’s necessary systems were in place and implemented prior to and after the hurricanes.
“I saw her work tirelessly, doing what she could to protect people, when we faced the toughest challenge ever,” he said.
Governor Jaspert continued, “Undoubtedly, and I don’t say this lightly, as a result of Sharleen’s preparations and her team, lives were saved. After the storms, disaster management functioned although pretty much every single part of our infrastructure was knocked down, got back up again within a few hours, so we were able to coordinate the response.”
The Governor also credited Ms. DaBreo with saving lives. “Many many people get honoured. Not many get honoured and recognised at the level that you are being honored today. But very few people get honoured, knowing also that their lives’ work has saved lives.”
Mrs. DaBreo in her response said that she was pleased, honored and humbled to accept the award. “It was never about doing a job for a paycheck. Rather, it was about giving back, helping others, being innovative and wanting to make a change. It was about following the words that my grandparents would drill into me daily ‘always do your very best and do it with passion and with a kind heart.”
She said, “Disaster Management became my life. I loved it, I thrived on it. I wanted to break all the barriers and convince others that it was the best profession ever!”
The director added that she is pleased on the growth of the department, which is a national development concern.
“Our Government and the BVI stands tall among others with a full accredited, proven organisation,” she said, adding “We expect to have a Territory to rebuild, people who need us, children to nurture and guide and elderly who we must cherish and learn from, and never, ever forget.”
Ms. DaBreo has been employed with the Department of Disaster Management since 1994 and has held the position of Director since 1998. She has served the Government of the Virgin Islands for 24 years and continues to carry out exceptional service.
She is a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency response team and Pan American Health Organization’s Disaster management Advisory Group and is considered an expert in her field. She has consistently improved the ability of the Virgin Islands to respond to disasters and also assisted other nations in the development of disaster management policies, strategies and plans.
The Queen’s honours system recognises individuals who have made achievements in public life, committed themselves to serving and helping their community, or have been outstanding at what they do and have stood out as examples to other people.
The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.