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Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience?

The Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) first national resilience award for superior leadership and innovation by a non-governmental individual or organization who exemplifies the qualities and achievements of Rick Rescorla, emphasizing leadership in effective preparation, response, and recovery in the face of disasters.

The award will be presented annually by the Secretary.  For 2014 there will be honorees in three categories: 1) individuals, legally residing in the United States or its territories, who are not employees of a government entity – including federal, state, local, tribal or territorial governments; 2) not-for-profit organizations based in the U.S. or its territories, and 3) for-profit organizations based in the U.S. or its territories.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergency. Resilience also means achieving the assurance of continuity and the predictable recovery of essential products and services by putting capacities in place prior to an event. Resilience is a core principle of the Department of Homeland Security and was reinforced most recently in the Presidential Policy Directive on National Preparedness (PPD-8). The Secretary of Homeland Security is directed in PPD-8 "to coordinate a national campaign to build and sustain national preparedness, including public outreach and community-based and private-sector programs to build and sustain national resilience." The Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience is a cornerstone in that campaign.

Who was Richard "Rick" Rescorla?

Richard "Rick" Rescorla was an innovator and a leader in resilience. Born in Britain and naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1967, he was a decorated Vietnam U.S. Army veteran. On 9/11, he was Vice President of Security for Morgan Stanley at their Headquarters in the World Trade Center. He personally led a massive evacuation of Morgan Stanley's 2,700 employees located in World Trade Center Tower 2, the "South Tower." All but six of Morgan Stanley's workers in the South Tower survived. Rick Rescorla was one of those who died. He was last seen walking back up the stairs to rescue more people in the building.

Rescorla's success on September 11 in saving thousands of lives was not luck, but the result of his planning, determination, and skill. Following the 1993 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Rescorla regularly drilled his Morgan Stanley employees in disaster preparedness and response, especially evacuation, ensuring that employees knew how to evacuate and where to go on 9/11. Mr. Rescorla's dedication to the safety of those under his responsibility, and the skill with which he exercised his responsibilities, are the personification of the highest standards of resilience.

Who is eligible to be nominated for the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience?

To be eligible for the award, the nominee must be an individual, legally residing in the United States or its territories, who is not an employee of a government entity – including federal, state, local, tribal or territorial governments.  Volunteer first responders are eligible.  This includes firefighters, emergency medical providers, and law enforcement personnel who serve on a volunteer basis.  Eligible nominees may also be organizations other than government entities based in the United States or its territories.  Eligible organizations include both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

What is the period during which the nominee's activities must have occurred in order to be eligible?

The accomplishments, initiatives, or program activities must have occurred during the year immediately prior to the year of the award.  These accomplishments may have had their origins in earlier years, but only the activities occurring in 2013, or the programs and policies in effect during 2013, will be judged for the 2014 award.

What are the selection criteria for the award?

The criteria for the Rescorla Award emphasize leadership and achievement in one or more of the following areas:

  • Outstanding performance in withstanding, adapting, and rapidly recovering from natural or human-caused incidents that impact lives or property.
    • Demonstrable success in saving lives, protecting property and the environment, or meeting basic human needs because of outstanding prior preparation and/or extraordinary efforts during or after incidents. 
    • Outstanding leadership in assisting individuals, families, organizations and/or communities in response to or recovery from natural or human-caused incidents.
  • Outstanding performance in developing resilience in anticipation of future incidents threatening life or property.
    • Motivating and assisting individuals (including those with special needs), families, organizations, and/or communities to take steps that effectively achieve resilience - for example, developing personal and community preparedness plans and organizing communities so as to promote the rapid recovery of essential services.
    • Implementing regular training and exercises that test the resilience of individuals, families, organizations and/or communities.
    • Implementing private sector preparedness - for example, developing plans for business continuity and the adoption of cyber security consensus standards and industry best practices to the fullest extent possible.
    • Exceeding existing building and other codes in the design and construction of infrastructure, including homes, office buildings, and highway bridges and tunnels. 

What is the process for nominating?

Any individual (or organization) who meets the eligibility criteria may be nominated for this award.  The nominator must first download the 2014 Rick Rescorla National Award Nomination Form from the Rescorla Award page on the DHS web site:

The form should be completed and emailed to DHS during the nomination submission period at the following address: rescorlaaward@HQ.DHS.GOV.  The nomination submission period for the 2014 award begins on April 17, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. EDT and closes on July 17, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

How is the honoree selected?

A panel of DHS subject matter experts will first review and rank the nominations. Their recommendations will be provided to individuals from outside the government who serve on the DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council.  These homeland security experts will be invited to conduct a second review and, not as a council but as individuals, communicate their opinions to the DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy.  The Assistant Secretary will consider the conclusions of both review efforts and will, in turn, make a recommendation to the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secretary will make the final decision and the winners will be publicly announced in a press release.

Does the award amount to an endorsement by DHS of the award honoree?

The award is given because an honoree has excelled at meeting the selection criteria for the award. This does not mean that an honoree (or the honoree's employer) is otherwise endorsed by DHS or the Secretary.

Are there any monetary rewards associated the award?

There is no cash award associated with the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience. However, the honoree will receive a commemorative plaque and be invited to participate in a DHS-sponsored recognition event.


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Last Published Date: April 17, 2014
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