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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 to 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.  Eligible nominees may also be organizations, other than government entities, based in the United States 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 a naturalized 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 persons 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. From the time of the 1993 bombing in the basement of the World Trade Center, which he had predicted in a letter to the New York Port Authority, he drilled Morgan Stanley employees in evacuation and other safety procedures. 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.

On September 21, 2011, Secretary Napolitano presented the DHS Distinguished Public Service Medal to Mr. Rescorla's widow at a ceremony in New York City. During her remarks, the Secretary announced her intention to create a national resilience award to motivate citizens in the U.S. to take action to strengthen the resilience of their communities and organizations and honoring the legacy of Richard Rescorla.

Who is eligible to be nominated and to be chosen as the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience winner?

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, and program activities must have occurred during calendar year 2012.  These accomplishments could have had their origins in earlier years, but only activities occurring in 2012 or policies in effect during 2012 will be judged.

What are the criteria for the award?

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

Outstanding performance during 2012 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 during 2012 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 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, by developing plans for business continuity and the adoption of cybersecurity 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.

How is the honoree selected?

Any individual, team or organization that meets the criteria for eligibility may apply for this award by using the Nomination Form. The nomination period begins on April 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. EDT and closes on June 30, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. A panel of DHS officials will review all nominations and recommend finalists to resilience experts, who will conduct a second review and make recommendations to the DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy who will, in turn, make a recommendation to the Secretary of Homeland Security for a final decision. The Secretary will present the Rescorla Award for Resilience annually on or about the anniversary of September 11.

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

The award is given because an individual or individuals has demonstrated innovative thinking in the area of resilience. That does not mean that an honoree (or the honoree's employer) is 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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