Founder Biography


Vanessa R. Burnett is a resilience coach and consultant, specializing in facing risk, making change, building resilience, and countering fear. 

Ms. Burnett is an experienced project manager and analyst with over 15 years of professional experience in emergency management and homeland security.  Much of this work has included coaching, collaboration, and project facilitation with leaders, working groups, contractors, and colleagues to build national and regional level policy, procedures, systems, and operational approaches.  Vanessa was trained in life coaching through the Martha Beck Institute in 2013, when she founded the “Counterfear” idea and launched Counterfear LLC.

Ms. Burnett’s most recent role prior to entrepreneurship was as the local technical contact for the National Capital Region’s emergency notification system (ENS) in the Washington, DC area.   The now-updated alert system serves 5.5 million residents and a variety of public safety and other government agencies in the metro area's 18 core jurisdictions.  The work included transitioning the 10-year-old system to the newer cloud-based Everbridge mass notification platform.  

Ms. Burnett has served in a variety of capacities at the headquarters level for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Science & Technology Directorate (research and development), the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Office of Policy, and the Office of Operations Coordination.  Ms. Burnett also worked in the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI's) Office of the Secretary.  Work in DHS and DOI included incident and disaster information sharing, incident management, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), resilience, infrastructure protection, public-private partnerships for incident management and infrastructure restoration, GIS, aviation operations for incidents, security, threat response, risk management, cybersecurity, and continuity of operations programs (COOP).  This experience included but is not limited to Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, wildfires, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, exercises, and other hurricanes and all-hazard incidents.

Ms. Burnett’s experience in public safety began at an early age serving many seasons as a lifeguard, and then as a park ranger.  She became certified as a wildland firefighter, and spent several seasons fighting wildfires and lighting prescribed burns.  Vanessa eventually moved into wildland fire management as a regional Fire Intelligence Coordinator at the busiest interagency wildland fire coordination center in the world.  The Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center, or “South Ops,” was the birthplace of formalized incident management that eventually led to the creation of NIMS after 9/11.  Ms. Burnett transitioned from South Ops to the Washington, DC area after 9/11 to help evolve incident management and incident information sharing.  Vanessa trained as a life coach through the Martha Beck Institute in 2013.  She now lives in central Iowa and works with clients online and in person.


UPDATED:  2016-0611

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