Alexis Kimbrough nominated as Colorado Emergency Management Rookie of the Year

Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke presents Alexis Kimbrough with an award for her nomination as Colorado Emergency Management Association’s Rookie of the Year. When Grand found itself without an emergency manager, Kimbrough led the county through the challenges of the East Troublesome Fire.
Courtesy Grand County

In the midst of a pandemic and as the Williams Fork Fire burned, Grand County found itself without an emergency manager.

While the county worked quickly through October to fill the critical position, Mother Nature didn’t care whether someone was managing the emergency office. Another wildfire broke out, exploding on Oct. 21 to become the second largest wildfire in Colorado over a matter of days.

As the East Troublesome Fire devastated the community, 26-year-old Alexis Kimbrough picked up the reins, according to letters from those who witnessed her work. With no emergency management experience prior to 2020, Kimbrough helped lead Grand through one of the most challenging months in county history.

For this work, Kimbrough has been nominated as Colorado Emergency Management Association’s Rookie of the Year.

“The threat and emergency conditions existed for several days during which time Alexis proved her leadership and ability to quickly absorb new information and make decisions in this rapidly unfolding emergency,” Joel Cochran said in his letter nominated Kimbrough. Cochran became Grand County’s emergency manager in early November.

Kimbrough, who began 2020 as the communications coordinator for the county, played a major role in the COVID-19 pandemic response. She now serves as the deputy director of the emergency management office.

In addition to the internal nomination, Eagle County Emergency Manager Birch Barron also named Kimbrough for the honor. Barron assisted with Grand County’s emergency efforts during the East Troublesome Fire and emphasized Kimbrough’s quick response and quality work despite her limited experience in emergency management.

“Following the departure of Grand County’s emergency management director, the full responsibilities of the department fell on Ms. Kimbrough’s shoulders,” Barron’s nomination read.

Barron highlighted the fact that Kimbrough and her team were personally impacted by the fire, having to ensure the safety of their own loved ones, yet still worked tirelessly to ensure a coordinated community response.

“Situations like this would have pushed many seasoned emergency managers over the edge,” Barron continued. “The fact that Ms. Kimbrough was able to keep the EOC team moving smoothly throughout this process despite being incredibly new to the emergency management field makes her an excellent candidate for the CMA’s Rookie of the Year award.”

The Grand County commissioners honored Kimbrough’s nomination on Tuesday.

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