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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM)


2018 Speakers

We will update this page as we finalize speakers for our 27th Annual Advanced Severe Weather Seminar.

(Presenters and topics are subject to change without notice)



Biographical Statement

Tammie SouzaTammie Souza - Website

In March 2017 Tammie Souza was named Chief Meteorologist for the NBC10 Philadelphia First Alert weather team. Prior to that she spent 16 years in Chicago at both NBC and FOX. She was also the first female Chief Meteorologist in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida. Early in her career she worked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chico, California. 

As a certified meteorologist she is one of a handful of women in the nation that holds both the prestigious AMS/CBM Certified Broadcast Meteorology Seal of Approval awarded by the American Meteorological Society, and the NWA Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association. Both Seals represent the completion of rigorous educational requirements in atmospheric science and the highest level of competency in communicating complex weather, water, and climate information. 

In 2010 she was chosen as the first female chairman of the National AMS Board of Broadcast Meteorology and has served on National Boards for both the AMS and the NWA. She is also an evaluator for AMS/CBM and NWA Seal applicants.

She has been honored with 18 Emmy nominations and 8 Emmy Awards for her work.
Tammie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Environmental from San Diego State University and has recently completed work on her Master’s Degree in Applied Meteorology at Mississippi State University.

Spare time is spent storm chasing, scuba diving, snow skiing, hiking, fishing, flying and home remodeling.

In 2017 her 9 year old son Caleb was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor. His story was documented in a 3-part series. Now the entire family has become very involved in Pediatric Cancer awareness and the need for more research and fundraising.

Dr. Walker Ashley Walker Ashley Website

Dr. Walker Ashley is an atmospheric scientist in Northern Illinois University’s Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences, where he teaches courses in meteorology, climatology, and disaster science.  His research focuses on weather hazards and their societal impacts.  He has been storm chasing for over two decades and has an affinity for time lapsing all forms of skyscapes. 

Allan FisherFisher

Allan Fisher holds a B.S. degree in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University.  He was a Meteorologist with the NWS for 32 years with assignments at: the old WFO Columbus OH, WSFO Raleigh NC, weather unit at the ARTCC Oberlin OH, Meteorologist in Charge of the weather unit at ARTCC Aurora IL, WSFO Romeoville IL. He received the Dept. of Commerce Bronze Award in 2004 as part of a team developing a NWS aviation software program. Since retirement, he volunteers with the Naperville Emergency Management Agency as the head of the weather operation.  

Dr. Reed Timmer Reed Timmer Website

Dr. Reed Timmer is a Lead Storm Chaser for AccuWeather since April 2015. He also provides life-saving reports from the field in Oklahoma for KFOR, the NBC news affiliate in Oklahoma City. Author of the Penguin-published book, Into the Storm, an adrenaline-filled chronicle of his life as an extreme meteorologist, Dr. Timmer has built a reputation as a go-to source for news agencies when dangerous weather makes headlines in the United States.  His expertise regularly lands him on top-rated programs on all major news networks and hundreds of cable TV series on extreme weather. His multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and other popular talk shows have contributed substantially to an overall increase in severe weather awareness and preparation, hopefully saving countless lives in Tornado Alley and beyond.

In 2003, Dr. Timmer established (TVN), which has become the premier source of weather footage for news and production companies worldwide. He then launched, which has grown to be a world-renown platform for live streaming video of severe weather and warning residents in the path of these dangerous storms, receiving 100s of millions of viewer minutes every storm season. He also launched Extreme Tornado Tours in 2007, offering weather enthusiasts from across the world the opportunity to safely experience the most extreme weather on the planet from custom vans with bullet-resistant windows. Completing a PhD in Meteorology at The University of Oklahoma in 2015 after starring on Discovery Channel’s hit TV series, Storm Chasers, for four seasons, Dr. Timmer continues to lead his team from TVN to intercept tornadoes in their armored tank-like vehicles called the Dominators. For Dr. Timmer, the ultimate goal is to better understand the complex dynamics behind tornadoes and other extreme storms so safer and stronger structures can be designed to withstand their destructive power.

When he’s not chasing storms, he can often be found in university lecture halls and civic auditoriums speaking on severe weather preparedness and the science of extreme storm chasing or researching the seasonal climatology of severe weather and its teleconnections with the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and Gulf of Mexico. 

Margaret MooneyMargaretMooneyCIMSS - WebsiteMargaret Mooney is the Education and Outreach lead at NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a former National Weather Service meteorologist, Mooney leads the GOES-R Education Proving Ground ( working with G6-14 science teachers to ensure that the education community is launch ready for advancements in satellite products in the GOES-R era.
Debby GrayDebby Gray - WebsiteDebby Gray has been a member of the WX9LOT Ham Team since 2013. This all-volunteer group aids NWS Chicago operations during severe weather events by collecting Skywarn storm reports, and also emergency communications support with neighboring NWS offices in the Central Region if needed. Of the many major events she has supported, one of the first severe weather events she worked at WX9LOT was the Nov. 17, 2013 tornado outbreak. This event saw the early implementation of gathering Skywarn reports from social media alongside the longstanding ham radio-based network. She is also one of the primary Net Control Operators for the VoIP Hurricane Net, which serves the National Hurricane Center's WX4NHC team and was highly involved in the 2017 hurricane season. Debby is a career IT professional who has focused on disaster preparedness and recovery (education, mission critical support). Of the many roles she fills, she also volunteers as a Sergeant with Naperville EMA, and is the IL District 3 Emergency Coordinator and EC for Kane Co ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service).
Paul SirvatkaSirvatka - WebsitePaul Sirvatka is a professor at the College of DuPage and has received the College Of DuPage Outstanding Faculty Award and Division of Natural Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award. He is also recognized for receiving National Science Foundation Grants to develop a complete curriculum of eleven courses in meteorology. Sirvatka has served as a representative of the college through scores of newspaper interviews and television/radio appearances, including the Weather Channel, MSNBC, Fox News, Chicago Tonight and NBC Nightly News. He also co-sponsors severe weather seminar and spotter training across Chicago and as a speaker across the United States. 
Dr. Victor Gensini gensini-victor - websiteDr. Victor Gensini is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences and Northern Illinois University. His research umbrella covers extreme weather and climate, with specific interests focused on: severe convective storms, synoptic/mesoscale meteorology, applied climatology, GIS techniques, geoscience data visualization, weather forecasting and climate change. He has primarily focused on the relationship between severe convective storms and climate change by utilizing dynamical downscaling from a convective permitting regional climate model. Currently, a majority of his research is examining weather and climate dynamics that explain variability in extreme weather frequency and analyzing ways to forecast these events at sub-seasonal to seasonal time scales.   
Danny Neal Danny Neal - websiteDanny Neal overcame an immense fear of severe weather to build one of the largest resources for severe weather that the state of Illinois has to offer. Over the past five year, he has dedicated his life to bringing severe weather education and awareness through aggressive outreach on social media. Mr. Neal has a background in meteorology from the College of DuPage and Penn State University. He has chased storms since 1998 and has documented 116 tornadoes. Mr. Neal is a volunteer at the National Weather Service Chicago where he monitors social media during severe weather events, helped create the current Skywarn Spotter Training program, as well as participates in post storm damage surveys.  
Ricky CastroRicky Castro - WebsiteRicky Castro has been a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago Forecast Office in Romeoville since July 2010. Before working for the Chicago office, Ricky worked as a student intern for the National Weather Service New York, NY Forecast Office in Upton, NY from February 2009 until July 2010. Ricky graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from Colgate University in May 2006 and Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science from Stony Brook University in May 2010. At NWS Chicago, Ricky's program areas include social media, beach forecasts/beach hazards, weather graphics design, DSS, and the spotter training program. In January 2014, Ricky coined the popular social media hashtag #Chiberia prior to the historic "polar vortex" cold air outbreak of January 5-7 for a tweet that was posted on the NWS Chicago Twitter feed.

27th Annual Advanced Severe Weather Seminar