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MAYOR ELICKER ANNOUNCES NEW STAFF APPOINTMENTS TO LEAD THE OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND OFFICE OF VITAL STATISTICS

Post Date:06/14/2024 10:00 AM

NEW HAVEN, CT—Today, Mayor Justin Elicker announced the appointment of two new staff members to serve in key positions in his administration: Patrick LaBuff as Emergency Management Director and Damaris Velez as Register of Vital Statistics.

“New Haven residents will be well-served by these two experienced and dedicated professionals who are stepping into critical roles in our administration,” said Mayor Elicker. “While very different jobs, each one serves an important role in city government. I’m grateful to Patrick LaBuff and Damaris Velez for stepping into these positions and bringing their knowledge and expertise to help support our residents and our city.” 

PATRICK LABUFF – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR

PATRICK LABUFF – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR

As Emergency Management Director, Patrick LaBuff is responsible for leading and coordinating the City of New Haven’s emergency preparation, planning, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts. Working in close collaboration with city departments, the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (DEMHS), and other local, state, and federal entities involved in the public safety for the City of New Haven, Director LaBuff is charged with directing and managing the City’s Emergency Operations Center during natural and man-made crisis and disaster scenarios, and advising the mayor, chief administrative officer, and government colleagues on recommended actions.

LaBuff has served in various homeland security and emergency management roles over the course of his career.  Most recently, since 2020, he served as Emergency Manager for Hartford Hospital, where he was charged with safeguarding over 9,000 employees as well as patients. While at Hartford Hospital, LaBuff supported various emergency incidents including aircraft crashes, floods, snowstorms, mass gatherings and protests, and serving as incident commander for the Covid-19 pandemic. LaBuff is also a professor of homeland security and emergency management, and has taught several courses at Columbia Southern University, an online university based in Alabama.  Previous positions include serving as Emergency Management and Security Director at Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home in Upstate New York and serving as a homeland security and emergency management advisor for the United States House of Representatives, where he advised members of Congress on homeland security incidents, trends and grant opportunities.

LaBuff served in the volunteer fire service for over twelve years, where his efforts included firefighting, urban search and rescue, instruction and training, threat assessments and emergency management. He currently serves on Connecticut Task Force 1 in the State Urban Search and Rescue Team as a Swift Water Rescue Technician. LaBuff received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University, a dual Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from American Military University, and is currently finalizing his Doctoral Degree of Emergency Management from Capella University.

“I am honored to serve as the City of New Haven’s emergency management director. I look forward to working with Mayor Elicker and my colleagues in government to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep Elm City residents safe, educated and informed in how to best prepare for and respond to all manners of emergency scenarios,” said Director LaBuff

The role was previously held by Rick Fontana who retired from the position in a full-time capacity and has subsequently served in a consultative capacity. The position reports to the Chief Administrative Officer, Regina Rush-Kittle. 

DAMARIS VELEZ – REGISTRAR OF VITAL STATISTICS

DAMARIS VELEZ – REGISTRAR OF VITAL STATISTICS 

As Registrar of Vital Statistics, Velez serves as the primary custodian of vital records in the City of New Haven, overseeing the recording, updating, and issuing of birth, marriage, and death certificates in accordance with statutory requirements of the State of Connecticut. In addition, the Office of Vital Statistics, which includes three assistant registrars, also manages the issuance of Elm City Resident cards.

Damaris Velez brings over 15 years of experience in public health and program management, primarily in New Haven County. Over the course of her career, Velez has developed an expertise in operational management and in the delivery of essential services to traditionally underserved communities. Over the past three years, she has served as the office manager for the New Haven Health Department, where she has played a pivotal utility player role both during and emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this role, Velez developed new systems to improve office operations, tracked departmental spending, and helped support and manage a growing team within the Heath Department. Velez also filled in at the Office of Vital Statistics when additional staff support was needed. Prior to her work with the City of New Haven, Velez oversaw programs at Project Access New Haven where she worked to help ensure uninsured and underinsured patients had access to specialty healthcare treatment. Velez lives in the East Shore neighborhood and is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.

“I am honored to serve as the Registrar of Vital Statistics and I take my role of preserving, recording, and issuing vital records with both enthusiasm and seriousness,” said Registrar Velez. “I am excited that I can continue to serve the community with the goal of making sure that everyone who walks through our doors receives great customer service. People often come to Office of Vital Statistics on the happiest days of their lives or one of the most challenging days of their lives, and I want to create an environment where everyone has a welcoming and positive experience.”

The Office of Vital Statistics is a division within the Health Department, and the Registrar of Vital Statistics reports to Health Director Martiza Bond. The responsibilities of this role were most recently assumed in an acting capacity by Director Bond.

PRESS CONTACT:

Lenny H. Speiller: (203) 725-4249; Lspeiller@newhavenct.gov

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