Smith-Reeve Resigns As Arizona Emergency Director, Cites “Lack Of Transparency”

Wendy Smith-Reeve, Governor Doug Ducey, and Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS are briefed on the COVID-19 health crisis.

PHOENIX – On Saturday, Arizona Department of Emergency Management Director Wendy Smith-Reeve resigned citing a lack of transparency amid the COVID-19 health crisis. Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Director, Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, accepted her resignation.

McGuire selected Anthony Cox, the division of emergency management deputy director since 2017, to replace Smith-Reeve.

In her resignation letter to Governor Ducey and General McGuire, Smith Reeve wrote:

It is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to serve the Department for over 23 1/2 years. The emergency management industry has experienced significant evolution over this period. As a direct result of the considerable hard work, effort and collaboration from the local, county, tribal, state, and federal levels of government, there’s a single National Incident Management System. Arizona has been considered a leader in this industry and that is a direct result of my tireless efforts since assuming responsibility as a State Emergency Management Director on June 1, 2013

I’ve supported and/or managed more than 100 emergencies in Arizona, thirteen which also received federal declaration designation. I’ve also ensured that Arizona meets industry standards for emergency management wherein the Program in January went through accreditation analysis for the 4th time, and received 100% compliance evaluation. Today that type of evaluation is unprecedented due to the complexities of the standards for program criteria.

However, considering the changes that have taken place as a direct result of this event it has become clear that my role is being addressed by the Governor’s staff and ADHS which means my presence and function is duplicative. That is not healthy for the Team who are working tirelessly on this event. The directive from the Governor’s Office have been to work completely outside of the State Emergency Response and Recovery Plan that the Governor acknowledged and directed the state enterprise to follow when signing Executive Order 2017-06. The lack of transparency is degrading the hybrid process that non-emergency management trained individuals have put into place.

My last day with the state of Arizona will be March 12 31, 2020. I am happy to meet with Governor Ducey and General McGuire at their earliest convenience to discuss further details and transition of duties. Please know that my current deputy director for emergency management has submitted his resignation well prior to this event, and his last day is next Friday, April 3, 2020. In light of this change of my status, he advised me earlier today that if I leave for any reason that he would not be extending his service, and will not return after he gets his fat after he gets his family is (sic) settled.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the State of Arizona.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
Wendy Smith Reeve
Deputy Director, DEMA
Director, Division of Emergency Management

Ducey’s spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato tweeted after the announcement:

Arizona is grateful to have the very steady leadership of Major General McGuire leading our emergency operations during this critical time. We won’t miss a beat with him and his team at the helm.


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