Dawn H. Thomas
Director of the Center for Critical Incident Analysis


Dawn Thomas is an Associate Director and Research Analyst on the Safety and Security team of CNA, and is an expert in large-scale incident planning and response. In 14 years at CNA, Thomas has worked with a large array of emergency preparedness issues, helping state, local, regional, and federal entities prepare for and respond to biological attacks, active shooters, large-scale evacuations, medical evacuation, earthquakes and tsunamis, mass casualty chemical incidents, public health outbreaks (human and animal), and cyberattacks.

Thomas has participated in federal and regional risk-based planning initiatives, resulting in concepts of operations that will govern response to large-scale human-caused and natural events. In this pursuit, Thomas has written, executed, and evaluated more than 60 exercises, experiments, and war-games in the fields of health and medical operations, terrorism prevention and response, unmanned systems (air, underwater, and surface), animal disease, public health, and cybersecurity.

Additionally, Thomas has contributed to the analyses of real-world operations, including evaluations of FEMA's response to a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, the federal response to Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Navy response to Hurricane Katrina, the HHS response to Hurricanes Rita and Irma, the USDA response to an outbreak of Newcastle disease, an after-action review of District operations in support of the 2009 and 2017 Inaugurations, and preparations for several National Security Special Events (NSSEs) including Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Thomas came to CNA after spending six years in Israel and receiving an M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There, she spent three years researching the timely subject of terror campaigns and their comparison with individual acts of terror. Thomas is fluent in English and Hebrew, and proficient in French.


June 1, 2020

Dawn Thomas writes, "As IT departments around the country continue to make systems and data as secure as possible, it is up to emergency managers to stretch their imaginations and plan for cyberattacks that seriously impact critical systems and data."

ICMA: "Cyber Continuity Planning: Go Big or Go Home"

July 12, 2019

Dawn Thomas says, "The generation of kids right now are doing a lot online in school, so it seems not easy but doable that that teaching that savviness can be built in while they're using screens at school to question what you're seeing."

Defense One Radio: "Cyberwarfare Today" (24:22)

October 24, 2017

Dawn Thomas writes "Although Harvey's winds and storm surge damaged Gulf Coast areas of Texas and Louisiana, the days-long rain associated with the storm caused the most serious impact to population centers."

Domestic Preparedness: "Hurricane Harvey & What It Means for Future Disasters"

October 24, 2017

Dawn Thomas writes "In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Florida residents (along with those from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico who had come to Florida to receive care) began to present at special needs shelters and medical clinics."

Domestic Preparedness: "Implications of the Opioid Crisis During Disaster Response"

September 7, 2017

CNA releases the ninth episode of CNA Talks, a new podcast on current affairs. Monica Giovachino moderates as Jason McNamara and Dawn Thomas share perspectives gathered from years of experience working at FEMA and studying disaster response. Listen to this episode.