Dr. Sandra K. Knight is the President and founder of WaterWonks LLC. Her company was established to provide strategic consulting advice to clients in the public and private sectors on a multitude of topics including water resources, the environment, disaster resilience and research and development. She is also currently serving as a Senior Research Engineer in the Civil and Environmental Department at the University of Maryland.
In her last position in Federal service she served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation in the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In that position she provided executive leadership, oversight and supervision for:
1) development and administration of regulations, policies and procedures for programs related to mitigating risk from all hazards
2) environmental and historic preservation compliance within the agency
3) mitigation support to disaster response and recovery
She led FEMA’s mitigation programs supporting the National Flood Insurance Program including flood risk mapping (RiskMAP). She also was responsible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program issued post-disaster and the Pre-disaster Mitigation Program, providing assistance to individuals and communities through their states to mitigate all hazards. Her responsibilities included leading on behalf of FEMA’s Administrator, the National Dam Safety Program, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, and the Federal Interagency Floodplain Management Task Force. These nationally significant programs represented an annual portfolio of approximately $1 billion and have enduring effects on much of the nation’s population.
Prior to joining FEMA in 2010, Dr. Knight was the Senior Executive serving as the Director of the Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There she was responsible for the development of corporate policies and planning strategies, to ensure scientific excellence, transparent operations, and improved performance of NOAA’s research portfolio.
Dr. Knight spent most of her career as a hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). She was the Technical Director for navigation research at the Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. In this role, she supported the sustainable development and management of the nation’s waterways infrastructure through innovative research and technology. She is an internationally recognized expert in navigation and marine transportation issues and served on the executive committee of PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure.
During her last years with the Corps, she was selected for two critical leadership positions. Following the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, she stepped in to provide leadership support to the Mississippi Valley Division as Chief, Business Technical Division, serving as lead engineer for the Valley. While on special assignment to the Corps Headquarters, she lead the development of an asset management strategy for the USACE, establishing accountability and life-cycle guidance for over $200 billion of the nation’s real property assets.