EIS Council • About Us - John Heltzel

About Us

John Heltzel

John Heltzel Director of Resilience Planning

Brigadier General (Retired) John W. Heltzel received his military commission in the Kentucky National Guard from Eastern Kentucky University in 1979.  Over his 33 year military career he commanded at the battery, battalion and regimental levels. In 2007, General Heltzel was selected to serve as the Deputy Commander/Assistant Adjutant General of Kentucky’s Joint Force Headquarters where he directed the training of the Kentucky National Guard in direct support of the Homeland and Global Security Mission.

In addition to General Heltzel’s command assignments, he chaired the National Guard Bureau’s Information Management Advisory Council (IMAC) and led the development of multiple information systems deployed nationally as part of the Reserve Component Automation System (RCAS).

In 2006, after completing his active duty National Guard assignment as the Chief Information Officer/J6 for the Kentucky National Guard and the Department of Military Affairs, General Heltzel assumed the position of President and Chief Operations Officer for Cyber Defenses Incorporated (CDI), an Information Assurance (IA) company headquartered in Round Rock, Texas. CDI specialized in cyber security, risk assessment, system forensics and enterprise information technology implementation. In 2007, General Heltzel directed the CDI effort to design and execute the first congressionally funded Full Spectrum Vulnerability Assessment (FSVA) identifying cyber security risks and threats in five separate public and private sectors including government, public electrical utilities, and financial institutions.

In July 2008, Governor Steve Beshear appointed General Heltzel to head the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. During that time he led the Commonwealth’s response to 10 presidentially declared disasters, including 2009’s catastrophic statewide ice storm, as well as 2 historic statewide flooding events and numerous other disasters including tornadoes, infrastructure failures and chemical spills. During his tenure he modernized the emergency management division, developed the Community Hazard Assessment and Mitigation Planning System (CHAMPS) and oversaw the construction of a multi-million dollar, state of the art, Emergency Operations Center (EOC). 

General Heltzel served as the Chairman of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium from 2009 through 2012. In 2010 and 2011, he led the planning and development for portions of the National Level Exercise focused on the natural threat of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The NMSZ presents the nation with a potentially catastrophic threat impacting 8 different states involving 4 separate FEMA regions as one of the most complex response environments in the nation. During the planning effort, General Heltzel, working with the CUSEC member states and FEMA, created the planning doctrine and structure for the first national Resource Allocation Workshop (RAW) in December of 2010.

General Heltzel served as a regional vice president of the National Emergency Management Association from 2009 through 2013, chairing the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) committee from 2011 through 2013. During that time he chaired the Super Storm Sandy After Action EMAC Study, developed one of the first multi-threat, multiple scenario national EMAC exercises and in 2012 led the development of the Mutual Aid Support System (MASS) prototype system for identifying, tracking and depicting EMAC resources in a geo-spatial environment.

Upon his military retirement in 2012, General Heltzel was awarded the United States Army Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts in leadership and technology.