ISC East Keynote Preview: NYPD Chief Terri Tobin

Terri Tobin, chief of interagency operations for the NYPD and a 9/11 first responder, is presenting a keynote address at ISC East 2023 coming up Nov. 14-16 in New York City—one of more than 40 sessions in the SIA Education@ISC East program from top industry expert speakers on the most current business trends, technologies and industry developments.

The Security Industry Association (SIA) is looking forward to the Women in Security Forum Keynote  featuring Chief Theresa (Terri) Tobin, chief of interagency operations for the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Tobin’s dynamic presentation, on the theme “Light Pierces Through: Lessons in Leadership Through Rescue, Recovery and Reflection,” will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 9:00 a.m. on the Bridge Stage at ISC East.

Tobin was a first responder to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. As she was evacuating people from the South Tower when it pancaked down, Chief Tobin’s ballistic helmet was split in half, and a piece of concrete became lodged in her skull. Having been blown across the West Side Highway, Chief Tobin’s body was racked with the fallen wreckage of the building, and she was buried among the debris. 

After being pulled out of the carnage, she joined with other first responders in pulling people from the pile and from underneath vehicles. When the second building pancaked down, Chief Tobin was hit in the back, a shard of glass embedded itself in her back between her shoulder blades and her ankle was fractured.  Chief Tobin received the NYPD’s Medal for Valor and a Special Congressional Recognition in honor of her heroism, bravery and sacrifice during the tumultuous events of 9/11.

SIA spoke with Tobin about what attendees can expect from her presentation at ISC East.

SIA: Can you give attendees a preview of one of the lessons in leadership you will be discussing during your ISC East keynote?

TT: We often say that personnel are our most valuable asset. On 9/11, regardless of what type of company one was employed in – private or public – it was a human crisis.  People needed to be the focus. In times of crisis, what measures do we take to ensure that our personnel are supported?

SIA: Experiencing a major security event can teach us where our gaps in communication are – not only in law enforcement and security, but also in business. What are some takeaways from your career that business leaders could use within their own organizations, whether they’re in corporate security or with businesses that offer security technologies?

TT: In the breadth of 9/11 and in natural disasters since, key components of a company’s infrastructure, including communications, can be temporarily destroyed. Of paramount importance is internal communication. When possible, as leaders, we need to be on the scene and be visible. Employees need to see their leaders and know that their distress is one of their leaders’ top concerns. When employees can hear their leaders’ message orally, they know the promises being made have the organization’s backing. 

The ISC East Day 2 Keynote featuring Chief Terri Tobin will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 9:00 a.m. on the Bridge Stage. The ISC East Keynote Series is open to all badge holders at ISC East. In addition to the keynote presentations and new for 2023, ISC East attendees can access an expanded three-day SIA Education@ISC East conference program with a wide variety of sessions on the most current business trends and latest developments impacting the industry. SIA encourages attendees to RSVP for the keynote here