While doing house-by-house searches in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Mallette found a dog tied to a fence. A city resident combing the area alongside him said to leave it, but Mallette wouldn't. When all the local animal shelters he visited were closed, Mallette took the dog home, Scanlon said.

Ox, as Mallette named the now 11- or 12-year-old pit bull, has lived with him ever since.

Most people are capable of taking care of themselves after a disaster, Mallette said. He plans to promote such preparation. But there also is a minority who are dependent on others, and the priority after a disaster is mobilizing resources to aid them as quickly as possible.

"It's much cheaper to prevent a disaster than to respond to one," Mallette said.

On a marker board in his office, he wrote a mantra to that end for all to see, words from an ancient Chinese military document: "Every battle is won before it is fought."



Ken Mallette

Age: 55

Family: Married, three children

Education: B.A., Benedictine College, 1980; master's in professional educational administration, Seton Hall University, 1987; leadership and management certification from FBI National Academy, 2004

Work history: Reached role of executive officer for homeland security in 25-year career in New Jersey State Police; served as a vice president for Witt Associates consulting firm from 2006 until May 2012. Started as executive director of Maryland Emergency Management Agency on May 21.