Rebecca Jesada


In 2003 I graduated from UVA with a major in English and minor in Bioethics.  After graduation I took a position in medical emergency preparedness with a Department of Defense contractor.  My first project, the Disaster Preparedness, Vulnerability Analysis, Training and Exercise (DVATEX) Program conducted by the Navy Medicine Office of Homeland Security (part of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in D.C.), took me on hospital site visits from Guam to Hawaii, Sicily to Spain and back again.  DVATEX conducted vulnerability assessments of 30 Navy healthcare facilities in about 18 months as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) response training and tabletop exercises for healthcare providers.  Among other goals, the program enabled the collection of data for the Surgeon General about budgetary and other issues.  It was selected as a finalist for the 2004 Mitretek Innovations in Homeland Security Award by the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  I also had the opportunity to work with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on bioterrorism preparedness assessments of New York City hospitals.  We assessed facilities in different boroughs throughout the city, from Veterans Affairs to publicly and privately-funded hospitals of all shapes and sizes. 

After the New York project, I became interested in the legal implications of emergency preparedness and in expanding my horizons in the defense industry.  I took a position with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where I currently work with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Program Manager for Non Stockpile Chemical Materiel.  My team supports U.S. compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty banning the use and production of chemical weapons, as regulated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.  This position has given me exposure to many fascinating political and legal issues, as it involves various levels of government, such as the Office of the Secretary of the Defense and the State Department, as well as supporting international inspection visits to U.S. destruction sites.

I’m currently pursuing a law degree with a specialty in health law at the University of Maryland while working for SAIC.  With a law degree, I plan to expand upon my current work in the defense sector.  Looking back, in my Bioethics courses I was constantly asked to challenge prevailing paradigms, to create my own scaffolding for constructing a particular argument.  And in my career, I have often been extremely grateful for this analytical approach which the Bioethics program helped me to develop.