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Meet our Founder:  Catherine Hooper

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as I watched so many struggling people attempt to find safety in New Orleans, I kept thinking: “every person in America should have a back-up plan for safety, shelter, and connecting with loved ones.” And as a New York City resident, worker, and new mom, I was frustrated that I didn’t have a plan for my household!  Attempting to develop my family’s own Emergency/Safety Plan became a years-long research project.

The set of best practices I developed for my own family deserves to be shared.  If you don’t have an actionable Emergency/Safety Plan for your family, consider working with one of our tactical specialists.  Semper paratus is our signature at Black Umbrella, and it means: always prepared.

Since 2009, Black Umbrella has compiled information from our own personal training and experiences, hundreds of books and resources, as well as individual insights from survivors into a set of action modules that your family performs at home with the assistance of one of our specialists to create a simple and effective plan that even your children can follow.

Our certified Tactical Specialists share my dedication in assisting you to create plans that best protect your family in your unique circumstances.  If you are, like me, a parent who takes pride in having thought of everything for your children – commit yourself to making your Emergency/Safety Plan a top priority.  Black Umbrella can help you achieve that goal.


Our Chairman:  Joel Smernoff

Joel has deep experience in disaster preparedness and urban/wilderness survival.  He was one of the early members of San Francisco's Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in 1991, right after the Loma Prieta earthquake. He has since completed extensive training, including NYC CERT and FEMA certifications, survival training at the famed Tom Brown Jr. Tracker School, firearms training at the world-class Gunsite academy and with the legendary Travis Haley of Haley Strategic Partners, and courses in wilderness first aid with NOLS and ARC.

After experiencing two hurricanes, two major blackouts, a terrorist event, several tornados, and even an earthquake, all in New York City over the past 15 years, and becoming a father of two young children, Joel keeps family preparedness at the front of his mind.


Our CMO:  Jason H. Harper

Jason H. Harper is an award-winning journalist and preparedness expert. His primary professional interests are climate crisis and mitigation; adventure travel; and tech; and his work has appeared in Men’s Journal, The L.A. Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Time, Fortune, and Bloomberg News.

As a native of northern New Mexican, he grew up on a largely self-sustaining farm and ranch. For the last 25 years he's lived in New York City, living through the 2003 blackout, 9/11, and storms Sandy and Irene. In 2017, he created Preparation Concierge, a media site devoted to emergency readiness advice for urbanites, suburbanites, and coastal dwellers.