History of IAEM

History of IAEM

How IAEM Began | Internationalization of IAEM
Restructuring of Governing Body of IAEM | IAEM Today 
About the IAEM AEM and CEM Certification Program | Scholarships

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), which has more than 6,000 members worldwide, is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting the Principles of Emergency Management and representing those professionals whose goals are saving lives and protecting property and the environment during emergencies and disasters.

How IAEM Began

IAEM was founded in 1952 as the U.S. Civil Defense Council, becoming the National Coordinating Council of Emergency Management (NCCEM) in 1985, and the International Association of Emergency Managers in 1997.

Internationalization of IAEM

  • In 1999, it was recognized that IAEM had to restructure itself if it was to become truly international and develop the emergency management profession worldwide. The association president directed the formation of an International Development Committee (IDC) to work on how IAEM could become truly international without doing harm to its core membership in the United States.
  • In 2001, the first steps were taken by establishing an International Region for those members not aligned to the 10 U.S. Regions or Student Region.
  • In 2003, the IDC delivered its three-year roadmap to internationalization that structured the development and reorganization of the association so that it could grow globally. IAEM-Canada was established as a new Region in the first milestone of that process. International growth began as the International Region targeted key countries and developed a membership base to establish viable future representative bodies within IAEM.
  • In 2004, IAEM-Europa became the first Region outside of North America and was quickly followed by IAEM-Oceania and IAEM-Asia.
  • In 2006, the roadmap reached its destination with 15 Regions established around the world. The next phase of internationalization was ready to go. The association set about restructuring its organizational governance and documentation to support a transition to the new IAEM-Global Board structure.
  • In 2010, these milestones were achieved, with IAEM-Italy becoming the first non-U.S. region within a Council and IAEM-Spain the first national chapter.

Restructuring of Governing Body of IAEM

In 2007, IAEM restructured its governing body to reflect the global reach of the organization, with representatives of seven councils around the world in Asia, Canada, Europa, Oceania, Students, USA, and all other members aligned to the International Council. Guidance and procedures were established to support viable growth of Regions within Councils or new Councils from the International Council. Within Regions, the process to establish Chapters were defined to support local activity.

  • The original IAEM Board of Directors (prior to the creation of the IAEM-Global Board and IAEM-Global structure) approved proposed revisions to the IAEM Bylaws at its June 13, 2007 meeting.
  • Then, the entire IAEM membership voted on and approved the original IAEM-Global Bylaws (and with them the proposed organizational changes) in the online election held Oct. 10-Nov. 14, 2007, allowing an international structure to become a reality.
  • The election results were announced at the 2007 IAEM Annual General Membership Meeting, held in November 2007 in Reno, Nevada, and then later announced in the IAEM Bulletin and on the IAEM website.


Today, IAEM continues to drive the development of the profession of emergency management through its promotion of the Principles of Emergency Management, Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) Program and IAEM Scholarship Program. The Student Council now has chapters at universities around the world and works to engage with future professionals as they choose their career paths.

The AEM and CEM Certification Programs

Click here to read about the History of the AEM/CEM Program.

IAEM created the Certified Emergency Manager® and Associate Emergency Manager Programs in 1993 to raise and maintain professional standards. It is an internationally recognized program that certifies achievements within the emergency management profession. AEM and CEM certification is a peer review process administered through the International Association of Emergency Managers.

  • Candidates do not have to be an IAEM member to be certified, although IAEM membership does offer a number of benefits that can assist applicants through the certification process. Certification is maintained in five-year cycles.
  • The AEM and CEM Programs are served by a CEM Commission, which is composed of emergency management professionals, including representatives from allied fields, education, military and private industry.
  • Development of the AEM and CEM Programs was supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), and a host of allied organizations.
  • Learn about the AEM/CEM Program here.
  • Listing of Past Chairs of the CEM Commission.

The IAEM Scholarship Program

The International Association of Emergency Managers established the IAEM Scholarship Program in 2000 to further the education of students studying the field of emergency management. The mission of the program is to assist the profession by developing students with the intellect and technical skills to advance and enhance emergency management.

  • Through donations from individuals, companies and organizations, IAEM's goal is to raise $100,000 to fund scholarship awards to undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in an accredited college program, pursuing a degree that includes courses in emergency management/community planning (most often as part of a program in public or business administration.
  • In 2000, following the very first IAEM Scholarship Program auction (which raised more than $7,000 for scholarships), Bob Durgin, CEM, donated $500 to the fledgling IAEM Scholarship Fund. The IAEM Board approved a $500 scholarship to be awarded in 2001. This very first IAEM scholarship was named the 2001 IAEM Durgin Scholarship Award.
  • Each year donations to the IAEM Scholarship Fund have increased. At the IAEM 2009 Annual Conference, IAEM Scholarship fundraising events raised more than $25,000 for emergency management scholarships for the 2009-2010 academic year. Thanks is due to all members and exhibitors who generously contributed to fundraising efforts for the IAEM Scholarship Program.
  • Learn about the IAEM Scholarship Program here

® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.