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The Team

Professionals Serving Professionals

Meet Our Team

The EDI Staff is comprised of Fire Service Professionals and leaders from across the country. Each of EDI’s Staff member possesses a considerable amount of expertise in many fields of Fire Management. In addition, Many of EDI’s Members are or have been Heads of their departments from all demographics of North America

Our Founder

Dr. Carl Holmes

Chief Holmes had a higher purpose and greater vision in mind. He began consulting on a full-time basis with a focus on the development of minority firefighters as leaders and managers in the fire service. This work led him to create what would be his most indelible mark on the American fire service, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI), which began in 1991 at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. The mission of EDI is to develop the management skills and leadership potential of African American firefighters, preparing them for attainment of higher ranks. This was to augment their own personal higher education and structured to be specific to the subjects of fire department budgets, community-based fire and EMS programs, media relations, and fire personnel management. 

This concept was born out of Chief Holmes’ personal experience and knowledge of what was most needed. EDI has proven to be one of the most successful programs of its kind with hundreds of graduates now serving as Officers, Chief Officers, and Fire Chiefs. Since its inception nearly 28 years ago, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute has served more than 2,000 participants from across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Chief Holmes’ impact in the fire service is beyond measurable, which is a testament to those who have attended EDI or participated in his training courses and lectures. Chief Holmes made an impact on thousands of people in the fire service industry by teaching real-world applications in the development of future fire service leaders. He was passionate about issues related to equitable hiring practices, promotions, training, operations and the day-to-day needs of the community by their fire department.

The Team


Dave Washington


David Washington, was the first African American fire chief for the City of Las Vegas. He began his career with the city of Las Vegas as a firefighter in 1974 and has since steadily progressed through the ranks. He has served in various capacities, including the community relations specialist, fire administration officer (Captain), Fire training officer (Captain), acting training chief, as well as battalion chief for both training and support services. Prior to being named interim fire chief, he served as the deputy chief/fire marshal. Dave received his associate of arts degree In 1981, from the Community College of Southern Nevada. He Is a 1997 graduate of Leadership Las Vegas and continues his education today by taking containing education courses and special training classes. In addition, served as an adjunct instructor and is currently a Director/President/CEO for the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He Is a member of several professional associations such as the; Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, IABPFF and IAFC. Currently with Metropolitan Police Department Multi-Cultural Committee, Black Business Council, Community Development Programs' Center of Nevada, Carl Holmes EDI, American Legion Post @ 10 and Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County.

Bert Washington


Born and raised in southern California, and later as a firefighter in Las Vegas NV. for 16 years. He became an assistant chief in 2007, overseeing personnel services for 669 employees, such as workplace safety, legal matters, payroll, hiring, firing and promotions Chief Washington was appointed by the City Manager on December 15, 2014 after 20 years of fire service in Las Vegas, NV. He has worked in all disciplines of the fire service including Administration, Disaster Management, Fire Command, Prevention, Community Relations and Legislation. Chief Washington has a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and has led the department to become accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Washington also has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in English from Howard University and an associate’s degree in fire science management from the College of Southern Nevada. The chief is a graduate of the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute and is an Executive Fire Officer Program Student at the National Fire Academy.

John Alston


John Alston is currently the Fire Chief of New Haven Conniticut for the past several years. Prior to that, he was been a member of the Jersey City Fire Department for 24 years. He has held the positions of Administrative Aide to the Chief of Department, Adjunct Instructor, Public Information Officerm Rescue Technician and Office of Emergency Management Liaison. John is a ten year veteran of Jersey City’s Heavy Rescue Company, where he was an Instructor in Advance Vehicle Extrication, High Angle Rope Rescue and High-rise Operations. John is a NJ State Certified Level II Fire Instructor and a National Instructor-Trainer for the American Red Cross. He also instructs Fire, Police and EMS personnel in coursework for “Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings” (Socorro, New Mexico) & The National Incident Management Systems ICS-200, 300, 400, 700 & 800. John is the C.E.O of A-Vision & Associates, a Full Service Emergency Management Consulting Group. He has consulted for Merrill Lynch Corp., Norfolk Southern Railroad, Dow Jones and Company, The NY/NJ Port Authority, N.Y. State E.P.A and the NY State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.. He is the Operations Director & Senior Instructor for the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute for Executive Fire Officers. He is the technical consultant for the High Rise Fire Safety Manager Program, which is offered, at New Jersey City University; the program and curriculum are currently in use in the City of Jersey City. However, he is most proud to be Cheryl’s husband of 22 years and the father of 2 fine sons; John, III of Morehouse College and Malcolm Kendall of Liberty University.

Brent Burton


CAPTAIN BRENT F. BURTON Los Angeles County Fire Department Brent was born and raised in the southwest area of Los Angeles referred to as the Crenshaw / Leimert Park district. He served as the President of the Stentorians, the Los Angeles County Black Firefighter's Association, for a period of 10 years. His tenure on the Executive Board of the Stentorians spanned a total of 16 years. During his time on the Stentorians' Board he was able to create many programs and initiate and complete many projects. Burton is the immediate past President of the African American Firefighter Museum, were he currently serves as an Advisory Board member. Since the passing of the Museum's beloved historian, Arnett's The Rookie's Hartsfield in 2014 at the age of 96, Burton has taken on the role of sharing the knowledge and history that Hartsfield imparted on him. Burton is a graduate of the third EDI class. He has been an instructor at EDI since 1995 where he currently teaches five subjects. Burton currently serves as an instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute that is held annually on the campus of Dillard University in New Orleans La. He has attended courses at the National Fire Academy, served as a Training and Safety officer and Oral Interviewer Rater for his Department.. He is also known for his work as a Truck Company Officer at Fire Station 170 in the City of Inglewood. Light Force 170 is designated as one of the busiest Truck Companies in the L.A. County Fire Department.

Eddie Burns

Curriculum Chair/Instructor

Eddie Burns Sr. has 38 years of Fire and Police experience. Chief Burns started his career in the fire service in July 1979. In 1988, Chief Burns attended the Fort Worth Police Academy and was later assigned to the Arson/Bomb squad. Chief Burns was promoted to Captain, Battalion Chief, Chief Training Officers, and Deputy Fire Chief. He spent 27 years in the Fort Worth Fire Department and retired as the Executive Deputy Chief, second in command. In 2006 Chief Burns was selected to lead the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. He served as Dallas’s top firefighter from 2006-2011. In 2015 Chief Burns was selected as Fire Chief in the City of Glenn Heights. Chief Burns was recently promoted to Public Safety Director for the City of Glenn Heights in September 2017. Chief Burns is responsible for the oversight of all public safety functions including police, fire and emergency management. Chief Burns is certified through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a Master Structural Firefighter, Master Fire Arson Investigator, Master Inspector, Master Instructor and holds a Basic Peace Officer Certification through Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Chief Burns graduated Cum Laude from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor of applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice and Management and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. Chief Burns is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program from the National Fire Academy in Maryland and was selected to attend the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government for Public Officials in 2006. Chief Burns has been an adjunct instructor with Tarrant County College (TCD), Dallas Community College District (DCCD) and is currently an adjunct at University of North Texas at Dallas. Chief Burns is a Contract Instructor for the National Fire Academy where he teaches Leadership & Management classes. He also served as a guest instructor for Black Chief Officers Committee (BC183BCOC) and has been teaching at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) for 10 years at Dillard University.

Yusef Muhammad


Yusef Muhammad received his primary education in the public school system of Atlantic City, N.J., yet he attributes his yearning for learning to his parents and extended family (many of whom were professional educators). He majored in Health and minored in Music at Norfolk State University from 1976-80. While at NSU, he was also bless to study under renowned psychologist, Dr. Naim Akbar. In 1981, he moved to White Plains, N.Y. to raise his family and became intrigued with the human service profession, employed as a Psychiatric Technician, a Senior Child Care Worker and a Youth Coordinator for various community centers in the area. On September 22, 1986, Mr. Muhammad became employed as a Firefighter for the City of White Plains. Three years later he became a member of the Vulcan Society of Westchester (N.Y.), Inc. In July 1991, he became the President of his local chapter for the next four years as a result of the passing of Lt. Ronald Sanders. He then became Assistant Director of the Northeast Region for two years under the guidance of then Director Lloyd Ayers; Northeast Region Director for four years, and Executive Vice-president for the past six years. He has also served as the President of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF). As a student of history, he has watched the ebb and flow of the national office, the Black Chief Officers Committee, the Black Women in the Fire Service, the Information Technology Committee, the Dr. Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, the Legal Defense Fund and other pertinent action items.

Annette Nance-Holt

Business manager/Instructor

"Delta Sigma Theta Sorority“ I currently have 30 years with the Chicago Fire Department. I was promoted to lieutenant in 1993 and was one of the first African American women promoted in the Department. I am now serving as the first black female Fire Commissioner in Chicago's 162 year history. I also served as the Vice President and subsequently President of the African American Firefighters and Paramedics League of Chicago. and a lead Instructor at EDI

Richard Ford II


Experienced Fire Commissioner of Chicago (ret) with a demonstrated history of working in the public safety industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Crisis Management, Government, Emergency Management, and Law Enforcement. Strong military and protective services professional with a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) focused in Fire Service Management from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Nicholas Russell


Nicholas Russell Graduated Southern Illinois University in 1974 and later joined the Chicago Fire Department. "Nick" Was promoted through the ranks to 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner. in Chicago. He has been affiliated with The Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute for more than 20 years. Nick is now retired but has returned to assist with the day to day operations.

Ron Regan


Ron Regan has been a member of the Chicago fire Department for 25 years is currently a Fire Captain. Ron has also worked in research & development for the CFD. During his time with the fire department he has earned many certificates such as NIMS (IS-100, IS-200, IS-0700, IS-800) Fire Instructor I and II, Hazardous Materials Incident Command and Tech (A) and EMT (B). He completed his five years at the Executive Development Institute in 2009 and has returned to assist with EDI and currently serves on several committees. He has an extensive background in computer programming, including web development and E-learning software. He is currently working on his B.S. in Public Safety management.

Mick Smith


Mick Smith is a fourth-generation fire fighter and was blessed to have both his parents work on the fire department, so it no wonder what he was going to do as a career. He began his career with the Robbins Fire Department at a young age as a fire cadet in 1992 and has been an active member of the fire service since. Mick remained with the Robbins Fire Department eventually rising to the rank of Acting Fire Chief. While working at the Robbins Fire Department, Mick was also a member of the Phoenix Fire Department. During his tenure at the Phoenix Fire Department Mick rose to the rank of Fire Chief, becoming the youngest chief in the department’s history at 31; and being one of the few dual chiefs in the state. Mick is currently the fire Chief for the Village of Riverdale where he oversees all fire suppression and the village building department / inspectional services. Mick received his associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College in Fire Service Management and has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale in Public Safety Management, as well as his master’s degree in Public Safety and Homeland Security Administration. Mick is a graduate of the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute affectionately known as EDI class of 2015. Mick Smith is the President of the Brotherhood of Black Smoke Firefighters association for the south suburbs of Chicago and a member of the Black Chief Officers Committee. He is an adjunct instructor for the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, and the Chairman of the recruitment and retention committee. Mick is the Facility Coordinator for the Fire and EMS program for a local community college, in addition, Mick has also instructed for multiple fire academy’s in the Chicago-land area. Mick created the Phoenix Fire Academy, with the help of then fire chief Howard Fisher, that allowed minorities to attend a fire academy at an affordable price, never exceeding $500. This saw the creation of over 100 new black firefighters. Mick is a successful grant writer securing over 3 million dollars for multiple fire department. Mick has dedicated his life to the fire service and the uplifting of minorities in it.

Tiffanye Wesley


Tiffanye Wesley is a mom, bomb technician, and the first African American female to be promoted in the Arlington, VA Fire Dept. Before being selected as battalion chief, Tiffanye rose through the ranks of a the fire department and served as a Fire Captain and as commander of the Crystal City station, Arlington’s largest and one of its busiest stations. Tiffanye Attended The Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute and later returned to Instruct her Upwardly Mobile, fire service personnel counterparts.

Lenny Carmichael


Leonard Carmichael Carmichael served over 25 years and held every position in the Trentons fire department. Carmichael joined the department in 1991, and was first posted to Engine 8. He served at Ladder 1 and Ladder 4 before becoming a captain in June 2001. He was named battalion chief in 2009. as a fire director, Chief Carmichael supervised over 230 individuals. In 2013, he was named the city's first African American deputy fire chief. Chief Carmichael is now retired. but serves as A Lead Instructor at EDI.

Darryl Osby


Osby In 2011, Daryl L. Osby was sworn in as the first African American Fire Chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD), the second largest fire department in America. Over his 29-year career, Chief Osby has risen up the firefighting ranks -- from a member of the Department, to 18 years as Chief Officer and member of the Executive Team since the year 2000. Chief Osby has held the titles of Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations and Chief Deputy of Business Operations. As a young boy growing up in San Diego, Chief Osby developed a personal value system (integrity, teamwork, caring, courage, community and commitment) that he continues to abide by and impress upon Fire Department personnel and youth in the community.

Veronie Steel-Small


Veronie When it came time for Recruit #38 in the 78th Recruit Class to demonstrate her ability to put up a 150-pound, 24-foot wooden ladder against the side of the training tower at headquarters, a small crowd gathered on the grinder. Everyone was wondering whether or not this petite-framed firefighter trainee weighing just 105 pounds could do it. So when she threw it up against the tower without a struggle, more than a few were surprised. “At first I was nervous,” says Battalion Chief Veronie Steele-Small. “The physical part was never my concern. It was just that everyone was watching me. After that, I wondered why more women are not in this job.” After 25 years as a firefighter for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Steele-Small has joined its management ranks with her recent promotion to Battalion Chief. She is the first female African-American Battalion Chief in the Department’s history, but this was not the only “first” for her. In 2000, when promoted to the rank of Fire Captain, she also became the first African-American woman to achieve that position within the Department. What is “first” is her new assignment on the C shift in Battalion 16’s headquarters at Fire Station 154. As she settles into her new duties, Steele-Small is still disappointed that more women have not embraced the fire service as a career. While serving as a chief officer will certainly take her in new directions, she remembers those who encouraged her to join the profession and take those first steps. “Back then, I had a challenge to prove to myself that I could do this job. Everyone looked at me and thought, ‘She’s too little to do the job and won’t want to have her fingernails broken,’ but I have always been athletic and like working outside,” says Steele-Small. “I was planning to become a physical therapist, but paramedicine was interesting to me. When I realized that I couldn’t just join a fire department and become a paramedic, I challenged myself in all aspects of firefighting.” In high school and college, Steele-Small ran track and set school records, and became an amateur athlete with the Junior Olympics. A gymnast as well, she developed into a strong young woman with only 13 percent body fat. Disciplined and trained, Steele-Small’s sheer drive and determination helped springboard her career into the fire service. Steele-Small has served the public from nine fire stations, including 20 years as a paramedic, and retains numerous certifications. She has worked in virtually every area of operations, including Urban Search and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, Hazardous Materials, and wildland firefighting. In 1997, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Management from California State University, Redlands. When she joined the Department in 1988, she became the seventh woman to be hired, following in the boot steps of Cindy Barbee Fralick, the first woman hired, and five others.“I always remember the six women who came before me, including Debbie Lawrence, who was the first woman in our organization to be promoted to battalion chief,” she recalls. “Now, we have more women on the job, and I’m one of two female battalion chiefs. Even with this progress, it’s still in a non-traditional job for women.” For years, Steele-Small has helped the Department to recruit both women and men to the job, supervising a team of over 20 firefighters of all ranks to assist. She fondly remembers meeting Rosemary Roberts McCloud, a career firefighter promoted to the rank of Fire Chief of the East Point, Georgia Fire Department and the first African-American female fire chief in America. “That moment was so inspirational to me. It made me realize that I made it,” she says. “I know that I am a role model for women and women of color, and I plan to do even more to inspire other women of all backgrounds to consider this career.”

Kwame Cooper

Curriculum Chair/Instructor

In 1992 Kwame was instrumental in designing the Los Angeles City Fire Department's School Outreach Program, which promotes fire prevention and safety for children. This program has reached more than 350,000 youth attending elementary school. It also served as the inspiration for the National Fire Protection Association's "Safe Cities" and "Champion" programs, which currently operate across the country. For the past seven years, he has served as the Fire Safety Education Director for the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters and is a consultant to the NFPA's Center for High Risk Outreach. In these roles he helps provide direction to fire departments nationwide and abroad in their efforts to offer effective service to all communities. As an instructor with the National Fire Academy, Kwame has developed and taught new grassroots, innovative curriculum to firefighters and members of the community across the country. Since 1992 he has served as an instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute at Dillard University, teaching future Fire Captains and Chief Officers from around the country courses in leadership, effective management and community-based fire stations. As a Company Officer assigned to Fire Station 68 in South Los Angeles, Kwame guided the implementation of five community-based fire protection programs. The documentary "Dreams on Fire" profiled the relationship between a boy from the neighborhood and members of Fire Station 68. This KCET program received a Golden Mike and an Emmy award for best documentary regarding social issues in Southern California. In 1996 Fire Station 68 earned national acclaim when it was selected as one of 11 "Promising Practices" by President Clinton's Race Initiative. As a result, Kwame was invited to attend President Clinton's town hall meeting on race relations. He also hosted visiting members of Clinton's advisory panel on race relations and participated with other community members in a dialogue on race. Chief Burns is certified through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a Master Structural Firefighter, Master Fire Arson Investigator, Master Inspector, Master Instructor and holds a Basic Peace Officer Certification through Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Chief Burns graduated Cum Laude from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor of applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice and Management and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. Chief Burns is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program from the National Fire Academy in Maryland and was selected to attend the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government for Public Officials in 2006.

Larry Conley


Captain Larry Conley has over 26 years on the City of St. Louis Fire Department. He is the president and lead instructor of Leadership Development Concepts, LLC www.gluenationllc.com . He and his brother David travel nationally and internationally to present this popular and compelling program, GLUE (Growing Leaders Using Empowerment). The concept of GLUE was born in the fire service, where Larry successfully juggles many leadership roles. However, the principles of GLUE transcend all industries, making Larry a favorite presenter at both corporate and leadership conferences. The GLUE personal leadership experience has a footprint on multiple conferences and fire departments throughout the country. THE Carl Holmes EDI (Executive Development Institute) and FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) to name a few. Outside his duties as Fire Captain and Instructor Larry volunteer and board organization commitments include: -Camp Director of Midwest Children's Burn Camp -President at Parkway Gardens Neighborhood Improvement Association -Board Member: St. Louis Firefighters Credit Union -President -Supervisory Committee, St. Louis Firefighters Credit Union -Fire Service Instructor 2 -Missouri State Lead Evaluator -Past Director at Large and Decorated Instructor ISFSI (International Society of Fire Service Instructors) -President and Lead Instructor Leadership Development Concepts, LLC -Creator of the GLUE (Growing Leaders Using Empowerment) Personal Leadership Workshop a Fire TCP Certified Leadership Course -Host THE Larry Conley Radio Show blogtalkradio/fireengineering. -Curriculum Development – Training Officers Credentialing Program (ISFSI) -Past Chief Instructor Highlander Fire Academy St. Louis Community College at Forest Park Campus -Author – articles to Fire Industry Magazines and Blogs -Past Co-Chairman: Fire Curriculum subcommittee, Missouri Community College Association

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