Meet the OEM Staff

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is staffed with personnel and an on-call Incident Management Team comprising of members from various college areas who can be activated during a response to staff the Emergency Operations Center.


Ali Shah, Director of Emergency Management

Ali Shah brings to the office 17 years of public safety experience from various agencies at the federal, state and municipal levels.  He holds certifications as a firefighter, paramedic, hazmat and rescue technician as well as multiple instructor credentials. Prior to being the Emergency Manager for the College Ali started as a faculty member with the Emergency Medical Technology department in 2009, transitioning into the position of director of the Emergency Medical Technology Department before moving to OEM. 

Ali is an avid outdoorsman and in his free time enjoys camping and hiking trips with family, friends and sometimes even student groups interested in learning about outdoor recreation. 



Liana Russell, Sr. Administrative Assistant 

Liana has a history of diverse educational and professional experiences. She thrives in ever changing environments where learning new things is a constant requirement. She excels in anything of an administrative nature and enjoys helping others succeed as she believes when one member of a team succeeds, the whole team is moved forward. Oregon was her birthplace and home for the first half of her life. She has lived in Houston for almost a decade, where her children are now attending university and her husband of 30+ years enjoys taking her on day trips and Caribbean cruises. Outside of work, Liana prioritizes family, dogs and traveling. She has volunteered for many years in various capacities for the HOA’s she has lived in since first owning a home. She has been with the college since 2021.



Celest Artiga, Part-Time Administrative Assistant

Celest was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Cesar Chavez High School in 2021. She is currently attending San Jacinto College completing her Associates degree in Business. In the near future, Celest plans on transferring to University of Houston - Downtown to earn her B.S. in Business with a minor in Marketing.

In her free time, Celest enjoys going to the gym, dancing, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.





Diane Lu, Business Continuity Specialist

Diane started as an Emergency Management Intern and has been with the College since early 2020. She transitioned into Business Continuity late 2021. She has a B.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice, with a minor in Cybersecurity from University of Houston – Clear Lake and is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Digital Investigations from Sam Houston State University. She also hopes to pursue a Masters in the coming future. Before joining OEM, Diane volunteered and worked at various events and conferences, including for pet adoptions, diversity discussions, and student research. 

Diane enjoys gaming, learning bits of languages and hopes for the winter season throughout the hot and sunny summers. 


Lucy Salinas, Emergency Management Specialist

Lucy started with the College August of 2021 as the Emergency Management Specialist. Lucy’s academic journey began as a dual-credit student in high school where she earned her Associates Degree in Fine Art with her high school diploma. She then went on to attend Sam Houston State University for her undergrad and graduate studies. Lucy has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Master of Science in Homeland Security Studies, and a Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management. Since completing her Masters degree, Lucy has completed many trainings with various agencies such as FEMA. Lucy is currently in the process of obtaining her Associate Emergency Manager Certification through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). Lucy’s next academic goal is to obtain her PhD! 

In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, watching horror movies, collecting action figures, rescuing stray dogs, and most of all, spending time with her 2 pups – Quinn and Ollie! 


Amber Castro-Beltran, Part-Time Emergency Management Specialist

Amber Castro-Beltran began her career with Public Safety as a 9-1-1 Telecommunicator. In 2015, she moved to Huntsville Texas and become a dispatcher for the local Police Department. While in Huntsville, Amber attended Sam Houston State University to complete her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice. In addition, she received her Master of Science in Homeland Security Studies, with a certificate in Emergency Management. Before transitioning to Emergency Management, Amber was responsible for obtaining and managing a national accreditation law enforcement program for a Houston-area Police Department.  

In her free time, Amber enjoys reading and spending time with her family and dogs.  


Taylor Blackmon, Part-Time Emergency Management Specialist

Taylor was born and raised in Houston, Texas so when deciding her career path in high school, she always knew serving her community would be an integral component. She is an undergraduate at Texas Southern University completing her B.S. in Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  

Taylor is a coffee connoisseur, an avid thrifter and collector of vinyl records. She also spends a lot of her free time with her 4-year-old puppy.  






Ivonne Schneider, Emergency Management Intern

Ivonne, being a military child, moved around the country growing up. She became aware of the diverse needs of her communities and wanted to pursue a path in serving her community. As an undergraduate at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA she earned her B.S. in Forensic Anthropology with a minor in Criminal Psychology. After graduating she moved to Los Angeles and became aware of the Emergency Management field. She is currently earning her Master’s in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Ivonne hopes to pursue a path in policy both professionally and academically. 

Ivonne enjoys spending time with her puppy and spouse, puzzling, and listening to true crime podcasts. She also enjoys hiking and running. 


Juan J. (JJ) Riojas, Fire and Life Safety Inspector

JJ is a native Houstonian, married 35 years, is a father of 4 and 3 dogs. He has over 35 years of experience and holds certifications as a Paramedic, Firefighter, and Police Officer. He has worked at Houston Fire Department as Captain and Field Supervisor, Harris County Juvenile Probation as a Clinician and Coordinator, and has been an Adjunct Professor at San Jacinto College with EMS Technology since 2015.

In his free time, JJ likes to spend time with family and friends. He enjoys the outdoors and is a huge Astros fan!