Jimmy Gianato's Biography
Biographical Summary for James J. Gianato
Governor Joe Manchin appointed Jimmy Gianato, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the State of West Virginia, in September 2005. In his capacity as Director, Mr. Gianato has operational and planning responsibility for the state’s response to all emergency and disaster operations and consequence management for incidents involving weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. On December 1, 2010, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Mr. Gianato as his Homeland Security Advisor, which serves as the primary point of contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. During federally declared disasters, he serves as the State Coordinating Officer and the Governor’s Authorized Representative to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also serves as the Chairman of the State Emergency Response Commission. Before assuming his present duties, Mr. Gianato has previously been involved in emergency response for over 35 years having served as the Director of 9-1-1 and Emergency Services in McDowell County prior to accepting this position. While working in McDowell County, Gianato was assigned to work as a sworn member of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office to help assist with a growing arson problem in the county. Gianato worked on many cases, solving several homicide cases, cases involving fraud and embezzlement, drugs as well as arson. Before becoming Director in McDowell County, he served as the General Manager of Gianato Pontiac Buick GMC Chrysler Plymouth Dodge, Inc. and graduated from the GM University of Automotive Management held at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA. Director Gianato has been an active member of the Kimball Vol. Fire Department since 1972, serving in various capacities including being Chief for over 15 years. Gianato was an EMT serving as a volunteer for the McDowell County Emergency Ambulance Authority (MCAA) and also a member of its Board of Directors. During his tenure on the board, MCAA became one of the most successful EMS agencies in the State of West Virginia expanding the agency to include full time personnel, multiple locations and some of the most modern equipment available. He has served on EMS related boards at the local, regional and state level. He received training and has been an instructor in Incident Command and the National Incident Management System. He has been a certified Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement instructor for over 20 years. While in McDowell County; he successfully managed numerous federally declared disasters including floods in 2001 and 2002 which destroyed hundreds of homes and major infrastructure. He was deployed to other parts of the state to assist with disaster efforts during time of need including major Ohio River flooding in the WV Northern Panhandle in 2004. Working to develop a public-private partnership with Verizon and others, Gianato worked to develop legislation that created the WV Statewide Addressing and Mapping Board, becoming its Chairman to help digitally map the entire State of WV for 9-1-1 related purposes. He was instrumental working with the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Verizon to obtain 15 million dollars from Verizon as part of a rate case to begin this process. At the Sunset of the Board, the responsibilities to finish this project were assigned to Gianato’ s division. In 2009, at the direction of Governor Joe Manchin, Director Gianato and Secretary of Commerce Secretary Kelley Goes developed an application to the NTIA to provide high speed broadband access to 1065 key facilities, construct 12 radio towers, significantly increase the capacity of the public safety backbone in the State and develop a connector between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank, WV to West Virginia University. The application was held as a model for other states to follow by NTIA and in February 2010, West Virginia was awarded 126 million dollars to complete the project. This award is the first step in developing a state of the art statewide public safety communications system for WV. He has been a presenter for several organizations and conferences such as the 2005 All Hazards Forum, NENA, the American Business Club, the Association of Public Safety Officials and the West Virginia Coal Symposium, just to name a few. He continues to attend training to learn of new and better ways to improve the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the State of West Virginia. He serves or has served on several boards and commissions including the West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council, The West Virginia Statewide Interoperable Network, the West Virginia State Retirement Board, the Commission for National and Community Service, the McDowell County Economic Development Authority, The McDowell County Community Corrections Board and is currently the Region 3 Vice President of the National Emergency Management Agency. Director Gianato has been selected by his fellow Homeland Security Advisors to serve on the executive committee of the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor’s Committee (GHSAC) and chairs the Interoperability Committee. As such, he serves as the National Governor’s Association’s representative on Safecom. He is a graduate of Welch High School and holds a degree in Applied Science from New River Community and Technical College. He is currently a member of the Kimball Rotary Club and St. Peter’s Catholic Church. He has been elected to the Kimball Town Council since 1980 and continues to serve as a local elected representative in the community. He and his wife, Markella, are the parents of one son, Adam, and one grandchild, James Matthew.