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Karen F. Deppa, MAPP


PilotLight Resilience Resources

Make Positive Changes that Stick! Learn the Science of Habits

Karen F. Deppa is the lead author of the 2016 Springer e-book Resilience Training for Firefighters: An Approach to Prevent Behavioral Health Problems.

While obtaining her Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Karen had identified a need for resources to help personnel in the fire and emergency services community proactively encourage a foundation of resilient thinking and behaviors that can prevent problems such as burnout, depression, substance abuse, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress. This recognition prompted her to develop, in collaboration with Michael A. Donahue, a resilience skills class for Peer Support Team members of fire and rescue departments called Respond with Resilience™.

The daughter of a volunteer firefighter, Karen’s most significant lesson in resilience came in 2012, as she and her family helped her teenage son to recover from and thrive in the aftermath of a severe stroke.

Throughout her career, Karen has worked with the fire service at the local, regional, state, and national levels in fire prevention advocacy, community relations, public affairs, and communications. During this time, she honed her skill at identifying, developing, and managing projects to fill gaps and address needs in the fire community. These have included a program that provided grants to fire departments for conducting public fire safety education; communications, fire prevention safety campaigns, and targeted outreach efforts; a program for enhancing fire department community relations; an exploration of fire safety implications associated with green building design; research on the reasons behind high numbers of unknown and undetermined causes in fire incident data; and a training program for increasing firefighters’ appreciation of the need for complete and accurate incident data reporting.

Karen developed PilotLight Resilience Resources because she feels called to help address behavioral health issues in the fire and emergency medical services.

In addition to her work as Principal of PilotLight Resilience Resources, Karen also collaborates with Michael A. Donahue on NorthStar: Applied Community Safety Research, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Mid-Atlantic Life Safety Conference.

Karen and her family live on a farm in rural Montgomery County, Maryland, where they raise Jacob sheep, a Sicilian donkey, two cats, and a team of Belgian draft horses.

Karen F. Deppa, MAPP
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