The University of Texas at Arlington and Dallas


March 4th at The University of Texas at Arlington and co-hosted by The University of Texas at Dallas

Site Leader

Shaun Gabrielli

Shaun Gabrielli

Site Logistics

Friday evening reception address:

Join us for an informal gathering at the Firehouse Gastropub in Grand Prairie (; 321 Main St., Grand Prairie, TX) to meet your team members, competition staff, and fellow competitors. from 5:30-7:30 PM. This is about 7 miles from campus (13 minutes). Trivia contest with winning team members each receiving a $25 Amazon gift card!

Saturday competition address:

College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs, 2nd floor Geisel Auditorium, UTA

Hotel recommendations:

We have secured a special rate at the Hilton Arlington (2401 E. Lamar Blvd, 817 640 4718) at $134 double or king good through 2/17. Call and ask for the “UTA Simulation Competition Rate via CAPPA.” Rate is valid for both the Friday and Saturday nights. Otherwise, there are plenty of moderately priced hotel options near UTA. Some suggestions include (with pricing per night as of 2/12): Comfort Suites ($117, 2 miles), LaQuinta ($94, 3.5 miles); Howard

Johnson ($71, 3 miles); Holiday Inn Express ($134, 3.7 miles). We suggest checking the usual travel sites (e.g., Expedia) and Hotwire for the best discounts.

Hilton Arlington - See also: Hilton room block information (price available through 2/14)

Note that the booking deadline is 2/14 at the listed rate.

Ground Transportation:

UTA is roughly halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is 14 miles north and Dallas Love Field (DAL) is 24 miles northeast of UTA. The drive between UTA and DFW is much faster and easier. Unfortunately, there are no mass transit options into Arlington from either airport. There are ample car rentals available at the airport and we suggest Hotwire for the best rates.

UTA is not providing shuttle service to campus and we suggest using “Via,” the City of Arlington’s great on-demand ride service ( via their app that is $3-6 a ride and have wheelchair accessible vehicles. Otherwise, we suggest using Lyft, Uber, etc. or arrange with a fellow competitor. We expect many students will drive-in from nearby schools (e.g., UNT, UTD, TAMU, UT- Austin, UTSA, etc.).

Competition Day – Parking:

If you plan to park at UTA, please email Darsa Wright ( by February 20th with your name, email, and phone number to arrange a day parking pass. Parking will be within 100 yards of the event and accessible parking is also available. Further parking details will be provided.


  • Ismail Ahmed - University of Texas at Arlington
  • Joshua Blubaugh - University of Texas at Dallas
  • David Burns - Louisiana State University
  • Victoria Kiker - University of Texas at Arlington
  • Amelia Loken - UA Little Rock


A very big thank you to all of our volunteer judges. Without them, the simulation competition would not be possible.

  • David

    Dr. Abraham David Benavides

    Professor; University of Texas at Dallas

    Dr. Abraham David Benavides is a professor of public administration and management at the University of Texas at Dallas in the Public and Nonprofit Management Program in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. Previous to his appointment in 2022, Dr. Benavides taught for 20 years at the University of North Texas. Over the years, Dr. Benavides has written a number of academic journal articles, book chapters, and practitioner-oriented pieces, that have addressed issues facing local governments. He has delivered national and international presentations on various topics and is one of the top teachers/instructors in the field. Dr. Benavides’ biggest interest is assuring that the next generation of public servants are well prepared to serve the people.

  • Rusty

    Rusty Henley

    (he/him) Battalion Chief; Farmers Branch Fire Department

    Rusty Henley is a Battalion Chief with the City of Farmers Branch Texas Fire Department and the Fire Chief of the Nocona, Texas Volunteer Fire Department. His 25 years of experience encompasses a large spectrum of emergency responses from urban to rural including numerous major wildfire incidents. He holds a Master Firefighter certificate from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, a Bachelor’s Degree in EMS Management from Texas Tech University, and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy.

  • MarkLee

    Mark Lee, MPA

    (he/him) Fire Chief; City of Garland

    Chief Lee is the fire chief in Garland, Texas where he has served the department, and the community, since August 2016.  Prior to that date, Chief Lee was the fire chief in Murphy, Texas where he served two years as an assistant chief and eight years as the fire chief.  His career began in Lewisville, Texas with the Lewisville Fire Department.  His service in that community began in May of 1979.  His wife and kids would share that his passion is one of service and a motto of “Can’t Never Could” to which he strives to remind himself daily of that motto.

  • Dr. Maribel Martinez-Mejia

    Dr. Maribel Martinez-Mejia

    (she/her) Director of Emergency Preparedness; North Central Texas Council of Governments, Emergency Preparedness Department

    Dr. Maribel Martinez-Mejia has over 16 years of experience in Emergency Management and has coordinated responses for numerous incidents, declared disasters, large-scale special events, and COVID operations to include hospital/mass fatality coordination, COVID mass testing, and mass vaccination operations.  She is currently the Director of Emergency Preparedness for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) where she works with professional emergency managers to enhance the protection and resiliency from natural disasters and terroristic events. Dr. Martinez-Mejia is an International Association of Emergency Managers Certified Emergency Manager and has been a remote instructor with the West Texas A&M University Emergency Management Administration Degree Program.  She currently is appointed as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor for the International Association of Emergency Managers Region 6 Executive Board and has served as an Emergency Management Association of Texas Board member and on the State of Texas Emergency Management Professional Development Committee.  Dr. Martinez-Mejia a co-host for The Current of EM Podcast, aims to address issues facing Emergency Managers today.

  • Stocks

    Dr. Dhriti P. Stocks

    (she/her) Senior Director, Development; Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

    Dr. Dhriti P. Stocks serves as Senior Director of Development for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, overseeing corporate partnership and engagement and government giving to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Dr. Stocks has spent more than a decade in nonprofit fundraising, overseeing corporate giving, individual membership, and grants and foundations relations for organizations such as the Children’s Medical Center Foundation, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and Junior Achievement of Dallas. She began her nonprofit career as an AmeriCorps member serving with VolunteerNow. Dr. Stocks has spent her adult life in the Dallas area, following a move from Sydney, Australia, and is a proud graduate of Austin College and the University of Texas at Dallas with her PhD in Public Affairs. She has also earned her CFRE designation and is a graduate of the CCC Leadership Program and the Communities Foundation of Texas Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy

COVID-19 Safety Precautions and Guidelines

The health and safety of all participants are a top priority. Vaccinations, boosters, and masks are not required for competition attendance, however, they are highly recommended. 

To protect not only the NASPAA community but the ones in which we live, let's work together to minimize the spread. Throughout the competition, please follow these safety tips:

  • Before leaving home:
    • Take a COVID test.
    • Consider getting vaccinated and boosted.
    • If you are not feeling well and are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms, consider staying home.
    • Pack clean masks to wear indoors and during travel to the competition site.
  • While traveling:
    • Wear a mask in airports and while on public transportation.
    • Wash your hands frequently.
  • During the competition:
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Use hand sanitizer.
    • Wear well-fitted face masks
    • When possible during after-hour events, sit outside and/or practice social distancing.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (runny nose, body aches, loss of smell/taste, cough, chills, fever, etc) during your time at the competition, please isolate yourself and notify your site leaders.