Donna Brehm



Biology Major | Class of 1978

Donna Brehm's most vivid memory of her days at ODU is of driving around campus looking for a parking space. No wonder. In the late 70's when she was a student, most students were commuters and Donna, a newly married and working student, was always either rushing to class or rushing home or to work. She didn't have a lot of time to indulge in "student life."

But the time she spent in the College of Science helped to launch a successful and distinguished career in the Virginia Beach Fire Department. In 1977, while still at ODU, she was the first female firefighter in the department, and one of a small group of women firefighters in the entire country. At that time, Virginia Beach was considerably smaller and the fire department had approximately 70 employees. By 2006, it has grown to 452 employees and Donna is now acting deputy chief, one of the top three positions in the department.

Donna has worked for the Virginia Beach Fire Department for 28 years with a short break to get her Master's of Public Administration from Golden State University in San Francisco. She has served on many professional and technical advisory committees and has been honored with the fire department's Class Act Award three times, in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

Donna, her husband, and their two children reside in Virginia Beach.