The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the appointment of 13 inaugural members of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) advisory council, five of whom are USMMA graduates, including one member of the class of 2022. 

Appointees to the Advisory Council are drawn from academia, the maritime industry and maritime labor, the senior ranks of the U.S. military, and five federal agencies — including the Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, Naval War College, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command. They include experts in administering institutions of higher learning; sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and response; infrastructure and facilities management; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Establishment of the council fulfills a key recommendation from the National Academy of Public Administration’s (NAPA) November 2021 report “Organizational Assessment of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy: A Path Forward.” Specifically, the report recommended that the DOT charter an advisory council to advise the secretary of transportation on matters related to improving USMMA. This recommendation was codified in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“For the past two years, we have been working to address urgent challenges at the USMMA, and to provide its cadets with the resources and support they need and deserve,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement announcing the appointments. “We are grateful to members of the advisory council for stepping up at this consequential moment and helping guide our continuing efforts to strengthen the Academy and ensure the safety and success of its students.”

The USMMA advisory council will provide advice regarding the prioritization of NAPA’s recommendations, as well as recommend measures to ensure that the USMMA’s curriculum is keeping pace with the technological advances in the maritime industry. 

“The members of the USMMA advisory council are lending their expertise to help us consider how to position the academy for success for the next eight decades,” said Maritime Administrator Ann C. Phillips. “We look forward to working closely with them and to receiving the benefit of their insights and recommendations.”

Marad received more than 130 applications for the council. The newly appointed members — who will each serve two-year terms — include the following:  

• Ally Cedeno, founder and president of Women Offshore Foundation* 

• Capt. Jonathan “JC” Christian, fleet port captain, Crowley Government Services*

• Claudia Cimini, executive vice president, Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association* 

• Shannon Collins, director of training and technical assistance program, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)

• Dave Curfman, P.E., chief engineer and assistant commander for design and construction, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC)

• Wayne Gersie, vice president for diversity and inclusion and research assistant professor, Michigan Technological University 

• Capt. Roshenda Josephs, Military Sealift Command* 

• Rear Adm. Margaret DeLuca Klein (USN, retired), professor in the College of Leadership and Ethics, U.S. Naval War College

• Vice Adm. David Lewis, (USN, retired), senior vice president, maritime operations, Leidos Inc.

• Eric Page, vice provost for academic affairs and professor of science, Coast Guard Academy

• Benjamin D. Reese Jr., CEO of Ben Reese LLC, professor, Duke School of Medicine

• Lynn Rosenthal, director of sexual and gender-based violence, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

• Ensign Madison Schmidt, Ensign, Coast Guard*