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US Forms Council to Advise on USMMA Improvements

May 10, 2023

(File photo: USMMA)

(File photo: USMMA)

The U.S. Department of Transportation has formed a new advisory council to help drive improvements at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), a service academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

According to the DOT, establishment of the USMMA Advisory Council fulfills a key recommendation from the National Academy of Public Administration’s (NAPA) November 2021 report entitled “Organizational Assessment of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy: A Path Forward.” Specifically, NAPA’s report recommended that the DOT charter an advisory council to advise the Secretary of Transportation on matters related to improving the Academy. 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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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 advisory council is made up of 13 inaugural members, including five USMMA graduates. It 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.

Appointees 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).

“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 said it received more than 130 applications from individuals interested in serving on the USMMA Advisory Council. The newly appointed members—who will each serve two-year terms—include:  

  • Ally Cedeno, Founder & President of Women Offshore Foundation*
  • Jonathan “JC” Christian, Capt. (USN, Retired), 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, Ph.D., Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Research Assistant Professor, Michigan Technological University
  • Roshenda Josephs, Captain, Military Sealift Command*
  • Margaret DeLuca Klein, RADM (USN, Retired), Ed.D., Professor in the College of Leadership and Ethics, U.S. Naval War College
  • David Lewis, VADM (USN, Retired), Senior Vice President, Maritime Operations, Leidos Inc.
  • Eric Page, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Science, U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  • Benjamin D. Reese Jr., Psy.D. 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
  • Madison Schmidt, Ensign, U.S. Coast Guard*

Individuals noted with an asterisk are USMMA graduates.

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