April 7, 2022

NOAA Announces Marine Debris Foundation Board Members

New Board a Result of Sullivan-Whitehouse-Menendez Save Our Seas 2.0 Act

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) today welcomed an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the twelve appointees to the inaugural Board of Directors of the new Marine Debris Foundation. The charitable and nonprofit foundation was established by Sullivan, Whitehouse, and Menendez’s Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, the most comprehensive legislation ever passed by Congress to address the plastic debris crisis.

Part of the new foundation’s role is to encourage, accept, and administer private funding in support of the mission and activities of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. The foundation will also assist state, local, and tribal governments, foreign governments, organizations, and individuals in mitigation efforts and support other federal actions to reduce marine debris.

“The creation of the Marine Debris Foundation was a key goal of our bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 law,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “These board members have the know-how to make a big difference cleaning up the colossal amount of harmful plastic trash filling the oceans. It’s a complex challenge, and there’s no time to waste.”

“I applaud NOAA for assembling a diverse and distinguished group of experts and stakeholders who are well suited to advance the mission of the new Marine Debris Foundation—tackling the global crisis of trash entering the world’s oceans,” said Sen. Sullivan. “I especially want to congratulate two well-qualified Alaskans, Julianne Curry and Ginny Eckert, who will be contributing their insights and experience to the board, and giving voice to the unique challenges facing Alaska, a state that disproportionately bears the brunt of the marine debris crisis. These appointments are an important milestone in the Save Our Seas story, which began back in 2018 and has marshaled a broad coalition—Democrats and Republicans, industry and environmental groups—to address this entirely solvable environmental challenge.”

“Less than two years since the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was signed into law, I am pleased to see the establishment of the Marine Debris Foundation. NOAA’s leadership confronting the plastic waste and marine debris crisis will be essential as the world comes together to negotiate a new United Nations treaty to combat plastic pollution,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez. “I am proud to welcome these twelve new appointees into the diverse coalition of public and private sector stakeholders we’ve built to lead global efforts to protect and preserve one of Earth’s most vital resources – the ocean.”

“The inaugural members of the Marine Debris Foundation’s Board of Directors all demonstrate passion and commitment to tackling the challenges of marine debris,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “They bring a wealth of knowledge, and we appreciate their willingness to serve.”

The following individuals will serve on the inaugural board (in alphabetical order):

  • Scott A. Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Product Stewardship Institute
  • Katie A. Conlon, Ph.D., National Geographic Explorer
  • Julianne J. Curry, Public Affairs Manager, OBI Seafoods & Icicle Seafoods
  • Ginny L. Eckert, Ph.D., Director, Alaska Sea Grant and Professor, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • John P. Foley, Founder and Executive Chairman of Peloton
  • Jenna R. Jambeck, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia
  • Sherry M. Lippiatt, Ph.D., Risk and Finance Communications Specialist, Scoot Science
  • Nicholas J. Mallos, Senior Director, Trash Free Seas Program, Ocean Conservancy
  • Erica L. Nuñez, Program Officer, The Ocean Foundation
  • Neil V. Tangri, Ph.D., Science and Policy Director, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
  • Carrie A. Thompson, Senior Foreign Service Officer (ret) and former Acting Assistant Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Miki K. Tomita, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, Education Incubator

The appointees to the board were selected to meet the criteria required by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act and represent diverse points of view, expertise, education, and experiences relating to the assessment, prevention, reduction, and removal of marine debris. The selected appointees will serve terms of two to six years, so that appointments can stagger in the future.

SOS 2.0 built on the success of the Save Our Seas Act, introduced by Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse in the Senate, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) in the House, and signed into law by President Trump in October of 2018.

Meaghan McCabe, 401-453-5294

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921