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NOAA selects inaugural Board for new Marine Debris Foundation

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The new Marine Debris Foundation will help in the national effort to clean up the oceans and Great Lakes from abandoned fishing gear and other items that should not be in the water. Photo Courtesy: Marine Debris Foundation

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020 established the nonprofit Marine Debris Foundation to join the national effort to keep oceans and the Great Lakes free of the widespread pollution problem of marine debris.

Every day, huge amounts of plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, abandoned fishing gear and vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment.

The Marine Debris Foundation’s inaugural and diverse Board of Directors was selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the direction of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.


US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said the inaugural members “all demonstrate passion and commitment to tackling the challenges of marine debris. They bring a wealth of knowledge, and we appreciate their willingness to serve.” 

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

Together, we can do even more to address the adverse impacts of marine debris on the economy of the United States, the marine environment and navigation safety,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., who also serves as a member of the Board.


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. 

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 

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