Storms, Flooding & Sea Level Defense Conference 2020
President International Propeller Club & Senior Vice President Maritime Affairs
West Gulf Maritime Association
Niels Aalund is the International President of the Propeller Club. Aalund serves as an Officer and as Senior Vice-President, West Gulf Maritime Association, with primary responsibility for advocating on behalf of member companies (stevedores, steamship agents, vessel owners, and industry stakeholders) with local, state and federal agencies. From organizations such as Washington, D.C, based, National Maritime Association, to the commercial sector, Aalund has provided leadership for a variety of maritime related positions. He has extensive strategic planning experience in both operations and commercial maritime activities. Including management positions overseeing liner, break-bulk and stevedoring groups.
President, San Francisco Post, Society of American Military Engineers
Sr. Project Executive, Gilbane Building Company
Mr. Acharya currently serves as the President of the Society of American Military Engineers, San Francisco Post and coordinates programs and events locally with a focus towards security and infrastructure resiliency and related challenges. Mr. Acharya is an experienced Project Executive with Gilbane Building Company with over 28 years in managing large-scale multi-project contracts that involves Environmental and Civil infrastructure construction activities. He has managed varied regional and national contracts with several federal agencies including the US Navy, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Air Force, Department of Energy and GSA.
Director, VU University of Amsterdam, Department of Water and Climate Risk
Trained as a hydrologist, Jeroen Aerts has an established internationally recognized leading position in the field of coastal flood risk management. After conducting a PhD in risk assessment and decision support techniques at UC Santa Barbara and UvA, Jeroen started working at the VU University in Amsterdam. At the VU, he is currently head of the department ‘Water and Climate Risk’ within the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), the oldest multidisciplinary environmental research institute in the Netherlands. From 2015 to 2020, Jeroen Aerts was the director of IVM. He has published over 220 peer reviewed publications, with 21 key publications in Nature, Science and PNAS. In 2020, he was awarded as the top 1% highly cited researcher globally, by Web of Science. He works in close collaboration with MIT, Stevens Institute, Princeton, Wharton, Columbia University, Texas A&M and UCSB.
Jeroen’s work focuses on assessing risk from coastal flooding using advanced modeling tools, combining storm surge models with socio-economic impact models. The key results are risk projections into the future, showing how flood risk projections change assuming different trends in sea level rise, climate change, and socio-economic growth. The risk projections are used to develop flood adaptation strategies for coastal cities and ports to reduce (future-)flood risk. Key in this approach is a participatory approach where stakeholders provide feedback to risk projections and potential solutions.
Jeroen is scientific coordinator of the Connecting Delta Cities initiative under the Clinton C-40 global cities network, and Co-authored the OECD report on Water Security. His international work also includes research with Munich RE, Red Cross and UNDRR. Jeroen was advisor to Mayor Bloomberg of New York City on flood risk resilience issues, before and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He has conducted sea level rise and risk assessment studies in multiple port cities such as: New York City, Los Angeles/ Long Beach, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Houston-Galveston, Rotterdam. Jeroen won the best paper award of the Journal of Risk Analysis in 2012 and 2013. He also won the Lloyds science of Risk prize in 2014, for his paper on flood risk in New York City, published in Science.
Waterfront Resilience Program Director, Port of San Francisco
Brad Benson joined the Port of San Francisco in 2005. As the Waterfront Resilience Program Director, he oversees the Waterfront Resilience Program efforts, including the up to $5 billion Embarcadero Seawall Program and the United States Army Corps of Engineers/Port of San Francisco Flood Study.
Before he was named Waterfront Resilience Program Director in early 2019, he was Director of Special Projects and oversaw the Port’s local, state, and federal legislative program. During this time, Benson developed the state legislation that guides two of the Port’s largest development projects at Pier 70 and Mission Rock. Additionally, he developed the state and local legislation that allows the Port to form infrastructure financing districts on Port property, to leverage private dollars for the benefit of the public. He collaborated in the preparation of the Port’s Ten Year Capital Plan to ensure an economically stable Port. Moreover, he managed the Port’s role in the Golden State Warriors Chase Center development project in the central waterfront. In addition to Director of Special Projects, he also served as the Port’s Pier 70 Waterfront Site Project Director to oversee a new proposed transit-oriented, Type 1 Eco-District neighborhood in the southern waterfront.
From 2010-13, Brad served as the Port’s project manager for the 34th America’s Cup, that attracted millions of visitors and generated $1.4 billion in economic impacts to San Francisco.
Matthijs Bos MSc
Consultant Flood Risk Management / Product Owner Global Flood Risk Tool
Matthijs Bos is consultant Flood risk management at Royal HaskoningDHV. He is specialized in flood risk assessments and the design of flood risk reduction measures. The social urgency of flood safety and strategic thinking about an appropriate solution are major drivers for his work as an adviser. That their solutions are being built, confirms for him the relevance of the work. He has a broad international profile and travelled a lot over the world. For some periods of times he has been working and staying in Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, Colombo, Hanoi, Banjul, London, Dublin and New Orleans to work on flood adaptation and create safe living environments.
Over the past four years he has been the lead flood risk consultant for the Port of Rotterdam. Together with the port authority they assessed the current and future flood risk and prepared adaptation strategies to reduce the expected flood risks for the entire Port of Rotterdam. Meanwhile he is developing the Global Flood Risk Tool (GFRT) that enables an efficient and clever way of working to get to the desired adaptation strategies for his clients. The GFRT is Royal HaskoningDHV’s cloud-based platform that delivers accurate and comprehensible flood risk analysis and recommends investment proposals to reduce risk on losing lives and economic damages. Clients making use of the tool are: port authorities, government real estate agency, private industrial clients, dutch waterboards, international financial institutes and local governments. GFRT conducts a thorough flood risk assessment and delivers a set of customized solutions if the identified flood risk is considered significant. The output is generated instantly, and the tool is set up in such a way that it can easily connect to, integrate or exchange with other services, tools and models.
Sharon Weston Broome
Mayor-President, City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish
Sharon Weston Broome is a firm believer in achieving progress through innovative and data-driven solutions.
Since taking office, Mayor Broome has placed a heavy focus on improving the quality of life for citizens while building resiliency through infrastructure improvements. Specifically, she has focused on addressing transportation, drainage, public safety, economic development, revitalizing neighborhoods, and education.
Before becoming the first female Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, Broome served as a Baton Rouge Metro City Council Member, a Louisiana State Representative, and a Louisiana State Senator.
While serving in the legislature, Broome became the first woman to hold the leadership positions of Speaker Pro Tempore in the House and President Pro Tempore in the Senate.
Over the years, she has also been recognized for her service and leadership by several organizations, including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Baton Rouge NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, Girl Scouts Louisiana East 2017 Women of Distinction Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Lambda Kappa Kappa Chapter) 2017 Citizen of the Year, and National Congress of Black Women.
Faith and family are priorities for Broome. She is a member of Star Hill Church and is happily married to Marvin Broome. They are the proud parents of three children and three grandchildren.
Broome holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and an M.A. in Communications from Regent University. Broome has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College, and Southern University. In addition, she was a reporter for five years for WBRZ-TV, the Baton Rouge ABC affiliate.
Assistant Director of Ports, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Jorge Chavez is the Assistant Director, Capital and Port Planning, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Port Department, responsible for the oversight of the planning, development, management, and delivery of the department’s Capital and Operating Major Work Programs by providing technical assistance and project support for the development of new and the expansion and rehabilitation of existing facilities. Mr. Chavez is a 25-year professional in the Engineering and Construction Industry in both the private and public sector.
Mr. Chavez began his Port Authority career in 2001. He has held various roles of increasing responsibilities over the past 19 years in the Engineering, Project Management, Aviation and PortDepartments. During his time in Aviation, Mr. Chavez managed the construction of new taxiways and the reconstruction of two runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport in order to extend their service life and comply with current runway safety standards, as well as the installation of high speed taxiways to get aircrafts off runways more efficiently and to reduce delays. In 2016, Mr. Chavez became the Senior Engineer of Projects for the Engineering Department. In that role, he was responsible for the oversight of engineering teams, comprised of both Port Authority staff and representatives from consultant firms, supporting the Sandy Recovery portfolio which was comprised of over $2.6 billion in grant-funded projects. He was promoted to his present position in 2018.
Mr. Chavez is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) Mr. Chavez received a Bachelor of Science of Civil Engineering from NYU Tandon School of Engineering (former Polytechnic University). He is also a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the State of New York and a certified Project Management Professional (P.M.P.) by the Project Management Institute.
Deputy Director, Hawaii Harbors Division
Derek J. Chow is the Deputy Director, Department of Transportation – Harbors Division, State of Hawaii. He oversees the operations, maintenance, improvements, and modernizations of the Hawaii Harbor System that includes 10 commercial harbors throughout Hawaii. Over 98% of all imported goods consumed in Hawaii are shipped through the Hawaii Harbor System. Over 80% of the goods consumed throughout the Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States are also shipped through the Hawaii Harbor System.
Prior positions included: Senior Project Manager, SSFM International, Inc.; Chief of the Civil & Public Works Branch, USACE Honolulu District; Chief of the Water & Infrastructure Division, US Forces-Afghanistan; Resident Engineer, Forward Operating Base Danger, Tikrit, Iraq; Project Manager and Planner, USACE Seattle District; Master Planner, US Army Garrison, Hawaii; Contract Administration, USACE Japan District; Project Manager, Seattle Water Department; and Operations Manager, Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.
Derek’s awards include the Bronze De Fleury Medal for service to the Army Engineer Regiment, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, and other leadership awards during his 30 years with USACE. He is a graduate of the USACE Leadership Development Program and US Coast Guard Leadership Development Program.
Derek is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. He received his Civil Engineering degree from Seattle University, and Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Hawaii.
Derek has one daughter Erin who is a register nurse.
Senior Climate Resilience Specialist, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Sarah Colasurdo is the Senior Climate Resilience Specialist at the Port Authority of NY and NJ. Prior to her tenure at PANYNJ, she held positions in long-term disaster recovery and resilience planning, FEMA grants management, and climate resilience education. Sarah developed long-term disaster recovery and resilience plans in the wakes of natural disasters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, New York, and New Jersey. As part of the Engineering Department’s Resilience & Sustainable Design unit, Sarah strives to incorporate risk management strategies into the design of the PA’s diverse portfolio of assets from aviation and transit to tunnels and ports, and to push the boundaries of resilience planning and design for large-scale infrastructure systems. Sarah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Geoscience and a Master’s in City Planning.
Lieutenant Colonel John D. Cunningham
San Francisco District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Lieutenant Colonel John Cunningham received his U.S. Army commission in 2002 and has served in leadership and staff positions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Republic of Korea and multiple locations in the United States. Between 2003 and 2007, he was a platoon leader, executive officer and battalion logistics officer with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. From 2007 to 2009, he commanded two companies within the 1st Special Troops Battalion, at Fort Campbell and while deployed to Iraq. From 2012 to 2014, Lt. Col. Cunningham was an instructor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, before transferring to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, where he served from 2014 to 2015 as the division engineer officer (forward) and counter-IED officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He continued with the 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 91st Engineer Bn. from 2015 to 2016 as the executive officer, including a rotational deployment to the Republic of Korea.
Lt. Col. Cunningham’s most recent assignment was serving as the deputy commander of the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 2017-2019. During that time, Lt. Col. Cunningham supported several disaster response missions, including as the Deputy Commander for Task Force Power Restoration in Puerto Rico and later as the Commander for Task Force Puerto Rico Recovery from July to August 2018 supporting the recovery mission after Hurricane Maria. He also served as the Acting Deputy Division Commander for Northwestern Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers from May to July 2018.
Lt. Col. Cunningham was born in Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Science degree in Power Systems Engineering from the University of Texas. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is a certified Project Manager Professional. His military education includes the Engineer Officer Basic Course, Engineer Captain’s Career Course, Command and General Staff College, US Army Airborne School, Ranger School, and Air Assault School. His military awards and decorations include three Bronze Star medals, three Meritorious Service medals, three Army Commendation medals, and two Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medals.
He is married and has six children.
Executive Director, Port of Long Beach, California
Mario Cordero, an international maritime industry leader, Long Beach resident and attorney, is Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, California, named to the post by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in May 2017.
Beginning in 2003, Mr. Cordero served as a member, vice president and president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners for eight years, before resigning to accept President Barack Obama’s appointment to the Federal Maritime Commission in 2011. He served on the FMC until May 2017 and was FMC Chairman from April 2013 to January 2017.
As Executive Director, Mr. Cordero reports to the Board and leads the Port’s Harbor Department staff of more than 500 with an annual budget of $650 million in fiscal year 2020.
Mr. Cordero has practiced law for more than 30 years, specializing in workers’ compensation cases. He holds a law degree from the University of Santa Clara, and a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from California State University, Long Beach. He taught Political Science at Long Beach City College, served on the City of Long Beach Community Development Commission, and was Vice-Chair of the Long Beach Ethics Task Force. Mr. Cordero was elected Chairman of the Board for the American Association of Port Authorities in 2020 following a term as Vice Chairman.
Assistant professor, department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Dr. Meri Davlasheridze is an assistant professor at the department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science, Texas A&M University at Galveston. She holds her PhD degree in Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Economics from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research involves understanding economic and health impacts of disasters, evaluating effectiveness of federal disaster policies in promoting community disaster resilience, and developing market incentives for private catastrophe insurance. She currently serves as a PI for the project funded by the Texas Department of Insurance to study market incentives for catastrophe windstorm and hail insurance. She has led an economic component of the project funded by the Texas General Land Office on understanding economic ripple effects of storm surge for Galveston bay communities. She serves as a co-PI on a NSF funded multidisciplinary research project “Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program: Integrated, multi-scale approaches for understanding how to reduce vulnerability to damaging events.” She has published numerous research articles in leading environmental economics, hazard and regional science journals.
Sean M. Duffy, Sr.
Big River Coalition: Executive Director Louisiana Maritime
Association: Executive Vice President
The Big River Coalition is committed to ensuring the future of navigation on the Mississippi River Ship Channel (MRSC) as one of the nation’s fundamental natural resources and true economic powerhouse. The Mississippi River and Tributaries has an estimated annual impact of $735 billion on the nation’s economy and is responsible for 2.4 million jobs (585,000 jobs on the Lower River – Cairo, IL to the Gulf of Mexico and 1.86 million plus jobs on the Upper River-Lake Itasca, MN to Cairo, IL when including the IL River).
Peter and Jonathan Dreyfuss, Co-founders, Watermaster North America
Peter Dreyfuss and his brother Jonathan founded Watermaster North America, LLC, a US company which has the exclusive franchise for the US and Canada to import components of the Watermaster Amphibious Dredger from Finland, with a hull manufactured in Michigan. This Jones Act compliant dredger Finland is a 5th generation machine currently being used in over 70 countries.
The AMD 5000 can be driven to a worksite on a standard lowboy trailer, and can then walk off the trailer and into the water, where it is propeller driven to a work site. Powered by a Caterpillar Acert C7.1 Tier 4 engine, this suction cutter-dredger can pump 20-30% slurry up to a mile away through 10” piping, and further with booster pumps.
This machine can be viewed in action at our website www.watermasterna.com.
Executive Director, Port of San Francisco
Elaine Forbes leads the Port to responsibly manage the waterfront as the gateway to a world-class city and advances environmentally and financially sustainable maritime, recreational, and economic opportunities to serve the City, Bay Area region, and California.
At the recommendation of the Port Commission, Mayor Edwin Lee appointed Elaine Forbes Executive Director of the Port on October 12, 2016. Elaine is one of 12 women Port Directors in the United States. Before her appointment as Executive Director, she served as Deputy Director for Finance and Administration for the Port for six years.
Prior to joining the Port, Elaine held executive management and leadership positions at both the San Francisco Planning Department and the San Francisco International Airport. She also worked for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst’s Office providing fiscal and policy analysis and evaluating and reporting on complex municipal issues.
Before beginning her tenure with the City and County of San Francisco in 2000, she worked as a redevelopment agency planner for the City of Oakland. She also has worked for several non-profit land use policy and economic development organizations including the Urban Strategies Council and the California Budget Project.
Elaine holds a Master’s degree with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles in Community and Economic Development, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Mills College in Oakland. She is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She was born in San Francisco and resides in the Castro neighborhood with her partner.
AICP, Senior Planner, Environment and Sustainability, Port of Seattle
Joseph brings seasoned experience in land use regulations and stakeholder outreach to his planning projects at the Port. Projects have included a facility planning process for Fishermen’s Terminal and developing a master plan for 70 acres of habitat restoration along the Lower Duwamish Waterway. Joseph engages in City of Seattle land use projects to advocate for land use schemes that advance Port of Seattle interests.
Deputy Executive Director of Development, Port of Los Angeles
Antonio Gioiello is the deputy executive director of development at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s leading container port. Appointed in January 2015, Gioiello joined the Port’s leadership team after serving as chief harbor engineer for 12 years. As deputy executive director of development, he oversees approximately 450 employees in the Engineering, Construction, Construction and Maintenance, and Goods Movement Divisions.
As chief harbor engineer of the Port’s Engineering Division, Gioiello’s projects varied in scope from planning and design of the commercial and recreational redevelopment along the LA Waterfront to planning and design of container terminals, roadways, rail facilities, security, buildings, dredging and land reclamation projects.
Before his assuming his role as chief harbor engineer, Gioiello served as harbor engineer, chief of design, where he was responsible for the management and technical oversight of the Port’s Engineering Design section, specializing in the planning and design of various Port facilities, including container terminals, cruise facilities, highway and rail improvements.
With more than 30 years of experience at the Port of Los Angeles, Gioiello spent much of his tenure managing various sections within the Port’s Engineering division, including the Civil/Planning, Special Projects, Terminal/Transportation Projects and Engineering Technology Administration sections.
Since beginning his career in 1980 with the Port as a student engineer, Gioiello has had the unique experience of seeing some of the Port’s largest developments transform from design to completion.
Gioiello holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from California State University, Long Beach and is a graduate of the UCLA Executive Program. He is a California State-registered civil engineer.
A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Gioiello has served as chairperson, vice chair and secretary-treasurer for the organization’s Waterways, Harbors and Coast Group and as chairperson of the American Association of Port Authorities Facilities Engineering Committee.
Gioiello is the son of a commercial fisherman and San Pedro native where he and his family currently reside.
Sediment Program Manager, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
Brenda Goeden is the Sediment Program Manager for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. She supervises the day-to-day sediment related projects, including dredging, sand and oyster shell mining, flood protection, and wetland and subtidal habitat restoration. She is BCDC’s Program Manager for the Long Term Management Strategy for the Placement of Dredged Material in the San Francisco Bay Region (LTMS) a member of the Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO), which is responsible for the beneficial reuse of over 25 million cubic yards of dredged sediment in the Bay Area. She and the BCDC Sediment Management Team worked in partnership with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, San Francisco Estuary Partnership, and the SF Bay Joint Venture on Flood Control 2.0, a multi-benefit approach to flood protection. She is the BCDC project manager for large scale wetland restoration projects, including Hamilton, Bair Island, Montezuma, and the South Bay Salt Ponds, and works to maximize beneficial reuse of sediment in these projects whenever feasible, supporting rapid marsh vegetation development. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on the subject. She has twelve years of experience developing and facilitating California marine conservation programs, as well as teaching marine science. She has a Bachelor of Arts in marine biology from Occidental College. She participates in the Great Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Beach Watch Program and Oil Spill Response Team and is a wild bird rehabilitator.
Director External Affairs, Port of New Orleans
Matt Gresham joined the Port of New Orleans in August of 2005, just three weeks prior to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. Mr. Gresham worked as a communications specialist and legislative liaison during the Port’s recovery and rebuilding. He was appointed Director of External Affairs in July 2012, overseeing the Port’s governmental relations at both the State and federal level.
A native of New Orleans and graduate of Nicholls State University, Mr. Gresham has more than 20 years of communications and government affairs experience. He began his career as a sports reporter covering the New Orleans Saints and college and high school athletics in south Louisiana, followed by an award-winning stint covering state and local government for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. Mr. Gresham later worked as a political consultant for local, state and federal campaigns.
Mr. Gresham is actively involved in the maritime industry on both local and international levels. He is a member of the Public Relations-Government Relations Committee of the American Association of Port Authorities and serves on the boards of the Gulf Ports Association of the Americas, National Waterways Council and Ports Association of Louisiana. He is an active member of the World Trade Center of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana Maritime Association and the Louisiana Coastal Ports Advisory Council. He also serves on the Board of the I-49 South Coalition, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Navigation Focus Group and American Cancer Society of Greater New Orleans. When away from the office, Mr. Gresham can typically be found fishing, sailing or participating in one of the many music and cultural festivals in south Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast.
Executive Project Manager, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
Dave Halsing is in his second year as the Executive Project Manager of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. His time in this role followed 11 years in environmental consulting at firms including Environmental Science Associates, AECOM, and URS. His work focused on projects that linked environment and infrastructure with an emphasis on restoration and enhancement projects in and around San Francisco Bay. In seven of those years, he worked on the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, including its Phase 2 alternatives development, design, NEPA/CEQA documents, and permitting. His other relevant project work included the McInnis Marsh Restoration Project for Marin County Parks; the SF Bay Creosote Removal and Herring Habitat Restoration Project and the Terminal Four Wharf, Warehouse, and Piling Removal Project for the State Coastal Conservancy; and various other projects involving levees, roads, bridges, and trails on the margins of the Bay. Prior to his consulting career, Dave was a research scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. His work focused on integrating economics, spatial data, and decision sciences into the natural and physical sciences that were the USGS’ primary focus. Dave has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Stanford University and a Master of Science in Natural Resource Policy and Management from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
President, Propeller Club of Northern California
Stas Margaronis is the California Ports Reporter for the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).
Professor, Texas A &M University Galveston
William J. Merrell holds a B.S. in physics and a M.A. in mathematics from Sam Houston State University and a Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A&M University. He is the George P. Mitchell chair of marine sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston, Regents Professor and President Emeritus, TAMUG. He has been chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, vice chancellor for Strategic Programs of The Texas A&M University System, vice president for Research Policy of Texas A&M University, chair of the Ocean Studies Board, served on the Space Studies Board and the Board on Sustainability of the National Research Council and has held presidential appointments with the National Science Foundation. Among his awards are the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the Geosciences and Earth Resources Council and he is the only person to receive the Distinguished Service Award of the National Science Foundation twice. Following the devastation of Hurricane Ike, Dr. Merrell began the Ike Dike project to provide hurricane surge protection for the Upper Texas Coast including all of Houston and Galveston.
Joost de Nooijer
Project Engineer / Project Manager Flood Risk Management
Port Development, Port of Rotterdam
Joost de Nooijer is a Civil Engineer and Project Manager Flood Risk Management at the Port of Rotterdam. He is responsible for the technical management of port development projects, like the construction of quay walls, jetties and other maritime infrastructure. Since 2015 he is working as a project manager in the Port’s Flood Risk program. In cooperation with many stakeholders, like the Municipality of Rotterdam, federal agencies, many companies, utility services, etc. he developed adaptation strategies for future flood risks in the different subregions of the Rotterdam Port area, which is one of the most valuable outer dike areas in Europe.
Associate Environmental Planner and Scientist, Port of Oakland
Jan Novak is a professional wetland scientist who works as an associate environmental planner/scientist with the Port of Oakland. He is responsible for permitting water-based projects and dredging. He recently managed the Port’s AB 691 Sea-Level Rise analysis. Prior to starting at the Port, he worked for 16 years at several environmental consulting firms. He studied soil science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
President, RL Truby & Associates
Randy Truby has been a professional in the water treatment and membrane desalination industry since January 1969 when he joined Reverse Osmosis General Atomic (ROGA) as a Research Assistant. He currently operates R L Truby & Associates providing consulting and mentoring services.
Mr. Truby has been involved in the manufacture of reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, and microfiltration membranes and systems for over 50 years. He has held the following positions: Partner and Vice President of Aqua Media Ltd.; CEO of Fluid Systems Corporation; Vice President Operations of Hydranautics/Nitto; CEO of Toray Membrane USA; Global Strategy Director NanoH2O; CEO of NeoTech Aqua Solutions.
Mr. Truby is a Past President of the International Desalination Association (1993-1995). He is also a past Vice President of the American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA). Mr. Truby served as Chairman of the Board for the Affordable Desalination Collaboration (ADC). He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for AMTA, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maritime Alliance.
Mr. Truby has authored over 65 presentations on membrane desalination, water treatment technology and water market development. He appeared on the PBS television desalination documentary “By the Year 2000” and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine.
Dr. Suzanne Van Cooten
Meteorologist, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Dr. Suzanne Van Cooten is the Hydrologist In Charge of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (LMRFC). She leads an interdisciplinary team of forecasters that produce daily hydrometeorological guidance and river forecasts for over 220 locations across 220,000 square miles spanning 12 states. The majority of LMRFC’s river forecasting activities focus on the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries of the Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Red Rivers.
Prior to LMRFC, she served as Deputy Chief of the Warning Research Development Division (WRDD) at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). At NSSL, she accepted an interim assignment as the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) National Sea Grant Weather and Climate Extension Specialist. Dr. Van Cooten has also served as the Chief Scientist of the NWS National Data Buoy Center, regional and national program manager for NWS observing systems, and an NWS meteorologist and hydrologist in Fort Worth, TX and Slidell, LA.
She earned her B.S. in Meteorology from OU and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of New Orleans. As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, she actively supports efforts to diversify our nation’s STEM workforce. An author of peer-reviewed publications and pod casts on this subject, she also serves as a research mentor at NDBC, NSSL, and LMRFC, and has previously served on M.S. and Ph.D. committees for minority students at OU. She is a Life Member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and a Sequoyah Fellow of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).
Senior Advisor, Storm Surge Barriers, Rijkswaterstaat & I-Storm
Marc Walraven is a representative for Rijkswaterstaat at the Delivery Board of I-STORM. In that role he stimulates and coordinates I-STORM to develop as a professional network to meet the ambitious goals and reach out to new participants.
Since 1994 he has worked within Rijkswaterstaat, the operational department of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in the Netherlands.
The aim of I-STORM is to bring the storm surge barrier community of practice together to seek the very best standards of operation, management and performance in order to reduce the risk of severe flooding to people, property and places around the world.
Now in 2020, I-STORM appears to be an international community of professionals that learn from each others experiences worldwide. Such as governmental organizations that manage storm surge barriers or even consider to build them. But also for Universities, Knowledge Institutes and Contractors.
Executive Director, Port of Oakland
Danny Wan was named the Port of Oakland’s Executive Director in Nov. 2019 by the Oakland Port Commission. Mr. Wan first advised the Port in the 1990s as an external legal counsel. From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Wan was Deputy Port Attorney. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Wan was the City Attorney and Risk Manager for the City of Morgan Hill. In 2012, Mr. Wan became Port Attorney and advised the Port Board and staff on a broad range of issues in the conduct of the Port’s Maritime, Aviation, and Commercial Real Estate businesses.
Mr. Wan has been a public servant, local community leader and policy maker. He started his career in the late 1980s as a public-school teacher in Oakland and San Francisco. In 1996, he was elected to the Board of Directors for the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. In 2000, he was appointed to the Oakland City Council to represent the Chinatown/Grand Lake district, becoming the first openly-LGBT council member in Oakland, and was elected to the position by voters two years later. Mr. Wan received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Rhetoric and Masters in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law. He lives in Oakland with his partner.
Executive Director, Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative
Colin Wellenkamp is Executive Director of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI). Colin has extensive experience in representing the interests of public entities in Washington, DC. Advocating for the welfare of some of the Nation’s largest cities and non-profit organizations, Colin has spent the last fifteen years advancing the causes around sustainability, peril avoidance design, water system improvement, community resilience/adaptation, sustainable economic development, first responder resources, renewable energy, and private sector partnerships for sustainable projects. Colin brings this experience to MRCTI to build a new organization around the cities that reside along the Mississippi River. This relatively new organization provides the only forum in the nation through which local leaders can advance the matters around river management for the entire 10-state length of the waterway.
Colin is the original author of the Resilience Revolving Loan Fund Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2020. Colin has been quoted for stories in TIME Magazine, Rolling Stones Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, and many others.
Colin is also a trained environmental scientist and has participated in some the nation’s largest human health assessments involving water bodies in the Midwest. Colin has also worked with companies such as Union Pacific Railroad and General Motors in implementing environmental management standards to make their operations more sustainable. Colin has served in the American Bar Association House of Delegates where he lead an effort to provide more resources to law schools to increase their curriculum offerings on Constitutional Law and won the ABA’s Silver Key Award. Colin has also served as the Washington Director of National Registry of Environmental Professionals where he developed the Registry’s first accreditation on sustainable business development. Colin is an adjunct professor of Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Colin was the first to graduate from Saint Louis University with a degree in Environmental Studies, the first Creighton University Law Student to serve in the ABA House of Delegates, and the first to graduate from the George Washington University Law School with a masters in Sustainable Development Law. Colin is also the first Executive Director of MRCTI . Born and raised in Missouri, Colin has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Saint Louis University, a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Sustainable Development Law from George Washington University Law School.
Deputy Director, Coastal Field Operations
Texas General Land Office
Marine biologist with the Texas General Land Office (GLO) where his primary responsibilities include management of state-owned submerged land and coastal planning efforts. Major efforts include the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan, working with USACE on other studies and regulatory issues, and derelict structure removal and disaster response. Previous positions with the GLO include Director of Planning, Director of Coastal Resources Field Operation and biologist in both the Upper and Lower Coast Field Offices. Before coming to the GLO he worked in USACE Galveston District Regulatory and at the National Marine Fisheries Service where he worked on seagrass ecology research.