About Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, gathers people from across the U.S. and around the world to engage in dialogue on how to sustain the health of our ocean and Great Lakes, and especially for all who call these places home and depend on them for their livelihoods. This year, on June 8-10th, we will hear from people working on this issue in communities across the country, listening to learn from their perspectives on how to grow a more racially equitable and just ocean and Great Lakes conservation movement.

CHOW is open to the public and free to attendees. The Foundation relies on the generous support of sponsors to host CHOW.

Acerca de Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), convocada por la Fundación Santuario Marino Nacional, reúne a personas de todo Estados Unidos y del mundo entero para entablar un diálogo sobre cómo mantener la salud de nuestro océano y los Grandes Lagos, y especialmente para todos los que llaman hogar a estos lugares y dependen de ellos para su sustento. Este año, escucharemos a personas que trabajan en este tema en comunidades de todo el país, escuchando para aprender de sus perspectivas sobre cómo desarrollar un movimiento de conservación de los océanos y los Grandes Lagos más equitativo y racialmente más justo.

La conferencia es gratuita y abierta al público.


Speaker bios may be found below in the Speakers section. All times ET.

Descriptions of all Partner Breakout sessions can be found here.

Conference Welcome

CHOW 2021 will open with a circle of connection, offering traditional blessings and tributes to their lands, communities, and the waters that sustain them. Speakers:

  • Francis Gray, Tribal Chair, Piscataway Conoy Tribal Council
  • Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State, Gullah/Geechee Nation 
  • Atuatasi Lelei Peau, Superintendent, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
  • Sol Pili Kahoʻohalahala, Kupa ʻāina o Lānaʻi
  • Ilarion ‘Kuuyux’ Merculieff, Founder and President, Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways

10 mins

CHOW Opening Plenary – Centering Justice and Equity in Ocean and Great Lakes Conservation

To support the health, well-being, and sustainability of humanity, our ocean and Great Lakes depend on the actions we take now and require the knowledge, perspectives, and values of the communities most affected by environmental racism and climate change. Achieving justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion requires the marine and Great Lakes community examine its decision-making and power structures to ensure access to the resources, benefits, and opportunities that come from those structures. CHOW’s opening plenary will look at the historical lack of inclusion and the failure to center justice and equity in ocean and coastal conservation. The plenary will discuss how the broader ocean and Great Lakes community can work together toward collective action and equitable outcomes in the future. Opening Remarks

  • Brenda Mallory, JD, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality  
  • Yoshitaka Ota, Ph.D., Director, Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, University of Washington EarthLab 
  • Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO, First Nations Development Institute
  • Jacqueline Patterson, Senior Director, Environmental and Climate Justice, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Executive Director, Azul
  • Summer Lee Haunani Sylva, JD, Executive Director, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation

60 min

[Partner Breakout] Leading JEDI from Within

Hosted by NOAA National Ocean Service Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) is important to NOAA’s mission and culture. While NOAA has made significant strides in this area, JEDI work is an ongoing process and never truly completed. Nicole LeBoeuf (Acting Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, NOAA) will be moderating a panel discussion on advancing JEDI efforts within NOAA. The panelists are advocates and leaders in JEDI initiatives at NOAA and bring unique perspectives on the work that still needs to be done. This breakout session will be a frank conversation between these leaders on the successes they’ve experienced and where they’ve faced challenges. Speakers:

  • Nicole R. LeBoeuf, Acting Assistant Administrator, NOAA National Ocean Service (Moderator)
  • Becky Cruz Lizama, Congressional Affairs Specialist, NOAA Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Claudia S. Womble, Management and Program Analyst, Weather Program Office, NOAA Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research
  • Lucas Johansen, IT Specialist, Office of Science and Technology, NOAA Fisheries Service
  • Lonnie Gonsalves, Environmental Scientist, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA National Ocean Service

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Having Faith in the Ocean

Hosted by Creation Justice Ministries Throughout sacred scriptures of many religious traditions, water is life and water is holy. Creation Justice Ministries works with Christian communities to protect, restore, and rightly share God's Creation -- particularly the ocean. In this session, we will give an overview of the connection between the Christian faith and ocean conservation and share how we are working with Christian communities for healing in God's Marine Creation. Speakers:

  • Avery Davis Lamb, Resilience Coordinator, Creation Justice Ministries
  • Helen Smith, Ocean Climate Action Associate, Creation Justice Ministries
  • Amanda Robinson, Fundraising and Operations Manager, Creation Justice Ministries

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] History of Ocean Protection, Diversity Inclusion, and Lessons for 30×30

Hosted by Anthropocene Institute This panel will cover existing U.S. ocean protection, beginning with a map of protected areas that exist today. Then, the panel will showcase inclusion of diverse voices in past protected area planning that were essential for creation of these areas.  The panel will also discuss lessons learned and how diverse voices can more seamlessly be included going forward in 30x30.  Speakers:  

  • Virgil Zetterlind, Director, ProtectedSeas (Moderator)
  • Calla Allison, Director, MPA Collaborative Network
  • Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation Programs, Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Jennifer Sletten, Lead Attorney, ProtectedSeas
  • Angelo Villagomez, Blue Nature Alliance

45 mins

Providing for Communities: Food Security and Justice

From subsistence fishing in the rivers and coasts to offshore commercial fisheries that span entire ocean basins, people depend on the ocean and Great Lakes for sustenance and for culture. Access to healthy, sustainable seafood depends on water quality and also a family or individual’s income. This session will focus on the experiences of communities working on sustainable food systems and strategies that can be deployed to expand access to food security and address injustices in their waters. Opening Remarks

  • The Honorable Jared Huffman, U.S. House of Representatives, CA-02 and Chair, House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
  • Ambrose Jearld, Jr., PhD, MS. BS., Former Director of Academic Programs, NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (ret.)
  • Mary Beth Jäger, Research Analyst, Native Nations Institute and Co-lead, Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network 
  • Pepper Roussel, Attorney, Ecoculinarean, Food Writer and Activist, Green Pepper Solutions
  • Eugenio Piñeiro-Soler, JD, President, Commercial Fishermen Union, Rincón, Puerto Rico
  • Julie Patton Lawson, Director, Washington DC Mayor’s Office of the Clean City

60 min

Improving Resource and Climate Policy Engagement in the U.S. Territories

Sponsored by: Yamaha Rightwaters Home to more than 4 million people, the islands of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa and Guam sit on the frontlines of a rapidly accelerating climate crisis. There, the islands and the communities that live on them face disproportionate climate impacts because of their size, low elevation, relatively remote geographical location, and concentration of coastal infrastructures. Yet, they remain on the periphery of U.S. ocean and climate policy. The panel will discuss the specific ocean and climate issues facing island communities including public health, ocean and climate impacts, management of natural resources and how these islands' people are rising to meet the challenges in their own communities. Opening Remarks 

  • The Honorable Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan,  U.S. House of Representatives, Northern Marianas Islands 
  • The Honorable Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen,  U.S. House of Representatives, American Samoa  
  • The Honorable Jenniffer González-Colón,  U.S. House of Representatives, Puerto Rico  
  • Esther Kia’aina, Executive Director, Pacific Basin Development Council
  • The Honorable Talauega Eleasalo Vaalele Ale, Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa 
  • The Honorable Sheila Babauta, Chair, Natural Resources Committee, Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature 
  • Kemit-Amon Lewis, Marine Scientist, Perry Institute for Marine Science
  • Lirio Márquez-D'Acunti, Executive Director, Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust
  • Austin J. Shelton, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant, University of Guam

60 min

[Partner Breakout] A Conversation with the New NOAA Leadership Team

Hosted by NOAA Leadership This session will be an introduction to the four new political appointees at NOAA. They will discuss their unique backgrounds, the various Executive Orders related to equity, climate, and oceans, and how their diverse backgrounds and experiences have shaped how they approach their work at NOAA.  Speakers:

  • Karen Hyun, Chief of Staff, NOAA
  • Walker Smith, General Counsel, NOAA
  • Letise LaFeir, Senior Advisor, NOAA
  • Emily McAuliffe, Special Assistant, NOAA

30 mins

Resilient Coastal Communities

Sponsored by: National Marine Manufacturers Association As seascapes and coastal landscapes experience a rapid change as the climate crisis accelerates, communities are working to define the future of their health and livelihoods to ensure survival. This panel will highlight the individuals working to protect the quality of life in their communities. Participants will share their experiences, and the strategies that communities are developing to prepare for and address the climate crisis. Opening Remarks

  • The Honorable James E. Clyburn, U.S House of Representatives, Majority Whip, SC-06 
  • The Honorable Kathy Castor, U.S House of Representatives, FL-14 and Chair, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
  • The Honorable Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. House of Representatives, OR-01 
  • Monica Patrice Barra, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Race and Environment in the School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment and Department of Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate of the African American Studies Program, University of South Carolina 
  • Sandy Ha Nguyen, Executive Director, Coastal Communities Consulting 
  • Victoria Herrmann Ph.D., Managing Director, The Arctic Institute
  • Colette Pichon Battle, Esq., Founder and Executive Director, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, and National Lead, Red, Black & Green New Deal
Closing Remarks
  • Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

60 min

[Partner Breakout] Expanding Diversity and Inclusion Through Student Opportunities

Hosted by NOAA Fisheries NOAA recognizes that building a diverse workforce is essential to meeting the challenges of our ever-changing environment and ensuring the continued support of our mission. During this guided discussion, we will highlight current programs across NOAA Fisheries that aim to train the next generation of fisheries scientists and managers by creating pathways for students of all backgrounds. Panelists will share strategies for getting students excited about a career in marine science, and discuss innovative approaches to helping them persist in and excel in the field. Speakers:

  • Kate Naughten, Director of Communications, NOAA Fisheries (moderator)
  • Steve Copps, Senior Policy Analyst, Fisheries West Coast Regional Office 
  • Dionne Hoskins-Brown, PhD, Fisheries Biologist, NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center and Director, NOAA Programs, Savannah State University
  • George Liles, Director, Academic Programs Office Director, NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Elevating JEDI Voices in Climate Science to Strengthen Communities and Coasts

Hosted by NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research NOAA Research, with Sanctuaries, is working to increase Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion through science to support Sanctuaries and the communities that they serve. NOAA Research laboratories play an important role in partnering with the National Ocean Service and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in understanding climate risks and vulnerabilities for ecosystem services and cultural resources. Sea Grant is a key partner in bringing NOAA’s wealth of scientific information to sustain healthy coastal ecosystems and support community needs. This panel will engage climate scientists, decision-support providers, and end users to discuss the importance of climate and ocean observations and models for community decision-making. This panel will discuss a successful partnership in the Pacific Northwest, highlighting the benefits that inclusive collaborations bring to community resilience.  Speakers:

  • Libby Jewett, Director of NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (moderator)
  • Melissa Watkinson, Community Engagement Lead with Washington Sea Grant
  • Jenny Waddell, Research Coordinator at NOAA's Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
  • Tommy Moore, Oceanographer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
  • Charles Stock, Research Oceanographer at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Prioritizing Capacity Building for Diverse Communities

Hosted by Audrey Peterman, Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau Individuals, groups and entire communities create ocean-focused programs responding to the interests and needs where they stand. They often lack resources and technical expertise to grow. By recognizing and prioritizing support for this sector, we can exponentially increase representation and strengthen resilience for all. Speakers:

  • Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State of the Gullah/Geechee Nation
  • Kamau Sadiki, Lead Instructor, Diving With a Purpose
  • Stefan Moss, Director, the Saltwater Underground Railroad Experience
  • Ayana Omilade Flewellen, Co-founder, Society of Black Archaeologists

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Youth Voice in Ocean Advocacy

Hosted by EarthEcho International With nearly half the world’s population under age 25, youth leadership is critical in driving policy to protect and restore our ocean planet. Join EarthEcho International Youth Leadership Council members and staff from EarthEcho and the National Ocean Protection Coalition to dive into the importance of elevating youth voices as we work toward a more equitable and inclusive vision for ocean conservation, and share lessons learned and best practices for meaningfully engaging youth leaders in ocean conservation policy/advocacy. Speakers will highlight their experiences and facilitate a dialogue among participants to help support organizational efforts to increase youth voice in this space. Speakers:

  • Sean Russell, Associate Director of Youth Engagement and Partnerships, Earthecho International (moderator)
  • Armon Alex, EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council and Board of Directors member
  • Apurva Iyengar, EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council member 
  • Isha Sangani, EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council member
  • Erin Eastwood, Program Director, National Ocean Protection Coalition

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Bust of Trust: Diverse Youth Perspectives and Debunking Ocean Myths

Hosted by Hispanic Access Foundation
Registration Link Every ~truth~ has a good, bad, and ugly side. In this breakout session Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) has assembled young truth seekers, innovators, change agents, and community champions from the corners of the country.  These talented individuals will converge on some of the Oceans top MYTHS  demonstrating what happens when we are at the forefront of the discussion, bringing dynamic understandings and relationships to the surface as we penetrate deeper into oceans/water conservation. By the end of this session  you will not just gain a new awareness and respect for our oceans but will be inspired and equipped to dive into possibilities for a better...bluer tomorrow.  Speakers:

  • Arturo Ramirez,  Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
  • Elise Myers, PhD Candidate in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia
  • Robin Garcia, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
  • Gabriel Lou Diaz, Florida Fish andWildlife
  • Ana Silverio, Research Engineering/Scientist Associate I at Eberhart Lab
  • Eben Hopson, Content Creator of Arctic Lifestyle and Culture

45 mins

Blue Introspection: Examining Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Ocean and Great Lakes Policy, Science, and Conservation

Sponsored by: COMPASS How would marine and freshwater science, management and policy change if our workplaces reflected the racial and ethnic diversity of our nation? This plenary will examine the commitment to JEDI efforts within federal, research, and nongovernmental institutions and agencies and strategies that will be necessary to accelerate the hiring of Black, Indigenous and People of Color, as well as other historically excluded communities within the fields of science, policy and conservation. Opening Remarks

  • The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, U.S. House of Representatives, TX-30 and Chairwoman, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee 
  • Whitney Tome, Principal, The Raben Group  
  • Andrés Jimenez, Executive Director, Green 2.0 
  • Quentin Tyler Ph.D., Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Jalonne L. White-Newsome, Ph.D., CEO and Founder, Empowering A Green Environment and Economy, LLC
  • Francisco “Paco” Ollervides, Executive Director, Green Leadership Trust
  • Leonard Pace, Science Program Senior Manager, Schmidt Ocean Institute 
  • Chanté Coleman, Vice President of Equity and Justice, National Wildlife Federation

60 min

[Partner Breakout] Building Resilience with Community-Led Ocean Science and Conservation

Hosted by Schmidt Ocean Institute, 11th Hour Racing, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners Ocean science, technology, and conservation are coming together to be practiced at a community level that broadens inclusion and participation. Highlighting recipients of Schmidt philanthropy, this panel will share three U.S. based examples of science, business, and technology practitioners conducting Ocean work that incorporates local knowledge and community advocacy. Discussion around deep-sea research and protection in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati/Boston); the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust (Puerto Rico); and Marauder Robotics (Atlanta/California) will provide examples of how ocean conservation can be strengthened by local partnerships, particularly in regions that have traditionally held a smaller platform to share valuable knowledge and expertise. Speakers:

  • Melvin Alvarez, Grant Program Associate, 11th Hour Racing (moderator)
  • Dr. Randi Rotjan, Research Assistant Professor of Biology, Boston University and Co-Chief Scientist, Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) Conservation Trust
  • Dr. Dennis Yancy, Co-Founder and CEO, Marauder Robotics
  • Mark Martin, Director of Community Affairs and Field Research, The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Leveraging Innovative Technologies to Combat IUU Fishing and Human Trafficking

Hosted by Hawkeye 360 Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global threat eroding sustainable fisheries and healthy ocean ecosystems. It also perpetuates egregious human rights abuses through human trafficking, forced labor, and hazardous work conditions. Combatting IUU fishing is a difficult task due to the remote maritime regions where it occurs. Difficulty in identifying and tracking vessels engaged in illicit fishing activities further complicates direct enforcement actions and effective policies to prevent and deter these activities from continuing. Innovative commercial technologies may offer potent tools to government agencies such as NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to overcome these barriers to effective enforcement and deterrence. This panel will discuss some of the commercial technologies currently being evaluated and used by federal agencies to crack down on IUU fishing and its associated human rights abuses. Panel members will also discuss the potential for expanded public-private partnerships to leverage commercial capabilities in the fight against forced labor and human trafficking on IUU vessels. Speakers:

  • Sally Yozell, Senior Fellow and Director, Environmental Security program, Stimson Center (moderator)
  • John Serafini, CEO, HawkEye 360
  • Erik Friesen, Solutions Engineer, Planet
  • Johan Bergenas, Senior Vice President for Oceans, World Wildlife Fund-US (WWF-US)
  • James Chang, Senior Oceans and Environment Policy Adviser, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Engaging All Audiences and Communities for Ocean Conservation

Hosted by NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) works to engage, inspire, and connect people with national marine sanctuaries and spark wonder in visitors young and old. In 2019, ONMS worked with more than 68,895 students and 6,141 educators. But who are we reaching and who are we missing? In this panel, we will consider some recent efforts to increase visitation and access for underrepresented peoples at the most recently designated sanctuary, Mallows-Bay Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. In addition, we will consider how to expand access across the system, what barriers lie in the way, and specific ideas for ensuring more inclusive access for underrepresented communities.  Speakers:

  • Chris Mobley, Superintendent, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (moderator)
  • Rocio Lozano-Knowlton, Executive Director and Founder, MERITO Foundation Inc.
  • Betsy López-Wagner, Principal, Chief Strategist, López-Wagner Strategies
  • ‘Olu Campbell, Community and Government Relations Manager, Kamehameha Schools
  • Paul Orlando, Superintendent, Mallows Bay/Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] De Wata da We: Sacredness and Accessibility of the Ocean to the Gullah/Geechee

Hosted by the Gullah/Geechee Nation
Registration Link "De Wata da We" will be an interactive cultural circle of connection led by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation as she engages with leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and members of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition to discuss how the ocean is a sacred element to native Gullah/Geechees.  Ocean access is critical to the sustainability of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. Yeddi how we da hol pun disya and pun who webe. Panelists: 

  • Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State, Gullah/Geechee Nation 
  • Elder Carlie Towne, Minister of Information,  Gullah/Geechee Nation
  • Representative Glenda Simmons-Jenkins, Gullah/Geechee Nation

45 mins

Eye on the Horizon: Culture and Protected Waters

Protected areas need to represent the full breadth of experiences of people living in the United States and honor co-design and co-management with Indigenous and local communities. This session will highlight efforts to make our National Marine Sanctuary System and marine monuments more inclusive of all people. Opening Remarks

  • The Honorable Salud Carbajal, U.S. House of Representatives, CA-24 
  • The Honorable Kaiali'i Kahele, U.S. House of Representatives, HI-02 
  • Kris Sarri, President and CEO, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation 
  • Keola Lindsay, Hawai`i Island Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
  • Janine Ledford, Executive Director and Makah Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Makah Cultural and Research Center
  • Violet Sage Walker, Vice Chairwoman, Northern Chumash Tribal Council
  • Justin Dunnavant, Ph.D., President, Society of Black Archaeologists

60 min

Indigenous and Local Knowledge and Wisdom for Strengthening Conservation

Sponsored by: The Marine Mammal Commission Indigenous knowledge and wisdom strengthens our understanding of the planet and improves decision-making. National and global discussions often fail to consider this knowledge and wisdom. Indigenous and traditional communities need allies and funders who support their efforts to develop their own organized systems that increase their presence while developing the capacity to respond to the needs of Western science. The panel will highlight examples of how communities and scientists use indigenous and local knowledge and wisdom to address ocean and Great Lakes health and climate impacts. Opening Remarks

  • Peter Thomas, Executive Director, Marine Mammal Commission
  • The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senate, Alaska and Co-Chair, Senate Oceans Caucus
  • Kyle Whyte, Ph.D., George Willis Pack Professor, University of Michigan, School for Environment and Sustainability
  • Ilarion ‘Kuuyux’ Merculieff, Founder and President, Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways
  • Shavonne F. Smith,  Environmental Director, Shinnecock Indian Nation
  • Dr. Ayana Omilade Flewellen, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside and Board Member, Diving with a Purpose
  • Allison Smart, M.S., Environmental Division Manager, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Natural Resources Department

60 min

Exploring the Intersection of International Policy and Communities

Climate change and sustainable development are a common concern to humankind. The Paris Agreement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the Convention on Biological Diversity recognize that the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities should be respected, promoted and considered in policy agreements. This plenary will focus on how these international mandates and discussions provide a key platform for building access and power into policy-making. Moderator

  • Nathan J. Bennett, Ph.D., Principle Investigator, The Peopled Seas Initiative & Chair, People and the Ocean Specialist Group, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State, Gullah/Geechee Nation
  • Sophia Kianni, Founder, Climate Cardinals
  • Nisreen Elsaim, Chair, United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change
  • Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chairwoman, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah

60 min

[Partner Breakout] Community Discussion on Building Diversity in the UN Decade of Ocean Science

Hosted by NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine This breakout session will focus on diversity and inclusion in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (Decade), a unique, 10 year opportunity for nations to work together to generate the global ocean science needed to support the sustainable development of our shared ocean. During the first half of the session, three panelists will speak on topics such as intergenerational diversity, traditional ecological knowledge, the intersection of environmental and social justice, and gender inclusivity and the importance of these initiatives in the Decade. The second half of the session will foster discussion among the panelists and audience about what a diverse and equitable Decade looks like as we move forward with the implementation of the Decade through 2030 and beyond. Speakers

  • Taylor Goelz, Program Manager, Aspen Institute and Host, Ocean Decade Show on American Shoreline Podcast Network (moderator)
  • Anjali Boyd, Early Career member of the US Decade National Committee, Member of Black Women in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Science (BWEEMS), Director of iNviTECH
  • Austin Shelton, Director of the Center for Island Sustainability and Guam Sea Grant
  • Catalina Martinez, Regional Program Manager, NOAA Ocean Exploration
  • Dr. Wendy Smythe, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Duluth

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] DEIJ Reflections and Resolutions

Hosted by Women’s Aquatic Network and Sea Grant The culmination of 2021 CHOW presents us with a great opportunity to reflect on its theme, what we learned from it, and how we build a more racially equitable and just movement for ocean and Great Lakes conservation. Sea Grant and the Women’s Aquatic Network invite you to a moderated session highlighting key takeaways and actions for advancing JEDI in coastal, ocean, and marine science fields. Speakers

  • Mona Behl, Associate Director, Georgia Sea Grant
  • Jane Harrison, Coastal Economics Specialist, North Carolina Sea Grant
  • Abigail Hils, Executive Board Member, Women's Aquatic Network and Inclusive STEM Ecosystems for Equity and Diversity Program Associate, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Susan White, President, Sea Grant Association and Director, North Carolina Sea Grant
  • Lisa Wu, Executive Board Member, Women's Aquatic Network 

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Heartwired to Love the Ocean: Heartwired in Practice Stories

Hosted by Wonder: Strategies for Good and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research Extensive research has shown that people from diverse racial, ethnic, socio- economic, political, and faith backgrounds don’t simply care for the ocean — they are Heartwired to Love the Ocean. In this session, we share two Heartwired in Practice stories from non-profit organizations who successfully implemented and tested Heartwired messaging strategies in their own work — allowing them to create more compelling, relatable messages and to reach target audiences in new ways. Speakers:

  • Robert Pérez, Chief Exploration Officer, Wonder: Strategies for Good
  • John Whaley, Partner, Goodwin Simon Strategic Research

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Developing a Set of Shared Principles and Practices for Ocean Justice

Hosted by Ocean Conservancy A roundtable discussion aimed at drafting a discipline-wide set of principles to help guide the integration of justice and equity into national ocean conservation activities. Speakers:

  • Alexandra Sutton Lawrence, Vice President of Conservation, Justice and Equity,Ocean Conservancy (moderator)

45 mins

[Partner Breakout] Utilizing Hawaiian Cultural Traditions as a Foundation for the Management of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument


Hosted by Office of Hawaiian Affairs and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects a natural and cultural landscape unlike anywhere else on earth.  Join us to learn about upcoming activities and research that cultivate Native Hawaiian perspectives and utilize cultural traditions as a foundation to our everyday management work.  The projects include: engaging youth in marine vocational training while grounding them in Native Hawaiian canoe culture and non-instrument navigation; conducting intertidal surveys and monitoring across the Hawaiian archipelago to advise and direct management strategies that support sustainable fisheries and the Hawaiian concept of ʻāina momona (the fertility of our resources and land);  and, examining the impacts of Hurricane Walaka on the sand movements and shallow environment at Lalo (French Frigate Shoals), the nesting site for over 90% of the Threatened Hawaiian green sea turtles as well as 18 different seabird species and an important pupping site for Hawaiian monk seals.
  • Brad Kaʻaleleo Wong, Kūkulu Papahānaumokuākea, Papahānaumokuākea Program Specialist, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (Moderator)
  • Bonnie Kahape'a-Tanner, Executive Director and Captain, Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy
  • Haunani Kane, NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, University of Hawaiʻi
  • Kim Kanoe'ulalani Morishige, Ph.D. Candidate, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Marine Biology Graduate Program,  University of Hawaii 

45 mins

Opportunities for Federal Policy to Deepen Justice and Equity

In 2022, the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of major environmental legislation, including the National Marine Sanctuary Act (part of the Ocean Dumping Act), the Coastal Zone Management Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Congress is also considering legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act and address climate change and the ocean. This plenary will examine federal legislative and executive policies that can move us towards a deeper integration of justice and equity principles. Opening Remarks

  • Secretary Deb Haaland, U.S. Department of the Interior 
  • The Honorable Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senate, Washington and Chair, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
  • The Honorable Raul Grijalva, U.S. House of Representatives, AZ-03 and Chair, House Natural Resource Committee 
  • Russell F. Smith, Consultant, Flen Consulting
  • Taqulik Hepa, Director, North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management
  • Nahal Ghoghaie, Environmental Justice Manager, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Joe Oatman, Deputy Department Manager and Harvest Division Director, Nez Perce
  • Les W. Burke, JD, Founder, Jr. Scientists in the Sea 

60 min

Building Back Bluer

Federal, state, and local policy can promote a just transition to a sustainable blue economy by making infrastructure more resilient and investing in nature-based solutions; fostering job training and creation in blue industries such as restoration; and, supporting access to our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. This panel will focus on how to build back bluer to support the U.S. economy and competitiveness. Opening Remarks 

  • Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Department of Commerce  
  • The Honorable Thomas Carper, U.S. Senate, Delaware and Chair, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 
  • The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senate, Rhode Island and Co-Chair, Senate Oceans Caucus 
  • The Honorable A. Donald McEachin, U.S. House of Representatives, VA-04 
  • Felipe Benítez, Executive Director, Corazón Latino
  • Taishya Adams, Policy Director, Outdoor Afro
  • Margaret Gordon, Co-founder, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
  • Nils Bolgen, Program Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

60 min

CHOW Closing Plenary – Deepening Collaboration in the Ocean and Great Lakes Conservation Movement

Building off the conversations of the past three days, members of the CHOW Advisory Committee will explore what priorities emerged that can form the basis of an agenda to deepen justice and equity in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes conservation, science and policy? What does collective action look like? Who needs to be part of the conversation? What roles need to be established and elevated to expand access to decision making efforts and to resources? Opening Remarks

  • The Honorable Ed Case, U.S. House of Representatives, HI-01
  • The Honorable Mikie Sherrill, U.S. House of Representatives, NJ-11 and Chair, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment
  • The Honorable Joe Neguse , U.S House of Representatives, CO-02 
  • Kevin T. Bryan, Principal and Managing Director, Equnival Partners/Nature For Justice
  • David Riera, FEF McKnight Doctoral Fellow, Hispanic Access Foundation Oceans Advisory Committee
  • Helen Smith, Ocean Climate Action Associate, Creation Justice Ministries
  • Raimundo Espinosa, Executive Director, Conservación ConCiencia
  • Trisha Kehaulani Watson, JD, PhD, CEO and Owner, Honua Consulting 
  • Jaylene Wheeler, Justice and Equity Director, Kawerak, Inc. 
  • Alexa Lawrence, Vice President, Conservation, Justice, and Equity, Ocean Conservancy 
Conference Closing Remarks
  • Kris Sarri, President and CEO, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

60 min


Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 Sponsors and Partners

Capitol Hill Ocean Week and the Ocean Awards Gala would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors and partners. Be a part of the conversation on the future of our ocean and Great Lakes.

For information on 2021 sponsorship and support options, click below or contact carol@marinesanctuary.org.


Capitol Hill Ocean Week is grateful for the support of aquariums that further the mission of educating and sharing the wonders of our ocean with the world. 

Please support these institutions and other aquariums as they re-open their doors following the COVID-19 pandemic.









*CHOW 2020 numbers

Why is CHOW 2021 focusing on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)?

Systemic racism is expansive and persists in our laws, policies, and institutions, resulting in inequitable outcomes for communities across this nation. CHOW has always been a place to convene people who care about our ocean and Great Lakes to have meaningful conversations. This year, it offers opportunities to reflect, listen and learn to better understand how each of us can be stronger advocates.


Achieving bold, lasting change in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes policy will require us all to listen to the wisdom, perspectives and values of the communities carrying the greatest burdens of environmental inequities. CHOW 2021 offers an opportunity to examine how exclusionary practices and systemic racism negatively impact conservation, science, and policy. And, how anti-oppression and anti-racism work will improve the health and quality of life of people, as well as the sustainability of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them.


The CHOW 2021 program will explore how the environmental racism and climate injustices people and communities experience perpetuates disproportionate climate burdens, making them more vulnerable to the climate crisis. It will also explore how leaders across the nation are advancing local, regional, and national efforts to identify potential strategies to address the consequences of a rapidly warming planet. This is an opportunity for people who are passionate about the environment, specifically ocean-Great Lakes-climate action, to gather and discuss how to deepen justice and equity in our field. And we will learn from many of the leaders who have been at the helm of environmental and climate justice work and others who are just getting started. Only in learning can the conservation community advance the commitments necessary to grow a more racially just and equitable movement.


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is not a leader in this space, though we see our role as a convener and in time, an active ally. As an organization, we are at the beginning of our own internal work. We are learning and taking accountability for the work we haven’t done to date in this important space.

Be a part of the conversation on the future of our ocean and Great Lakes

Sponsorships for Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 and the Ocean Awards Gala are available now. Contact carol@marinesanctuary.org with any questions.

Click here for details

For the second time in conference history, CHOW 2021 will be an all-virtual event.

Our online platform will be inclusive and accessible to attendees all over the United States and the world.

For more about Capitol Hill Ocean Week, archives of CHOWs past, and other information, visit our CHOW main page.

If you have questions, please contact us at conference@marinesanctuary.org.

For information about sponsoring Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 or the Ocean Awards Gala, click here. Contact carol@marinesanctuary.org with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 20th Annual Capitol Hill Ocean Week

Q: What is Capitol Hill Ocean Week?

A: Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 runs June 8-10th. It is an opportunity for people who are passionate about the environment, specifically ocean-Great Lakes-climate action, to gather and discuss how to deepen justice and equity in our field. And we will learn from many of the leaders who have been at the helm of environmental and climate justice work in ocean and Great Lakes conservation and others who are just getting started.

Q: What is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s role?

A: The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is a leading voice for US protected waters, working with communities to conserve and expand these vital areas for a healthy ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation works in collaboration with community members, non-profits, universities and businesses in communities located near national marine sanctuaries on conservation, research and public outreach projects.

As it relates to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is not a leader in this space, though we see our role as this week’s convener and in time, an active ally in pursuit of equitable policy, an inclusive ocean and Great Lakes conservation movement and supporters for justice. As an organization, we are at the beginning of our own internal work. We are learning and taking accountability for the work we haven’t done to date in this important space.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s work is to connect people to the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes through our national marine sanctuaries and monuments. We cannot achieve that mission as an organization or as a part of the conservation community without taking the time to learn and listen together.

Q: Is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation fundraising off of Justice, Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)?

A: Capitol Hill Ocean Week is a free conference made possible by funds the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation raises to ensure access by all who would like to attend this annual event. In the coming months, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will seek funds for its own internal organizational JEDI work that is separate from its annual conference.

Q: How does Capitol Hill Ocean Week sponsorship work? Are conference sponsors vetted to ensure they are actively practicing and upholding Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion values?

A: Capitol Hill Ocean Week is an annual event that has remained free and open to the public year after year due to many sponsors underwriting the conference at varying levels. These are sponsors who the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation solicits funding from to cover the cost of programming, venue and/or virtual platform costs, and staff time.

Participants attending CHOW 2021 have raised concerns that there are conference sponsors with troubling diversity and discrimination issues, those who rely on colonial science (parachute science) and problematic conservation practices, some of which haven’t been publicly addressed, worked on, or resolved. CHOW is a convening space. We do not endorse or affirm that each individual sponsor is free of these practices. It is our deepest hope that our sponsor partners are committed to doing their own internal work, as we have our own to do.

Q: Is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation occupying space intended for others by focusing Capitol Hill Ocean Week on JEDI in the ocean and Great Lakes conservation?

A: For two decades, it has been our privilege, role and responsibility to convene Capitol Hill Ocean Week. As the Capitol Hill Ocean Week Advisory Committee, composed of 11 individuals, not including the consultant team at Meridian and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation staff, looked at the opportunity to elevate issues of race, equity and inclusion, it knew the theme of this conference could not be business-as-usual in 2021.

It is the role and responsibility of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to have the annual conference address some of the most critical issues in ocean and Great Lakes conservation. In our present role, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is the convenor of Capitol Hill Ocean Week, affectionately known as CHOW. The voices of experts and several community leaders involved are driving the topics and discussions of this event.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation staff recognize that we must address our JEDI work and we are at the beginnings of our own internal journey. As an organization, we will examine our own mistakes, decenter ourselves, and work to become active allies.

Q: Why is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation focusing on JEDI now?

A: It has never been more important to recognize the need to build racial justice, gender and social equality, and incorporate these into our core values. The communities of ocean and Great Lakes advocates, community organizers, scientists and practitioners in this field, nor ourselves, are exempt from this critical time of reflection and action. We must join actively to listen, learn and engage in these conversations.

CHOW Advisory Committee

The Foundation is working with an advisory committee, led by a team from the Meridian Institute, to help shape the agenda for Capitol Hill Ocean Week in 2021.

Kacky Andrews
Chief of Strategy
Ocean Conservancy

Kate Cell
Climate Campaign Manager
Union of Concerned Scientists

Raimundo Espinoza
Executive Director
Conservación ConCiencia

Jay Haigler
Lead Instructor and Safety Officer
Diving With a Purpose

Andres Jimenez
Executive Director
Green 2.0

Trisha Kehaulani Watson
Owner and Founder
Honua Consulting

Francisco “Paco” Ollervides
Executive Director
Green Leadership Trust

Queen Quet
Chieftess and Head-of-State
Gullah/Geeche Nation

David Riera
FEF McKnight Doctoral Fellow
Hispanic Access Foundation

Amanda Robinson
Fundraising and Operations Manager
Creation Justice Ministries

Jaylene Wheeler
Justice and Equity Director
Kawerak, Inc.


National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Ben Charo
Policy Outreach Coordinator

Shannon Colbert
Policy and Conservation Director

Kris Sarri
President and CEO


Meridian Institute

Kevin Bryan

Jeana Holer
Senior Project Coordinator

Meghan Massaua
Senior Mediator and Program Manager

Liana Quiñones
Project Associate I

Capitol Hill Ocean Week

What started as a small, daylong gathering in 2001 is now Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), the nation’s premier annual conference examining current marine, coastal and Great Lakes policy issues.

Convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation every June, CHOW brings together scientists, policymakers, scholars, businesses and conservation leaders to address pressing conservation, science, and management issues facing our oceans and Great Lakes.

The conference is held in conjunction with the Foundation’s Ocean Awards Gala, which recognizes champions of marine and Great Lakes stewardship with Leadership, Lifetime Achievement, Conservation Innovation, and Sanctuary Wavemaker Awards.

Registration is now open!


The next Capitol Hill Ocean Week will be June 8-10, 2021 and focus on justice, equity diversity, and inclusion in the ocean and Great Lakes community.