Partner Breakout Sessions schedule and descriptions

In addition to the 11 plenary sessions at Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), we are excited to announce 18 breakout sessions, in which we invite partner organizations to dig deeper into key priorities related to CHOW 2021’s focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for healthy oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.

Explore the session descriptions, hosts and panelists for partner breakout sessions on the CHOW agenda. All times listed are ET.

Day 1 - Tuesday, June 8

12:15 – 1:00

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. 


  • 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


12:15 – 1:00

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. 


  • 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


12:15 – 1:00

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 30×30.  


  • 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


3:30 – 4:00

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.  


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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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.  


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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.  


  • 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

Day 2 - Wednesday, June 9

12:15 – 1:00

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. 


  • 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


12:15 – 1:00

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. 


  • 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)


12:15 – 1:00

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.  


  • 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


12:15 – 1:00

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. 


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


  • 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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


  • 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 


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


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


5:15 – 6:00

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. 


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


5:15 – 6:00

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 


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.