Board of Directors

Richard Spinrad
Read Bio

Dr. Richard W. (Rick) Spinrad recently retired from the position of Chief Scientist, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where he had been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014. An internationally recognized scientist and executive with more than 30 years of experience, Dr. Spinrad was the senior scientist for NOAA, driving policy and program direction for science and technology priorities. Prior to serving as Chief Scientist at NOAA, Rick was the Vice President for research at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, Oregon, and from 2003 until 2010 was the head of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the head of the National Ocean Service. Prior to joining NOAA, Dr. Spinrad served as a research director with the U.S. Navy (Office of Naval Research and Oceanographer of the Navy), where he was awarded the U.S. Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award (highest award given by the U.S. Navy to a civilian). Dr. Spinrad is the recipient of Presidential Rank Awards from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. Dr. Spinrad is past president of The Oceanography Society. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the Marine Technology Society, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), and an IMarEST Chartered Marine Scientist. Dr. Spinrad received his bachelor of arts degree in earth and planetary sciences from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He received his master of science and doctoral degrees in oceanography from Oregon State University.

Job Description

Position dates: January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

  1. Serve as the chief volunteer of the organization; serve as the principal Society spokesperson, as required, with the media, governmental agencies and Congress.
  2. Is a partner with the executive director in achieving the organization’s mission
  3. Provide leadership to the Board of Directors
  4. Chair meetings of the board after developing the agenda with the executive director
  5. Encourage board’s role in strategic planning
  6. Appoint the chairs of committees, in consultation with other board members
  7. Discuss issues confronting the organization with the executive director
  8. Help guide and mediate board actions with respect to organizational priorities and governance concerns
  9. Review with the executive director any issues of concern to the board
  10. Monitor financial planning and financial reports
  11. Play a leading role in fundraising activities (nonprofit only)
  12. Formally evaluate the performance of the executive director and informally evaluates the effectiveness of the board members
  13. Evaluate annually the performance of the organization in achieving its mission
  14. Perform other responsibilities assigned by the board or bylaws
Zdenka Willis
President-Elect Read Bio

Zdenka Saba Willis, L.L.D is the CEO of Veraison Consulting, focusing on ocean technology and policy. She retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Senior Executive Service where she was the founding Director of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office. From 2006 to 2007, she was the Director of NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center. Ms Willis retired with the rank of Captain from the United States Navy. As Meteorology and Oceanography officer, she deployed onboard Navy survey vessels, and held a wide range of duties including: Deputy Navigator of the Navy, Deputy to Naval Deputy to NOAA; Director of the National Ice Center; Commanding Officer of Oceanographic Unit One at sea on the USNS HARKNESS, Director of the Strategic Policy Forum (a crisis simulation for Members of Congress, senior Executive branch officials, and military leaders) and as adjunct professor in the Strategic Leadership Department at the National Defense University. Ms Willis has a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina, master’s degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School and from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from Dalhousie University. Ms Willis is an MST Fellow.

Position Description

Position dates: January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020.

  1. Chair of the Membership and Sections Committee, which is made up of the vice-president of section affairs, the vice president of government and public affairs and the section chairs.
  2. Chair, Nominating Committee
Donna Kocak
Immediate Past President Read Bio

Donna Kocak has been an active MTS member for over 15 years serving on the Board of Directors as VP Publications (past 3 years), Council as Chair of the Ocean Observing Systems and Underwater Imaging Committees (prior 10 years), Editorial Board, International Committee and a number of other ad hoc committees. She has contributed to the Society’s flagship publication (MTS Journal) on numerous occasions by authoring manuscripts and guest editing special editions including the 2013 and 2008 State of Technology and 2011 Biomimetics issues. She has organized conferences and workshops for both MTS and IEEE OES. She has over 25 years experience in the ocean engineering field supporting design, development and testing of various projects as well as starting a small business to develop software for underwater video/laser imaging systems. In her present position as Advanced Programs Engineer at HARRIS Corporation’s Government Communications Systems Division, Ms. Kocak is spearheading maritime projects with industry, government and academia. She holds three Master’s Degrees and was named the Space Coast Society of Women Engineer’s “2012 Outstanding Woman Engineer.”

Position dates: January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

Andy Clark
Vice President of Research, Industry, and Technology Read Bio

Dr. Andrew (Andy) Clark, Vice President of Research, Industry & Technology is a Fellow and Past President (1998) of the Marine Technology Society. His professional life has spanned leadership positions in Industry, Academia and Government, beginning 1974 in the Gulf of Mexico’s oilfields. In 1979, he came to Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute succeeding famed inventor Ed Link as Director of Engineering Research and Development. While there he headed the redesign and fabrication of the famed JSL manned submersibles, increasing their design depths to 1,000m, equipping them with state-of-the art robotics and laser systems and logging many hours diving in these subs.  He also led designs of purpose built Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and the specialized tools and systems needed to conduct undersea research and exploration.  Clark left HBOI in 1998 to found HARRIS Corporation’s Maritime Communications subsidiary (later HARRIS CapRock – sold in 2017 for $425M) and served as its first President and CEO.  Appointed by NOAA in 2005 as Industry Liaison for the National Office of Ocean Observation, he led their effort to engage the Maritime Industry with the nascent US-Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). In 2008 he founded and served as CEO of CSnet International, designing and deploying broadband seafloor sensor and communication networks around the world, among them the Offshore Communication Backbone (OCB) and Tsunami Early Warning Network covering several hundred square kilometers on the deep (3,000 m) seafloor of the Eastern Mediterranean.  Currently Trustee of Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and the Link Foundation he is also on the Ocean Engineering faculty of Florida Atlantic University.   Dr. Clark has been awarded US and International Patents for unique underwater systems, the Lockheed-Martin Award for Science and Technology, the Compass Distinguished Achievement Award, and now serves on the US National Committee to the United Nations (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).  Clark earned his Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering from the University of Hawaii, a B.S. in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, and is a licensed Professional Engineer.   He has authored over 50 publications, journal articles and book contributions.  Andy has been inducted in the Sea Space Symposium (the premier gathering recognizing pioneers space and ocean explorers), the Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C.  and is an avid diver.

Position Description

Position dates: January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2020.

  1. Co-chair the Professional Committee Board. The Society is known and regarded for the technical expertise of our members. This expertise gets disseminated through the auspices of the Professional Committees, via conferences, workshops, networking, programs and publications. The VP oversees the policy for our professional committee work: to ensure that all members have access to information and that projects and programs are viable and relevant.
  2. Serve on the Publications Committee
  3. Serve on the Budget and Finance Committee
  4. Have direct responsibility for designated Professional Committees.
  5. Pursue opportunities for the Society to develop and maintain positive and productive relationships with businesses, companies, corporations, trade associations and other industry organizations with an interest in marine affairs and technology.
  6. Enhance communications and membership within the business and for-profit sector
  7. Oversee issues as they relate to marine technology and industry affairs
Liesl Hotaling
Vice President of Education Read Bio

Liesl Hotaling has spent the past 20 years creating hands-on marine science and technology educational projects for primary through college students and educators. A former K-12 science teacher and adjunct community college instructor, she specializes in real time data education projects and hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational projects supporting environmental observing networks. She is currently a Senior Research Engineer with the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida; a partner in Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence – Networked Ocean World (COSEE-NOW) and the Collaborations; and Partnerships Coordinator for the National COSEE Network. She has served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), Stevens Institute of Technology, and as a Station Biologist and Education Specialist for the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. She holds a B.A. in Marine Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a M.A.T. in Science Teaching from Monmouth University, and a M.S. in Maritime Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Position Description

Position dates: January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019.

  1. Co-chair the Professional Committee Board. The Society is known and regarded for the technical expertise of our members. This expertise gets disseminated through the auspices of the Professional Committees, via conferences, workshops, networking, programs, and publications. The VP oversees the policy for our professional committee work: to ensure that all members have access to information and that projects and programs are viable and relevant.
  2. Serve on the Publications Committee
  3. Serve on the Budget and Finance Committee
  4. Have direct responsibility for designated Professional Committees.
  5. Ensure that the Society develops and maintains positive and productive relationships with academic institutions, laboratories—both public and private—and research institutes. Enhance communications and membership with universities and university-affiliated professionals, and with national and privately funded laboratories and institutes; seek out opportunities to excite the next generation with regard to ocean science and technology through outreach with K through 12 educators and the general public.
  6. Participate in the development of student sections and develop policy as it relates to MTS student programs and scholarships
  7. Oversee issues as they relate to marine technology research
  8. Provide timely and appropriate reporting of board decisions and actions to the membership as they relate to the education and research.
Erika Montague
Vice President of Communications Read Bio

Erika Montague holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Johns Hopkins University, as well as MS and BS in Biology from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. As Director of Science and Technology, Dr. Montague brings over 15 years of experience to OceanGate Inc., conducting research with the use of submersibles, ROVs and deep-sea landers for numerous oceanographic expeditions around the globe. She serves as the chief scientist and project manager for research and development, assisting clients with the implementation of existing and new technologies to meet their specific needs. Dr. Montague worked as a fellow in the Engineering Division at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), where she managed the development of several custom monitoring systems. Prior to MBARI, Dr. Montague was a researcher at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI) where she supervised the design and maintenance of the autonomous deep-sea observatory Eye-in-the-Sea (EITS), and led cruises to study bioluminescent life forms and test underwater technologies. Dr. Montague currently serves as the chair of the Ocean Exploration Committee.

Position Description

Position dates: January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020. Responsible for ensuring that Society publications meet the highest professional standards Develop and promulgate policy regarding advertising for the journal and newsletter Oversee marketing plans for publications Oversee development, policy and direction of new publication venues—online Journals, other newsletters, student publications, website(s) Chair Publications Committee Participate in all Editorial Board functions Chair ad-hoc committees as they relate to publications: website development, student/children publications Serve on the Budget and Finance Committee Oversee issues as they relate to publications Provide timely and appropriate reporting of Board decisions and actions to the membership publications

Richard Crout
Vice President of Section Affairs Read Bio

Dr. Richard Crout currently is a Supervisory Oceanographer and Head of the Ocean Sciences Branch within the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Oceanography Division at Stennis Space Center. He is involved in the analysis of satellite-derived ocean color data and coastal altimetry for Navy applications, processing ocean parameters from profiling gliders, and building an operational multi-mission satellite processing system. His interests include satellite, physical, and coastal oceanography; specifically the application of satellite remote sensed data (visible, infrared, and microwave altimetry data) to ocean phenomena. Prior to his arrival at NRL, Dr. Crout was an Oceanographer at NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and was responsible for the quality control of meteorology and oceanography data from NDBC, Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO), and Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) buoys. He supported the replacement of obsolete instrumentation in the TAO array by analyzing data from co-located buoys and served as Chief Scientist on NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana during a three week TAO cruise to the 170o W meridian. He led the effort to acquire, process, quality control, store, and display current profile data for more than seventy oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Crout served as the NDBC liaison to the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) and Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS). He was the Project Manager for the Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) Quality Assurance of Real-Time Ocean Data (QARTOD) that began to standardize and codify quality control algorithms for real-time data.

Position Description

Position dates: January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2021.

  1. Responsible to the president for the activities of all Society sections
  2. Serve on the Membership and Sections Committee described in Article IV Section 5 of the bylaws.
  3. Chair three yearly section chair teleconferences
  4. Facilitate dialogue and interaction among sections, and assist in finding speakers and topics to energize local section meetings.
  5. Advocate on behalf of the sections for programs and support
  6. Perform other responsibilities assigned by the board
  7. With the VP, Education and Research, oversees the development of the student sections and student section issues
Mike Pinto
Vice President of Budget and Finance Read Bio

Mike Pinto, after graduating with a degree in biology from San Jose State University in 1973, early career included co-ownership of a home aquarium manufacturing company and CFO of an engineering temporary employment agency. He joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 1983 as their first accountant and held the position of CFO/Treasurer for 16 years. In 1999, Mike joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) as CFO/Treasurer, the position he holds today. He volunteers as treasurer for several small non-profits in the Monterey Bay area, including the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and the Monterey Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. Mike has served for more than ten years as a volunteer for the MATE ROV competition at both the regional and international competitions as well as being the Finance Chair for the OCEANS ‘16 Conference in Monterey.

Position dates: January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2021.