Distinguished Speakers: Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Mrs. Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI).
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Dr. Kathryn Sullivan assumed the role of Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator on February 28, 2013, where she had been serving as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as performing the duties of NOAA's Chief Scientist, a vacant position. She is a distinguished scientist, renowned astronaut and intrepid explorer.
As assistant secretary, Dr. Sullivan played a central role in directing Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science and services, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities. She provided agency-wide direction with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses. As Deputy Administrator, she oversaw the smooth operation of the agency.
Dr. Sullivan's impressive expertise spans the frontiers of space and sea. An accomplished oceanographer, she was appointed NOAA's chief scientist in 1993, where she oversaw a research and technology portfolio that included fisheries biology, climate change, satellite instrumentation and marine biodiversity.
Dr. Sullivan was the inaugural director of the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Prior to joining Ohio State, she served a decade as President and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, one of the nation's leading science museums. Dr. Sullivan joined COSI after three years' service as Chief Scientist.
Dr. Sullivan was one of the first six women selected to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three shuttle missions during her 15-year tenure, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Sullivan has also served on the National Science Board (2004-2010) and as an oceanographer in the U.S. Navy Reserve (1988-2006).
Dr. Sullivan holds a bachelor's degree in earth sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a doctorate in geology from Dalhousie University in Canada.
Wendy Schmidt is the President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, where she works to advance the development of renewable energy and the wiser use of natural resources. The foundation houses its grant-making operation in The 11
Hour Project, which supports more than 150 nonprofit organizations in program areas including climate and energy, ecological agriculture, human rights, and our maritime connection.
On Nantucket, The Schmidt Family Foundation operates ReMain Nantucket, a local group devoted to enhancing the economic, environmental and social life in the downtown of America's oldest continuous community.
In addition to leading the foundation, Wendy was a founding board member of Climate Central, an organization that connects scientists and journalists working together to provide accurate, non-advocacy news and analysis about our changing climate and its impacts on our cities, coastlines, agriculture, fresh water, and oceans.
In 2009, Wendy and her husband Eric Schmidt, created the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), and in 2012 launched the research vessel, Falkor, as a mobile platform to advance ocean exploration, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze sharing of information about the oceans.
In 2010, to further her commitment to ocean health issues, Wendy partnered with XPRIZE to sponsor the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, a $1.4 million competition designed to identify efficient and innovative solutions to address oil spillage from ocean platforms, tankers, and other sources. The 18-month long competition, prompted by The Deepwater Horizon disaster, resulted in a solution that yielded fourfold improvement over existing cleanup capabilities.
In 2012, Wendy again partnered with XPRIZE to design the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE a prize that will respond to the global need for better information about the process of ocean acidification, one of the harbingers of climate change. The prize launched in September 2013.
Wendy earned an M.A. in Journalism from The University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College. She serves on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Central, The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, The Trust for Governors Island, XPrize Foundation, Grist and MAIYET. Interests include sailing, scuba diving and tennis.