Spinrad Confirmed as 11th NOAA Administrator

Richard “Rick” W. Spinrad, who served as chief scientist of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Obama administration, is back at the federal agency as Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and 11th NOAA administrator.

NOAA Fisheries has also announced the appointment of Janet Coit as NOAA Fisheries assistant administrator.

Spinrad is tasked with leading the agency’s strategic direction and oversight of $7 billion in proposed FY22 annual spending to tackle challenges ranging from weather modeling and prediction, and the climate crisis to leveraging non-governmental and private partnerships and promoting a sustainable blue economy.

His appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 17.

Spinrad also previously served as NOAA’s assistant administrator for research and assistant administrator for ocean services and coastal zone management.

Prior to first joining NOAA, he held several positions with the U.S. Navy, including the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research, and was the executive director for research and education at the non-profit Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education.

Spinrad is the author or co-author of over 70 scientific articles, papers, book chapters and opinion pieces. He has also had faculty appointments at the U.S. Naval Academy, George Mason University and Oregon State University, and held executive positions in private industry.

A native of New York City, Spinrad holds a bachelor’s degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, and a masters and doctorate in Oceanography from Oregon State University.

Coit’s appointment, effective June 21, mandates her to support and manage NOAA’s coastal and marine programs. She succeeds Paul Doremus, who had served as acting assistant administrator since January, and Chris Oliver, who held the post under the Trump administration. Oliver served for 16 years as executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before taking the administrative post with NOAA Fisheries. He has joined American Seafoods in Seattle as the company’s special advisor on government affairs.

Coit has been engaged in work on environmental issues natural resource management and stewardship for over 30 years. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said that Coit brings to NOAA a wealth of experience in supporting fisheries promoting the seafood sector and the marine environment and tackling climate change.