NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,

“We must relentlessly uphold a workplace that is brimming with respect and free of discrimination for all employees.”

These are the words that Dr. Kathy Sullivan shared in NOAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy Statement. I hope you join me in personally committing to the workplace that Dr. Sullivan describes—one that is safe, welcoming, nurturing, and professionally challenging. While supervisors and managers are in a special position to influence our culture and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives, every person in our organization has a role to play.

The pledge

Dr. Callender's pledge is posted outside his door.

In recognition of the role that each of us plays, Dr. Sullivan announced the launch of the Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit earlier this month. The Toolkit describes what diversity and inclusion mean for NOAA; provides demographic information about NOAA’s workforce; highlights best practices; lists organizations with which we can collaborate to find diverse talent; delivers information about upcoming training for NOAA staff members; includes links to videos and articles from sources such as Scientific American and Harvard Business Review; and more. I encourage you to take 15 minutes right now to become familiar with the material on the website. The material is also compiled into a handy PDF document. After you have familiarized yourself with the content on the site, please make time every week to dive into one or more areas. I also invite you to print out and sign the “I’m committed” pledge. I keep my signed pledge outside my office door as a reminder of my role in positively influencing our culture.

My commitment to the people who work in our organization means that I will not tolerate harassment of any kind. I will, and I expect my entire leadership team to, address this issue quickly, thoroughly, and fairly.

The only way we can achieve our mission is to provide a work environment that celebrates our differences, promotes respect, and cultivates professional development. I hope you will join me in committing to these principles.

Thank you,

W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service

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Around NOS

Addressing the Future of Gulf Spill Response

OR&R Director Dave Westerholm addressed 140 oil spill responders, oil industry representatives, and civil servants at the annual meeting of Clean Gulf Associates in New Orleans. He provided an update on OR&R that included an overview of Deepwater Horizon data availability, training opportunities, and personnel changes. He focused on how to use existing data and technology evolution to improve response and natural resource damage assessments, and concluded with a discussion about questions like “What if we had not used in situ burning?” and “How do we communicate and set expectations during a hazardous event?” Clean Gulf Associates is a nonprofit oil spill cooperative dedicated to serving the Gulf Coast oil industry.


Progress Toward an Operational HAB Forecast for Lake Erie

An initial operating capability has been established that would make it possible for NOS to produce a twice-weekly Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Bulletin for Lake Erie—an important milestone toward making this forecast operational. Lake Erie routinely experiences HABs during the summer from blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which produce toxins that can affect drinking water quality and the recreational use of resources. An operational HAB Bulletin for Lake Erie will help local communities prepare for and mitigate the risks from this damaging HAB. NCCOS has been producing the bulletin in demonstration mode since 2009. The initial operating capability enables CO-OPS to produce bulletins in parallel with NCCOS during this bloom season. CO-OPS will take over issuing the forecast next year when it is fully operational.


Office of Coast Survey Hosts International ‘Chart Adequacy Workshop’

Cartographers and hydrographers from 12 countries gathered in Maryland to participate in a NOAA workshop on evaluating the adequacy of nautical charts. During the workshop, they learned techniques to evaluate the suitability of nautical chart products using chart quality information and publicly available information. Participants came from Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Vietnam, The Netherlands, Mexico, and Thailand. Instructor presentations and Global Information System laboratory exercises were provided by Dr. Shachak Pe’eri and LT Anthony Klemm.


NOS Co-Hosts Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) Workshop

NGS, OCS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) co-hosted the annual Joint Airborne LIDAR Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) workshop in Silver Spring, Maryland. JALBTCX is a partnership among NOAA, USACE, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Naval Oceanographic Office to share LIDAR technology development, standards, and data acquisition, and to build upon collaborative successes. This year’s workshop is the first one to be held in Silver Spring, and was one of the largest JALBTCX workshops to date.


NOAA Plays Key Role in Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress

NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal agencies partnered to present the second annual Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress at the USFWS Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Eighty-seven Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students aged 15-18 participated in the week-long event to learn about climate change issues in indigenous communities, federal efforts, and how they can help their communities become more resilient in the face of climate change. The Congress included workshops, a career fair, and an overview of the National Climate Assessment, with a focus on how climate change is impacting native environmental health and ways of life. NOS Education Coordinator Peg Steffen provided the keynote address and led a workshop on “Climate Games: Changing the Future through Play.”


Visitor-Use Guidance Makes Cost-Benefit Decisions Clearer

It’s no easy task to manage visitors flocking to key outdoor resources that are also federally protected and managed. The new Visitor Use Management Framework provides federal land and water management agencies with a flexible set of guidelines and a legally defensible, transparent decision-making process. Its “sliding scale” analysis weighs investments of time, money, and other resources against the complexity of specific situations and the consequences of alternative management decisions. NOAA and five other agencies will use the framework to inform their management of protected and other recreational areas. NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center and OCM are collaborating on this continuing project through the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council.

NOS Assistant Administrator

NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Russell Callender

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For Asma Mahdi, working on global intra- and interfaith initiatives within the environmental realm is a rewarding experience.

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