Assistant Administrator Biography

A Message from the Assistant Administrator

About the National Ocean Service

Bamford Named New NOAA Assistant Administrator for National Ocean Service

Feb. 4, 2013
Holly Bamford

Dr. Holly Bamford

Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D., has been named the new assistant NOAA administrator for the agency’s National Ocean Service, succeeding David M. Kennedy who was named the new NOAA deputy under secretary for operations. Prior to her appointment, Bamford served as deputy assistant administrator for NOS.

“Holly not only brings strong scientific credentials to this position, but she also has significant leadership and management expertise. She is particularly well qualified for this position and I'm confident in her ability to lead NOS as it works to support healthy communities and economies,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

“It’s an honor to have been selected for this position,” said Bamford. “The National Ocean Service boasts a diverse portfolio of highly dedicated and extremely knowledge professionals who run excellent programs that serve Americans every day. NOS translates science into action, delivering the information, tools, and technical services needed to support our nation in a multitude of ways.”

As assistant administrator, Bamford oversees NOS, which serves as the lead federal agency providing science-based solutions to address economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. NOS observes, measures, assesses, and manages the nation’s coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes areas;  provides critical navigation products and services which contribute $729 billion annually to the Gross Domestic Product, and conducts response and restoration activities to protect vital coastal resources.

As deputy assistant administrator, beginning in 2011, she managed the financial and business operations while improving the agency’s performance to meet its ocean science and service missions. During that tenure, she also led a comprehensive review of headquarters functions that identified efficiencies and oversaw implementation of the recommended changes that resulted in enhanced operations and program coordination. 

As the first director of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in the Office of Response and Restoration, she brought national recognition to the program and the issues related to marine debris, accomplishments that were recognized with a NOAA Administrator’s Award in 2008. Through her work as marine debris director and division chief, Bamford has served on a number of scientific and advisory committees and presented at a number of national and international meetings, academic institutions, as well as addressed the public through national media outlets including CNN, ABC, PBS NewsHour, Good Morning America, Rolling Stone, People, and the Wall Street Journal. 

Her work in establishing the coordinated federal interagency marine debris effort and in addressing the issues behind the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” earned her finalist status in 2010 for the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal and was highlighted by the Washington Post in its December 21, 2009 Federal Player Profile column.

Bamford has also served on a number of science and advisory committees, including chairperson of the Federal Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee, the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, the Potomac Advisory Council, a member of the U.S. delegation at the sixth session of the Law of the Sea, and at the 2007 Ocean Policy Forum in South Korea. 

Throughout her academic and federal service, Bamford has received a number of prestigious awards for the demonstration of exceptional management, leadership, and partnership skills, including a NOAA Bronze Medal, two NOAA Administrator’s Awards, two Coastal America Presidential Partnership Awards, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf Guardian Award.

After graduating from Franklin and Marshall College in 1993 with an undergraduate degree in business administration, Bamford earned both her master’s degree and doctorate in environmental chemistry from the University of Maryland, quantifying the physical and chemical processes that control the transport and fate of organic contaminants. She also spent time as a guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology developing analytical methods to detect trace organic contaminants in water and air particles.  

Bamford has a number of peer-reviewed publications that have been widely referenced in the field of environmental chemistry and water quality, including papers in Environmental Science & Technology, Atmospheric Environment, and Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. In her first position at NOAA, Bamford served as a senior member of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research executive scientific support team.   

Bamford and her family live in Silver Spring, Md.

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