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NOAA Environmental Leadership Seminar Series: Past Presentations

Reflections on Leadership in an Environmental Agency

by Katie Rowley on 2022-09-15T08:28:00-04:00 | Comments

Date: August 4, 2022

Speaker: John Cortinas, PhD;  Director Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), OAR, NOAA

Abstract:  After spending nearly 20 years in leadership positions within NOAA, this presentation will detail the path of someone who has risen up through the organization from being a postdoc to a Senior Executive director of two programs and one laboratory.  This rise from being a young scientist to a leader has not always been easy, but the path included many lessons along the way that are sure to benefit any aspiring future leader.  This presentation will discuss these lessons with a focus on creating leadership skills for today and the future.  

As a leading environmental agency, NOAA is seen as an honest broker of environmental information, providing many useful products and services to the American public and the world.  To ensure that NOAA continues to provide the most complete and accurate environmental intelligence today and in the future, it will need strong leaders with additional new skills to manage an evolving workforce and address additional societal needs for this information.   Such evolving skill sets will be discussed along with foundational leadership skills that will help move NOAA into the future.     

Speaker Bio:  As a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service, Dr. Cortinas became the fifth permanent director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) in 2019.  He leads NOAA’s pre-eminent laboratory that focuses on studying the weather, ocean, and ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean region, including surrounding areas, to improve NOAA’s products and services for the nation.  Prior to arriving at AOML, he served nine years as director of OAR’s Weather Program Office and eight years as the director of the OAR Cooperative Institute program, both in Silver Spring, MD.  He has served on the numerous boards of directors, advisory committees, and senior-level hiring panels.  He is a mentor to many individuals, as well.

Throughout his career, he has been a passionate advocate for underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  He is a member of several scientific organizations that work to improve diversity within STEM, such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, Latinos@NOAA, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), for which he is currently a selected member of the new AMS Culture and Inclusion Cabinet.  In NOAA he is the Executive sponsor of the Latinos@NOAA employees resource group and the Executive Champion for OAR’s EEO Advisory Committee.

Cortinas received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado, and a doctorate in Geophysical Sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.  He has authored and co-authored many scientific articles and served on numerous American and international scientific working groups and committees.


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