About the Education Council

Supporting a community of NOAA educators

At Education Council meetings, NOAA educators and partners share projects and activities, get feedback, and make connections. 

A photo of a pilot talking to a group of elementary students in front of a plane.
Lt. Col. Keith Gibson interacts with students from Gilchrist Elementary School during the Tallahassee Hurricane Awareness Tour. (403rd Public Affairs)


Council members represent NOAA's line offices and staff offices, including special representation for offices whose education activities are specifically authorized by statute.

Chair: Louisa Koch - Director of NOAA Education
Vice Chair: Christos Michalopoulos - Deputy Director, Office of Education

Executive Secretariat: Andrea Sassard & Will Lyons - Office of Education

Voting seats

Some voting members have designated a representative to serve as a secondary point of contact for Council-related activities: 

Bay Watershed Education and Training Program

Members: Bronwen RiceJacqueline Laverdure

Climate Communications, Education and Engagement Division, NOAA Research

Member: Frank Niepold, Todd Christenson

Coral Reef Conservation Program

Member: Vacant

Marine Debris Program, National Ocean Service
Member: Emma Tonge

Representative: Alexandria Gillen

National Estuarine Research Reserve System & Office of Coastal Management, National Ocean Service

Members: Stacy Cummings

National Marine Fisheries Service - At Large

Members: Kate Naughten, Bart Merrick

National Ocean Service - At Large

Member: Bruce Moravchik, Symone Barkley

National Sea Grant Program, NOAA Research
Members: Joshua Brown, Maddie Kennedy

Representative: Tina Miller-Way (Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium)

National Weather Service - At Large

Member: Mary Fairbanks

NOAA Ocean Exploration
Member: Kristen Crossett

Representatives: Susan Haynes

NOAA Research - At Large
Members: Eric HackathornMike Walker

Representative: Claire Montgomery

NOAA Satellites & Information - At Large
Member: Ryann Agbasi

Representative: Rafael DeAmeller

Office of Education - Higher Education

Member: Natasha White

Office of Education - K-12/Informal Education

Members: Carrie McDougall, Sarah Schoedinger

Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service

Members: Kate ThompsonTracy Hajduk

Teacher at Sea Program, National Marine Fisheries Service

Member: Jennifer Hammond

National Weather Service Field Education Representative

Members: Kurt Kotenberg, Erik Heden

Advising seats

NOAA Budget Office
NOAA Central Library
Office of Communications

Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference describe the guiding principles of the Education Council. They were last updated in 2017.


The Education Council is the primary forum for discussing ideas and proposals for NOAA's education activities and priorities. The Education Council: 

  • Provides advice and counsel to the Under Secretary on matters pertaining to education
  • Coordinates education activities across NOAA
  • Ensures that NOAA’s education programs and activities are based on NOAA-related science
  • Works with external partners to promote education efforts that directly and indirectly benefit the NOAA mission

In conjunction with NOAA's Office of Education, the Council develops and monitors the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan and makes recommendations to NOAA leadership on all aspects of NOAA's educational activities. This includes the development of any relevant documents and reports in support of these activities.  

Roles and responsibilities

NOAA's Office of Education serves as the Executive Secretariat for the NOAA Education Council by scheduling meetings, developing agendas based on input from Council members, and keeping records of proceedings. The Council meets monthly, or as needed. The Council may authorize the formation of task-specific working groups.

Council Members contribute to the development of recommendations through discussion at meetings, review of materials, and participation in working groups.

Decision making process

Decisions will be accomplished by voting. Each council member can vote in favor, against or request additional discussion. The Chair will strive for consensus on every issue. The Chair maintains 51% of the vote, therefore the final decision is made by the Chair when consensus is not achieved.

New membership criteria

New voting Council members must:

  • Represent sustained, significant education programs
  • Demonstrate a high level of education capacity (with steady, documented history and/or budget continuity)
  • Bring a capability that benefits the Education Council and broader NOAA community
  • Have support from appropriate NOAA leadership
  • Spend a significant portion of time dedicated to education
  • Represent programs that support the NOAA Education Strategic Plan
  • Agree to implement the NOAA Education Monitoring and Evaluation System