March is women’s history month.  Today is International Women’s Day.  This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge—based on the premise “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.” (https://www.internationalwomensday.com)

It is always tempting to showcase women who are the first to hold their leadership position.  Some of those women certainly deserve a shout out today:   Kamala Harris, the first woman to be Vice President of the United States, Janet Yellen who was the first woman to serve as chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve and is now the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, our new secretaries of the U.S. departments of Energy and Commerce, where much of our relationship with the ocean is governed.  I also want to recognize Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the first woman to serve as Director-General of the World Trade Organization.  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has already announced her first priority:  Ensuring that the long years of discussion about ending saltwater fishing subsidies come to a successful resolution to fulfill the requirements of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, as it relates to ending overfishing.  It is a big challenge and it is also a very important step towards restoring abundance in the ocean.

Women have played leading roles in conservation and stewardship of our natural heritage for more than a century—and in marine conservation, we have been blessed over the decades with the leadership and vision of women such as Rachel Carson, Rodger Arliner Young, Sheila Minor, Sylvia Earle, Eugenie Clark, Jane Lubchenco, Julie Packard, Marcia McNutt, and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.  The stories of hundreds more remain untold.  Women, particularly women of color, still face far too many barriers to pursuing careers in the marine sciences and policy, and we remain committed to reducing those barriers where we can.

Today I wanted to take a moment to thank the women of The Ocean Foundation community—those on our Board of Directors, on our Seascape Council, and on our Board of Advisors; those who manage the fiscally sponsored projects we host; and of course, on our hardworking staff.  Women have held half or more of the staff and leadership roles at The Ocean Foundation since its founding.  I am grateful for all of you who have given their time, talent and energy to The Ocean Foundation over nearly two decades.  The Ocean Foundation owes its core values and its successes to you.  Thank you.