Maritime Blue Appoints Founder Joshua Berger as First President/CEO
The Washington Maritime Blue Board of Directors appointed Joshua Berger as the non-profit organization’s first president and chief executive officer starting Monday, March 15th, 2021. Berger founded the organization in 2018 as Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s Maritime Innovation Advisory Committee was completing the State’s Strategy for the Blue Economy - promoting a growing maritime economy, addressing climate impacts of the ocean and marine environment, and supporting resilient and equitable communities.
“Getting Maritime Blue underway has been a tremendous and collective effort from a host of great industry, government, institutional, and community partners. I have had the great privilege to work alongside these leaders for a number of years and am honored to be afforded this opportunity to take it to the next level”; said Berger.
As the governor’s maritime sector lead for the Washington State Department of Commerce, Berger worked to form and establish the innovation cluster organization with a mission to implement the strategy led by the same diverse and multidisciplinary stakeholders that created it: private industry, government, research institutions, labor, tribes, workforce and community-based organizations.
Today, Maritime Blue has over 115 members and 7 staff, runs entrepreneurship programming, manages multiple consortium- based Joint Innovation Projects, and supports the Youth Maritime Collaborative to create pipelines for youth of color to find sustainable, equitable and living wage jobs in the maritime industry. The organization has experienced significant growth thanks to the support from multiple stakeholders and diverse revenue sources, including a 3-year operational support grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Department of Energy.
“The challenge to address both the significant impacts and enormous opportunities ahead of us requires collaboration, investment, and trust. That can sometimes feel heavy and overwhelming, but it can also be inspiring. I am incredibly motivated to support what has become more than just an ‘effort’, but a ‘movement’,” said Berger.
Lauren Offenbecher of SSA Marine and Eleanor Kirtley of Green Marine, who serve together as co-vice chairs of the Maritime Blue Board of Directors, see great potential for growth and impact. “Maritime Blue has already generated incredible momentum, and the board recognized that the organization needed dedicated leadership to continue its growth trajectory. Joshua’s unique skill set and his wholehearted dedication to our organization’s mission make him particularly qualified for this role,” said Offenbecher.
“Joshua has been at the helm of maritime organizations for years even preceding Maritime Blue. How he engenders consensus, such that ‘we are all shipmates’ and share in the mission and success, makes him uniquely most qualified. Maritime Blue works in a number of areas to accelerate innovation, sustainability, and equity in a sector that is experiencing rapid change”, adds Kirtley. “We are excited to see what is to come with all of the planning and support we’ve realized in the past few years.”
Berger plays a significant role with national and global partners while serving on multiple boards and advisory committees supporting maritime and ocean clean technology, innovation and ocean literacy. Before joining the Department of Commerce in 2015, he served as director of the Washington Maritime Federation and brings extensive maritime industry experience to his position. During his career, he has developed a successful record of leadership in a number of positions.
Berger earned a master’s degree from Antioch University Seattle in Participatory Planning. He is also a licensed and professional merchant mariner having worked in the towing industry and aboard traditional sailing ships as platforms for education and training, including captain and restoration project manager of the historic schooner Adventuress. He lives in Seattle, WA raising his children as sailors and stewards with his wife Miranda.
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