Dave Westerholm, former chief of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Response, has been named the new director of the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration.
Westerholm will be responsible for overseeing NOAA’s efforts to prepare for and respond to environmental hazards caused by marine debris and the release of oil and chemicals into the nation’s ocean and coastal waters. He began his position on Jan. 22.
“Dave Westerholm is an innovative and proven leader who has more than 30 years experience heading and managing environmental, safety, security and engineering programs,” said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. “His expertise in preparing for and responding to oil spills and the release of hazardous materials will enhance NOAA’s already strong response capabilities.”
Before joining NOAA, Westerholm was vice president and senior operations director for maritime security, policy, and communications with General Dynamics Information Technology, where he managed $17 million in contracts supporting federal and state customers in homeland security, emergency response and strategic communications.
During his tenure as a Coast Guard officer, from 1976 to 2003, Westerholm performed a variety of marine safety, homeland security, environmental compliance, and emergency planning and response roles.
From 2000 to 2003, he directed all Coast Guard efforts to prepare for and respond to oil and hazardous material releases in the U.S.
coastal zone, and served as vice chair of the multi-agency National Response Team, which responds to 30,000 incident reports each year. He retired from the Coast Guard with the rank of captain.
A recognized international response leader, Westerholm has headed U.S. delegations to Mexico and Canada, and successfully negotiated critical joint response agreements.
Westerholm has received more than 45 awards and military decorations, including the Department of Transportation Gold Medal, 9/11 Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, and Joint Service Achievement Medal,
Westerholm holds a master’s of science degree in environmental policy and planning from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Temple University, where he majored in science with concentrations in physics, geology, chemistry, and mathematics.