Darren T. Lerner, director of the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant), has been elected president of the Sea Grant Association (SGA), a nonprofit organization that sets priorities for the 34 Sea Grant programs across the U.S. and provides a unified voice on issues of importance toward increasing the sustainability of the oceans and coasts and resilience of coastal communities.
The two-year term spans 2023–24 and marks only the second time in the 45-year history of the SGA that the president has been elected from Hawaiʻi.
Lerner’s role provides a unique opportunity to elevate issues of critical importance to Hawaiʻi and the Pacific such as Indigenous knowledge, stewardship, aquaculture and coastal resources, coastal hazards, building resilient communities, environmental and climate justice, the impacts of tourism on the economy, culture and environment and more.
“I have known Darren for many years and am thrilled to be working alongside him as the new president of the Sea Grant Association,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program. “The National Sea Grant Office and the Sea Grant Association provide distinct and important leadership roles for the National Sea Grant College Program. I look forward to continuing the strong partnership between our office and the Sea Grant Association under Darren’s leadership as we work together to develop creative and impactful solutions to support coastal communities and advance coastal science.”
In his new role, Lerner is ensuring SGA delegates have direct engagement with island communities, universities, state, federal and nonprofit experts in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region to learn about cutting-edge research and education activities addressing climate change and promoting resilience.
Lerner noted, “As a nonprofit organization, the SGA has an important responsibility to represent the interests of the 34 Sea Grant programs and engage directly with members of Congress, the White House, U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA and other executive branches of the federal government. That said, this is a great opportunity to utilize this platform to bring the knowledge and understanding of issues facing Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region front and center on a national scale, and provide an opportunity for communities to share their stories directly to help shape meaningful coastal and ocean policies.”
–By Cindy Knapman