media panel bios

Seth Borenstein, National Science Writer

The Associated Press

Seth Borenstein is a national science writer for The Associated Press, the world's largest news organization, covering issues ranging from climate change to astronomy. He is the winner of numerous journalism awards, including the National Journalism Award for environment reporting in 2007 from the Scripps Foundation and the Outstanding Beat Reporting award from the Society of Environmental Journalists in 2008 and 2004. He was part of an AP Gulf of Mexico oil spill reporting team that won the 2010 George Polk Award for Environment Reporting and a special merit award as part of the 2011 Grantham environment reporting prizes. He was part of a team of finalists for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbia space shuttle disaster. A science and environmental journalist for more than 25 years, covering everything from hurricanes to space shuttle launches, Borenstein has also worked for Knight Ridder Newspapers' Washington Bureau, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He is the co-author of three out-of-print books, two on hurricanes and one on popular science.  He has flown in zero gravity and once tried out for Florida Marlins (unsuccessfully).  He also teaches journalism at the New York University’s Washington DC campus. Recent stories can be read here:



Ciaran Clayton, Director of Communications


Ciaran Clayton joined NOAA as Director of Communications in June 2012.  Prior to this, she was an account manager at Burson-Marsteller, one of the largest global public relations companies, where she worked on a number of thought leadership campaigns, crisis communications projects, and public policy initiatives ranging from STEM education to internet privacy and security to alternative energy for some of the country's largest corporations.  Previously, Ciaran worked on Capitol Hill spearheading media, digital, and strategic communications efforts.  Ciaran got her start working in Washington, DC for Witeck-Combs communications where she led publicity surrounding the opening of the City Museum of Washington, DC and for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Research Foundation (now the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation).  Ciaran received a Bachelor's Degree in English from the University of San Diego and graduated with honors.  



Kevin Enochs, Executive Producer

Voice of America

Kevin Enochs is an award winning Executive producer and project manager who has more than 25 years of experience in the media world.  Kevin began his career at CNN in 1988 as an intern.  In 2000 he moved to National Geographic where he helped create and launch programming for the National Geographic Channel when it went on the air in 2001.  Kevin has also consulted with the Pew Trusts in their communications department, and conducted media training courses with the American Red Cross.  He is currently a multi-media production consultant for the Voice of America where he has created programming in the Mandarin, Persian, Russian and English news departments.  His current work in the Voice of America's English news division involves the creation of a proactive news desk, and a modern digital newsroom.  His focus is on digital message coordination and the creation of communication strategies for VOA as it strengthens its internet presence.

Kevin lives in Alexandria Virginia, with his wife and two children, and two rescue cats. 

David Heath, Senior Reporter

The Center for Public Integrity

Heath is a veteran investigative reporter who writes about the environment and scientific integrity. While at the Center, his work has appeared on PBS Frontline, PBS NewsHour, the CBS Evening News, Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, and Scientific American. His work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times and he was an Emmy Award nominee for his work with Frontline on corporate dentistry. He's won five national journalism awards since coming to the Center in 2010, including awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the National Press Club. He previously worked at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund and The Seattle Times, where he co-authored an investigation of conflicts of interest surrounding clinical cancer research at a Seattle hospital. The series won the Harvard University’s Goldsmith Prize, the George Polk award, the Gerald Loeb award, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s public service award, the Associated Press Managing Editors’ public service award and the Newspaper Guild’s Heywood Broun award. Heath’s expose on congressional earmarks was recognized by the National Press Foundation with the Everett Dirksen award for best coverage of Congress. Heath was featured twice on Bill Moyers Journal for his work on earmarks. He is a graduate of Grinnell College and was a 2006 Harvard Nieman Fellow. He has taught journalism at the University of Washington and Harvard's summer school.



Justin Kenney, Senior Director of Communications

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Justin Kenney has more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, cutting across business, government, policy and advocacy. Since April 2012, he has served as senior director of communications at The Pew Charitable Trusts, working with the environment initiatives. Before that he served in the Obama Administration as the director of communications and external affairs at NOAA. He is a former senior public affairs officer with the Pew Charitable Trusts, where he managed strategic communications for environment, state policy, and the arts and culture programs. He was the director of communications for the Pew Ocean Commission, the first independent review of federal ocean policy in more than 30 years. He oversaw a successful three-year public meeting tour, effective translation of scientific materials to the public, completion of the commission’s recommendations and rollout of the commission’s final report. He also served as the deputy director for communications for the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Clinton Administration, as the senior environmental policy advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, and as the communications director for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. Kenney earned a master’s degree in public communication from American University.



Nancy Kinner, Professor and Director

Center for Spills and Environmental Hazards

Nancy Kinner is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UNH. She has been UNH director of the Coastal Response Research Center, a partnership between UNH and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and director of the Center for Spills and Environmental Hazards since 2004. The centers ( bring together the resources of a research-oriented university and the field expertise of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration to conduct and oversee basic and applied research, conduct outreach, and encourage strategic partnerships in spill response, assessment and restoration.



RADM (ret) Mary Landry, Director of Incident Management & Preparedness Policy

U.S. Coast Guard

In April 2012, Mary Landry became the inaugural Director of Incident Management and Preparedness at Coast Guard Headquarters.  Ms Landry is responsible for establishing, developing, and implementing all hazards incident management goals, strategies, policies, and doctrine to meet Coast Guard responsibilities in incident preparedness and response.  Ms Landry was recently detailed to the White House for one year as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy where she worked on national preparedness and response issues.   Prior to joining the Coast Guard’s Senior Executive Service, Ms Landry served on active duty in the Coast Guard retiring at the rank of Rear Admiral in 2011.  As a flag officer she served as Director of Governmental and Public Affairs at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC. Her subsequent tour was as the Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District where she was responsible for U.S. Coast Guard operations covering 26 states, more than 1,200 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland waterways from Florida to Mexico and including the entire navigable lengths of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee River systems. During this tour she served as Federal on Scene Coordinator in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and oversaw the service’s response to the historic 2011 Mississippi River Valley floods.



Debbie Payton, Chief of the Emergency Response Division (ERD)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service, Office of Response and Restoration (ORR)

Debbie Payton is the Chief of the Emergency Response Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Response and Restoration.  She coordinates a multi-disciplinary team of scientists that provide critical information to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator on fate, transport, effects and response considerations for oil or hazardous material incidents occurring in the marine environment.  Ms. Payton served as the Vice Chair of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR) from 2011-2013 and presently serves as the Department of Commerce representative to the National Response Team (NRT).  

Ms. Payton has worked for NOAA for over 35 years, providing support to hundreds of oil and chemical spills during her career.  Major spill responses include the IXTOC1 well blowout, Alvenus, Arco Anchorage, Presidente Rivera, World Prodigy,  Exxon Valdez, New Carissa, T/V Westchester,  the Persian Gulf oil spills associated with Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom and, most recently, the MC-252 (Deepwater Horizon) well blowout.  In addition, she has been engaged in supporting several non-spill incidents such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Isaac and Superstorm Sandy; debris issues associated with the 2011 Japanese tsunami; and modeling support for several downed aircraft.   She has worked both within the U.S. and with other countries to develop oil and chemical spill contingency plans and modeling standards for trajectory analysis. 



Mark Schleifstein, Environment Reporter | The Times-Picayune | The Times-Picayune environment reporter Mark Schleifstein's stories on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill were among the paper's work honored with the 2010 Edward J. Meeman Award for environmental reporting. Schleifstein's reporting on Katrina was among the newspaper's stories honored with 2006 Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service and Breaking News Reporting. He's also the co-author with John McQuaid of the book "Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms."

He also is co-author of The Times-Picayune's 2002 series, "Washing Away," which warned that much of New Orleans could be flooded by hurricane storm surge because the area's levees were too low and subject to overtopping. The series - which won awards from the National Hurricane Conference and the American Society of Civil Engineers - received international attention after Hurricane Katrina, because it had foretold the disaster lying in wait for the city.  He also was co-author with McQuaid of the 1996 series, "Oceans of Trouble: Are the World's Fisheries Doomed?", which won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Schleifstein is a member of the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists.



Kate Sheppard, Senior Reporter

Huffington Post

Kate Sheppard is a senior reporter and the environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post. She previously reported for Mother JonesGrist, and the American Prospect. Her writing has also been featured in the New York TimesRoom for Debate blog, the GuardianForeign Policy, High Country News, The Center for Public Integrity, In These Times, and Bitch. Her reporting has been recognized with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Online News Association, the Deadline Club and Planned Parenthood. She serves as the vice president for membership of the Society of Environmental Journalists.



Elizabeth Shogren, Reporter

High Country News

Based in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Shogren covers how major Western issues play out on the national stage for High Country News magazine and  For the past decade, she was NPR's environment correspondent, and covered the 2010 BP oil spill, hurricane Sandy and other disasters. Previously, Elizabeth worked for the Los Angeles Times as Moscow correspondent, White House correspondent, congressional correspondent, and national environment correspondent.



Dana Tulis, Deputy Office Director for the Office of Emergency Management (OEM)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Dana Tulis has over 30 years of experience in various sectors of the environmental field, including environmental advocacy groups, consulting, and 27 years with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  She is currently the Deputy Office Director for the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and has served in both this position, as well as the Acting Office Director.  She was the Agency’s National Incident Coordinator for the BP (Deepwater Horizon) Response, coordinating directly with EPA, USCG and NOAA’s most senior leadership, briefing members of Congress daily, and attending Cabinet Level meetings.  She ramped up EPA’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), overseeing a staff of approximately 300 people over a span of five months.  She provided senior Agency technical guidance to responses such as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Joplin Tornado, Yellowstone River Oil Spill, Midwest flooding as well as day-to-day Emergency Responses and Removal actions.  She has provided leadership to the Agency in determining the approach for both intentional and accidental chemical, biological, and radiological environmental responses since the 9/11 attacks.  Ms. Tulis directly supported the World Trade Response ensuring the sampling and interpretation of over 235,000 laboratory analysis and supporting the risk assessment and response efforts.  She has testified for the Agency on the response to the Capitol Hill cleanups and radiological environmental laboratory capacity.  She ensured EPA established an Environmental Lab Response Network and the building of environmental laboratory capacity for B. Anthracis and Chemical Warfare Agents within the Agency.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from Duke University and degrees in Biology and Psychology from Colby College.



Dave Westerholm, Director, Office of Response and Restoration (ORR)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Dave Westerholm is a Senior Executive with the U.S. Government who currently serves as the Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Office of Response and Restoration.  His Emergency Response Program provides Federal On Scene Coordinators with scientific support during oil and chemical incidents.  He manages NOAA’s Disaster Response Center and as a primary federal trustee his Damage Assessment and Restoration Program is responsible for assessing damage and restoring ecological function under the Clean Water Act and CERCLA.  In addition, he manages NOAA's Marine Debris Program, a multi-agency effort devoted to prevention, education and mitigation of the hazards of persistent marine debris.  Prior to NOAA, Mr. Westerholm had five years of corporate experience as both Senior Operations Director and Vice President for Anteon Corporation and then General Dynamics.   He is a retired Coast Guard Captain with experience in a variety of assignments including engineering, search and rescue, marine safety, security, emergency management and environmental protection.



Tim Wheeler, Reporter

The Baltimore Sun

Tim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay for the Baltimore Sun. He's a former president of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and currently chair of SEJ's Freedom of Information Task Force. In 30 years at the Sun, he's won numerous awards for his coverage of the environment. He's also covered growth and development, state and local government and higher education. Before joining the Sun, he worked for a regional news service in Washingon, D.C., and for newspapers in Norfolk and Richmond, Va.



Captain Howard Wright, Chief of Coast Guard Public Affairs

U.S. Coast Guard

Captain Howard Wright is the current Chief of Coast Guard Public Affairs.  In this role, he oversees the Coast Guard’s national media operations, social media program, communication planning and Public Affairs workforce management.  His most recent assignment was as Deputy, Coast Guard Financial System Business Requirements in which he oversaw all aspects of the Coast Guard transition to a Financial Management, Procurement and Accounting Shared Service Provider including requirements definition, business process reengineering, and data cleanup conversion and migration.  His previous assignments include Chief, Coast Guard Strategic Communication, Executive Assistant to the Director of Governmental and Public Affairs, and two tours as an HU-25 Falcon Aircraft Commander flying Search and Rescue, Drug Enforcement and Migrant Interdiction Operations.  CAPT  Wright’s special assignments have included External Affairs Director for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, and Deputy External Affairs Director for the FEMA New York Initial Field Office for the Superstorm Sandy response.  CAPT Wright is a graduate of the U.S Coast Guard Academy.  He holds a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and an MBA from Georgetown University. 

CAPT Wright lives in Washington DC with his wife, Stephanie Ostapowich originally from Edmonton, Alberta CA, who is the Deputy Chief of Communication for the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.