The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration have announced the historic appointment of Rear Admiral Joanna M. Nunan (U.S. Coast Guard, Ret.) as the next superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). Nunan, who spent more than three decades in the U.S. Coast Guard, has commanded units at every level both afloat and ashore. She will begin work at the Academy in a few weeks.
“Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan is the right leader at the right time for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Her years of experience as a senior military leader—including command at sea—have prepared Rear Admiral Nunan to shape the future of the USMMA and help ensure the safety and success of its extraordinary midshipmen.”
“Rear Admiral Nunan is uniquely prepared to lead and strengthen USMMA on every front,” said Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips. “She understands both the critical role USMMA plays in our economic and national security and the organizational transformations that are essential to ensuring USMMA prepares students in a safe and respectful environment to excel in a maritime industry undergoing rapid change.”
Rear Admiral Nunan retired earlier this year as the Coast Guard’s Deputy for Personnel Readiness. In that role, she oversaw the Coast Guard’s entire personnel enterprise, including the recruitment, training, support, and retention of all active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel. She also supervised the Coast Guard Academy and served on its Board of Trustees.
Previously, Rear Admiral Nunan served as the Assistant Commandant for Human Resources. In that role, among her many responsibilities, she helped spearhead efforts to expand diversity and inclusion in the Coast Guard, including formulating policy changes focused on increasing the retention of women in the service. She also served as a member of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention, Response, and Recovery Committee.
Earlier in her career, she served as the Military Advisor to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and as the Military Assistant to Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. She also served more than nine years at sea—including commanding two buoy tenders—and previously served as the Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District and as Commander of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.
A Bridgeport, Connecticut native, Nunan graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1987 and received her Master of Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic. She also obtained three Coast Guard merchant mariner licenses, including Master of vessels of not more than 1,600 gross tons and 3rd Mate on vessels of unlimited tonnage.