MARAD’s 1st Woman Administrator Sworn In

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Ann Phillips
Rear Admiral (Ret.) Ann Phillips
New MARAD chief Rear Admiral (Ret.) Ann Phillips. Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Ann Phillips (Ret.) has been sworn in as the 20th administrator of the Maritime Administration (MARAD), the U.S. Department of Transportation announced
in May.

Nominated by President Biden on Oct. 21, 2021, Phillips was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 10. She is the first woman to lead MARAD.

“From her distinguished naval service to her leadership on coastal infrastructure, Rear Admiral Ann Phillips has championed America’s maritime sector throughout her career,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

“Her experience and expertise will be invaluable as we address supply-chain bottlenecks, implement the maritime investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, ensure the safety and success of midshipmen at the Merchant Marine Academy and combat climate change in the maritime sector,” he added.

Phillips replaces Deputy Administrator Lucinda Lessley, who had served as MARAD’s acting administrator since January 2021. The previous administrator, Adm. Mark “Buzz” Buzby, resigned in protest following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

As head of the Maritime Administration, Phillips’ role will be to advise the Secretary of Transportation on commercial maritime matters, include the movement of goods and supply- chain issues, as well as the maritime industry, environment and compliance, ports and waterways infrastructure and strategic sealift.

She will also engage public and private stakeholders in the industry and oversee the U.S Merchant Marine Academy. In addition, her role includes management of MARAD’s programs to improve and modernize the nation’s maritime network, particularly the investment in U.S. ports and waterways made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That includes $2.25 billion to be awarded over the next five years through the federal Port Infrastructure Development Program and $25 million for the America’s Marine Highway Program.

“It’s an honor to work alongside the professionals who make up the MARAD team and to serve the American people,” Phillips said in a statement. “I understand the critical role that our commercial Merchant Marine plays in our national and economic security. In my nearly 31-year Navy career, I have witnessed many of the challenges facing our maritime sector and look forward to working with my colleagues to address them.”

“This is an exciting time for MARAD as we work to expand and strengthen America’s waterborne transportation system and workforce,” she added.

Most recently, Phillips served as Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection, developing Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan. Prior to her appointment to the governor’s office, her naval service included extensive experience operating with multi-national maritime forces, including NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, as she held overseas posts in Guam and Lisbon, Portugal.

Her final flag command, Expeditionary Strike Group Two, included 14 ships and 10 subordinate commands—all the Amphibious Expeditionary Forces on the East Coast. Earlier, she served on the chief of naval operations’ staff as deputy director and then director of Surface Warfare Division.

Phillips graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Master’s in Business Administration, with distinction, from the College of William & Mary – Raymond A. Mason School of Business.