Judging Panel

The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE is privileged to work with an expert Judging Panel, creating a fair and successful competition. Their input and advice is invaluable, and we truly appreciate the generous time and the consummate knowledge they share with us.

The Judging Panel consists of members associated with various organizations encompassing the oil cleanup, regulation and oil production industries, creating a qualified group of individuals who will contribute their knowledge to the comprehensive judging process. Their professional insight will be imperative as we look to award the team or teams who have successfully designed and demonstrated innovative solutions that will recover oil on the sea surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) and the highest Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE).

Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE Judges [  PDF ]

John Joe Dec
John Joe Dec (JJ) is a retired United States Coast Guard Gulf Strike Team, environment equipment specialist and oil spill response professional. During the BP oil spill, Mr. Dec outfitted more than 30 Coast Guard and commercial boats to skim oil near and offshore, training more than 200 crew members along the way. He also assists with classroom and field oil spill training, as well as field demonstrations for the Coast Guard Oil Spill Response Training course at OHMSETT. Mr. Dec began working in the oil spill field in 1984 at Marine Safety Office Hawaii then at Marine Safety Office Guam. There, he was a Response Supervisor with the Gulf Strike Team responsible for contracting all necessary personnel, equipment, and supplies to support Coast Guard led responses to oil and hazardous substance spills from the Mexico/U. S. border through the navigable U.S waters.

Mr. Dec then went on to the First Coast Guard District in Boston, MA. He was required to travel on short notice to the location of any ICS Command Post to personally support the Incident Commander. Under the overall direction of the Incident Commander, he interfaced regularly with contractors, making independent judgments as to the type and amount of oil spill equipment and supplies needed. Mr. Dec also maintained close relationships with other engineering and operating organization elements, government agencies, proven professional engineers, and industry and technical organizations to keep abreast of the latest developments in the Engineering/Environmental Response fields. He developed a local database of available response equipment and expertise, as well as coordinated oil spill equipment training for Coast Guard response personnel. Mr. Dec was also responsible for conducting inspections on oil spill response companies, evaluating types and kinds of skimmers, booms and trained personnel.

Eugene Johnson
After graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1965, Gene Johnson served in the Coast Guard until his retirement in 1991 with the rank of Captain. During his Coast Guard career, he served on the icebreaker USCGC NORTHWIND and the cutter USCG WINONA (that included a year in Viet Nam). He attended MIT where he earned Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture.

Among other assignments, Capt. Johnson was Commanding Officer of the Marine Inspection Office in Houston (TX) and Commanding Officer of the Marine Safety Office in Norfolk (VA). It was during his duty at MSO Norfolk that he was the Federal On-Scene Commander for two significant oil spills. His final tour of duty was as the Chief of Marine Safety for the Fifth U.S. Coast Guard District where he also co-chaired the EPA Region III Response Team (RRT3). He joined the Delaware Bay & River Cooperative in 1991 as Manager, becoming President in 1992. He counts among his major accomplishments his work, representing industry and APICOM, on developing the regulations to implement OPA90, his participation in the development of the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP), and his ongoing work on the DBRC’s Oil Spill Response Plan. While DBRC responded to many spill during Gene’s 18 years, the most significant spill was the Athos I spill in November 2004 in which almost all of DBRC’s resources were utilized over a 4 month period. Gene retired on June 30, 2009.

Dennis Takahashi-Kelso
Dennis serves as the Executive Vice President of Ocean Conservancy. Kelso's distinguished career has covered every aspect of ocean conservation, including public service in natural resources conservation, university teaching, research on fisheries and environmental policy and environmental grant making.

Most recently he served as the Program Officer for Marine Fisheries Conservation at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Executive where his responsibilities included strategy development and grant making for fisheries conservation policy reforms and for market interventions to encourage sustainable fishing and aquaculture. Prior to that, Kelso was a member of the faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz where his research examined changes in Pacific Coast fisheries, particularly as a result of the shift toward production of farm-raised rather than wild-caught salmon.

Before coming to California to pursue his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, Kelso had an extensive and industrious career in conservation in the state of Alaska, serving as Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, a member of Alaska Governor Steve Cowper's cabinet, Deputy Commissioner of Fish and Game, and director of Alaska Division of Subsistence Hunting and Fishing. When the tanker Exxon Valdez went aground in 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, Kelso directed the state's oversight of the cleanup and enforcement of environmental laws. He also served as Chair of the Alaska Emergency Response Commission and a member of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council, the Alaska Land Use Council, and the Alaska Water Resources Board. In addition to his doctorate from UC Berkeley, Kelso also holds a law degree from Harvard University.

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen is an Emergency Oil Spill Response Coordinator at the Engineering and Research Branch at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. His responsibilities include working on oil spill planning, preparedness and response issues, coordinating on oil spill response issues with the Joint Information Center, and assisting in oil spill response exercises, planning meetings and training classes. Previously, Mr. Nguyen worked as a Production Supervisor for ConocoPhillips. As Production Supervisor, he was responsible for directing, coordinating and supervising all operational activities within his region necessary to safely and efficiently produce on grade products and process streams while adhering to all company and governmental policies, guidelines and regulations. Mr. Nguyen holds numerous training certificates from institutions as widespread as OSHA, DOT, FEMA, and University of Reno, Nevada. This training helps Mr. Nguyen to tactfully and efficiently manage disaster responses. Mr. Nguyen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Our Lady of Holy Cross College.

Henry R. "Skip" Przelomski
Mr. Przelomski has been Vice President and Senior Technical Advisor of the Clean Caribbean & Americas (CCA) since 1991. His major responsibilities are to maintain and use for immediate deployment a multimillion dollar stockpile of air mobile oil spill response equipment covering all technically accepted methods of oil spill response. Hand-in-hand with the maintenance of the equipment, he is relied upon to maintain expertise and knowledge of oil spill response strategies, methods, issues and equipment developments, in order to recommend modifications and improvements in the inventory to the President and members of the CCA, and to provide technical advice on actual spills.

Mr. Przelomski developed specifications and oversaw the procurement of approximately $6 million dollars of response equipment for the CCA. He has deployed to numerous spills in the Caribbean and Latin America since coming to the CCA and has been a key participant in technical seminars, conferences, and working groups in the U.S. and Latin America, particularly on the subject of dispersant use and in-situ burning. He has also participated in numerous oil spill response exercises as an advisor and controller.

Mr. Przelomski is an active member of the Hazardous Substances and Oil Spill Response Committee F-20 of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). ASTM is a nonprofit organization devoted to the development of voluntary full consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services.

The mission of the F-20 Committee is to be the foremost developer, producer and custodian of voluntary, world class consensus standards, specifications, test methods, guides, terminology and practices for the design, construction and operation of oil and hazardous substance response equipment, technology, and techniques.

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Przelomski headed up the CCA deployment team operating the CCA Airborne Dispersant Delivery System (ADDS) out of Stennis International Airport, Kiln, MS. Over 360,000 gallons of dispersant were safely sprayed on the oil slick during 81 missions.

Prior to the CCA, Mr. Przelomski served twenty years in the U.S. Coast Guard and retired as a Commander in June 1991. The majority of his career was spent in the marine safety and environmental response field. His last tour of duty was as Assistant Chief, Marine Safety Division of the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, Florida. Two of his duties were to serve as the Coast Guard Alternate Co-Chair, to the Caribbean Regional Response Team and to the Region IV Response Team.

Mr. Przelomski is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, but he considers himself a Floridian after 26 continuous years in Florida and two previous military assignments there. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a Master of Engineering Administration from George Washington University. He currently resides in Pembroke Pines, Florida with his wife Carol.

Donald A. Toenshoff, Jr.
Donald (“Don”) A. Toenshoff, Jr., became Executive Vice President of the Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) in April 1996. His responsibilities at MSRC include the executive leadership of: MSRC’s Health & Safety program, MSRC’s marine engineering & maintenance functions; MSRC’s vessel dry-docking program; the MSRC Marine Operations Division; federal regulatory spill response classifications; MSRC’s Quality Assurance & Quality Control programs; the MSRC dispersant program; and MIS & Telecommunications.

From 1998 to early 2010, Don provided leadership to MSRC’s Eastern Region, which includes the coastal region from Maine to Georgia, and the Mid-continent Region.

He previously spent four years during the creation and with the National Response Corporation (NRC) as
Executive Vice President. His responsibilities at NRC included the development and oversight of the NRC program; commercial oversight of oil spill response activities; oversight of the NRC Training Institute; business development; and development of NRC’s operational infrastructure. Concurrently, he was Director of Clean Pacific, providing regional U.S. West Coast oil spill response services.

He presently is on the Board of Directors of SCAA, the Spill Control Association of America. Additionally, he is a member of APICOM, the Association of Petroleum Industry Co-Operative Managers.

Mr. Toenshoff represented the oil spill response industry on the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Response Plan Negotiated Rulemaking Committee in 1992, which developed the present oil spill response planning guidelines, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
He previously held positions with Phibro Energy, Inc. (Commercial Petroleum Operations); Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation (Marine Operations Port Captain); and Stolt-Nielsen, Inc. (Fleet Operations and Sea-Going Deck Officer)

Mr. Toenshoff is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point (BS, Marine Transportation, 1984); University of Bridgeport College of Business and Public Management (MBA, International Business, 1990), and has attended the Columbia Business School Executive Program (1995) and the University of Virginia Darden Business School Executive Program (2000)

Mr. Toenshoff is the recipient of: The Women’s Propeller Club of the United States Port of New York 1983 Heroism Award; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy 1983 Special Award for Heroism, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Outstanding Professional Achievement recognition (2004).

Peter K. Velez
Peter K. Velez is the Global Emergency Response Manager for Shell International Exploration and Production. He received a B.S. (1974) and M.S. (1975) in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He has been employed by Shell since 1975. His assignments have included Drilling Engineering, Civil Engineering, Division Civil Engineer, Operations Superintendent, Production Superintendent, Manager Production Engineering, Manager Health, Safety and Environment, Manager Regulatory Affairs, Manager Regulatory Affairs & Incident Command, and his present assignment.

He was appointed by the Secretary of Transportation to the USCG National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee in which he served for 7 years, the last 4 years as the Chairperson. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Marine Preservation Association (largest Oil Spill Response Organization in the U.S.). He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences – Marine Board. He presently chairs the IPIECA Arctic Oil Spill Task Force, and serves on the API/NOIA Oil Spill Response Task Force established after the Deepwater Horizon incident. As the Incident Commander for Shell, he has responded to major incidents in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore involving oil spills, hurricanes, security, Y2K, and other events. He has performed work for Shell at international locations in Nigeria, Oman, Algeria, Gabon, UK, Norway, Russia, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

Dave Westerholm
Dave Westerholm currently serves as the Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Office of Response and Restoration. He oversees an Emergency Response Program that includes Scientific Support Coordinators who directly support Coast Guard Federal On Scene Coordinators with environmental data, modeling, preparedness aids and training. As the primary federal trustee, his Restoration Program is responsible for protecting coastal and marine resources, mitigating threats, reducing harm, assessing damage and restoring ecological function under the Clean Water Act, CERCLA and the Oil Pollution Act. He also manages the Marine Debris Program, a multiagency effort devoted to prevention, education and mitigation of the hazards of persistent marine debris.

Prior to NOAA, Mr. Westerholm had several years of corporate experience as both Senior Operations Director and Vice President for Maritime Security, Policy and Communications for Anteon Corporation and General Dynamics. He is a retired Coast Guard Captain with more than 27 years of experience where he specialized in marine safety, security and environmental protection. In the Coast Guard, he served on the front lines as a responder, coordinated operations as a Captain of the Port and Federal On-Scene Coordinator and culminated his career as the Chief of the Office of Response. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Response Team and co-led the interagency group for Oil Spill Research and Development. Mr. Westerholm holds a BA in Science from Temple University and a MS in Environmental Management from the University of Michigan.

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