CMTS Chair

Pete Buttigieg - Secretary of Transportation Chair of the CMTS
Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg currently serves as the 19th Secretary of Transportation, having been sworn in on February 3, 2021.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. A graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Buttigieg served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.

He is the son of Joseph Buttigieg, who immigrated to the United States from Malta, and Jennifer Anne Montgomery, a fifth-generation Hoosier.

Growing up in South Bend—which was once home to Studebaker car manufacturing—Pete Buttigieg, like many other Americans in the industrial Midwest, grew up surrounded by empty factories and abandoned houses, sometimes hearing that the only way to a good future was to get out.

He returned to the Midwest after school, worked in the private sector, and was elected Mayor of South Bend in 2011 with a focus on delivering a new future for the city through a fresh approach to politics and bold ideas.

Soon known as “Mayor Pete,” Buttigieg worked across the aisle to transform South Bend’s future and improve people’s everyday lives. Household income grew, poverty fell, and unemployment was cut in half. The city established new resources to extend opportunity and access to technology for all residents, and he launched a “Smart Streets” initiative to improve street design in the downtown and the historically under-resourced West Side. This Complete Streets strategy led to benefits that included small business growth along previously neglected corridors, and hundreds of millions of dollars in new private investment in the once-emptying downtown.

His leadership helped spark citywide job growth and facilitated innovative public-private partnerships like Commuters Trust, a benefits program designed to improve the city’s transportation experience for workers.

At the same time, Mayor Pete worked to build a South Bend community where every resident could feel safe and included. His initiative on municipal identification cards for residents helped to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, while a small business incubator established in a historically Black neighborhood worked to expand opportunity, and a surge of investment went into repairing or removing abandoned houses in lower-income neighborhoods.

In 2019, he launched his historic campaign for president. Throughout 2020, he campaigned for the election of the Biden-Harris ticket and served on the advisory board for the presidential transition. In December, he was nominated by President-elect Biden to be Secretary of Transportation. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 2, 2021, becoming the first openly gay person confirmed to serve in a president’s Cabinet.

Secretary Buttigieg lives with his husband Chasten and their rescue dogs, Buddy and Truman.

Coordinating Board Chair

Lucinda Lessley - Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration
Lucinda Lessley

It is fortuitous that the chair of the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) Coordinating Board has rotated to the Department of Transportation as Secretary Pete Buttigieg spearheads the White House priorities for infrastructure, supply chain, and diversity. These are issue areas that cross the many federal agencies that are members of the CMTS. The 2021-2022 work plan reflects these priorities while addressing many other issues that remain important, including navigation safety, environmental stewardship, a resilient Marine Transportation System (MTS), maritime transportation in the U.S. Arctic, continuing impacts on the MTS workforce from COVID-19, military to mariner transition, and others.

This year's goal is Fostering a More Efficient, Equitable, and Environmentally Sound MTS. The goal supports the priorities set by the Biden Administration while being aligned with the 2017-2022 CMTS National Strategy "Channeling the Maritime Advantage", and ensuring the development and implementation of national marine transportation system (MTS) policies consistent with national needs. During DOT/MARAD's term as chair of the Coordinating Board, we will begin writing the next National Strategy on the MTS for 2023-2028.

The demands on the MTS have intensified under supply chain challenges, infrastructure requirements, and ensuring a healthy workforce, on the dock as well as in the pilot house. Under the new work plan, the CMTS will strengthen the newly reorganized Supply Chain and Infrastructure Integrated Action Team, seek to harmonize MTS-related initiatives toward decarbonization, while remaining vigilant to support the MTS via the COVID-19 Working Group as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The 2021-2022 CMTS Work Plan includes four priority areas: Advance an Efficient and Safe MTS Supply Chain; Enhance the Health, Welfare, Diversity and Growth of the MTS Workforce; Emphasize Environmental Stewardship, and Advance Unity of Effort in the MTS.

Lucinda Lessley was sworn in as Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration on January 20, 2021. She has been serving as Acting Administrator since her appointment. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Lessley worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for approximately 16 years. Most recently, she was Senior Investigator with the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Previously, Ms. Lessley worked in a variety of positions for the late Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, including as Policy Director of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Legislative Director in the Congressman’s personal office, and as Professional Staff on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

There are more demands on the MTS now than during any other time in history. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic will have lasting economic effects and the MTS is proving more vital than ever to the United States as we work to reinvigorate the economy and emerge as a stronger and more vibrant nation. We will accomplish this together through the following shared priorities.

Prior to her work on the Hill, she was a staff member to the Maryland General Assembly. Ms. Lessley has a Master of Science from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.

Executive Director, Executive Secretariat

Helen Brohl - Executive Director U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System
Helen Brohl

Since October 17, 2017, when the CMTS National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System (MTS): Channeling the Maritime Advantage was completed, the CMTS has been leaning forward to implement a "boat load" of initiatives to support the MTS.

Drawing from the National Strategy and the approved work plan under our current Coordinating Board Chair, RDML Richard Timme (USCG), our Future of Navigation Integrated Action Team (IAT) just published the U.S. Navigation Information Strategic Action Plan 2021-2026, an update of the 2012 strategy. The strategy reinforced the need for a fully implemented eNavigation vision as proposed by the International Maritime Organization. The Federal navigation service agencies have taken this vision or idea for eNavigation and have clarified the ways in which they will provide the best, most accurate information to support a safe and secure navigation system. The Maritime Innovative Science and Technology IAT completed its 6th biennial conference with the Transportation Research Board. This year, the very timely subject of automation within the MTS was examined.

The Arctic Maritime Transportation IAT has also been incredibly active. After completing the very comprehensive update on the projection of vessel activity in the U.S. Arctic 2020 to 2030, the team has just reviewed the U.S. Arctic MTS infrastructure assessment table which indicated over 40 changes in the state of infrastructure. As noted by RDML Timme, "The 2021 Arctic MTS infrastructure table serves as a valuable repository of current Arctic marine transportation system infrastructure for federal agencies, Tribal representatives, and stakeholders to use as shipping steadily increases in a strategic region that has never been more relevant."

This past year, the MTS was dramatically impacted with the rest of the nation from the COVID 19 pandemic. In September 2020, the CMTS established a COVID 19 Working Group with over 15 agencies engaged to address those impacts. The Working Group produced a plethora of support documents including a compendium of mental health resources for mariners, held a workshop with CDC about vaccination of MTS workers, and is supporting a mariner survey to assess mental health. All of these resources are available on the CMTS Topics page. This work was a catalyst to also establish a MTS Supply Chain Working Group to address impacts from COVID 19 and other marketplace drivers.

The CMTS is an extraordinary Federal interagency partnership of over 25 active members, including White House offices, and as the organization grows in membership, so does its value. We remain indebted to the many agency members who provide expertise and resources to the Executive Secretariat and CMTS activities.