CMTS • Executive Director
Helen A. Brohl was appointed as the first Executive Director of the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) in July 2006 by US DOT Secretary Norman Mineta. Maritime transportation oversight and interest within the US Federal government is spread throughout many authorities, departments and budget line items. As a career Senior Executive, Ms. Brohl manages the CMTS partnership, established under Presidential Directive in 2004 and authorized in 2012, that joins over 25 Federal agencies to address our Nation’s waterways, ports and intermodal connections. Working with senior political, military, and civilian leaders in the Federal government, Ms. Brohl directed the development and Cabinet-level approval of the first-ever National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System to improve the MTS for capacity, safety and security, environmental stewardship, resiliency, and financing.
During her tenure, the CMTS has engaged in a number of dynamic issues, including Federal infrastructure financing and investment, system performance measures, navigation technology integration and coordination, and integration of marine transportation issues into the President’s Ocean Policy and National Export Initiatives. Ms. Brohl was directly instrumental in the development of the CMTS Strategic Action Plan for Research and Development in the MTS, the CMTS response to the National Ocean Policy, the CMTS National Strategy for e Navigation, and a marine transportation policy for the U.S. Arctic.
From March to September 2012, Ms. Brohl was detailed by USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY, to facilitate the development of the USMMA Strategic Plan 2012-2017, which was issued August 1, 2012.
For the previous ten years, Ms. Brohl was the Executive Director of the U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association, where she worked with NOAA and Congress to build the Great Lakes Water Level Observation Network, a lakes-wide system of real-time water and atmospheric observations provided directly to the mariner. This quality-controlled system of measurements assists “boat drivers” in monitoring the conditions in which they must operate the vessel safely and efficiently.
She also previously served for six years as the President of the National Association of Maritime Organizations, directing the collaboration with US Customs and Border Protection (and legacy INS) and the US Coast Guard to develop the maritime operational regulations under the Marine Transportation Security Action of 2002 and related post-9/11 legislation. The outcome was the development of a joint “notice of arrivals” system between the two Federal agencies, which significantly eased the burden of increased reporting requirements in a post 9/11 environment.
Additionally, Ms. Brohl served four years as the national coordinator for the Marine Navigation Safety Coalition, which encompassed over 60 maritime-related companies. The Coalition successfully improved the 300-year backlog of charts and surveys for our navigable waterways, which resulted in a multimillion-dollar increase in funding to the National Ocean Service and reduction in backlog by 100 years. Ms. Brohl also served as the Director of Marketing and Government Affairs for the Illinois International Port of Chicago, where she developed a competitive new barge terminal to successfully address that growth niche market. In addition, she served as a key team member of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, USDOT in the implementation of first-ever trade development missions to Europe, Scandinavia, and North Africa. Ms. Brohl was awarded a John Knauss Sea Grant Fellowship in 1983, where she served with Congress as professional staff with the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
Ms. Brohl was appointed in 2010 and reappointed in 2014 by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works as a Commissioner of the US Section of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, received the Secretary of Transportation Safety Award in November 2015, and was named Woman of the Year in Maritime for Policy by the Organization of American States in April 2016.
Ms. Brohl has a coastal geology degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and a Masters in Science from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, in Great Lakes Land and Water Use Policy. She is currently an alumni mentor with the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and sits on the board of the Women’s Aquatic Network, which she co-founded 30 years ago. She is married and has two grown children.