11 November 2005
Program and Events
Call for Contributed Presentations
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James R. Mahoney
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Director of the Climate Change Science Program
Note: Dr. Mahoney retired 4 months after the workshop, on 31 March 2006.
James R. Mahoney was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. He received a B.S. degree in Physics from LeMoyne College in his home town. His career since college has involved more than 40 years of continuous focus on environmental management and the earth sciences, with an emphasis on the atmospheric, climate, hydrological and oceanographic areas. He has undertaken diverse responsibilities in academic, corporate, national government and international settings.
On April 2, 2002, after confirmation by the United States Senate, Mahoney assumed the position of Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere/Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Referencing his new position at his swearing-in ceremony, Mahoney said, "NOAA has the benefit of a large number of highly skilled scientific, technical and administrative personnel, and I will do all I can to help enhance their careers and further improve NOAA's service to the nation and the world."
Mahoney has served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences dealing with weather and climate, environmental protection and science education. In 1999, he completed a term as co-chairman of the Academy's Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate.
Mahoney received a Ph.D. degree in meteorology from MIT, and then joined the Faculty of Public Health at Harvard University, in its Department of Environmental Health Sciences. This early-career focus on public health and the environment has positively influenced all of his subsequent professional work.
Drawing upon his Harvard experience, Mahoney co-founded the environmental management company Environmental Research & Technology, Inc. in 1968. ERT grew to become the nation's largest environmental firm by the end of the 1970s, operating throughout the United States and several other nations. In that period, ERT became the largest employer of meteorologists and related technical specialists in the United States, except for the federal government itself. In 1984, Mahoney moved to the position of director of the Environmental Industries Center at the Bechtel Group, Inc., in San Francisco. In this position he supervised Bechtel's domestic and international environmental programs.
Mahoney entered full-time public service in 1988 as director of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, working in the Executive Office of the President. NAPAP was a unique ten-year interagency program created by the Energy Security Act of 1979, and charged with recommending sound approaches to controlling acid rain effects, while providing for continued energy and economic security for the nation. His service as NAPAP director included the completion of the ten-year program involving the work of more than 2,000 technical and economic specialists; the publication of a major, internationally reviewed acid rain science and technology compendium; and extensive issue analyses supporting the development of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Mahoney was awarded the Commerce Department Gold Medal in recognition of exceptional performance as director of NAPAP.
Mahoney was senior vice president of the IT Group, Inc., an international environmental management firm, from 1991 to 1999. Among other responsibilities, he served as president of IT's Consulting and Ventures Group, which conducted projects in nearly every state and at several international locations. During 2000 and 2001, Mahoney worked as an environmental advisor on several domestic and international matters.
Mahoney has worked in more than 50 other nations in several different roles: negotiating and overseeing international joint venture technical companies, representing the U.S. government in specialist exchanges, advising government agencies (particularly in developing nations) on sustainable industry, fishery and agricultural practices, and advising several United Nations and other international agencies.
Mahoney is a Fellow and former president of the 12,000-member American Meteorological Society, which serves the atmospheric, oceanographic and hydrological fields. As a result of a strategic review initiated during his term as president, AMS committed to a long-term program of support for science education at all levels, encouragement of technical careers for minority students, and the application of sound science to complex public issues including disaster preparedness, environmental protection and global climate change, among others.
Mahoney has six adult children and eleven grandchildren. He and his wife Taya Mahoney also have eight-year-old twin daughters.