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April 1-3, 2025
Hilton University of Houston
Houston, TX

Joel Whitehead

Rear Admiral Joel R. Whitehead (USCG, Retired)

J. Whitehead and Associates, Inc.

Rear Admiral Joel Whitehead is President of J. Whitehead & Associates, Inc., a maritime and homeland security consulting firm in the Washington, DC area. After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard with thirty-four years of service in 2009, he served until 2011 as Vice President, National Security Sector of SRA International, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia. In his last military assignment, he served for 3 years as Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District in New Orleans. There he was responsible for U.S. Coast Guard operations and oversight of the maritime and offshore oil industry in 26 states and the entire Gulf of Mexico including more than 1,200 miles of coastline from Florida to Mexico and 10,300 miles of inland waterways including the entire navigable lengths of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee River systems.

Rear Admiral Whitehead served in a variety of operational and policy tours during his career and upon his retirement in 2009 was the senior marine safety professional in the U.S. Coast Guard. During his 14 years’ service in Washington, DC he served as Assistant Commandant for Governmental and Public Affairs where he was the national media spokesperson for the Coast Guard during hurricanes KATRINA and RITA. He also served as Chief of Congressional Affairs from 2003 – 2005 where he directed a professional staff of 25 working in the House of Representatives and Senate. From 2001 to 2003 he served as the Chief of Staff and second in command of the Eighth Coast Guard District in New Orleans where he personally led federal maritime homeland security response following 9/11 on the inland waterways, Gulf of Mexico ports and offshore oil and gas fields. Other assignments have included Chief of Strategic Planning for the Coast Guard and as a Program Reviewer in the Office of the Chief of Staff. There he was responsible for program oversight and budget development for almost one-third of the Coast Guard’s operating budget and represented the Coast Guard to the Clinton administration’s transition team.

Among his operational tours of duty, he served as Deputy Group Commander of Group Woods Hole, Massachusetts from 1993 to 1996. In 1989, he was detailed as a marine safety advisor to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator in Valdez, Alaska during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He later drafted the bulk of the Federal On-Scene Coordinator’s Report of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the official Coast Guard report of that event. Earlier in his career, he was the Executive Officer of Marine Safety Office, Albany, New York where he was Alternate Captain of the Port during the first “Superfund” cleanup in the nation’s history. Trained as a marine inspector and casualty investigator at the Marine Inspection Office, New York, he conducted hundreds of inspections and investigations worldwide for over 10 years on commercial vessels, passenger vessels, barges, offshore supply vessels and oil rigs. As a junior officer, he served on the 378’ high endurance cutter Morgenthau in New York.

A native of Newport News, Virginia, Rear Admiral Whitehead graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in History and Government. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the State University of New York at Albany and in 2007 was named their Distinguished Alumnus in Public Administration & Policy. From 1996-1997 he was a National Security Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also completed Seminar XXI, a year-long Washington, DC based program in foreign politics and international relations sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Admiral Whitehead is presently a National Director of the Navy League of the United States and Chairman of its Coast Guard Affairs Committee. He served from 1999 – 2003 as a member and in his final year as Chairman of the Alumni Executive Council at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, which represents more than 20,000 alumni in 120 nations. From 1996 to 1999, Rear Admiral Whitehead was a Director of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association.