CDR Hale Allegretti (he/him)
Hale Allegretti has served 18 years on Active Duty and is currently assigned to Coast Guard Pacific Area (PACAREA) as the Leadership, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer where he advises the Commander of Pacific Area on command climate, workforce resilience, and Diversity and Inclusion issues and policies. Additionally, he oversees Government Affairs and Public Affairs for PACAREA.
Prior to his assignment at PACAREA, he was assigned to Sector San Francisco as the Chief of Prevention, which included oversight of all regulatory safety, security, and environmental compliance for vessels, facilities, and maritime activities throughout northern California and Lake Tahoe. His previous staff assignment was as the Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Coordinator in the Office of Budget and Programs at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C. He was responsible for coordinating all facets of the multi-year Federal budget process, including formulation and justification of the Coast Guard’s (then) $12 billion annual budget. In addition, he oversaw compliance with Department of Homeland Security and Office of Management and Budget guidance and external defense of the Coast Guard’s budget request before Congress.
Prior to reporting to Coast Guard Headquarters, he was assigned to Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, where he managed the professional development of the crew, and concurrently led three divisions, including Marine Investigations, Waterways Management, and Incident Management. Additionally, he managed one of Cleveland’s largest oil spills into Lake Erie and oversaw nearly every aspect of the $3 million response operation.
Previous operational assignments include Sector New York, where he oversaw the resumption of commerce in the Port of New York/New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; Air Station Humboldt Bay (2008-2010), Naval Air Station Pensacola Flight Training (2006-2008), and Coast Guard Cutter BOUTWELL (2005-2006).
A native of Huntington Station, NY, he graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Management in 2005. In 2012, he graduated from Norwich University with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. In June 2017, he completed his Master of Public Policy degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs where he was awarded the John L.Weinberg ’47 Fellowship for Leadership in Government. His awards include two Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, a Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and various service, unit, and team awards.
CDR Allegretti lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Megan, their son, Bryce, and their daughter, Sawyer.
Miriam Anthony (She/her/hers)
Miriam Anthony holds a Chief Mate’s license and has been sailing since 2007. Over the years she has taken ships all over the world, including Antarctica. She has worked on tugs, fishing vessels, research vessels, heavy lift ships, container ships, Navy pre-positioned LMSRs, and car-carriers. After witnessing need in the industry, she pursued licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy, and now brings mental health to mariners. Though she spends more time on advocacy and counseling, Miriam is still actively sailing with MMP. Miriam chairs the Mental Health Committee for Masters Mates and Pilots, and has been researching ways to improve the mental well-being of sailors. In May 2022, Miriam published a follow-up survey and research to MARAD/ Dr. Marissa Baker’s November 2021 Survey/study. In collaboration with Dr. Baker at University of Washington, Miriam discovered that despite the findings of the 2021 survey- and improved access to mental health resources- rates of anxiety and depression were higher for mariners. Her research also identified key factors contributing to mariner well-being. Since January 2023, Miriam has been part of the CAPS team at Cal Maritime, offering counseling to cadets in-person on campus, and remotely. In the summer of 2023, Miriam sailed as ship’s counselor on the Training Ship Golden Bear, providing counseling to 350 cadets and crew. Since becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2022, Miriam started Maritimetherapy.com- where mariners and companies can come for mental health consulting and/or therapy. Since then, Miriam has been offering counseling to mariners and their families.
Cesar Cordova (he/they)
Originally from Mexico City, Cesar is currently advancing controls development at CalWave Power Technologies. Originally focused on UAV and robotic controls, he transitioned into wave energy after completing their Master's of Engineering at UC Berkeley. CalWave is currently developing gridscale, offshore wave energy solutions and is set to deploy the next iteration of its X Series Wave Energy Converters by 2025. Beyond his work in the industry, Cesar is an ardent sex positivity and inclusion advocate.
Lilea Duran (she/they)
Lilea brings a decade of experience in early learning and community building to her role as Executive Director of First 5 Napa County. Prior to her current role, Lilea served as the Community Programs and Network Manager at First 5 Napa County. She held prior positions as a Site Supervisor and Child Development Teacher at preschools in Napa County and brings leadership experience on several local nonprofit boards. Lilea has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brandman University. She and her family have lived in Napa County since 2008.
Heather Feeney (she/her/hers)
Heather has been in the heritage sector for over a decade working at a variety of museums, art galleries, and historic homes. Her previous positions concentrated mainly on the care of collections with a focus on information management. In her current role as Collections and Exhibits Manager at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, she has expanded her work into exhibit creation, focusing on storytelling in a museum setting. Heather has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of Guelph and a certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Last year Heather curated the "Queer at Sea" exhibit, which explored the history and contributions of queer, transgender and two-spirit people in B.C.'s maritime industries.
Dr. Beth Hellwig (she/her/hers)
Since June 5th, 2023, Dr. Hellwig has served as the Vice President for Cadet Leadership and Development at Cal Maritime. She has served in Student Affairs for 48 years and is excited and enthusiastic about working with the collegiate experience. She has a passion for helping to create welcoming and inclusive college communities and in particular working with the LGBTQIA+ population.
Her career has taken her across the country and the world and has worked at the following institutions: New Mexico State University, Montana State University, Colorado State University, University of Northern Colorado, Gonzaga University, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, San Francisco State University, and the University of North Dakota. In addition, she has served as both Dean of Students and Executive Dean on the MV Explorer, the MV World Odyssey, and the Institute for Shipboard Education-Semester at Sea while it was housed at the University of Virginia. She sailed across the globe and has had the opportunity to explore many cultures and countries.
VP Hellwig has created programs and services to support the LGBTQIA+ community and is proud that while at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the institution received the highest Pride Index Score of 5. At the time, only 32 universities in the US achieved a score of 5. In addition, UW-Eau Claire has been identified as the number 1 institution in Wisconsin for supporting the LGBTQIA community.
Dr. Hellwig has the following functions in her area:
Title IX & Civil Rights, the Commandant of Cadets, Residence Life, Dean of Cadets, Director of First Year Student & Parent Programs, Inclusion Initiatives and EOP, Health Center, CAPS, Career Services, Disability Services, Community Engagement, ASCMA/Student Activities, Conduct & Leadership Development.
On a personal note, her son Ryan, has throughout his life, encouraged her to be an advocate and an ally and helped her to understand what beauty there is in the queer community and what difficult challenges exist as well.
Jonathan Kissam (he/him)
Jonathan Kissam is the Communications Director for the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE). Prior to joining the union’s staff in August 2017 he was an active rank-and-file member for over two decades, serving in various elected local and district positions, including as a member of the union’s national General Executive Board for three years.
After witnessing the backlash to Vermont’s 1999 civil union law, a major step towards the legalization of gay marriage, Kissam and his co-workers drafted a resolution, “Fight Homophobia,” that was passed by the UE national convention in 2000, strengthening the union’s position against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2004, while serving as Secretary-Treasurer of the union’s New England District 2, he drafted a resolution endorsing the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, which was passed by the district and later incorporated into national union policy.
As UE Communications Director, Kissam frequently uses the pages of the UE NEWS to popularize the history of marginalized groups within the labor movement; his 2021 article “Working-Class Pride in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union,” which was reprinted in the publication Labor Notes, helped spark interest in the remarkable history of that union throughout the labor movement.
Niko Kowell (he/him)
Niko Kowell is a proud Trans and Queer person and lifelong activist, starting with founding his high school’s GSA back in Cincinnati, Ohio. This began his career in community organizing and advocacy. He continued his growth and learning at Antioch College getting a degree in Psychology. Two weeks after graduating he moved to San Francisco and worked at Frameline, Folsom Street Events and SF Pride before landing a job with Trans:Thrive, where he worked for 14 years. He has also worked for Eros (a gay men’s sex club that is inclusive of trans men), where he developed tm4m, an innovative program for gay/bi/queer trans men.
In 2022, he left his non-profit job of 14 years, where he was an Associate Director of Health Equity. In those years he was responsible for managing multiple Trans and LGBTQ programs and grants, as well as organizing events, running a drop-in center, facilitating workshops and support groups, and more. After taking some time off, he decided to pursue his passion of diving full time.
He’s been diving for over 20 years, getting certified at 18, his PADI Divemaster at 27, and now he is a NAUI/SSI Instructor. He has also volunteered at the Aquarium of the Bay as a diver since 2012, which never fails to be an adventure! From catching Sharks to feeding Giant Sea Bass, the Aquarium is one of his favorite places.
Narwhal Divers is his manifestation of the two things he loves the most: diving and serving the Transgender and Queer community. He wants to make the world of diving a safer place for all, especially Trans folks.
Erika Sánchez Nelson (she/her/hers)
Erika Sánchez Nelson currently oversees the tutoring program here at Cal Maritime. Her academic background is in religious history and writing. Erika comes to Cal Maritime from Vanderbilt University, where she worked in the Writing Studio and completed her Ph.D. While working in the Writing Studio, Erika developed a passion for student learning and tutoring support. Erika also earned her B.A. in religion from Trinity University and her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Her academic interests include the religious history of American women and religious nationalism.
Rob Sánchez Nelson (they/them)
Rob Sánchez Nelson is a dynamic and seasoned facilitator known for their exceptional ability to lead transformative workshops and dialogues. With extensive expertise in the areas of intersectionality, higher education, queerness, student leadership, and the arts, Rob brings a wealth of knowledge to every facilitation experience.
Rob holds a Bachelor of Arts of University of Rochester, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is working towards a Doctorate of Education from University of Illinois. Through their varied educational experiences, Rob has developed a well-rounded understanding of how diversity and inclusion affects all facets of society.
Rob draws from their experience, first as the Interim Director of the LGBTQI+ Life Office at Vanderbilt University, and now as Chief Diversity Officer at the San Francisco Ballet to facilitate workshops that bridge the gap between theory and real-world implementation. Their workshops are designed to challenge conventional thinking, provoke meaningful conversations, and empower participants to drive change within schools, organizations, and communities.
Whether guiding participants through discussions on intersectionality, queerness, student leadership, or harnessing the arts for social impact, Rob's facilitation leaves a lasting impact. Their workshops equip individuals and teams with the tools and insights needed to enact positive change and drive progress in their personal and professional lives.
Captain Elizabeth Neumyer (She/her)
Captain Elizabeth Neumyer has worked with Masters Mates & Pilots since graduating from Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2004. She was Captain of the TS Golden Bear for the MARAD cruise operated by Pasha-Hawaii in 2022. Her experiences as a transgender woman helped her to provide a welcoming and safe environment in which the students could thrive.
Dr. Marco Sernaglia (Dr/Prof.)
Assistant Professor of Maritime Law at the Higher School of Civil Navy of Gijón – Spain, former mariner and loading master. Member of the SWELL (Seafarers' Well-Being) research team, a group of young professors of Nautical Studies and Psychology cooperating to research into the psychosocial factors affecting maritime workers with the aim of promoting well-being at sea. Coordinator for the organization of the academic part of the event “I Exist Too 2025” European edition, a forum that seeks to improve the visibility and rights of the LGBTIQ+ population within the maritime industry.
Julie Simons (she/her/hers)
Professor Julie Simons is an applied mathematician, Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council and Faculty Rights Chair at Cal Maritime. She has been involved in STEM equity work for over 20 years, working with students from middle school all the way through graduate school. At Cal Maritime, she was one of the founding members of the Gender Equity Committee. This committee fought for gender neutral grooming standards and other reforms to create a more inclusive experience for all students. As DEI Council co-chair, Professor Simons is collaborating with numerous partners across campus to enrich our campus climate, culture and educational experiences with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Andres M Ramirez (he/him)
I am currently a Vessel Agent for Norton Lilly International managing containerships coming into the Port of Oakland. I was the President of the Gay Straight Alliance for three years with a mission to bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community on campus and make it a safer space for those looking for a family. Cal Maritime has had its own metamorphosis into becoming a safer space, and even though our fight is not over with many hurdles to overcome, we have made progress.
The maritime industry has a long history of conservatism, which has often been at odds with LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. In the past, the industry has been unwelcoming and discriminatory towards gay individuals, creating an environment where one's sexual orientation had to be hidden to avoid prejudice and discrimination. As a vessel agent, I find myself navigating this historical context daily. It requires a delicate balance between my professional responsibilities and my personal identity. However, it is heartening to see progress being made in recent years, with increasing recognition of LGBTQ+ rights and diversity in the workplace.
Dr. Frederick Smith (he/him)
Dr. Frederick Smith is SF State's Associate Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion. Previously, he served as the Director of the Cross Cultural Centers at Cal State LA from 2006 - 2019.
Dr. Smith's research and professional interests focus on higher education and include: co-curricular learning experiences; the role of ethnic studies and cultural centers in student identity development and confidence building; campus climate experiences of historically marginalized and minoritized communities; retention and graduation of students of color in higher education; and collaborations between student affairs and academic affairs units for student success. Fred has a strong professional background developing collaborative programs, events, services, dialogues, and celebrations that bring the campus community together.
Smith has served twice as president of the California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education (CaCCCHE). He is active with the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and American College Personnel Association (ACPA).
Outside of higher education, Fred enjoys reading and writing fiction. He’s written and published several novels – In Case You Forgot (2019), Play It Forward (2015), Right Side of the Wrong Bed (2009), and Down For Whatever (2005) – that focus on queer people of color characters.
Smith received his B.J. in Journalism/TV News from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He completed his M.Ed. in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. He earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University.
Camilo Villa (he/they)
A Colombian interdisciplinary artist and Spanish language educator & consultant based in the Bay Area. He holds an M.A. in Education for Equity & Social Justice from San Francisco State University and a B.F.A. in Individualized Studies with a minor in Social Action & Public Forms from the California College of the Arts. Their art practice and educational research addressees the liberation of Queer Latinx communities, the violent erasure of social leaders in his home country Colombia, and the journey of Latin American migrants crossing the US-Mexico Border. Camilo’s work has been exhibited at Senator Scott Wiener’s Office as part of the We Belong-Pertenecemos exhibit and at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery as part of the Hispanic Heritage exhibit. Their work has been featured in magazines, such as Bay Area Reporter, Voyage LA , NEWAGE, and Latin:SF.
Camilo builds intersectional spaces for learning by incorporating culturally and queerly responsive pedagogical models in his teaching practice. Most recently, he published his master’s thesis titled Teaching Gender Inclusive Spanish: Advancing Pedagogy Towards Gender Equity on ProQuest. The purpose of this study is to evaluate a gender-inclusive Spanish language curriculum developed for 3rd-5th grade Spanish classes that employs the letter "e" to desexualize the masculine generic form. Fundamental to this approach is how pre-colonial indigenous gender systems advance the now contested need to eradicate sexist expressions in the Spanish language that has increasingly gained momentum in Latin America for the past decade.
Chris Walker (he/him)
Chris Walker has committed his career to empowering people and organizations to do their best work. Chris is a passionate dynamic leader with extensive experience developing strategies, systems, infrastructure, and supporting tactics in public, private, philanthropy, and non-profit sectors.
Chris most recently led program strategy and planning at Nia Tero, a US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and movements worldwide to secure and uphold many of the planet's healthiest ecosystems essential to the security of global food production, fresh water, and ultimately, the Earth's climate.
Chris’ global leadership in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector began at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chris was originally recruited to the Gates Foundation to lead continuous improvement of their grants and contracts management systems and processes responsible for $5 Billion in investments annually. After the launch and implementation of the foundation’s harmonized investment workflow processes, Chris led finance and operations for their largest program, Agricultural Development, comprising $400 Million annual budget, 11 complex portfolios, 80 staff members, and offices in the United States, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and India.
Chris is a graduate of California State University Maritime Academy, and after spending nearly a year of his life at sea, is excited to lead Sustainable Ocean Alliance to advance the impact of startups, social entrepreneurs, and youth-centered initiatives that are developing solutions to the greatest threats facing our ocean.
Meredith Whipple Callahan (she/her/hers)
Meredith Whipple Callahan brings two decades of experience as a strategy consultant and line executive to her work in leadership development. Deeply fluent in business, Meredith helps clients find clarity, meaning, and action. She has an unparalleled ability to integrate organizational realities with personal and interpersonal wisdom. Her clients appreciate her intelligence, direct approach, and dedication to truth.
Meredith’s distinguished business career began at Bain & Company where she worked on due diligence and strategy for technology, healthcare, and private equity companies. Thereafter, she worked at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, as a manager. As a leadership executive, Meredith designed, built, and managed global leadership programs as well as led succession planning and executive development functions. Today, Meredith is a Partner at Evolution, a leadership development firm focused on humanizing the modern business organization. Meredith’s work focuses on executive coaching and organizational development in service of: leadership teams (individually and collectively), succession planning, emerging leaders, diversity and inclusion, and culture change.
Meredith is a certified coach, experienced facilitator, published author, and international speaker. She is a Professional Certified Coach with specialized certifications in strengths-based leadership, emotional intelligence, and gratitude. Her publications include Indispensable: How to Succeed at Your First Job and Beyond (Inkshares, 2018) and The Intentional Life: Reflections from Conscious Living (Potrero Press, 2019). Meredith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Yale University and a Master of Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has been featured on CNN, in the Chicago Tribune, and on numerous podcasts and local media outlets.
Meredith lives in San Diego with her wife, two young children, and two dogs. She is passionate about nature, yoga, ritual, cooking, and personal evolution. Additionally, Meredith is a certified celebrant and has studied spirituality extensively at Himalayan Institute.