Keynote Speaker

RADM Richard Gromlich

USCG District 13


Rear Admiral Richard T Gromlich serves as the commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District headquartered in Seattle, Washington. As the district commander, he is responsible for US Coast Guard operations and personnel covering 4 states, more than 4,400 miles of coastline, 600 miles of inland waterways, and a 125 nm international border with Canada. 


Rear Admiral Gromlich’s prior assignments include the Coast Guard’s first director of Operational Logistics, director of the Mission Support Integration Office, chief of the Office of Logistics, director of the Logistics Transformation Program Integration Office, substantially increasing the Coast Guard’s operational readiness during major contingency operations.  Rear Admiral Gromlich also served as the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Aircraft Repair and Supply Center, now the Aviation Logistics Center, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and executive officer of Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and aeronautical engineering officer at Air Station Savannah, Georgia.


A native of Milton, Pennsylvania, Rear Admiral Gromlich graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy in 1983 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering. He completed Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida in 1986. In 1997, he earned a master of science in industrial administration from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Business. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medals (three awards), Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and two Commandant Letters of Commendations.

Ed Murray

Seattle Mayoral Candidate


State Senator Ed Murray has represented Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District in the legislature since 1995 and currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader.

Murray, who lives in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood with his partner of 22 years, Michael Shiosaki, has long been a civil rights champion. He was the prime sponsor of Washington State’s historic marriage equality law as well as the 2002 Safe Schools bill, which protects sexual minority youth in schools. Murray was also the prime sponsor of a landmark bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation signed into law in 2006. If elected, Ed would be Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.

One of the most respected and accomplished elected officials in Washington State, Murray has led on a wide range of issues. During his time in the House, he was chair of the Capital Budget Committee, where he drove legislation that doubled funding for low-income housing.

Murray was also chair of the House Transportation Committee, negotiating an end to gridlock on transportation reforms, creating the first new revenue package in 13 years. He followed two years later with another statewide package, including the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle. Murray also sponsored landmark legislation matching Washington’s car emission standards to the highest in the nation.

Murray’s honors include the 2002 Human Rights Campaign Leadership Equality Award; the 2005 Anti-Defamation League’s Cal Anderson Award; the 2006 Distinguished Public Service Award from the Washington State Psychological Association; the 2009 Legislator of the Year Award from the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs; and the 2012 Warren G. Magnuson Award.


Rian Anderson

Black Ball Ferry Line


Rian Anderson was named district manager of the Port Angeles terminal in 2007 and has worked a variety of positions for the company since beginning in 1994. 

While earning a degree from the University of Washington, Rian joined the company working as a seasonal dockhand.  In 2002, Rian accepted a full-time position for Black Ball Ferry Line working on board the vessel as purser and was promoted to chief purser in 2005.

In 2006, He accepted the director of marketing position, but over the course of the year, much of his time was spent developing the design, construction and product line of a new gift shop on board the MV Coho, for which he continued to
be the product purchaser until the end of 2008 and beginning again in 2011.
While overseeing all aspects of operation at the Port Angeles terminal as district manager, Rian also helped develop another added amenity on board the MV Coho in the form of a duty free shop, which opened for business in March of 2009.

In January of 2012, Rian, along with senior management (Ryan Burles, David Booth, Ryan Malane, and Jack Cox) purchased Black Ball Ferry Line from the Oregon State University Foundation.

Rian is proud to work in the community where he was raised and continues to live in Sequim with his wife, Lacey, and daughter Quinlee.

David Booth

Black Ball Ferry Line

David Booth started with Black Ball Ferry Line in September 1995. He first came aboard as an assistant to the company treasurer, who was 76 years old at the time.

Black Ball had no computers back then, so David’s first task was to buy a computer and input all the data from hand-written accounting ledgers into a computerized accounting system. Some other initiatives he has directed over the years were a telephone system upgrade in 1998, the introduction of credit card processing in 2003, a reservation system in 2005 (which recently underwent another major upgrade this year), and the arrangement of financing for the recent rebuilding of Black Ball’s Port Angeles dock. David also performed all the financial research and analysis for the management buyout of the company in 2012.

David manages the financial and administrative aspects of the company with the help of his very able assistant Andrew. Their Seattle office is a stone’s throw away from Fishermen’s Terminal.

David was born and raised in Seattle, and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in economics. He lives a short distance away from the UW with his wife Rika and their two younger children who still livandersone at home (out of a total of four children).


KPFF Consulting Engineers


Since graduating from MIT with a degree in naval architecture, Andy Bennett has gained over 25 years of experience in the design and construction of boats, ships, and shoreside support facilities. As a project manager, he focuses on ensuring the key decision makers have access to and understand the highly technical design elements that are critical to the success of waterfront projects. He combines his academic background in coastal zone management with real-world experience to address and solve the complex environmental and policy issues facing shoreline developments. Andy has managed several shoreline and vessel design projects with construction values ranging from $10,000 to $125 million in ten states, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He currently leads the waterfront planning and design team in the Seattle Division of KPFF Consulting Engineers.


Cary Bozeman

City of Bremerton


Cary Bozeman is the former three term mayor of Bellevue and the former two term mayor of Bremerton. He also served as the president/CEO of the King County Boys and Girls Club and the CEO of the Port of Bremerton. He is currently founder of the Bozeman Group who work at creating economically viable downtown neighborhoods. He is on the Board of the Runstad Center at the University of Washington and a member of the Board of Futurewise. He has a degree in education from the University of Washington and taught on a teaching fellowship in the school of education at the UW. He has been named as the Most Outstanding Public Official in King County by the Municipal League and named by the Seattle Times as one of the "Best of Puget Sound Leaders"


Capt. George Capacci

WSDOT Ferries Division

Captain George Capacci was appointed to his current position as deputy chief, operations and construction for Washington State Ferries (WSF) in August 2010. In this position, Captain Capacci serves on the Ferries Division management team and provides strategic leadership to ensure safe, cost-effective, customer-oriented, reliable and efficient transportation for nearly 23 million passengers annually. He oversees the operations department; vessel preservation, maintenance and engineering department; and the terminal engineering department providing a safe working environment for Ferries Division employees, strict fiscal accountability and management of employee labor contracts.

Captain Capacci joined Washington State Ferries in April 2009 as a regional port captain overseeing day to day operations of the ferry fleet involving supervision of the licensed deck officers and deck department. Prior to joining WSF, Captain Capacci was vice president, fleet operations of BC Ferries in Victoria, British Columbia for five years. He previously served as port captain and then general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System in Juneau, Alaska for a total of seven years. This ferry experience is built upon a seagoing career in the US Coast Guard serving on a variety of vessels, predominately in Alaskan waters.

Captain Capacci graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy with a BS in engineering, and the George Washington University with a master’s in public administration. Captain Capacci holds an unlimited master’s license and lives in Seattle, WA.


Greg Dronkert

HMS Ferries Inc.

Greg Dronkert is president & COO of HMS Ferries Inc. a member company of HMS Global Maritime - a family of international transport, travel and support service companies that serve government, private industry and direct consumers.

Greg has overall responsibility for the management and operation all HMS’s domestic and international ferry operations.  Clients are primarily public entities such as State Departments of Transportation, Port Authorities, Cities, and Transit Authorities.

Additionally, Greg services as a board member of the parent company and also provides executive support for various corporate-wide initiatives and business development activities.

Greg is an engineering graduate of the California Maritime Academy.  He sailed in licensed positions on commercial vessels in both the deck and engineering departments before progressing through senior and executive management positions ashore. Notably, Greg served as vice president and general manager of Ketchikan Shipyard, director of the Alaska Marine Highway System, president and CEO of Glacier Bay Cruiseline and president of Pacific Navigation Company. 

Greg also attended the University of Washington’s Marine Transportation Management, Port Planning and Development program.  Greg currently lives on Bainbridge Island, WA.


Dave Earling

City of Edmonds


Dave Earling was elected mayor of Edmonds in November 2011. Before becoming mayor, Mr. Earling held a position on the Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, an appointment made by Governor Chris Gregoire. Prior to the governor’s appointment he was a senior fellow at the Cascadia Center, a Seattle-based think tank.

Dave did his undergraduate studies at Washington State University then attended graduate school at Eastern Washington State University. At 23 he started teaching music at Shoreline Community College. Following his time at Shoreline Community College, Earling went into real estate as owner of Edmonds Realty and was active in civic affairs through the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. He is a former three-term councilman and has held board positions with Sound Transit, Community Transit, the Edmonds Public School Foundation, Senior Services of Snohomish County and Washington Conservation Voters. He is currently on the boards of Community Transit and Sound Transit, a Trustee for the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, and recently was appointed to the AWC Legislative Committee. Dave and his wife Susan raised their three children in Edmonds and currently live in the Perrinville area.


Rick Hughes

San Juan County Council District #2

With Orcas Island roots tracing back almost 70 years, Council member Rick Hughes’ entire life has revolved around San Juan County. His first WSF ferry ride was in 1968 at the age of 8 weeks old and now he spends two hours a day commuting from Orcas Island to the San Juan County seat in Friday Harbor. Time spent on Washington State Ferries is always an enjoyable experience for Councilman Hughes.

Prior to moving full time to Orcas, Rick was an executive with and one of the first online advertising sales executives with clients ranging from Nike, Microsoft and Electronic Arts.

He is a National Outdoor Leadership School graduate and former national board member of Outward Bound Wilderness; combining his passion for youth education in wilderness environments, farm to table sustainability and local produce for local schools.

He helped develop the San Juan Country Drug Take-Back Program, runs a property management group and volunteers his time having served on the Orcas Island Farmers Market Association, San Juan County Ag Guild, Eastsound Water Users Association, and as a Board member of the Eastsound Planning and Review Committee. In addition, he volunteers as a Little League coach and currently serves as the Parent Teacher/Student Association (PTSA) co-president.


Erik Larsen

Rolls-Royce Marine


Erik Larsen is the sales manager on the West Coast for Rolls-Royce Marine North America. He came to Rolls-Royce as an applications engineer in 2000 after sailing as a third mate on tankers.

Since joining the team in Seattle in 2007 he has enjoyed looking into opportunities on the West Coast for use of more efficient and environmentally friendly technology.

He received his bachelor of engineering in naval architecture in 1999 and USCG third mate’s license from SUNY Maritime College in New York.

Erik is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and American Society of Naval Engineers.

Erik resides in Seattle with his wife Angela and daughter Anna.


Patty Lent

City of Bremerton


Mayor Patty Lent began serving a four year term in January of 2010. From 2003 thru 2006 she served as a Kitsap County commissioner. She holds leadership positions on many boards including the American Red Cross West Sound, Kitsap Mental Health Services, Bremerton Central Lions Club, Kitsap Community Foundation and is a life member of the United States Navy League. In the private sector her careers spanned mortgage banking, public relations, marketing and sales and an instructor at Edmonds Community College. Mayor Lent was a business owner in travel and tourism for more than 14 years in King and Kitsap Counties. She has lived in Bremerton with her husband Doug for 24 years and they have five children, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


Joe Marine

City of Mukilteo


Joe Marine is serving his second term as the mayor of the City of Mukilteo, having first been elected in 2005. Previously he served on the City Council from January 1998 until January 2001 when he was appointed to the Washington State House of Representatives 21st Legislative District.

Marine is an active member of the Mukilteo/South Everett Rotary and Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce. He also participates and/or holds office on the following associations, boards and committees: past president -Snohomish County Association of Cities and Towns; chair - Community Transit Board; executive board member - PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council); vice president -AWC (Association of Washington Cities) Board of Directors; member - NLC (National League of Cities ) Leadership Training Council; member - NLC Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy Committee


Matt Nichols

Nichols Bros. Boat Building


Matt is the CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Inc. He worked under his father since he was ten years old. After graduating from high school, Matt spent four years in the U.S Air Force before he went on to college.


During 1972 Matt took ownership in Nichols Brothers (founded by his father Frank Nichols in 1964).


He devoted his entire career to the business. He utilized his skills and knowledge in order to turn the little family owned business into a successful medium-size shipyard.


Today, Nichols Brothers is known all over the world for their reputation in boat building technology through the construction of ferries, excursion boats, high speed catamarans, cruise ships, multipurpose fishing boats, tugs, research vessels, barges, pilot and patrol boats. Nichols Brothers has a work force of 215 employees, composed primarily of long term, career oriented people, with a combined average of over twenty years in the shipbuilding industry, most of that with Nichols Brothers.


Peter Philips

Philips Publishing Group


Peter is thepresident of Philips Publishing Group, publishers of trade journals for the maritime and transportation industries. In the twenty-seven years since Philips Publishing was founded by Peter’s father in 1983, the company has grown to become the largest maritime and transportation publishing house on the West Coast. Titles include Pacific Maritime Magazine, aimed at West Coast commercial vessel and terminal operators, FOGHORN, the official publication of the Passenger Vessel Association, Clipper Vacations Magazine, published for Seattle’s Clipper Navigation and Fishermen's News, the oldest commercial fishing publication on the Pacific Coast. In addition to publishing trade journals, Philips Publishing also specializes in creative design services for the maritime and transportation industries, with clients across the country. Peter serves as President of the Seattle Marine Business Coalition, which represents the interests of marine industrial land users.


Peter is past president of the Port of Seattle Chapter of the Propeller Club, and past regional vice president, West Coast, of the International Propeller Club. Peter has a BA in history from Whitman College, and has been employed in the maritime publishing field since 1985.


Christine Rolfe

Washington State

Christine Rolfes is the Washington State senator from the 23rd Legislative District, which includes Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and Kingston. Christine was re-elected to the Senate in 2012 after being appointed to her seat in July, 2011. She sits on the Senate Transportation, K-12 Education, and Natural Resources Committees. Prior to her appointment, Christine served in the House of Representatives where she worked to advance legislation related to ferry system finance reform and new ferry construction. She is an advocate for enhanced technical and vocational education, sustainable natural resource management, and she has an interest in strengthening the maritime industry’s voice in Olympia.

After earning a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington, Christine worked for the Kitsap County Department of Community Development as an open-space program coordinator and watershed planner. She later moved to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where she counseled Northwest businesses and organizations on humanitarian assistance and commercial opportunities overseas. Christine spent time working out of the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia, managing environmental and economic development projects. Before her election to the House in 2006, Christine served two terms on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

Christine lives on Bainbridge Island with her husband Leonard and their two school-aged daughters.


Ernest Sanchez

San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA)


Ernest Sanchez is the manager of public information and marketing for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA). WETA is a regional transportation agency tasked with the operation and expansion of water transit between San Francisco and the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Solano. WETA currently operates daily and commuter service between the cities of San Francisco, Alameda, Oakland, South San Francisco and Vallejo.

Ernest is responsible for the development and implementation of all marketing and communications programs. He is also the WETA spokesperson.

Ernest, who is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley, has been in the passenger transportation industry for 24 years.


Norma Smith

Washington State


Norma represents the people of the 10th District, which includes all of Island County, and parts of Skagit and Snohomish Counties. She is the ranking member on the Technology and Economic Development Committee, and sits on the Capital Budget, Higher Education, and Government Accountability and Oversight Committees. She is a member of the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children Council, as well as the Legislative Oversight Committee on Trade Policy. She has effectively worked with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make significant contributions to sound public policy.


Ed Welch

Passenger Vessel Association (PVA)


Edmund B. Welch has been legislative director for the Passenger Vessel Association since 1997. PVA is the national trade association representing owners and operators of commercial U.S.-flagged passenger vessels of all types, including ferries. Others for whom Ed currently provides or previously performed legislative services include the Union of Greek Shipowners; the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association; Dare County, NC; and other maritime and agricultural organizations.

From 1975 to 1994, Ed served on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives, including 12 years as staff director and Chief Counsel of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. This committee had jurisdiction over shipping, the Coast Guard, the Panama Canal, numerous coastal and marine environmental laws, and offshore energy resources. Ed was extremely involved in the debates on and drafting of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. He is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a long-time trustee for the North Carolina Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.