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Meet Our Leadership Team

We employ about 4,200 staff including scientists, policy managers, and enforcement officers, located across the country at our regional offices, science centers and labs, and national headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Here you will find the leaders of our agency.
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Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

Chris Oliver


As the agency’s Assistant Administrator, Mr. Oliver oversees the management and conservation of recreational and commercial fisheries including aspects of marine aquaculture, the preservation and maintenance of safe sources of seafood, and the protection of marine mammals, marine protected species, and coastal fisheries habitat within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. He also manages an agency with a strong presence nationally with 3,200 people in five regional offices, six science centers, and 24 labs and fish stations in 15 states and U.S. territories.

Mr. Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for 16 years. He had been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. Originally from Rockport, Texas, Mr. Oliver was also a Research Associate at Texas A&M University from 1987 to 1990, working with federal and state agencies on management issues associated with Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries, giving him both personal and professional experience with fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master's degree in Fisheries Science, both from Texas A&M. Mr. Oliver enjoys many outdoor activities and is an avid hunter and fisherman.

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Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs

Samuel D. Rauch III


Mr. Rauch is the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs. Mr. Rauch oversees NOAA Fisheries' regulatory actions and programs, including those to support the conservation and recovery of marine mammals and endangered species; ensure economically and biologically sustainable fisheries; and promote habitat stewardship through restoration and conservation. Coordination of the NOAA Fisheries' aquaculture activities and outreach, and the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act programs are also under his purview. From 2004 to 2006, he served as the Assistant General Counsel for Fisheries where he supervised a team of attorneys, paralegals, and support staff responsible for providing legal counsel to NOAA Fisheries. He also served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs at NOAA Fisheries since 2006. Prior to joining NOAA, Mr. Rauch served as a trial attorney and the Assistant Section Chief for the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Rauch holds a J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, an M.S. from the University of Georgia, and a B.A. from the University of Virginia. He has also received many honors during his career, including NOAA General Counsel Awards (1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2010); Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards (1997, 1998, 2000, 2002); and Department of Commerce Gold Medal (2007), Bronze Medal (2011), and the Presidential Rank Award (2011).

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Director, Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor

Francisco Werner, Ph.D.


Dr. Werner began serving as the Acting Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor in 2017. In this capacity, he leads NOAA Fisheries' efforts to provide the science needed to support sustainable fisheries and ecosystems and to continue our nation's progress in ending overfishing, rebuilding fish populations, saving critical species, and preserving vital habitats. As the head of NOAA Fisheries' scientific operations, Dr. Werner directs NOAA's six regional Fisheries Science Centers, including 30 laboratories. Dr. Werner previously served as the Science and Research Director for NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center from 2011 to 2016. Prior to joining NOAA Fisheries, Dr. Werner was the Director of the Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies at Rutgers University. His research has included the study of the structure and function of marine ecosystems, ocean circulation physics, and the development and implementation of ocean and coastal observing and forecasting systems. He has also researched the development of physical and biological models for marine ecosystems in the Northwest Atlantic, the U.S. South Atlantic Bight, and the North Pacific. Dr. Werner has co-authored more than 90 refereed publications and collaborated with many future colleagues at NOAA on important programs, including the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Program, Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization, Integrated Ocean Observing System, and various projects related to climate change and fisheries. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.

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Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations (Acting)

Brian Pawlak


In his role as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations, Mr. Pawlak serves as the Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the day-to-day management of the agency's operations. This is a critical leadership position that oversees NOAA Fisheries' financial and business processes; works to strategically align and improve the performance of NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with other NOAA line offices; and ensures NOAA Fisheries has effective and efficient infrastructure for its mission, ranging from fleet and facilities to information technology and workforce. Mr. Pawlak has held several leadership positions within the agency. Over the last 15 years he has served as Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Deputy Director for the Office of Habitat Conservation, Chief of the NOAA Fisheries Budget Formulation and Planning Division, as the Fisheries' Policy Coordination Office Liaison, and as a Marine Habitat Resource Specialist. Mr. Pawlak’s real roots are in Fisheries, where he began his career in 1990 as a field biologist conducting habitat mapping at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Mr. Pawlak holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marine Biology from University of North Carolina at Wilmington and two Master's Degrees from University of Washington, one in Marine Policy and one in Business Administration.

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