Keynote Speaker: Jeff Gray

Photo of Jeff Gray, Keynote Speaker at Challenges of A Changing Lake 2013 Forum

Jeff Gray

Since 2002, Jeff has served as the superintendent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan. Thunder Bay is the only national marine sanctuary on the Great Lakes. The sanctuary protects the Great Lakes and their rich maritime history through research, education and resource protection, so this and future generations can enjoy these treasures. NOAA is currently exploring expanding the 448 square-mile sanctuary to nearly 4,000 square-miles.

Jeff oversaw the design and construction of the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, a 20,000 square-foot visitor center and research facility that opened in 2005. The center has received several awards for its environmental design, including a Gold LEEDs rating. Jeff led a team that designed the center’s experiential-based exhibits that receives over 80,000 visitors annually. .

Jeff serves on the executive board of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, and has served as a board member of the Society of Historical Archaeology’s Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology. Jeff also serves on several local and state committees and boards dealing with natural resources, archaeology and historic preservation, education, tourism, and economic development. He is currently leading a community wide branding effort for various economic development agencies in Alpena.

Before joining NOAA, Jeff served as the State Underwater Archaeologist (1998-2002) and as the Assistant State Underwater Archaeologist (1996-1998) at the Wisconsin Historical Society. At the WHS, Jeff initiated the Wisconsin Maritime Trails Program, a heritage tourism program encouraging the preservation of the state’s historic maritime resources through education and outreach. Jeff also worked with the state Attorney General’s Office to defend Wisconsin’s claim to a historic shipwreck under the Abandon Shipwreck Act and has taught several workshops on cultural resource law.

Jeff holds an M.A. in Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology from East Carolina University (1998) and a B.A. in Anthropology from Beloit College (1994).

Professional Affiliation

Superintendent, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

2013 Forum Keynote Address

Branding a Sustainable Future: Special Places with Special Values

Located in northwestern Lake Huron, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals earned the area the name “Shipwreck Alley.” Today, the 448-square-mile Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects one of America’s best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. Fire, ice, collisions, and storms have claimed over 200 vessels in and around Thunder Bay.

The sanctuary is working with community partners to protect the Great Lakes and their rich maritime history through research, education and resource protection. By fostering strong personal connections to the Great Lakes, there is greater public to protect these treasures for this and future generations. This lecture will explore how the sanctuary is using genuine community engagement to create strong relationships and powerful constituencies. Jeff will highlight a community wide-branding effort that will illustrate how conservation and preservation can be a vital part of economic development.

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