Reffett Associates Recruits First Woman Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy

January 17, 2023 – After a nationwide search, Seattle, WA-based Reffett Associates has assisted in the recruitment of rear admiral Joanna Nunan as the first woman superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY. She succeeds vice admiral Jack Buono. After announcing the appointment, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said Ms. Nunan is: “The right leader at the right time for the Merchant Marine Academy.”

“After an intensive search across the maritime industry and academia, admiral Nunan rose to the top as the best candidate to lead the Merchant Marine Academy into the future,” said Eric Reffett, managing director.

Ms. Nunan joins USMMA after a career in the U.S. Coast Guard where she served in various positions including as commanding officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Ironwood and Spar, military advisor to the secretary of homeland security and military assistant to the secretary of transportation. She also served as the chief of staff at Force Readiness Command and Commander of the Coast Guard’s Ninth District, which encompasses the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaways region.

Ms. Nunan’s final assignment was as the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for human resources where she oversaw personnel management spanning recruitment, duty assignments, and retirees pay and benefits. In this role, she was also responsible for the Coast Guard’s Health, Safety, and Work-Life programs, as well as policies addressing leadership, diversity, and sexual assault.

The USMMA trains officers to serve in the U.S. Merchant Marine, branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the transportation industry. Midshipmen are trained in marine transportation, logistics and security, engineering and engineering systems, and shipyard management. Upon graduation midshipmen receive a bachelor of science degree, a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve (or other service), and an Unlimited U.S. Coast Guard license as a merchant marine officer.

Trusted Recruiters 

Reffett Associates is a nationally recognized executive search firm. The boutique talent provider has extensive experience in retail and consumer packaged goods, private equity, commercial and federal services, government sectors, and associations and non-profits. Its team is made up of executives with tangible industry experience, possessing real world, relatable knowledge about the challenges executives face in managing talent in a competitive marketplace.

Reffett Associates Seeks CEO for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington
Reffett Associates has been enlisted to help find a new chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington (GSWW). Leading the assignment are Tom Young, director of operations, and Marshall Reffett, managing director of the firm’s Seattle office. “As the Girl Scouts of Western Washington look to grow back to pre-COVID participation rates they believe that Reffett Associates can help them find a dynamic, experienced leader, that is a good fit for the organization and the region,” the organization said.

Dr. Eric Reffett joined the search firm after working for Booz Allen Hamilton and serving for over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. He specializes in identifying and recruiting highly technical talent for a variety of government clients.

Searches for the Federal Government

Reffett Associates has been enlisted to help fill a series of key senior executive roles in technical and hard-to-fill positions for the federal government. Since 2022, Reffett has assisted the U.S. Army Material Command at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL with recruitments for three highly qualified expert (HQE) positions.

To be considered an HQE, individuals must possess “uncommon and recognized knowledge, skills, and experience in a field of expertise, and judgment that is accorded authority and status by peers or the public,” said the firm. HQEs are considered on par with senior executive service (SES) positions. HQE roles inside of the armed forces carry the status of a lieutenant general.

Reffett Associates also recently filled the position of provost for the Naval War College. This placement, said the firm, is the latest in a string of academic recruitment for the nation’s military institutions of higher learning including:

  • Chief Learning Officer of the Air Force for Air Education and Training Command
  • Dean of the Aerospace School of Medicine
  • President for the Naval Postgraduate School
  • Provost for the Naval Postgraduate School

Related: Reffett Associates Places Senior Advisor to Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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