Alumni Updates – Where are they now?

By Mackenzie Nelson

SMEA Alums can be found all over the U.S. (and the world!) We were fortunate to catch up with several recently who shared what they’ve been up to, as well as some words of advice.

ERIK STROMBERG, Class of ‘82

Location: Beaumont, TX

Erik is the Executive Director of the Center for Advances in Port Management (CAPM) at Lamar University where he is building the curriculum for the fully online Masters of Science in Port and Terminal Management Program (check out:, which is expected to begin Fall 2017. Before taking this position in May 2016, Erik spent ten years as a port industry consultant after holding positions as CEO of the North Carolina State Ports Authority and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities. Prior to this, Erik was a staff member for Congressman Glenn M Anderson—a position to which he attributes making the necessary connections for his successful career—and spent time at the Federal Maritime Commission.

Erik’s Words of Advice: “There are those for whom personal destiny is somehow revealed. There are those, like me, for whom, life’s path was very foggy. For those as confused as I was, keep plugging away. Explore options. Feel pressured to make a decision, but don’t fear being trapped. You will make many more such decisions. And not all will be correct. But not all will be wrong.”

Photo provided by Michael Jacobson


Location: Seattle, WA

Michael works for the King County Executive’s Office and is part of a team responsible for the county’s strategic plan, the Executive’s organizational performance management system, public performance reporting, and enterprise survey work such as the countywide employee survey—many of these now core features of the management system first established by Michael’s team. Michael first started working for the county after being promoted from a limited-basis position. Prior to this, Michael worked as a consultant with King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks—a position he took on after a consultant position with the David and Lucille Packard Foundation’s Conservation program.

Michael’s Words of Advice: “Take a risk. Everyone’s situation is different, but I started at the county 15 years ago because I said “yes” to a 6-month temporary position without benefits. That turned into an esteemed career and allowed me to create a national reputation for myself and the county.”

Photo provided by Risa Oram

RISA ORAM, Class of ‘01

Location: Honolulu, HI

Risa is a Natural Management Specialist, a position where her time is spent supporting the Pacific Marine National Monument Science Program through leading scientific research prioritization workshops, writing science research plans, and leading a Monuments Mapping Project (check out:

Risa’s Words of Advice: “Gain technical skills in database management, modeling, programming, GIS. These skills are sorely needed at NOAA and make you a more valuable candidate for jobs later. I also encourage you to volunteer with organizations that interest you to help develop your skills and networks. Maintain relationships and keep your network updated as you move through your career. Also, if you think that you may want to work with NOAA and rise up through the ranks to lead research divisions or head a Science Center one day, you should consider doing a PhD.”

Meaghan Brosnan. Photo provided by Meaghan Brosnan


Location: Mountain View, CA

Meaghan is a consultant at Exulans, Inc. (check out: specializing in compliance and enforcement solutions for ocean conservation. When asked how she earned her current position, Meaghan responded: “I made it up!” Because she had developed an expertise in fisheries law enforcement and compliance during her time as an officer in the US Coast Guard, Meaghan learned the importance of expanding the application of her expertise once transitioning to the Coast Guard Reserves in 2013—this career change allowing her to take on a full-time position with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Ending Illegal Fishing Campaign. Meaghan further expanded her expertise to a broader client base by taking on her current consulting position after moving across the country.

Meaghan’s Words of Advice: “Ocean nerds unite! Seriously, SM(E)A alumni rule the ocean conservation world, don’t hesitate to make extensive use of that network….and on that theme, feel free to reach out to me at if I can help!”

JESSE HARMS, Class of ‘14

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Jesse is currently the assistant chief of contingency planning for the coast guard. As such, he works with other Caribbean nations to improve emergency preparedness and resiliency throughout the region. In his free time, Jesse is taking full advantage of his current location for assignment: he and his wife enjoy scuba diving, kite boarding, sailing, hiking, island hopping, and fishing. A message that Jesse would like to pass along: “A thank you to all the staff at SMEA for making the program special.”

Jesse’s Words of Advice: “Keep in touch with your new friends. The Marine Affairs field has a propensity to attract truly high quality human beings that care about people and the world we live in. Continue to work to foster those relationships, even when you move around the globe to start new adventures.”

If you are a SMEA alum who would like to share what you’re doing you can do so through our Alumni Update. You can also update your information via the UW Alumni Services site