By: Cheryl Rosa, US Arctic Research Commission Deputy Director


On 17 March 2021, the White House informed US Arctic Research Commission (USARC) Commissioners and staff that President Biden designated David Kennedy as Chair of the USARC, effective 3 March 2021. Kennedy succeeds Jon Harrison as Chair, and both continue to serve on the commission.

David Kennedy, recently appointed Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC). Photo courtesy of USARC.
David Kennedy, recently appointed Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC). Photo courtesy of USARC.

Mr. Kennedy has over 50 years of experience and leadership in science, research, environmental management, and development of legislation and national initiatives.

After six years as a US Air Force pilot based in Alaska, Mr. Kennedy worked at the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks as the Research Facilities Director, and later the Director of the Spilled Oil Research Team focusing on Arctic pollution issues. This led to a 30-year career at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), culminating as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Arctic region where he addressed policy goals, objectives, and programs until 2020.

His most recent work, prior to his initial retirement from NOAA in January 2014, was in the role of Deputy Under Secretary for Operations at NOAA. In addition to the operational lead for the bureau, he had the lead on all Arctic-related issues on behalf of NOAA and the Department of Commerce. This role included leading the agency on drafting and implementing the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, the development of the Integrated Arctic Management Report, developing and implementing the National Ocean Policy, representing NOAA and the Department of Commerce on the Alaskan Interagency Working Group, working closely with Environment Canada on Arctic-related issues, supporting the Arctic Council, and developing and implementing the NOAA/US Coast Guard (USCG) Maritime Strategy.

Coming out of retirement in May 2014, Mr. Kennedy returned to NOAA in the role of Senior Policy Adviser for the Arctic Region in NOAA. In this role, he addressed NOAA-wide Arctic policy goals, objectives, and program issues.

Mr. Kennedy is a recognized national expert in the field of emergency pollution response; contingency planning; innovative technology development; matrix and collaborative program management; and a suite of coastal issues focused on development, climate change, energy, and coastal resiliency.

The US Arctic Research Commission greatly looks forward to working with Mr. Kennedy on future Arctic research efforts.

For further information about USARC and upcoming events, including the virtual Arctic Sustainable Energy Research Conference, to convene 20–21 April 2021, please see the USARC home page.

About the Author

Dr. Cheryl Rosa Dr. Cheryl Rosa is Deputy Director and Anchorage-based Alaska Director of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC). Dr. Rosa is trained as a Wildlife Veterinarian and Wildlife Biologist and has worked with subsistence communities on the North Slope and in the Russian Far East on a wide range of studies involving wildlife health and zoonotic disease, marine mammal stranding response, subsistence food safety and oil spill/offshore discharge research. Presently, she is involved in running USARC's Alaska Rural Water and Sanitation Working Group, the Arctic Renewable Energy Working Group and the Arctic Mental Health Working Group.
She received a PhD in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University and a BS in Animal Science and a BS in Zoology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.