P. Gardner Howe- Chair

Gardner retired from the U.S. Navy after a 35-year career in the Naval Special Warfare and joint Special Operations communities.  His last assignment was as the Associate Director of Military Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency; he had previously commanded Naval Special Warfare Unit Three in Bahrain, Naval Special Warfare Group Three in San Diego, and Special Operations Command, Pacific in Hawaii. Gardner also served as the 55th President of the Naval War College. He and his wife Erin reside in Newport. 

Katherine (Kit) Weschler Diver- Vice Chair

Kit is a former investment and commercial banker who transitioned to executive coaching and leadership development through two companies she founded and sold. She was also head of Global Strategy and Human Capital for Genzyme Corporation and a principal in a Harvard Business School consultancy. Kit has been chair of two national non-profits and concentrates on governance. Kit’s father, VADM Tom Weschler (1917-2016), was one of the original builders of the Oliver Hazard Perry along with with Chair Emeritus Bart Dunbar. 

Avery “Whip” Seaman- Assistant Treasurer and Chairman Emeritus

Retired owner and President of Corp Brothers, LLC, a supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases along with welding equipment and supplies to the Southeastern New England market. A life long sailor and boat owner. He was twice Captain of Etchells Fleet 8 Narragansett Bay. Former Commodore of the Twenty Hundred Club, Past President of the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association, and Past President New England Yacht Racing Council. He was involved in two tall ship visits in 2000 and 2004. As a Plank Owner of the Oliver Hazard Perry, He was intrigued with the possibility of Rhode Island having its own Tall Ship dedicated to education at sea and has been a supporter ever since.

Richard Gersh- Treasurer

Richard has been a licensed Coast Guard captain (100 ton near-coastal) since the age of 18. For his “day” job, he has also more than 20 years with MetLife, serving in senior management roles in finance and risk management.  He acted as CFO/Chief of Staff to the General Counsel in Boston and served as President of Newbury Insurance Company, Ltd., a Bermuda-based captive reinsurance company.  He has worked for an MIT-spinoff in the aerospace industry, as Vice President, Business Development and is currently employed by Transcend Air Corp. as Senior Vice President, Risk Management.


Austin Becker

Dr. Austin Becker is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. His research and teaching focus on coastal resilience and adapting to climate change. Prior to becoming a professor, he worked on sail training vessels, including five years as captain of the Sloop Providence. He is a Sloan Foundation Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences, earned a PhD in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, and maintains his 500 Ton USCG Captain’s License.

Mark Brown Sr.

Bill Burgess

Bill Burgess is a managing director and co-head of investment banking in the financial services group at Piper Sandler. Based in the firm’s New York office, he has extensive financial industry experience and maintains a specific focus on mergers and acquisitions and capital raising for depositories and insurance institutions. Prior to joining Sandler O’Neill, Mr. Burgess was a managing director in the financial institutions group of Goldman, Sachs & Co. where he worked in investment banking for over 10 years. Over the course of his career, Mr. Burgess has been involved in more than 50 domestic and cross-border M&A transactions whose total value exceeds $75 billion and over 50 capital underwriting and corporate finance transactions with proceeds of over $25 billion.

Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Mr. Burgess was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy from 1994-1998. His military service included leading a 135-man division on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and two deployments to the Persian Gulf in support of U.N. no-fly zones over Iraq. He was awarded Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals for exemplary performance and leadership during his deployments in the Persian Gulf, South America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Burgess holds an M.B.A. degree in finance from the Graduate School of Business at The University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in economics with honors and distinction from the United States Naval Academy.

A summertime resident of Newport, Rhode Island, Bill joined the Oliver Hazard Perry board of directors in 2021 and is a member of the finance committee.

Sophie DeLaCour

Lisa Whisler

Nate Gilman

Nate Gilman is the President of MM-SEAS USCG Licensing Software. MM-SEAS is always working to make USCG licensing paperwork simple and easy for mariners. Nate is an experienced leader with a passion for creating lasting solutions to bureaucratic problems. Developing solutions to problems that everyone else has said, “That’s just the way it is” has been a continual theme over his professional career. Nate strongly believes in supporting maritime workforce development and sees the immense potential Oliver Hazard Perry Programs have on creating generational wealth for anyone who wants to sail professionally.

Wade Knudson

Dave Matsuda

John O’Keeffe

John O’Keeffe serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Waterson Terminal Services. John joined WTS from Blue Water Shipping, where he was Head of Renewables, Americas. John started in offshore wind with Deepwater Wind, where he served as Manager of Operations & Maintenance and Head of Marine Affairs for the company. His portfolio included overseeing the Block Island Wind Farm, the United States’ first offshore wind farm. Following Deepwater’s acquisition by Ørsted, the Danish energy company, John served as Head of Marine Affairs North America for Ørsted Offshore Wind. Before his career in offshore wind, John spent well over a decade as a professional mariner, deck officer, teacher, and captain. He has also worked for several maritime organizations, including the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Massachusetts and Port Captain at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) in St Georges, Bermuda. John is an eight-year veteran of the United States Army, where he served as a sergeant in armored reconnaissance. He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Southern Vermont College and a graduate degree from the University of Rhode Island’s Marine Affairs program. He also earned a Certificate in Leadership for Global Business and Politics from the Yale School of Management Executive Education. John was the recipient of the Propeller Club of Narragansett Bay Maritime Person of the Year Award in 2019. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, Rhode Island Flagship and is currently the VP of the Narragansett Bay Propeller Club. John has represented himself on numerous offshore wind committees, interviews and speaking engagements.

A. Rives Potts, Jr.

Sean Randall

Ibn Salaam

Bartlett (Bart) Dunbar- Chair Emeritus

Lisa Goodwin

Lisa retired from owning a national award winning and published interior design firm. As a member of the USCG Auxiliary , she teaches boating safety and is National Branch Chief of Academics for their Auxiliary University Program. She hold a USCG 200 ton Ocean license. When not sailing tall ships, she single hands a 30 ft. Cape Dory cutter, bringing along with her two boat kitties. Lisa has been a volunteer on OHP since 2015.

Josh Parks

Josh is an attorney at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. He worked at a maritime litigation boutique in the New York City area before returning to his native Ocean State. A lifelong sailor, Josh remains an active and avid racer, and additionally serves on the board of Providence Community Boating. He lives in Newport with his wife and energetic Portuguese water dog.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Our mission is to provide innovative and empowering education-at-sea programs to promote personal and professional growth.