Meet Our Crew
where they need to be through hands-on, comprehensive training and leadership development.
With extensive careers and backgrounds, we have experts in nearly all facets
of the maritime industry with no shortage of additional resources.
take back practical tools and skills to the real world, so that they are safe and successful at their jobs.
If you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed.
At The Helm
- President of the Maritime Industries Academy Foundation (MIAF).
- President of the Ship Operations Cooperative (SOCP).
- Director of the USMMA Alumni Foundation – Chesapeake Chapter.
- Member of the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC).
- Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the Standards of Training and Watchkeeping Subcommittee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
- Member of the Nautical Institute, Propeller Club of Baltimore, and the Council of Master Mariners (CAMM).
- Recognized by the Maritime Executive in 2002, 2007.
- Received the USMMA Alumni “Outstanding Professional Achievement Award” in 2003
- Member of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots (IOMMP) since 1978
Staff & Instructors
Pavel (Pasha) Amigud has over twelve years of experience with maritime simulation projects. His specialties include hydrodynamic and visual development of Harbor tugs with indirect assist capabilities, as well as other vessels such as heavy lift ships and various barge configurations. Other areas of expertise include design and installation of hardware control systems and visual development of databases.
Areas of personal development and hobbies include mechanical design and fabrication, and physical application of weather dynamics and aerodynamic theory, i.e. sailing.
Kurt Anderson is a MITAGS GMDSS instructor, primarily based out of our west coast campus in Seattle. He sailed as a Radio Officer from 1979-2000 on cruise ships, oil tankers, MSC prepositioned ships and then finished up with Sea-Land for 8 years.
In that time, maritime SOLAS communications transitioned from Morse code through satellite communications and then on to GMDSS. He holds FCC GMDSS Operator and Maintainer licenses and a 2nd Telegraph license.
From 1998 until present he has been a GMDSS instructor and a member of the Training Group sub-committee of the national GMDSS Task Force.
Captain Bob Becker can be found primarily at our East Coast campus, but also travels to our West Coast campus too. Bob is an experienced master for MM&P contract vessels and alumnus of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He is also a member of the Council of American Master Mariners and Boston Maritime Society.
Christa is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College, and holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Naval Architecture. Her maritime engineering studies included Naval Architecture. Christa also holds a USCG Third Mate’s Unlimited Tonnage License.
Throughout her education, Christa geared herself towards engineering and found a niche in the maritime industry. Christa has interned in the industry where she created build plans for new classes of ships for the US Navy. She also did her share of deck cadet training on board and has an overall understanding of ship safety, navigational charts, routes, etc.
At MITAGS, Christa is responsible for programming high fidelity hydrodynamic ship models. She also provides technical support for the simulation systems, as well as project management services.
A gifted welder and fabricator, Ray helped build the current Fire Dragon mockup in 2001. He stayed on with Fremont Maritime and transferred to MITAGS in 2017. Ray is responsible for keeping the ship as seaworthy as possible (considering she catches fire on a regular basis), and keeping all systems on line.
James “Jim” Clements is the Chair of MITAGS’ Marine Safety, Security, and Human Factors department, which oversees USCG, Military Sealift Command (MSC), and MARAD approved courses. Jim is also an active 30+ year Firefighter,-MD Licensed Paramedic, and Licensed Certified Clinical Social Worker- (LCSW-C) as well as holding degrees in Social Science and Secondary Education from Frostburg State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Community Planning. In his free time, Jim is also an active crewmember for the museum ship the SS John W. Brown, which operated as a merchant ship of the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. He enjoys, along with Sue, his wife, the company of his two sons, daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren.
Captain Conway is MITAGS’ Department Head of Shiphandling, while overseeing Shiphandling courses, Captain Conway also actively instructs many MITAGS’ courses both within his department and in the License Advancement department and Navigation systems department. Captain Conway has many industry achievements including:
- Member of MARAD Liquefied gas mariner training standards technical working group
- Lead delegate representing US maritime officer training Gas Tech 2006 LNG conference, Abu Dhabi UAE
- Member of development team to receive the first national maritime center approval for operational and management level maritime distance learning courses
- Contributor to Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee training standards for LNG and electronic charting
- Subject matter expert and advisor in Transport Safety Bureau-Transport Canada, Queen of the North investigation
- Subject matter expert and instructor to Transport Safety Bureau-Transport Canada investigators in the loading, carriage and discharge of Liquefied Gases
- Managed the creation, development and implementation of the deck officer license advancement program at Calhoon MEBA Engineering School
Captain Conway is an alumnus of Texas A&M University, at Galveston, holding a Bachelor Degree of Science Marine Transportation.
Eric is the Director of MITAGS and divides his time between the East Coast campus in Baltimore, and the West Coast campus in Seattle. Eric is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Transportation. Eric later earned his Masters of Management with a concentration in Organizational Leadership through the American Military University. Prior to his position as Director, Eric was an instructor of the Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch and Maritime Safety courses, utilizing his Masters License (1600 ton) , Second Mate license (any Gross Tons Upon Oceans), and Maintenance, Material, Management Department Head, US Navy, experiences.
In Eric’s free time, he participates in the National Weather Service’s Skywarn Program where he serves as a trained Spotter. His skills are often employed to warn staff at the east coast campus of impending severe weather.
Catie Gianelloni is MITAGS’ NSAP® Manager as well as Lead Simulator Operator (Baltimore) and instructor. You can often find Catie teaching a variety of MITAGS’ USCG approved courses such as: Able Seaman, Basic Training, RADAR, and ARPA. Despite working full time at MITAGS, Catie is still actively sailing as a 2nd Mate of Unlimited Tonnage. Graduating from The United States Merchant Marine Academy, Catie holds a Bachelor of Science, Marine Transportation and recently received her MBA from SMARTLY. Catie has been featured in SMART Magazine, Wall Street Journal “Faces of Success”, and Wheelhouse Weekly. She also holds awards in Sea Scout Service and from Boy and Girls Scouts for tours, and was the 2019 recipient of the Charles Pillsbury Award from the SOCP. When not working or sailing, Catie enjoys painting, quilting, yoga, swimming, and volunteering at “The Sharing Table” food pantry.
As a Simulation Engineer at MITAGS-West, Mark‘s primary responsibility is the maintenance and repair of the simulation facility, and oversight of a busy simulator schedule. Trained as a Project Manager, Mark also has extensive experience managing simulation research projects with a focus on finding creative solutions and ensuring a tight delivery date. Areas of personal development and hobbies include hiking, backpacking and watching sports.
Emily has worked at MITAGS for over 12 years. She provides a level of institutional knowledge and operational expertise that only time and experience provide. Throughout her tenure, Emily’s primary mission has been to help ensure MITAGS provides the highest caliber maritime training possible. This is not just a professional commitment for Emily, but a personal one as well, as her spouse has been a merchant mariner for 30 years. Eric Friend, Director of MITAGS, said “Emily’s leadership has been tested and proven. The passion and excitement she brings to work every day along with her commitment to our customers, students, and staff makes her the obvious choice for Assistant Director.”
The highlight for Emily has always been working with the amazing and talented team at MITAGS, both East and West coasts. “I love working here and have been so fortunate to work with incredible people. I am fully committed to doing everything I can to facilitate our success and continue fulfilling our mission.”
Emily’s prior experience includes marine operations, training & development programs, and human resources. She holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and is a SHRM Senior Certified Professional® in human resources.
Captain Bob Kimball is the head of MITAGS’ License Advancement department. Captain Kimball holds a USCG Master’s License of Steam or Motor Vessels of any Gross Registered Tons with experience as Master and Chief Officer for conventional and container vessels. A graduate of SUNY Maritime College, Captain Kimball holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation as well as a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and Oceanography. Captain Kimball also maintains membership in the Council of American Master Mariners.
Jon obtained his first license (as a Danish yacht master) at the age of 17, and subsequently attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. After graduating in 1983, he sailed in positions from deckhand to Master aboard ships and workboats all over the world. After running a support vessel during the Exxon Valdez cleanup effort in Prince William Sound, Jon came ashore and founded Fremont Maritime Services in Seattle, Washington. Over the next 27 years, Jon established a reputation as a pioneer in the field of maritime safety, survival and firefighting training. His company was one of the very first organizations in the U.S. to obtain Coast Guard approval for STCW Basic Safety Courses, and from 2003 to 2015 Fremont Maritime was the only private company utilized by the U.S. Navy to provide marine firefighting training to its military sailors. Over the years Jon and his team worked with tens of thousands of inland and offshore mariners, providing training not only at Fremont’s school in Seattle, but at customer locations in Alaska, Oregon, California, Florida, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean. When MITAGS established the Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle, Jon worked to forge a strong working relationship between the two schools.
In 2017, Fremont Maritime was purchased by MITAGS, and Jon came aboard as a marine safety training and business development specialist. Up to this point, his primary focus has been on the tug and barge industry, organizing the 2019 Subchapter M Seminar at MITAGS, as well as helping to create new programs required by the industry.
As a member of the senior management team at MITAGS, Jon’s mission is to identify customer needs and craft solutions in all the areas where MITAGS operates – not just training, but in customized simulation, research and apprenticeship programs. Jon is also helping MITAGS chart its course into new and exciting training and assessment methodologies, such as Digital Learning, Virtual and Augmented Reality.
“This is a very exciting and challenging time to be in the training business,” says Jon. “So many basic concepts about how, where and to whom we provide instruction and assessment have changed in the last few months. Our customers are looking forward to quality programs that can be delivered more effectively and efficiently, which respect their employees’ time but enhance their knowledge and safety skills. I look forward to charting these new uncharted waters and helping to keep MITAGS the Leader in Maritime Training and Simulation.”
Christine Klimkowski is a MITAGS instructor primarily based out of our west coast campus in Seattle. Christine is a Master Mariner and is currently a pilot trainee with the Southeast Alaska Pilots. Christine is a USCG approved instructor for courses from the Officer In Charge of Navigational Watch level through Management level Chief Mate/Master courses. In addition to being an USCG approved instructor, Christine is also a USCG Qualified Assessor. Christine is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College, holding a bachelors in Marine Environmental Science, emphasis on Meteorology and holds a Leadership Executive Masters of Business Administration from Seattle University. Outside of MITAGS, Christine has earned various awards such as: The Merchant Marine Expeditionary Medal (2003),Member of Toastmasters International (2013 – Present), District 2, Area 41 Director (2018-2019), Advanced Communicator and Leader Bronze Award, Toastmaster International (2018),Toastmasters District 2 Table Topics Contest, Second Place Winner (2014 & 2017), and is a Board Member of the Catholic Seafarers Center Seattle & Mission to Seafarers Seattle (2014 – Present).
Jenny Pitzen is MITAGS Student Instructional Services Manager for both east and west coasts, but is primarily found at our west coast campus. Jenny counsels and confers with students and prospective students within a program of study or regarding a student service. She also provides program and departmental procedures, policies, and goals & objectives for the organization. Additionally, Jenny is responsible for maintaining program approvals for state and government agencies and is the VA certifying official for both campuses. Jenny holds a Masters of Education in Student Development Administration and in her free time enjoys live music, reading, and outdoor activities with her family.
Director of Sales and Marketing – Maritime Conference Center
Jill Porter is a hospitality professional with over twenty years in the industry. Jill’s success in the leadership of unique and independent properties from both an operations and sales/marketing capacity, along with her ability to manage teams in times of transition makes her a valuable resource. Jill currently leads a team of sales and marketing hospitality professionals at Maritime Conference Center (MCC) and works alongside business development professionals at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS). The organizations merge the worlds of academia and hospitality, and the revenues from MCC’s 100,000 square feet of meeting space and 232 guestrooms help support MITAGS, a maritime training center founded in 1967 by the International Organization of Masters Mates and Pilots. MITAGS made its home near Baltimore Washington International Airport in 1972 and the organization is a 501(c)(9), a non-profit educational trust.
In addition to Jill’s leadership capacity at MCC, Jill was co-president of BWI Arundel Mills Hospitality Alliance (BAMHA) for nearly 5 years and continues to serve the organization’s board as an advisor to this day. The organically created group worked to become a local non-profit organization and is now recognized for fostering connections and supporting the regions tourism advocacy. Jill is a big believer in giving back to the community and has played an active role in MCC’s continued involvement with the USO BWI Airport Lounge. MCC provides showers, amenities and oftentimes a meal for service men and women before they fly to their final destinations, and also host many USO volunteer meetings and events. Jill was also instrumental in supporting The BWI Business Partnership and BWI Airport with the success of their BWI Summer Youth Initiative. MCC hosted one day of the week-long summer program for several years, and Jill taught a “Hospitality & Career 101 Course” complete with a “back of house” tour for the youth.
In Jill’s personal life she is a wife and mother of two children. She loves to hike, swim, and hang out with her family. She embraces a strong sense of spirituality, and works to be an advocate for others. Her positive disposition, authenticity, perseverance, and her innate ability to overcome obstacles big & small has been the driving force behind her success in the industry.
Colleen Schaffer, PE
Colleen Schaffer, P.E. is the Director of Simulation Engineering and responsible for managing research projects and direct oversight of the Simulation Engineering Department. She also programs hydro-dynamically accurate databases including detailed visual scenes, underwater bathymetry, RADAR and ECDIS images. Colleen holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a Coastal Engineering concentration from Oregon State University and a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island.
Colleen is also proficient in French, is a certified PADI advanced Scuba Driver, and a certified dog lover.
After a tenured career as the Director of the MITAGS West Campus, Gregg has retired and is now a Senior Business Development Consultant for MITAGS. Gregg opened the West Coast Campus of the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies (formerly Pacific Maritime Institute) in Seattle, Washington in 1997 after an eight-year shipping career working primarily on tankers for West Coast Shipping. Today, Gregg develops and executes strategies for lead generation, sales, pricing, and all other matters relating to revenue generation for MITAGS’ Operational Research, NSAP® and Global Sales.
His visionary skills and ability to adapt programs that address the needs of the industry has helped propel MITAGS toward a long lasting partnership with industry and labor helping to (a) conceptualize new training methods, (b) redefine the relationship of the school to the workplace, and (c) continually create new and affordable venues for individuals to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to work at sea and “prepare for the future”.
In addition, to Business Development, Gregg is the founder of the Maritime Apprenticeship Program (MAP), formally known as Workboat Academy. MAP recruits, trains and delivers qualified and competent mariners to the maritime Industry. Gregg is a graduate of the California Maritime Academy (CMA), where he earned his degree in Business Administration and Marine Transportation. He also holds a Chief Mate, Unlimited Oceans, license and a 1,600 Gross Tons Master’s license.
Ginger joined Fremont Maritime in 2009 and transferred to MITAGS in 2017. Hers is most likely the friendly voice you hear when you call MITAGS-WEST, and she will help you sign up for the course you need.
Having completed all elements of the Basic Safety Training program, Ginger is well-qualified to answer your questions about the course content and activities.