President Biden has selected John Cortinas, Ph.D, NOAA’s Director at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, as one of the recipients of the 2022 Presidential Rank Award. The award is one of the most prestigious in the federal career civil service and recognizes the hard work and important contributions of dedicated civil servants in the American federal workforce.
Dr. Cortinas has been a trailblazer and a visionary leader for more than 15 years of federal service through several senior leadership positions in OAR. His exceptional leadership has benefited the American public in many ways throughout his federal career. Cortinas has created world-class research that has made significant improvements in NOAA’s ability to provide accurate and timely forecasts and warnings for many types of extreme weather, including hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, floods, heatwaves, and strong winds. Moreover, as the first openly gay Senior Executive of Hispanic descent to lead both an OAR program and national laboratory, he has been an exemplary role model for NOAA’s workforce and others from underrepresented communities and has worked tirelessly to advance diversity and inclusion across NOAA.
A member of the federal government’s senior executive service, Dr. Cortinas served as director of NOAA’s Office of Weather and Air Quality and director of NOAA Research’s Cooperative Institute program, prior to becoming the AOML director in 2019.
Throughout his career, Cortinas has been a passionate advocate for underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). He is a member of several scientific organizations that work to improve diversity within STEM, such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, Latinos@NOAA, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), for which he is currently an elected representative of the AMS Council.
Cortinas grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the oldest of five children. He received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado, and a doctorate in Geophysical Sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Cortinas has authored and co-authored many scientific articles, including a chapter on operational meteorology in the Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, Academic Press, Vol. 4, and served on numerous American and international scientific working groups and committees.