Oceana Announces James Simon as New CEO - Oceana USA

Oceana Announces James Simon as New CEO

Simon, who previously served as President of Oceana, will now lead the international ocean conservation organization

Press Release Date: April 18, 2024

Location: Washington, DC


Gillian Spolarich, Dustin Cranor, APR | email: gspolarich@oceana.org, dcranor@oceana.org | tel: Gillian Spolarich, 954.348.1314

Oceana’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce it has appointed James (Jim) Simon as the next Chief Executive Officer of Oceana. This announcement follows an extensive eight-month global search and the upcoming retirement of Andrew Sharpless, Oceana’s longtime CEO.

“With the choice of Jim Simon as the organization’s new CEO, Oceana continues in its role as the ocean advocate that ‘gets stuff done,’ expanding our impact as the most effective international advocacy organization dedicated solely to the restoration of ocean abundance,” said Sam Waterston, Oceana’s Board Chair.

“I’m thrilled and honored to continue working with Oceana’s talented staff and generous supporters in my new role as CEO,” said Jim Simon, Oceana’s longtime President and newly appointed CEO. “Oceana will continue to lift up the voices of coastal communities to protect the resources that sustain them and their families. Together with our allies and partners, we will have global impact on the ocean’s ability to feed people and to provide solutions for addressing climate change, habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and overfishing.”

As Oceana’s President, Simon’s responsibilities included overseeing fundraising, which grew tenfold under his leadership. He also supervised Oceana’s campaigns in multiple countries, as well as the global finance, human relations, IT, and law departments. Since joining the organization in 2003, he has been an integral part of all aspects of Oceana, including its continued growth and expansion into new countries like Brazil, Canada, Peru, and the Philippines.

“The Board undertook an inclusive and fair search process that helped us affirm that Jim Simon is the best person positioned to lead Oceana into the future,” said Oceana Board Member Sara Lowell, who led the CEO search committee. “We feel confident that the search process strongly incorporated Board and staff feedback and is the best decision for Oceana’s values and culture, as well as the global circumstances that we could be facing in the coming years.” 

Simon’s previous experience includes working as a business management consultant at McKinsey & Company, attorney for the New York City Law Department, senior attorney and head of the Enforcement Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and Yale College.

Simon will lead Oceana’s campaigns in nine countries and the European Union and oversee more than 250 staff members. Simon is based in Washington, DC, and will take over the position on July 1, 2024, for Andrew Sharpless, Oceana’s previous CEO who led the organization for more than 20 years. Sharpless was instrumental in Oceana’s growth and success, leading the organization to achieve more than 300 policy victories that protect and restore the oceans around the world.