The Ocean Exchange™Founded in 2010, The Ocean Exchange™ unites worldwide organizations across multiple disciplines and boundaries to accelerate the distribution and adoption of solutions that positively impact our ocean and coast.
Who We Are
Our Sponsors & Partners
Meet Our Executive Team
M. Cort Atkinson
Co-Founder and CEO
Cort has been providing advice to large public corporations for over 30 years. As a consultant, she works as a strategic planner, developing advanced positioning objectives, plans and alternatives. Her area of specialty is improving business performance through organizational design, applications system development, business process redesign, workforce development and selection, and compensation and rewards programs. As a leader, she focuses teams on achieving results.
At Latham & Company, a brand strategy firm, Cort was head of consulting, responsible for the design, development and management of consulting engagements. She developed methodologies for reading brands, analyzing competitive strategies, and co-authored the firm’s engagement model.
She was a Senior Director at BellSouth in charge of strategic planning for new initiatives in broadband and for the operating design of applications and data organizations.
Prior to that, she was a Principal with the consulting firm William M. Mercer and responsible for managing key client relationships and for directing large scale multi-discipline projects with consulting talent from offices around the world. She began her consulting career with Towers Perrin.
Her clients have included Coca-Cola, State of Georgia, Disney, NationsBank, Equifax, University of Alabama, Emory University, Georgia Southern, and Egleston Children’s Hospital.
Cort received a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Economics from Emory University.
Cathy J. Sakas
Co-Founder and Ocean Exchange Chair, NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine sanctuary
As a professional interpretive naturalist Cathy leads educational wilderness expeditions, works on research projects and has produced, written and hosted two Emmy award winning nature series called The Coastal Naturalist for Georgia Public Television (GPTV). She was also the Associate Producer of Secret Seashores a GPTV documentary on the barrier islands of Georgia. Additionally Cathy hosted a multiple Telly award winning original nature series for Turner South entitled The Natural South.
In the fall of 1998 she was asked to join the staff of NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.
Cathy currently serves as the Education Coordinator of NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. In that capacity she teaches programs and develops materials and courses about NOAA, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and especially Gray’s Reef. Some of the specific programs she teaches include watersheds influences on Ocean habitats, Ocean science technology used in research and exploration and marine animals including North Atlantic right whales, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles. She conducts several educator workshops throughout the year with partner institutions and serves on several education panels and committees of various federal agencies. She currently serves as the facilitator of the Education and Outreach Steering Committee of the Southeastern Implementation Team for the Recovery of North Atlantic Right Whales and as the Vice Chair of the Education and Information Advisory Panel of the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.
Cathy periodically conducts fish surveys on the reef while diving and to date her favorite jobs at Gray’s Reef have been SCUBA diving and becoming a pilot of a one-person submersible called DeepWorker 2000. She operated the sub on missions at Gray’s Reef and in the Florida Middle Grounds where a seamount she explored was named Mount Sakas by the mission’s chief scientist. In September 2001 she became an Aquanaut spending nine days in the underwater habitat called Aquarius with three other scientists and two technical staff.
Cathy however considers that her primary role is of scientific interpretation. She interprets research conducted at Gray’s Reef and in other Ocean habitats to students and the general public by making it understandable and meaningful with the ultimate goal of fostering Ocean stewardship. In 1976 Cathy earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Armstrong-Atlantic State University in Savannah. A few years later she added her Masters of Education in Science.
Millicent Wallace Pitts
Chief Operating Officer
Thirty year operating executive spanning Fortune 100 and start-up companies in process industries at Atlantic Richfield, Rohm & Haas, Ferro, Engelhard/BASF, and a university incubator company. MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Registered Mediator State of Georgia. President of the board of The Landings Association, a elected, quasi-city council position for 8700 person Georgia coastal community.
Executive Director Digital Media
Mehmet Caglayan is a Producer, Director and Cinematographer. He is currently working as Digital Media Director for the The Ocean Exchange™, where he is managing a mentoring program with National Geographic. Mehmet received his MFA in Film and Television from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he expanded his interests to include both documentary and scripted programming development. He has a background as a video journalist, having covered a broad range of stories, including many around the world, for several broadcast news affiliates. He received the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for his work in Afghanistan, along with numerous Associated Press Awards. His cinematography has appeared on cable networks like MSNBC, NBC nightly news, HGTV, Style Network and his productions have appeared in number of film festivals. Mehmet serves on the Georgia Southern University Communication Arts Dept. Advisory Board and was named as the alumni of the year in 2011.
Executive Director Solutions
In 2012, Jason Ball was selected for the role of Executive Director Solutions for the The Ocean Exchange™. He is a Licensed Professional Engineer with specialty disciplines in Port and Navigation Engineering. At Moffatt & Nichol, he currently serves as a Project Manager for numerous programs along coastal Georgia and South Carolina totaling more than $4 billion dollars. The Savannah office of Moffatt & Nichol currently holds the program management contract for the Jasper Ocean Terminal and the Georgia Ports Authority. Jason provides clients with valuable professional services such as port planning, strategic economic forecasting, multi-disciplinary engineering, equipment acquisition support, construction management, and general consulting. Jason was born in Savannah, Georgia, raised on Tybee Island, Georgia, and currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Julia. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York and Master of Business Administration from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Director, Executive Communications
The Coca-Cola Company
Steve Soltis directs the Leadership Communications function at The Coca-Cola Company. In this role he is responsible for executive communication and positioning for the company’s chairman and CEO and is also the architect of the company’s senior executive speakers’ bureau. Soltis joined Coca-Cola in September of 2006, after spending 10 years directing executive communications for UPS, and two years as a speechwriter for MCI.
Prior to his corporate communications career, Soltis worked in a variety of editorial positions for The Global Network, Harte Hanks, Ackerley Communications and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. In 2006, Soltis was a recipient of the PRSA Silver Anvil Award for B2B Marketing for the work he led in developing UPS’s global customer conference, Longitudes.
A graduate of the University of North Texas and Mary Washington College, Soltis also serves on the Advisory Board of the Mayborn School of Journalism at The University of North Texas.
He is the author of two travel guide books.