In January 2012, Joel Szabat became Executive Director of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), serving as MARAD’s senior career official, and chief operating officer. He assists the Administrator in establishing policies, programs, and priorities for the agency. He supervises staff and programs that: manage a fleet of reserve vessels and coordinate with commercial carriers to ensure a rapid response to any military mobilization or national emergency; oversee an array of programs that fund, assist, protect and support American ports, shipyards, mariners and vessels sailing under the U.S.-flag; operate the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, and assist six state maritime academies.
Szabat joined DOT as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy in 2002. In 2009, he stood up DOT’s Recovery Act programs, which invested $48 billion to build over 15,000 transportation projects nationwide. He also oversaw the initial development and administration of TIGER grants.
Since joining DOT, Szabat has served two stints with other federal agencies. From 2006 to 2008, he was Chief of Staff of the Small Business Administration. At SBA, Szabat spearheaded the creation of the Patriot Express loan program to help veterans and their families. He also helped to reform SBA’s disaster-assistance program, and to establish a public scorecard to track the progress of federal agencies in meeting their small business contracting goals.
In 2005, Szabat directed the U.S. government’s transportation reconstruction program in Iraq, rebuilding and improving ports, airports and railroads. He also served as the Transportation Counselor to the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad.
Before joining DOT, Szabat served as the Principal Consultant for Transportation in the California State Legislature, management and budget aide to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and worked with transportation clients for a management consulting firm in the private sector.
Szabat received a B.A. in Economics and Government from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Between Georgetown and Harvard, he served in the United States Army during the Cold War, commanding tank units that patrolled the East-West German border.
Szabat has received numerous awards and recognitions including a Presidential rank award at the Department of Transportation, the Meritorious Service Medal in the Army, and the Ellis Island Foundation’s Medal of Honor for service to America’s immigrant communities. He and his wife, Chiling Tong, co-founded the International Leadership Foundation (ILF), a non-profit organization promoting civic awareness for Asian Pacific American college students.