Award Winners Recognized at the 2021 NASBLA Annual Conference

By Taylor Matsko posted 10-26-2021 04:39 PM

Award Winners Recognized at the 2021 NASBLA Annual Conference

The 62nd Annual NASBLA Conference was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Sept. 26 – 29, 2021. During the awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 28, NASBLA presented their annual national awards, recognizing NASBLA members and colleagues in the recreational boating safety community for their outstanding contributions to boating and water safety. NASBLA had the opportunity to recognize 18 award winners at this year’s event.


Chair’s Award
At the end of his/her term, the NASBLA Chair selects individuals to honor with special recognition for their contributions during the past year to boating safety and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. This year, NASBLA Chair Tim Dunleavy, presented two individuals with this prestigious award.

  • Captain Kenneth Ryan, New Jersey’s Boating Law Administrator and Chief of the New Jersey State Captain Kenneth RyanPolice Marine Unit, has served this year as the Chair of the BOAT Advisory Board. Captain Ryan was one of the early advocates for BOAT Program Accreditation process. He encountered many internal agency politics and hurdles as he successfully steered his agency through the accreditation process and attained full accreditation in 2014. Having served two terms as a member of the Advisory Board, Capt. Ryan’s service to the Board was always as an advocate and supporter of pushing out the single national training standard to not just the states, but also to his operational partners.
  • Amanda Pérez Amanda Pérez was appointed to the National Boating Education Standards Panel in 2017, serving as Chair in 2021. During her appointment as Chair, the Education Standards Panel has completed three public review processes on five draft American National Standards and created a process to expedite completion of the Technical Report to accompany the standards once released. The entire nation will benefit from her efforts as these new standards will be introduced in 2022.


Lifetime Achievement Award

NASBLA first began presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. This award is designed for a person who has contributed to boating safety over his or her lifetime. 

  • Lieutenant Mark Brown Lieutenant Mark Brown has worked over 35 years for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Law Enforcement Section and has served the past 8 years as Oklahoma's Boating Law Administrator. He has dedicated his entire professional career to the advancement of recreational boating safety on the state, national and international levels. During his career, he has developed a catalog of more than 800 hours of Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) certified courses. In 2014, he was appointed to the NASBLA Executive Board. Lt. Brown continued to serve on the NASBLA Executive Board and eventually served as NASBLA President in 2018.
  • Penny Kanable announced her retirement from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in December of Penny Kanable 2020, after more than 41 years of service. Penny was a major asset to the Recreational Boating Program in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Law Enforcement, and was directly responsible for leading and elevating the boating program in Wisconsin to new heights. Kanable consistently brought the “we can do this” attitude both to her state and to her work with NASBLA and worked with countless individuals to navigate all that comes with the job duties of a boating program specialist and boating law administrator. 


Garner Leadership Award

Established in tribute to William B. Garner, who successfully marshaled the nation's first boat operator licensing law through state legislature, the Garner Award is presented to those men and women whose outstanding effort and achievement have elevated state or federal policy interventions to heights not previously attained.

  • Captain Matt Majors Captain Matt Majors has worked for a state wildlife agency for 19 years and exhibits many attributes that make him an exceptional leader. For over 14 years, Captain Majors has been leading the mission to educate Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officers in boating under the influence (BUI) detection and apprehension. During the 2021 state legislative session, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supported a bill that aligned the BUI penalty with the current driving under the influence (DUI) penalty. This clarified that vehicular assault and vehicular homicide may be committed by those boating under the influence. The bill, which includes a minimum of 48 hours in jail, passed in the legislature without any opposition. Considering the BUI penalty had not significantly changed since 1990, this new law propels Tennessee forward into a new era of BUI detection and enforcement. Had it not been for the passion and perseverance of Capt. Majors to enforce, train and educate on the dangers of impaired boaters, Tennessee BUI penalties would have likely remained unchanged.



The NASBLA Award is given in appreciation to an individual who has either given a lot of time and effort to the association to help achieve its objectives or who is acknowledged nationally, statewide or in their community for notable contributions to the betterment of boating. 

  • Vicki Rhodes Vicki Rhodes has dedicated two-thirds of her life to boating safety. She has worked tirelessly for 46 years as the supervisor in the registration section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNR) & Environmental Control, Division of Fish Management. In addition to her job with the Delaware DNR, Rhodes has served on the NASBLA Vessel, Identification, Registration & Titling (VIRT) Committee for 30 years and has spent 28 years as a member of the Association of Marine Investigators. As a member of the NASBLA VIRT Committee, Rhodes was always willing to take on the responsibility of overseeing charges and making sure committee work was completed on-time.


Boating Safety Award

First presented in 1992, the Boating Safety Award is bestowed upon a state or local government official who is involved in boating safety and who has demonstrated outstanding performance in any area of the program, including but not limited to enforcement, education, search and rescue, navigational aids or registration and titling.

  • John Alexiou has been passionately involved with ocean and boating safety since 1990. Alexiou volunteers to John Alexiou run the Marine Safety Operation as a full-time engineer with the City of Monterey Fire Department. Since 2013, he's upgraded the training and standards for fire boat pilots, pump operators and deckhands to meet the marine safety needs of the Monterey Bay region. He works closely with many local partner agencies, as co-chair of Coast Guard Station Monterey's Search and Rescue (SAR) Council, to ensure a coordinated emergency response 24/7. Since 2013, Alexiou has secured over $200,000 in Homeland Security Grant Funds to help sustain Monterey’s Marine Safety Operation as a regional asset.


National Pamela S. Dillon Boating Educator of the Year

Generously sponsored by Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc., the Pamela S. Dillon Boating Educator of the Year Award was launched by NASBLA in 2011 to recognize those who go above and beyond to engage students and boaters, raise awareness, and make boating education initiatives relevant, thorough and exciting. 


Regional Boating Officer of the Year

First presented in 2000, the Marvin “Butch” Potts Memorial Award, known as the Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, is presented annually to a boating law enforcement officer who has made outstanding contributions to the field of boating law enforcement.

  • NASBLA presented its esteemed national Boating Officer of the Year award to Texas Game Warden Hani Raja Texas Game Warden Hani Raja AtayaAtaya. NASBLA congratulates Texas Game Warden Hani Raja Ataya on receiving the national Boating Officer of the Year award in recognition of his dedication, commitment and influence on recreational boating safety. Click here to learn more about the National Officer of the Year.


Operation Dry Water Awards

Operation Dry Water Award Winners

The Operation Dry Water (ODW) Awards Program recognizes law enforcement officers and agencies that are making a positive impact on boating under the influence (BUI). During the ceremony, the ODW Officer of the Year, Top Agencies and Media Award winners were honored for their hard work and dedication to boating under the influence prevention and the Operation Dry Water campaign. Click here to read more about the 2021 ODW award winners.




The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

We offer a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards, publications and more. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, we affect the lives of over 76 million American boaters.