SeCAPS 2024 Keynote Speakers
Mr. John Gordon has been an operational meteorologist for over 35 years. John retired from the U.S. Air Force after serving 20 years. Most of his Air Force career was spent as a flight meteorologist for the U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters based in Biloxi, MS. John flew into several major hurricanes including Fran (1996), Bret (1999), Isabel (2003), Ivan (2004), and Katrina (2005).
Mr. Gordon is currently Chief Meteorologist of the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office here in Louisville which serves 49 counties in central Kentucky and 10 in southern Indiana. Before Louisville, John spun up the brand-new NWS office in Huntsville, Alabama from 2002-2004. Mr. Gordon received a B.S. in Meteorology from St. Louis University in 1986 and a Masters in Teaching in Geoscience from Mississippi State in 2002.
Besides, Huntsville, AL, and Louisville, John has also worked in Oklahoma City, OK; Germany, Jackson, MS; Springfield, MO; and Nashville, TN; for both the Air Force and the National Weather Service. John's office has worked several extreme events in 19 years in Kentuckiana including the 2008 Hurricane Ike windstorm, March 2, 2012 Henryville, IN tornado outbreak, epic ice storm of 2009, August 2009 Louisville flash flood emergency, and the December 10-11 2021 Quad State Outbreak.
John is a firm believer in investing in others, paying it forward and succession planning!
Dr. Neil Jacobs is currently the Chief Science Advisor for the community-based Unified Forecast System within UCAR's Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science. He previously served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. As acting Administrator of NOAA, he was responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of $6 billion in annual spending, including key investments in space innovation, remotely-piloted autonomous systems, and the development of a community modeling framework to advance U.S. weather and climate prediction while unlocking the partnership potential of non-governmental and private organizations to study the oceans and promote a blue economy. Prior to NOAA, Dr. Jacobs was the Chief Scientist at the Panasonic Avionics Corporation, where he directed the research and business development for both the weather-sensing avionics systems and forecast modeling programs. He was the former Head of the U.S. Delegation for both the World Meteorological Organization and U.S. Group of Earth Observations, and Co-Chair of the Interagency Council on Advancing Meteorological Services. He has also served on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing. Dr. Jacobs holds B.S. degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of South Carolina and a M.S. and Ph.D. in air-sea interaction and numerical weather prediction from North Carolina State University.
Dr. Cameron Nixon is a research scientist with the Storm Prediction Center through the OU-CIWRO and an avid storm chaser. After earning his B.S. at Valparaiso University, he found a love for Great Plains supercells while at Texas Tech University. While earning his M.S., he began studying the impact of hodograph shape on supercell behavior and deviant tornado motion. During his Ph.D., he studied the impacts of hodograph shape on large hail production. He is still fascinated by how some storms produce tornadoes and not others, and what makes a storm more likely to produce hail than tornadoes. Dr. Nixon works closely with a variety of NWS offices and storm spotters to deliver new findings from research and to help apply new techniques to forecasting.
Mr. James Spann has served as chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham for 27 years, and has been doing television weather since 1978, when he joined WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa. Along the way there have been stops at WSFA in Montgomery, WVTM in Birmingham, KDFW in Dallas, and WBRC in Birmingham. A total of 45 years in broadcast meteorology.
James holds CBM number 33...he is an American Meteorological Society Certified Broadcast Meteorologist. He also holds the NWA (National Weather Association) TV Seal of Approval.
James has received the two highest awards in the nation for a broadcast meteorologist.
One is the national "Broadcast of the Year" by the National Weather Association. According to the NWA, James was selected to receive the award "For his passionate dedication to serving the Central Alabama Community with critical weather information for over thirty years, especially during the deadly April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak."
James also was the winner of the AMS (American Meteorological Society) "Award for Broadcast Meteorology." The AMS stated he was the winner in part because of "his tireless efforts to advance the public's awareness of and engagement in the science of meteorology, particularly severe weather forecasting and response."
James has earned multiple Emmy awards over the years. He was elected to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, representing outstanding achievement spanning at least 25 years in the broadcast industry with a proven record of mentoring and community involvement.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) named James as the National Weatherperson of the Year in 2019.
After spending three years as an electrical engineering major at the University of Alabama, he finished in the broadcast meteorology program at Mississippi State University. James and his wife Karen have been married for 42 years and have two grown sons. He serves his community as Chairman of the Board of Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham and leads children's worship at Double Oak Community Church.