Women Making Waves: Nicole Vasilaros

Nicole Vasilaros

Vice President, Federal and Legal Affairs, National Marine Manufacturers Association

Education: Juris Doctor, University of Florida and Georgetown University Law Center (visiting student); Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), Emory University

Years in the marine industry: 5

Nicole Vasilaros
Nicole Vasilaros

What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? The marine industry is complex. Most people are stunned at the level of regulation and legislative challenges this industry faces. The complexity is what I love most about my job — one minute I am working on fisheries policy, the next on fuel choice, and then the next on international trade agreements.

If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? Having the President sign into law a fix for the “model year” definition for recreational craft was an incredible day. The legislative victory was part of a larger U.S. Coast Guard bill signed into law this February.

For several years the definition of model year was problematic for manufacturers and dealers. A set model year start date of August 1 didn’t accommodate the manufacturing needs of all boat builders, and threatened the flexibility that some builders need to meet consumer demand and keep factory operations up and running all year. It took time to develop a new definition that worked for all sectors of the industry, but even when we were able to get industry agreement, getting the Coast Guard or lawmakers to adopt the change was not an easy feat. Coast Guard regulations can take upwards of three to seven years to change.

Congress has only passed 2 percent of bills introduced this year. So to have model year fixed, when only 2 percent of all bills are signed into law, is a significant victory for the industry. The industry was stuck in a waiting game, needing clarification, and it was important for me to find a fix that was swift and accommodated the needs of all sectors of the industry.

How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry? While the marine industry is still largely male-dominated, the opportunities for women in this industry is immense. Take advantage of your unique perspective, and don’t be afraid to be that loud voice in a room of decision makers. Don’t ever let your age or gender deter you from speaking up, seeking new opportunities and empowering yourself to achieve your ultimate goals. Fifty percent of the U.S. population is female — having more women in this industry will help its long-term growth in finding a new generation and demographic of boaters.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in the boating industry? Still working in politics, but probably for a much less fun industry!

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